Home   Tunbridge Wells   News   Article

Fewer councillors as Tunbridge Wells heads for ward boundary changes

Residents in Tunbridge Wells are likely to have fewer councillors to represent them in future.

The Local Government Boundary Commission which has started a review of ward boundaries has decided that the number of councillors on the borough council should be 39 - nine less than the current number of 48.

A shake-up is coming at the Town Hall
A shake-up is coming at the Town Hall

As a result there will be alterations to ward boundaries, with the Commission attempting to equalise the number of voters represented by each member.

It is also very likely that the present mix of three-member, two-member and single-members wards will go, in favour of all three-member wards.

Tunbridge Wells remains one of the dwindling number of boroughs that holds an election for one third of its council each year for three years (with the fourth year taken up by KCC elections).

The Commission is known to favour three-member wards in those circumstances, so that all voters get an equal opportunity to go to the polls.

At present, residents in the one-member seat of Frittenden and Sissinghurst vote only once in four years, whereas those in three-member Culverden Ward get to to vote three times.

Professor Colin Mellors, the Commission chairman
Professor Colin Mellors, the Commission chairman

The Commission has not yet decided what the new ward boundaries will be and is instead asking the public during a 10-week consultation what areas they think would fit well together.

It said it wanted to be sure that its proposals "reflected community ties and identities."

It posed the questions: What facilities do people share, such as parks, leisure centres or schools and shopping areas? What issues do neighbouring communities face that they have in common, such as high numbers of visitors or heavy traffic? Have there been new housing or commercial developments that have changed the focus of communities? And are there roads, rivers, railways or other features that people believe form strong boundaries between neighbourhoods?

Following the consultation, the Commission will draw up its plans which will then be subject to another round of public consultation.

Professor Colin Mellors is the Commission's chairman. He said: “We want people in Tunbridge Wells to help us."

Cllr Andy Fairweather represents the single-member ward of Frittenden and Sissinghurst
Cllr Andy Fairweather represents the single-member ward of Frittenden and Sissinghurst

He said: “We are starting to draw up new wards for Tunbridge Wells. We want our proposals for new electoral arrangements to reflect communities. We also want them to be easy to understand and convenient for local people.

“Residents and local organisations can help us understand community ties and identities at this early stage of the process.

“It’s easy to get involved. Go to our website. Or you can e-mail or write to us.

“Just tell us what you think and give us some details why you think that. It’s really simple, so do get involved.”

At present, the borough has 20 wards with no party in overall control. The Conservatives are the largest group with 23 members, and four opposition parties have 25 seats between them.

Conservative Council Leader Tom Dawlings walks a difficult tightrope with a hung council
Conservative Council Leader Tom Dawlings walks a difficult tightrope with a hung council

Fewer councillors will inevitably been larger wards, which are generally thought to disadvantage the smaller parties and independent candidates.

The Commission has a dedicated section on its website where people can give their views.

People can also give their views by e-mail to reviews@lgbce.org.uk

The consultation closes on March 21.

Any change will come into effect in May 2024.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More