Kent local elections: Conservatives suffer heavy losses during grim day in Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone

It was a grim day for the Conservatives who haemorrhaged seats in Tunbridge Wells and lost overall control of the council in Maidstone. It will be a time for parties in both boroughs to take stock and regroup, particularly in Tunbridge Wells where they are no longer the majority party.

It was a bloodbath for the Conservatives in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections as perhaps their worst fears came true. At the count earlier today, the grim picture for the Conservatives unfolded in stage by devastating stage as the results came in.

It was the grim ending for the Conservatives who have reigned over Tunbridge Wells since they took control from the Lib Dems in 1998. The opposition had been chipping away at the Conservative rule for several years but today they were dealt the final deadly blow. The Lib Dems are now the majority party, as they gained four seats to hold 16.

READ MORE: Live Kent local elections 2022 updates as results announced for Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone

The Conservatives, who had been the majority party with 21 seats, saw that number plummet to 13. Their leader, Tom Dawlings, who successfully defended his own seat in Benenden and Cranbrook, said he would resign as leader. It may have been a case of jumping before he was pushed.

The Lib Dems could now be putting their group leader Ben Chapelard in charge of the council. There were other victories for parties today, with the Tunbridge Wells Alliance gaining three seats to hold nine seats and Labour gaining two seats to hold seven.

The critical question now is whether the Lib Dems and the Alliance will form a coalition. There are other potential collaborations, however, which could involve Labour and independent candidates.

The horse trading will now begin and there could be wrangles over the appointment of the future leader. The Lib Dem Mr Chapelard would be seen by many as the clear candidate for leader, but there may be challenges to that, with other councillors viewed in some quarters as potential candidates.


The Conservatives have lost overall control of Maidstone Borough Council following the election. Going in to the election the Conservatives held 29 seats on the 55-seat council, the Liberal Democrats 11, the Independent Group five, the Maidstone Group five, the Labour Party three, and independents two.

But the Conservatives lost two seats in today’s election, meaning it no longer holds more than 50 per cent of the seats. The council is now known as a NOC – or no overall control authority.

The turn-out for Maidstone’s local election was 33,123 (30 per cent) of eligible voters.

  • Allington – Thomas Wilkinson – Liberal Democrats – 1,082
  • Bearsted – Sandra Knatchbull – Conservative – 1,373
  • Boxley – Bob Hinder – Conservative – 1,194
  • Bridge – Stuart Jeffery – Green Party – 820
  • Coxheath and Hunton – Lottie Parfitt-Reid – Conservative – 1,078
  • East – Richard Conyard – Liberal Democrats – 1,002
  • Fant – Paul Harper – Labour – 1,235
  • Harrietsham and Lenham – Janetta Sams – Independent – 1,439
  • Headcorn – Martin Round – Conservative – 888
  • Heath – Ashleigh Kimmance – Liberal Democrats – 530
  • High Street – Clive English – Liberal Democrats – 733
  • Marden and Yalding – David Burton – Conservative – 1,220
  • North – Tony Harwood – Liberal Democrats – 971
  • Park Wood – Dan Wilkinson – Labour – 532
  • Shepway North – Alan Bartlett – Conservative – 653
  • Shepway South – Maureen Cleator – Labour – 341
  • South – Derek Mortimer – Liberal Democrats – 1,083
  • Staplehurst – Jon Perry – Conservative – 818

The political make-up of the council is: Conservative – 27, Liberal Democratic – 12, Independent – 6, Labour – 5, Maidstone Group – 4, Green Party – 1

There was also an election of a Parish Councillor for Bearsted Parish held yesterday with candidate Mike Harris being duly elected with 1,702 votes.

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Article Source: Kent Live