Elections 2021 | News Indy shakes MBC leader Cox

ON AN afternoon of high tension, all eyes turned to East ward after a number of long-time campaigners were ousted.

Ecstatic Tory supporters and candidates applauded and occa- sionally cheered as the Liberal Democrats fell like dominoes, while their supporters looked frus- trated, trying to take in the news. The most exciting moment of the day came as seven re-counts uncovered there were just 15 votes between Liberal Democrat council leader Martin Cox and Tory candi- date Harprit Singh Dogra. A clearly concerned Cllr Cox

darted here and there, occasionally going into huddles with party ac- tivists as it looked less and less likely his was a straight win. In the end, Cllr Cox secured 762 votes and Mr Dogra polled 747. Kate Hammond, an outspoken critic of Maidstone Borough Coun- cil’s housing policies, polled 333 decisive votes. Independent Mrs Hammond de-

Farmer’s win ANTI-housing campaigner Clau-

dine Russell won the Marden and Yalding ward.

Mrs Russell, who led the suc- cessful crusade to prevent 2,000 homes being built in Marden, de- cided to join the Tories to take ad- vantage of the party machinery. The farmer has stepped aside from the chair of the Marden Planning Opposition Group (MPOG) and her husband Tristan has now taken over the role. She polled 1,695 votes, while Mike Summersgill (Green) took 504. The seat had previously been vacant after Tory stalwart Steve McLoughlin resigned last year.

Mayoral blow

IN HEATH ward, the Conserva- tives gained another seat as Bryan Vizzard (Lib Dem) lost to Peter Holmes who polled 577 votes. Despite representing Heath for more than 13 years, Mr Vizzard received just 540 votes this year. Cllr Holmes, who works in the construction industry, moved to Kent from South Yorkshire in 2010.

He said: “I have been involved in community projects which have led to me building relation- ships in the area.” The ousted member was in line

to become mayor in 2022 after Fay Gooch’s term in office which will start this month.

Gail Duff with Kate Hammond, who stood against MBC leader Martin Cox

cided to go head-to-head with the Lib Dem leader, under a “people not politics” banner in his ward. She said: “That is pretty good

going, considering I only decided to run as an independent candi- date the day before the deadline,

and what better seat to contest than Maidstone’s leader.

“The house-building in Maid-

stone is mismanaged, alarming and downright frightening. I started this journey with the inten- tion to split the vote and stand

against party politics. This result has only motivated me more to come back stronger next time.” According to one report, Cllr

Cox said Mrs Hammond “had done very well” but denied the vote was a response to the Heath- lands Garden Project in Lenham. East ward was last contested in 2016, when Cllr Cox took 46% of the vote. The Tories came second with 22%, UKIP 18%, Labour 11% and the Green Party 4%.

The end result means there are

now 29 Conservative councillors and 17 Liberal Democrats. According to the MBC, 35,078 (33.26%) of eligible voters across Maidstone turned out to have their say at the borough council elec- tion.

A total of 23,267 residents regis-

tered to vote by post for the elec- tions.

Tory Tom ousts Lib Dems

THE Tories gained Bridge ward after Tom Cannon (above left) secured a total of 743 votes. The former Tonbridge and Malling councillor said he was “absolutely ec-

static” with the result which saw the Lib Dems beaten into third spot. Former councillor Georgia Harvey (LD) decided not to stand this year. Cllr Cannon (31) said: “I am proud and glad to be part of a new major-

ity on Maidstone Borough Council. I am sure there will be lots of exciting things ahead.” In second place was Green candidate Donna Greenan (above right) with

541 votes. She said: “I can’t believe it, it’s just fantastic. Bridge was look- ing for change and it definitely got one.” The Lib Dems came third.

Heidi and Denis take villages

HEIDI Bryant (Con) stormed to victory in Boxley. The seat was left empty following the death of much-loved Cllr Wendy Hinder after a short illness in February last year. The Tories also held Bearsted, with Denis Spooner winning with a massive 1,787 votes. Cllr Spooner said: “It is a privilege to be re-

elected. Although it is a pretty safe seat, I’ve put in a hell of a lot of time and work.”

‘I’ll stick to

my pledges’ THERE was another Lib Dem loss in Coxheath and Hunton too where Simon Webb (Con) appeared triumphant. With 1,380 votes, Cllr Webb

received more than double that of his nearest rival, Peter Lewis (LD), who polled just 570.

Cllr Webb, an ardent anti- flytipping campaigner, said: “I am absolutely over the moon. I will follow through on my pledges and it has been a great day for the Con- servative Party.”


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