Tory victory not without a few shocks
THE Conservatives now have even tighter control of Ashford Borough Council after taking 28 of the 43 seats in Thursday’s election.
The Liberal Democrats increased the number of seats they hold to eight to take over as the leading opposition from the Ashford Independents.
But the shock result was defeat for Conservative cabinet member Ian Cooling, who lost the Wye seat to the Ashford Independent candidate, farmer Jack Woodford.
It followed the row over the Tory stance on Imperial College’s controversial proposals for a science park in the village.
Former Ashford Independent mayor Malcolm Eke and his partner Carol Brunger were also both defeated, but former mayors Michael Claughton (Con) and Palma Laughton (Ash Ind) both returned to serve.
Current Mayor Norman Ayres (Con) and mayor-elect Rita Hawes (Lib Dem) were also both returned, but another former mayor, Les Lawrie, failed to get elected in his comeback bid.
Sitting members Harriet Yeo (Lab) and Miranda Kelly (Con) both lost their seats after switching wards, but former councillors Brian Norris (Lib Dem), after a recount at Aylesford Green, and Brendan Naughton (Lab) both return to the chamber.
However, Jeremy Adby (Lib Dem) and Keith Brannan (Ashford Independent) both failed to regain seats.
After another recount, Susan Heaton (Lib Dem), the widow of former councillor Bill Heaton, took Highfield from the Ashford Independents.
The election was something of a disaster for last year’s mayor and mayoress, Malcolm Eke and Carol Brunger.
Mr Eke finished bottom of the poll in the South Willesborough seat, which was won by lone Independent David Smith, and his partner polled just 93 votes in Singleton South, which was taken by Amanda Hodgkinson (Con) with 335 votes.
Tory cabinet member Neil Bell, who represents Biddenden, will be joined in the chamber by his wife Clair, a former aide to Folkestone and Hythe MP Michael Howard, on the back benches after she took one of the Weald Central seats.
There was a shock win for Ashford Independent Jack Woodford in Wye, while last year’s mayor and mayoress Carol Brunger and Malcom Eke both lost their seats
Council leader Cllr Paul Clokie addresses the candidates