By-election is first test of public opinion since theatre rejected

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Liberal Democrat Candidate Justine Rutland

 It will be the first test of public opinion since opposition parties forced the controlling Conservative group of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to abandon plans for the £108million Calverley Square theatre project.

Culverden ward, which extends behind St John’s Road and Mount Ephraim, is expected to become a hive of activity in the coming weeks as political canvassers try to convince residents to support their candidate.

Voters go to the polls on November 14 to elect a replacement on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] for Dr Ronen Basu [Conservative], who died last month.

Nominations closed last week, and among the candidates is a former Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, as well as a member of the Liberal Democrats, Justine Rutland.

The party, who won a seat in Culverden last May after   James Rands was elected to the Council, are hoping to win a second seat in the ward with their candidate, Justine Rutland.

The Women’s Equality Party, is hoping for its first borough council seat in the UK.

Liz Orr, who came second in the ward during last May’s local elections for the Women’s Equality Party, is hoping this time she takes the seat.

The party  was formed in 2015 by journalist Catherine Mayer and BBC comedian and presenter, Sandi Toksvig.

A spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party said: “She [Ms Orr] came second in May pushing the Conservatives into third place and winning 25 per cent of the vote, a huge increase on the year before. With a little more support we feel she has a real chance of becoming a bold, new, local and independent voice on the Council. 

“In May, our candidate in Congleton won a seat on the town council. However, the borough council is an even bigger deal, and if Liz wins that she will become our first ever borough councillor, which would be very exciting for us.”

The Labour Party has a candidate in David James Adams, while Aimee Taylor is standing for the Green Party and Rachel Daly is representing the Tunbridge Wells Alliance. Supporters of the Alliance were said to be among those who remained seated during a standing tribute for Cllr Ronen Basu at last month’s Full Council.

Current Southborough Town councillor David Elliot, who was Tunbridge Wells Mayor in 2015/2016, is attempting to join Conservative colleague Cllr David Scott as a representative for Culverden at TWBC.


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