Council in deadlock as Lib Dems rule out ‘propping’ up Conservatives

Following the count on Saturday [May 6], in which the Conservatives lost overall control of the Council for the first time since 1998, Lib Dem leader Ben Chapelard said his party would be the ‘adults in the room’ and would work to find a solution to a stalemate that sees the Tories holding 24 seats and the opposition parties also holding 24.

But at the weekend, in a message to his supporters, the secondary school teacher and councillor of St James’ ward ruled out any form of coalition.

He described the Conservatives losing overall control as a ‘momentous occasion’ and added: “As leader of the Liberal Democrats at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, I want to let you know, that we the Liberal Democrats will not be entering a coalition with the Conservatives.

“We will not prop up a failing, incompetent and unpopular administration that has seen the decline of our town and borough for over two decades.”

He added that he has contacted opposition parties and is in talks to form an ‘alternative administration’.

As the largest opposition party, Cllr Chapelard would expect to be made Council Leader if this proposed coalition could oust the Tories in a vote.

To achieve this, he will not only need support of Labour, the Alliance, and lone independent councillor Rodney Atkins [Paddock Wood East], but also he would need one member of Conservative leader Alan McDermott’s party to defect or abstain to form a majority.

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