Mayor Julia Soyke back in Tory fold for Tunbridge Wells council election

Lee Colyer

The Mayor Julia Soyke has been welcomed back into the ranks of the Conservative Party just weeks after being told she could not stand in the next election as a Tory candidate.

The move comes after the local Conservative Association was plunged into a behind the scenes row when the popular councillor for Speldhurst and Bidborough was rejected as a potential candidate by a five a member selection committee that met behind closed doors.

She was not allowed to appeal and was given no reason for the decision on who should stand in local elections in May.

Cllr Soyke said at the time that she was ‘puzzled’ but kept her own counsel on whether she might fight the seat as an independent.

This week it emerged she is now back on the official list of Conservative candidates and is the only member of the party put forward to represent the solid Tory ward of Speldhurst and Bidboroough.

She told the Times: “I am delighted to be back on the list. I did ask the selection committee to offer a public explanation as to why I had been deselected but so far nothing has been forthcoming.

“I have now moved on and will continue to have a major interest in the future of Tunbridge Wells which has always been my main focus.”

Council Leader David Jukes, who played no part in the selection process, said yesterday: “She’s a brilliant Mayor, is really enjoying the role and I am really pleased she is back on the list.”

Conservative Cllr Don Sloan of Culverden ward, who was also deselected by the party, declined an invite to be re-interviewed as a potential candidate. He said the original decision had been ‘a slap in the face’.

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