Paddock Wood firm keeps democracy on the move

Delivering to the Vestry, Cranbrook

THE wheels of democracy keep turning year-on-year for a Paddock Wood-based family firm which won the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) contract to transport equipment for all elections nearly a decade ago and has kept the show on the road ever since.

“We were originally just transporting polling booths – trying to make sure the presiding officer [of each polling station] didn’t have too much to transport by car,” explained Darren Hendley, who owns and runs Hendley Removals with his brother Matt.

The firm has covered all local elections, general elections and the referendum on membership of the EU.

Booths and equipment go out to the polling stations on a Wednesday, to be in place in time for elections on Thursdays, and the team stands by on the day to make extra deliveries, then collects everything again after polls close.

In Covid times, there were additional screens and PPE, said Mr Hendley, adding: “And this year, the new photo ID requirement requirements means it was necessary to transport privacy screens.”

Voters might want to shield themselves from view while removing a headscarf, or might want to show their ID in private, he explained.

The firm won the original contract with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council through a tender in 2014 and has gone through one tender since, in addition to quoting every year, said Mr Hendley.

“I understand they [TWBC] used to use a national firm.

“But we’re just a small family-run firm, run by myself and my brother, and we’re local.

“It’s just a case of being organised. This is something that can be quite time-consuming.”

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