Frittenden & Sissinghurst Cllr James Hannam said proceeds of the new fee will help fund Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s £90million civic complex and theatre in the new Calverley Square – a project he previously voted against.
His decision to sit as an independent has decreased the Conservative majority by one, but the Tories still have 40 of the
authority’s 48 seats. Members of the body’s Cabinet have now passed the £52 charge for opt-in garden waste collection.
The scheme is set to begin next spring and the Town Hall has denied there is a link to the funding of Calverley Square.
Cllr Hannam said: “My decision follows the introduction of the new £52 a year charge for the collection of garden waste, the proceeds from which have been earmarked for the new theatre in Tunbridge Wells. At the same time, the weekend refuse lorry, which is an essential service in the east of the borough where we have no local tip, has been further restricted to prevent it from collecting garden waste.
“It has become clear that the Conservative group’s leaders are only concerned with the town of Tunbridge Wells and have no interest in the priorities of other parts of the borough. Therefore, I have left the group and will sit as an independent.”
He added that he will not stand for re-election next May, when his term is due to end. Cllr Hannam was first elected in 2015 to the ward, a traditionally safe Conservative seat. The West Kent Conservative board has been approached for comment.