Tunbridge Wells Council votes in a new leader as Lib-Dem led coalition takes charge

Co-founder of Pickering - Polly Taylor

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has voted in the head of the Lib Dem group as the authority’s new Council Leader, ending two decades of Conservative rule.

At Wednesday’s (May 25) Full Council meeting, the first since the May 5 elections that saw the Lib Dem group overtake the Tories as the largest party at TWBC, Cllr Ben Chapelard was voted in leader of the Council, replacing Conservative Cllr Tom Dawlings.

As the largest party, the Lib Dems have 16 councillors, the Conservatives 13.

Cllr Chapelard, who works as a language teacher at a secondary school in Kent, was backed by members of the Alliance, which has nine councillors, and the Labour group, which has seven. 

The three parties have agreed a coalition deal to run the authority.

The agreement will see members of the Council’s cabinet – the decision-making committee at the authority – shared among the three parties.

Under Cllr Chapelard there will be three other members of the Lib Dems on the cabinet along with two members of the Alliance and two members of the Labour Group.

A new mayor was also voted in at the authority.

Conservative Hawkhurst & Sandhurst councillor, Godfrey Bland, the current deputy mayor, has replaced outgoing mayor Chris Woodward.

Lib Dem councillor Hugh Patterson, who represents Capel, was elected as Deputy Mayor.

For a full report and analysis on the Full Council meeting, see next week’s Times of Tunbridge Wells – out Wednesday, June 1.


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