Tunbridge Wells’ longest serving Councillor steps down

Tunbridge Wells' longest serving Councillor steps down
Jill and David Neve during his term in office as Mayor

Cllr David Neve has represented St James’ ward in Tunbridge Wells since 1987, first as a member of the SDP [Social Democrat Party], and then as a Liberal Democrat.

He was Mayor of Tunbridge Wells between 2016 and 2017.

In 2019 he quit the Lib Dems citing too much local infighting, and became an independent on the Council. He even came out in support of Conservative MP Greg Clark during the last General Election.

The 68-year-old has now relocated near to the picturesque village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales, with his wife Jill.

He told the Times: “If we didn’t move now, I don’t think we will have ever done it.

He said he ofically handed in his resignation to the Town Hall on March 16, ending over three decades in public service.

“I have been a Councillor for 34 years – more than half my life, so I suppose I’ve done my bit,” he said, adding: “I will miss Tunbridge Wells but I’ll be coming back every few weeks to visit – I will miss the Prince of Wales pub too much not to.”

He said he was ‘proud’ of the help he given residents over the years.

“For me, it has never been about politics,” he said. “I don’t do social media or Facebook. I like to meet people face to face.

“Being a Councillor has been about helping people, whether it is getting the bins sorted, helping with their Council Tax or getting pot-holes filled in. And I suppose I am proud of all the help I’ve given people over the years.”

But he added: “I won’t miss some of the petty politics and infighting, and I won’t miss some of the changes that have happened over the years – all those houses built down North Farm and this new Business Park they have proposed are just terrible.”

Cllr Neve was a popular figure at the Town Hall, often bringing some much-needed humour to Council meetings.

In 2018, he published a short, humorous memoir of his year in office as Mayor, entitled: “Only the Punny Bits’.

Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, William Benson, said: “David has spent half of his life on the Council – 34 years – and I enjoyed working with him – particularly during his Mayoral year. I am sure that Councillors will miss his contribution in the Council chamber, if not his dreadful puns!”

And fellow Councillors described him as the ‘epitome’ of a good Councillor.

Paul Barrington-King [Conservative], said: “David Neve was not just an excellent Councillor, but also he is an excellent human being.

“While he was a member of the opposition, he was always the epitome of what a good, hard-working local Councillor should be, regardless of politics.

“I’m sure I speak for all Councillors and thank him sincerely for all his years of service.”

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