TW Alliance to fight Civic Complex through the ballot box

TW Alliance to fight Civic Complex through the ballot box

Campaigners have pledged to continue their fight against the new Civic Complex and theatre through the ballot box.

The TW Alliance, that has led protests, warned this week that councillors who voted to advance plans for the development can expect to be challenged in next year’s elections.

The pressure group formed of more than 100 professionals, who live and work in the town, was set-up initially in opposition to the theatre and council office plan.

Group member Nicholas Pope said they will target winnable wards when a vote is held in May to decide 15 of the authority’s 48 seats.

“We will be supporting some of the opposition parties in some wards and there is a possibility we will have candidates ourselves [as independents].

We have not got into details yet. “It is not just the Civic Complex [that we are interested in] but that is the single biggest thing that has made residents aware that things have got to change.”

The Conservative Party is defending all but two seats due to be contested. TW Alliance is set to challenge seats that could include Pembury, where Conservative Councillor Paul Barrington-King is up for re-election, and the St John’s seat currently held by Tory Councillor Nasir Jamil.

Both these wards have been held by a mixture of parties and appear on paper more winnable than safe seats such as Speldhurst and Bidborough, which Mayor Julia Soyke is looking to defend.

TW Alliance has previously vowed to fight the complex at every stage of the process, which is likely to see the group raise opposition to TWBC’s attempt to obtain planning permission next year.

Mr Pope said members of the alliance are from all parties.

“We want to improve the quality of decision making within our council. It is not trying to be vindictive but always trying to improve the process.”

He said they would decide on a case by case basis whether to contest wards as ‘different councillors have different ways of working.’

He added: “I think the feeling [of anger] will remain as the repercussions of the decision will continue to have an effect, with a number of services set to be cut.

“There are opportunities to challenge the development and it could be stopped.”

Mr Pope concluded: “I am contemplating standing for election although I never thought I would get involved in local politics.”

TW Alliance launched a Crowdfunding initiative in October with the aim of paying a law firm to investigate TWBC and their handling of the Civic Complex.

Original member Councillor Ben Chapelard went onto leave the group, stating last week “I could not continue as it was interfering with my role as councillor.”

Mr Pope said this was ‘not a set-back’.

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