Clean sweep for Tories as UKIP bids ‘thank you and goodbye’

Calverley House

TONBRIDGE mirrored the mood of the nation on Thursday [May 4] as two Conservative candidates were elected to the Kent County Council with a landslide victory.

Incumbent Richard Long and newcomer Michael Payne came out on top with over 50 per cent of the vote collectively; more than the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens combined.

A total of 17,328 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 33 per cent, although this was an improvement from 2013, when just 28 per cent of the Tonbridge electorate turned out to vote.

Cllr Long said: “It’s a first class result for us in Kent and there is a message around the country that people support Theresa May and as far as I’m concerned I will now go to work on the behalf of people in Tonbridge.”

Newly elected Michael Payne expressed his gratitude to those ‘who have placed their trust in me to represent them’, adding: “The national picture shows that there is a lot of work to be done on all sides. We must make sure that we move forward as a united country on the world stage to ensure that our common values are upheld. Personally I believe that Theresa May is the right person to lead us at this important moment in history.”

The Tory dominance was felt throughout Kent as the party took 67 of the 81 seats available. Previously they held 47.

Although there were small pockets of resistance such as Malling Central where Liberal Democrat Trudy Dean, who is also a Borough Councillor, increased her majority.

Aside from Labour, the biggest casualty of the local elections were UKIP who failed to defend all of their 14 seats in the county and lost all bar one of their 144 councillors nationwide.

In Tonbridge, they took 22 per cent of the vote in 2013 with their two candidates coming in third and fourth.

Yet last week they brought up the rear, coming in dead last with just eight per cent between their two hopefuls.

One of those candidates David Allen said: “I think this predictable result confirms two things. Firstly, the British public are firmly behind Brexit and want to give the government a strong hand in negotiations and secondly that UKIP has done its job, thanks and goodbye.”

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