Tonbridge council stalwarts stepping down at local elections
10th April 2019
ALL council seats are up for grabs in Tonbridge's wards when the polling stations open for the local elections on May 2.
The nominations for candidates were finalised last week and 52 seats are being contested in 23 wards across the borough of Tonbridge & Malling.
Only one ward, Down and Mereworth, is not being contested because Conservative councillors Ann Kemp and Piers Montague, who replaces Matthew Balfour, are not being challenged.
All current councillors in the town represent the Conservative party. There are four Liberal Democrats in Larkfield and East Malling, while Borough Green and Long Mill ward has two independents.
Among 129 candidates there are 52 Tories, 27 Liberal Democrats, 22 Labour, 14 Greens, 10 independents and four from UKIP.
Ten of the Greens are standing in the town, which has 15 Conservatives, eight Lib Dems, seven from Labour, two from UKIP and one independent, Stacey Pilgrim, who is up against the Mayor Pam Bates in Trench ward.
Among the notable changes in personnel, former Mayor Owen Baldock is standing down from Castle Ward after 35 years of public service.
The 62-year-old attended Ridgeway School in Southborough and grew up in Speldhurst and Hadlow.
'I have seen many changes, and I thank those residents who put their faith in me'
He worked as an electronics engineer with the Ministry of Defence and became a senior researcher at Fort Halstead in Sevenoaks.
He married Christine in 1979 and the couple moved to Tonbridge. He was Cabinet member for Environmental Health for 12 years and chaired the Area 1 planning committee.
A former volunteer flood warden, Cllr Baldock was the driving force in the construction of Tonbridge Swimming Pool and the restoration of the Castle’s Gate House.
Retiring for health reasons, he said: “It’s going to be somewhat of a system shock, but there comes a time when age and health catch up and it is time to stand aside and allow new blood to take over.
“I’ve enjoyed my career on the council and have seen many changes, and I thank those residents who put their faith in me over that time.
“I wish whoever succeeds me all the best and hope that they find it as enjoyable as I have.”
Also standing down is Peter Bolt, who has been representing Judd ward since 1976 – and previously served on TMBC’s predecessor, the Tonbridge Urban District Council.
The 92-year-old, who spent his professional career in insurance, has lived with his wife Margaret in the town since they were married 55 years ago and they have two children.
Cllr Bolt has been chairman of Highways on the town council, then chairman of housing for TMBC, as well as being in charge of the Best Value Committee – when he reported on the performance of each department and led Full Council meetings.
'As a councillor you need to get out at a moment’s notice to see people'
He was instrumental in protecting the town from flooding including the erection of the barrier at the Leigh Storage Area in 1982.
He also drew up the plans and instigated the project which saw the construction of Woodgate Way to divert traffic away from the town on to the industrial estate.
Cllr Bolt said: “I’m standing down because I have to stay at home these days. My son drives me around but as a councillor you need to get out at a moment’s notice to see people.
“I’ve been responsible for stopping two surges, one of traffic in the south-east corner of the town, and other was the surge of water!”
Last chance to register for the vote
The deadline for applications to register to vote must be received by midnight on Friday [April 12], or, for a postal vote 5pm, on Monday [April 15].
If you are not already on the Electoral Register, visit gov.uk/register-to-vote, call 01732 876022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can download a postal vote application from yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote