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Campaigning to win!

May 31, 2019 2:27 PM
By Cllr Marguerita Morton, St John's Ward, Tunbridge Wells

Cllr Marguerita MortonI decided to stand for my ward as a borough(district) councillor in the May elections as a Liberal Democrat, but more than that, I stood as one of three minority candidates.

I became an accidental town councillor for Southborough Town Council in 2003 because the Mayor asked me. At the time, I had no idea what a councillor did but I was willing to go along to the council meeting to see what it was all about! After becoming a Lib Dem councillor at the first try, I decided that I rather liked meeting the residents, being able to make decisions on renewing a children's play park, improving local amenities on the estate, going to the local primary school and being invited to see the Christmas performances.

This time around, the campaign was fought on a very controversial £90m town redevelopment scheme that the majority of the borough's residents did not want. It was the brainchild of the previous leader of the council who lost his seat over this issue inspite of over 80% of his constituents and even his own Tory councillors opposing it. In my ward, the problems of ratrunning on residential roads, lack of parking space, poor road and pavement maintenance continued to be issues on the doorstep. Residents were annoyed about the poor dilapidated look of the town centre because of the 25% vacancy rate in our shopping mall as well as vacancies in our major shopping areas. They felt that Tunbridge Wells was not living up to its reputation as a modern, spa town that attracted home and out of town visitors. People complained about the parking charges in the multi storey car parks which they felt was driving them away to other places like Bluewater. I felt that I got a warm welcome on the doorstep because people were fed up with untrustworthy politicians on their screens but they wanted someone they could see and talk to about their troubles.

So, the Lib Dems won five seats in May due to the inability of the council to listen to their constituents. Locally it was the unloved Calverley Grounds and nationally it was Brexit. This was the only way the voters could see to punish an arrogant, unpopular executive.

Marguerita Morton

Councillor for St. John's Ward, Tunbridge Wells