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"It's bad for democracy" - Winners and losers react to Kent County Council elections

PUBLISHED: 11:46 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:46 10 May 2017

County Hall

County Hall

Archant

Kent went to the polls on Thursday

As the dust settles on last week’s election, one candidate has warned the tightening Conservative grip on the county council is “bad for democracy”.

Across Dartford, only the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association was able to stop a decisive Tory landslide which saw it take a county seat in Dartford North East, while holding on to Dartford East, West, Rural and Wilmington.

But outgoing Labour and Co-Operative county councillor Tom Maddison said he wasn’t too disappointed with the result.

“Given we were 21-points behind on the opinion polls, I think I did quite well to only lose by 88 votes,” said Mr Maddison.

“But I am disappointed with some of the literature he was publishing in the run up, questioning my work for the past four years, I spent a lot of time lobbying for The Bridge Community Primary School to be extended, and also campaigned on things like air pollution and road safety. There’s a line with these things and I think that line was crossed a bit.

“Now there’s no Dartford Labour opposition to hold the Conservative administration to account, I have to hope the others will do their best to keep Dartford’s interests in mind.”

Returning county councillor for Dartford Rural, Jeremy Kite, paid tribute to Mr Maddison’s time as councillor, but added: “I believe the election documents were fair, and it’s something that all of us face, in four years time when the next election comes people I expect people to hold us to account.”

“I’m not surprised by the result but I’m surprised by the way we won it, what’s next for us is focussing on transport, and that’s making sure the crossing in Gravesham goes ahead but also what comes between by improving our local road and train networks to help people get around better.

“Then we have to focus on the infrastructure by providing school places for local children, as well providing GP surgeries, and finally, we need to make sure our older residents are getting the level of health care they have become used by providing top adult social care.”

Only Swanscombe and Greenhithe were able to hold off the blue tide that swept across the borough, returning to county hall for their third term.

“People vote for us because we’re about helping the local community, we don’t have a party line or opinion,” explained councillor Peter Harman.

“The main areas we focus on, with town, borough and county representation, are London Paramount Park’s affect on our roads and population, anti-social behaviour, and in my last term I helped secure funding to bring back a local park, which was very important for our residents.”

Over in Gravesham, long-term campaigner on issues including the shock-demolition of the Battle of Britain pub, and street lighting, Tina Brooker stood with Ukip in Gravesend East.

Following its near annihilation across the country last week, Miss Brooker stood firm, saying she would continue to support the party: “Obviously I’m a bit disappointed; I think people were voting on national issues like Brexit, without knowing who the local candidates were and what they stood for, but I think given that we were working as a small team of just me, the local branch and volunteers, we performed quite well to 1,182 votes, but .

“Of course I’m going to keep on with my campaigning on all issues, and I’ll be staying with Ukip because we’re the party of ordinary people for ordinary people, right now we have Conservatives in control at every level, and that’s bad for democracy.”

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