Town and Parish Councils play an important role, in many ways their freedom to freely raise and spend Council Tax allows them greater opportunity to deliver local services and improvements than many district and county councils, who have statutory obligations and spending constraints. Across West Kent we have 200+ parish councils, the overwhelming majority are totally non-party political (rightfully so) though a few of our larger town councils are still contested on party lines.
As a rule, apart from printing canvassing cards and giving advice and guidance, the West Kent Campaign HQ does not get involved in third tier campaigns. However today, we had two such by-elections, one in Snodland (yes, there is a very proud and historical paper and quarrying town in Kent named Snodland - it is in Tracey Crouch's constituency) and the other in Faversham.
The Snodland by-election was caused by the death of my former friend and colleague Anne Moloney (though we argued every day for the 14 years we knew each other). Anne was the former constituency agent (my predecessor) and it was her total dedication to her hometown of Snodland which transformed the Conservative Party's image and turned a solid red Labour fortress into a Conservative seat with 5/5 Conservative Borough Councillors and 12/14 Conservative Town Councillors.
The by-election (and the £5,000+ cost to town council funds) was caused by local LibDem activist who mustered all the style and grace at his disposal and delivered the letters calling the by-election at the exact hour we all gathered at Snodland Parish Church for Anne's Memorial Service. What a charmer.
Well, the result is just in...and it's a Conservative Hold.
James Minter (Con) 380
Lib Dem 123
I can claim none of the credit for this result and would not try to do so; that belongs solely to our fabulous branch organiser, David Lettington, and to our candidate James Minter, and our great team of local activists. They worked their socks off and deserved this win. I am delighted; all their hard work paid off and they retained Anne's seat. She too would be proud. Well done and thank you.