The local elections

Jun 11, 2023

Dear Supporters

You will have seen that the Conservatives have lost control of more than 40 councils, where more than 1,000 Tory seats have changed hands. They now only have a majority in two councils, Sevenoaks and Dartford, across the whole of Kent.

In this edition you can find out what is happening in Tunbridge Wells, what this means for the progression of the local plan, and why it is so important to also protect East Capel.

Capel residents

You now have the opportunity to respond here to the public consultation on the draft Capel Neighbourhood Plan. Ultimately it will form part of the development plan for Tunbridge Wells, sitting alongside the Local Plan policies to determine the outcome of planning applications within Capel Parish. Save Capel will be responding and we urge you to take a few moments to submit your own personal views…

Please submit your responses in one of the following ways:

If you require assistance in viewing the Neighbourhood Plan documents, please contact the Parish Council on: 07508 882810.

Responses must be received by 5pm on Friday 26 May 2023.

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Tunbridge Wells election results 2023

The Liberal Democrats have gained seats in Tunbridge Wells but failed to get a majority. Candidates for a third of the 48 seats were on the ballot papers last week, making 16 seats in contention. The Alliance (TWA) took two further seats from the Conservatives, at Goudhurst & Lamberhurst and the Park ward, whilst retaining three other contested seats.

Labour took the Rusthall seat from the LibDems, who took the seats of three independents that had stood down from election. Matthew Bailey failed in his attempt to unseat Rodney Atkins (Independent) at Paddock Wood East…

Regulation 19 process flowchart

We understand that the leaders of the parties are meeting this week to review the Borough Partnership arrangements following these results. No doubt the local plan will feature prominently in these discussions.

Cabinet will need to adjust although it is a matter for the Leader of the Administration to appoint suitable members to portfolios. The Leader has until the next Full Council meeting, scheduled for 10am on 24th May 2023, to do this. This might result in further delay for the local plan and we will keep you posted on developments.

Tonbridge & Malling (T&M)

Like at Maidstone, the Conservatives lost their majority at T&M. It is possible that they could form a minority administration, given the size of each group (Conservatives 20, Lib Dems 11, Greens 8, Lab 3, and Kent Alliance 2). The Council size is 44 seats and the required majority is 23.  However, to maintain control, the Conservatives would need support from one of the opposition groups to pass decisions outside budgetary and policy frameworks at Full Council meetings.

If you live in T&M and have new representative(s) for your ward please let them know your concerns about the TWBC local plan. Save Capel continues to greatly appreciate the support of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.


As discussed previously, whatever happens regarding Tudeley Village, there is a significant amount of work needed to challenge the proposals for East Capel in the next consultation and subsequent public hearings. We understand that TWBC is considering two options; one that would keep the full development of around 2,100, and the other for around 1,500 houses. Neither of these are acceptable and we will need to commit resources and funds to continue our fight.

The birds of East Capel

We are grateful to one of our supporters, Chris Sutton, who has written this excellent article about the wonderful diversity of bird sounds in the fields of East Capel where TWBC wants to develop…

“I have recently discovered the free Merlin app, which helps you identify birds by their sounds. I am not an ornithologist, but am loving the opportunity to get to know the beautiful sounds around me. In the last 20 days in April  I have been amazed to hear and often see over 40 different types of bird in East Capel, basically along Eastlands Lane and the fields between Eastlands Lane and the bypass – land that TWBC would wish to turn over to the sounds of construction.

This has not been a scientific study, it’s just what I have heard at random times on one hour daily walks or sitting still for ten minutes in my garden. No doubt experienced ornithologists will have heard many more birds in the East Capel fields in April than I have –  if so it would be great to know…

…My favourites are the goldfinches which live in the trees by Tudeley Brook and occasionally peck on my lawn, the sight of a skylark climbing from the field into the sky until it becomes invisible, and the buzzards which often circle overhead.

The most regular sounds are of Skylarks, House Sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Goldfinches, Wrens, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks, Wood Pigeons and Crows.

I commonly also hear Buzzards, Song Thrushes, Mistle Thrushes, Coal Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Meadow Pipits, Redstarts, Redshanks, Chiffchaffs, Greater Whitethroats, Yellowhammers, Magpies, Jackdaws and Collared Doves.

Just once or twice in this period I have heard Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers, Starlings, Linnets, Rooks, Tree Sparrows, Marsh Harriers, Teal, a White Wagtail and a Goldcrest.

This is all in a period of three weeks, and of course excludes the many geese that visit later in the year. We have also in past months seen Herons and Kingfishers by Tudeley Brook. And on summer evenings we have bats flying between the Tudeley Brook trees and the eaves of our roof.

Lets celebrate the wonderful nature of East Capel and save it from extinction!

Chris Sutton

As ever, the Save Capel Executive would like to thank you all for your continuing support. We’d love to hear your feedback on this via email to


Stewart, Ian, Dave, Maggie, Charlie, Jan, Mark, and Chris

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