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ELECTION: Indie Kate Hammond defends criticism by Lib Dem council leader

Monday 26th April 2021

THE independent candidate in the fight for East ward at elections to Maidstone Borough Council on May 6 has defended herself after comments by her Liberal Democrat rival.
Leader of MBC, Lib Dem Martin Cox, claims councillors are being wrongly blamed for the level of housebuilding as these targets are set by central Government.
The council must find a way of meeting these targets, he said, but indie Kate Hammond has been criticial of the Lib Dem-led approach and the party political system in general.
In an interview posted online today, Cllr Cox claimed: "Our role is to find the best sites to accommodate those numbers through the Local Plan process. None of the councillors are planning professionals, we have to be guided by the advice of our professional officers.
"If Mrs Hammond were to be elected, she would find herself forced to make many of the same decisions."
Mrs Hammond, has raised widely held concerns about the choice of development sites, lack of infrastructure to support housing and worsening air pollution, said the council leadership must be held to account for the decisions taken.
She added: "Martin has been the guy in charge of the council for a few years now. It is his party political alliance running the show at the town hall who have made the decisions or failed to carry them out properly. 
"Reckless and thoughtless proposals, terrible congestion on the roads and polluted air -  that's what the voters can deliver on when May 6 comes round."
Mrs Hammond hopes her socially liberal views will chime with "moderates" from all ends of the political spectrum.
Observers, who do not believe she can win, say that COVID-19 has meant no one can accurately predict what the turnout might be among its 6,500 residents but it might be as low as 25%.
What may drive the voters out is the fact it is borough, county and police and crime commissioner polls are all held on the same day.
It is believed that postal votes may have risen by around 20% because of the pandemic but which party will prosper is unclear. But it will likely depress the May 6 vote.

Pictured here are Cllr Martin Cox, Lib Dem leader of Maidstone Borough Council and indie challenger Kate Hammond.

The candidates in East ward are:
Martin Cox (Liberal Democrat)
Harprit Singh Dogra (Conservative)
Kate Hammond (Independent)
Marlyn Randall (Labour)
James Shalice (Green Party)