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ELECTION: Indie Kate Hammond takes on Lib Dem borough council leader Martin Cox

Thursday 8th April 2021

A COMMUNITY campaigner has emerged as the independent to watch as she takes on the borough council leader Martin Cox at the May 6 polls.
Kate Hammond, an outspoken critic of Maidstone Borough Council’s housing policies, has decided to go head to head with  the Liberal Democrat leader, under a ‘people not politics’  banner in his East ward where Cllr Cox won comfortably last time. 
She has emerged as a totemic candidate from a recent call for independents to stand for election.
Mum of two Mrs Hammond, who has the backing of  former independent MP and BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, said: “There is no better seat to contest than the leader’s. Cllr Cox is the leader of the council and, as such, he has to defend his record. The crazy house-building in the borough is being mismanaged alarmingly but I’m not convinced any of the other political parties would do any better. We need people in control of their destinies.”

READER POLL: Will housing in the borough influence the way you vote on May 6?

Lib Dem insiders say they are worried an indie could split the left of centre vote, allowing the Tories in. 
Mrs Hammond added: “I’ve seen in Lenham what 4,000 houses might do  to a community and this is a council which no longer listens to people. I might not win but I’m going to give it a good go.

"I have never belonged to a political party and I have nothing against Martin personally but he's the guy in charge and he has to be accountable."
East ward was last contested in 2016, when Cllr Cox took 46% of the vote. The Tories came second with 22%, UKIP 18%, Labour 11% and the Green Party 4%.

Cllr Cox's East ward Lib Dem colleague Cllr David Naghi said: "I have great confidence in Martin Cox. An independent candidate like this one is hardly surprising given the government's housing policies.

"We are a council doing its best to meet government criteria."