CWF By-Election Alert: Fant Ward, Kent

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This new feature brings you news of Conservative activists on the ground, flying the blue flag in by-elections across the country.

Today, CWF’s Mo Metcalf-Fisher hears from Matt Boughton. Matt, the former Chairman of Kent Conservative Future, needs your help as he prepares for what could be a staggering 5-way marginal…here is his message:

Fant is unique in Kent insofar as its diversity is closer to a city than a rural county town. The ward is one of the 'wedge of cheese' shaped wards which start in Maidstone's town centre and run out to its borders, bounded by the River Medway to the south and the main Maidstone - Tonbridge (A26) to its north. It also includes Maidstone West Railway Station, which will be our rendezvous for Saturday's action day. 

Fant ward presents challenges to rural Conservatives, but will be a familiar picture to many who are coming to help from London. Over 35% of voters are below 30 years of age and 25% of residents live in privately rented property, both figures significantly above the Maidstone and South East averages. Many of the Victorian terraces in the town centre have been converted into flats and houses of multiple occupancy with all the attendant problems they bring - parking in narrow streets not built for cars, storage of rubbish in properties with no gardens and a perception from long term residents that their area is changing too fast. 

The ward of Fant is one of Kent's most marginal wards. In 2014 five parties (Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green) all polled between 17% and 22%. Last May an incumbent Conservative councillor was re-elected with 30% of the vote. That councillor's unexpected and tragic death a few weeks after polling day is the cause of the vacancy. 

The by-election presents both a challenge and an opportunity. No-one could possibly here be complacent when they are defending a seat with a traditional 30% vote share. However, we are running a highly focused and targeted campaign under the watchful eye of West Kent Campaign Director Andrew Kennedy, using metadata to micro-target messages at various turnout groups we need. Those of you who come to help next Saturday will probably see something you have never seen before (which I am not going to talk about in a public forum such as this). Those of you who, like me, have fought a few campaigns will know how it feels when a campaign gets its own momentum and dominates the narrative.

When: 22nd of August- 11 am

Where: Maidstone West Railway Station, Station Approach, ME16 8RJ, MAIDSTONE, Kent

More Info: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/matt4fant-action-day-tickets-18010143825

So please do come, it would be great to see you.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher is Contributing Editor at Conservative Way Forward.

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