Published: 06:00, 18 May 2015 |
Updated: 18:02, 19 May 2015
One of Medway's four new Ukip councillors has sensationally resigned from his party's group just days after being elected.
But in a twist today, Cllr Mark Joy admitted he "may have rushed things" and said he had not resigned from the party.
He won his seat in Strood South in the Medway Council polls - one of four new members of the anti-EU party.
But rumours were rife over the weekend that he was quitting and his twitter account made no mention of his affiliation, simply saying he was "an independent voice on Medway Council".
Today the councillor confirmed he had left Ukip. In a statement: "Following the recent speculation, I would like to confirm that I have withdrawn from the Ukip Group on Medway Council.
"The reason for this is due to actions of the national leadership of UKIP with firstly the resignation of Nigel Farage (as pledged) and the consequent u-turn stating that all members supported. It nows seems that UKIP is (becoming) all about one person and with it more autocratic and less democratic."
Mr Farage has come in for widespread criticism following his decision to hang onto the party leadership despite pledge to quit if he lost his bid to become an MP in Thanet South. He lost to former Medway councillor, Tory Craig Mackinlay.
Reacting to the news, Medway Labour group leader Cllr Vince Maple said the decision showed "a complete disregard to the electorate" coming so soon after the election.
Cllr Joy is no stranger to defections. He was initially a Conservative candidate for the ward but left for Ukip last October.
Cllr Joy and Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless – former MP Mark Reckless’ wife – were both elected in Strood South, as were Cllr Roy Freshwater and pub landlord Cllr Mick Pendergast, Peninsula ward.
Cllr Joy, who is also a Halling parish councillor, was the third of the three councillors elected in the ward with 2,203 votes, ousting former mayor Josie Iles by just 118.
Ukip claimed four seats in the council elections on May 7 but lost its four existing councillors, former mayors Tom Mason and Vaughan Hewett, Peter Rodberg and Mr Reckless's election agent Chris Irvine.
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