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Margate councillor Peter Evans moves from Ukip to Conservative party in run up to election

By Paul Francis

A former Ukip councillor in Thanet has defected to the Conservatives just over a week before the election.

Cllr Peter Evans, who represents Salmestone ward in Margate, said he was jumping ship because he felt “election pledges before the 2015 election have been largely unfulfilled”.

He was forced to relinquish his role last year as the chairman of the council’s planning committee.

Cllr Peter Evans has defected from Ukip to the Conservative party days before the general election. Picture Thanet District Council

Cllr Peter Evans has defected from Ukip to the Conservative party days before the general election. Picture: Thanet District Council

He quit after a secret video emerged of a meeting of the Save Manston Airport Association in which he sought advice from RiverOak about how to combat the plans being put forward by Stone Hill Park. 

As planing committee chairman he would have had to remain impartial.

In a statement today he made clear that the council’s failure to retain support for Manston was a key reason for quitting.

“Manston Airport and the adoption by the council of the floored and misleading Avia report [which claimed airport was not “financial viable” but has been criticised by pro-airport groups] for the local plan being a major factor in my decision, as this actively supports the building of houses on the site.”

Manston airport

Manston airport

The move was brushed aside by Ukip council leader Chris Wells who said: “It has been on the cards for some time and I’m not really surprised.”

The leader of the Conservative group on the council, Bob Bayford, predicted there could be more defections.

He said: “I would not be surprised if other members currently sitting as Ukip councillors seek to follow him: we appreciate that there are several very honourable people who do not care for the turn that Thanet council's current controlling group has taken.”

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