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Ukip defection leads to party losing overall control of Thanet

By Paul Francis

Ukip is expected to continue to keep running Thanet council despite a defection that has led to it losing outright control.

The Conservatives say that there will be no attempt to replace Ukip in the near future but have not ruled out the possibility of doing so should the party lose more of its councillors.

The defection of Ramsgate councillor Beverley Martin to the Conservatives means Ukip has been left with 27 councillors and 28 in opposition parties - 21 Conservative, five Labour and two Independent Group members.

Chris Wells Thanet District Council leader

Chris Wells Thanet District Council leader

Conservative opposition group leader Cllr Bob Bayford said the idea of replacing Ukip and depriving it of the only council it runs was unlikely in the near future.

“At the moment, Ukip has lost overall control  and if they don’t win the Margate Central by-election, will be a minority administration.”

Asked if the Conservatives would move to oust Ukip, Cllr Bayfield said: “We are a very long way from that.”

Any attempt to do so might have to rely on support from Labour’s five-strong group and two independents.

“That would be very unusual...but these days you never know particularly given the unpopularity of Chris Wells,” he said.

Ukip faces another by-election test next week with a contest for the Margate Central ward. It follows the resignation of Jeff Elenor, who had been a Ukip member but quit to become an independent.

The full list of candidates for the by-election are:

John Finnegan (Lib Dems)

Charles Kirkham (Green)

Liz Plewis (UKIP)

Reece Pugh (Conservative)

Pip Rees (Independent)

Ian Venables (Labour)

Bert Mccastree (No party named)

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