Published: 16:16, 21 July 2017
Ramsgate's Central Harbour Ward councillor Beverly Martin has today quit Ukip, meaning the party has lost its majority at Thanet council.
Thanet council is the only Ukip-controlled local authority in the country.
Cllr Martin previously exited the party in 2015 to join the DIG alliance, but soon rejoined.
The Ramsgate councillor's move to the Conservative party will mean Ukip will be left with 27 councillors at TDC, and 28 in opposition parties (21 Conservative, five Labour and two Independent Group).
Cllr Martin wrote: "This decision has not been undertaken lightly and is for three main reasons.
"Firstly, when UKIP stood for election in 2015 we majored on the pledge to re-open Manston as an airport, and to secure a CPO at the earliest opportunity. This did not happen and Manston remains closed.
"Secondly, I have serious concerns that UKIP intend to promote and develop Ramsgate as an industrial town, designating it for industrial use including ‘manufacture and construction’.
"We already have a concrete batching plant at the Port, with no sign of any development there for leisure and tourism.
"Thirdly, the campaign to give support to the iconic P22 US Gunship at the harbour was completely ignored by Cabinet and Officers.
"The P22 – featured in this month’s release of the Dunkirk film – has been offered free, or nearly free, berthing at Dover and Sandwich, and the result has been Ramsgate’s loss – of visitor numbers, history, and revenue.
"I have found this completely unacceptable (and unexplained).
"In contrast: I have, since the autumn, had the benefit of working with Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet and, in the last few months also with Cllr Paul Messenger of KCC, Conservative Councillor for Ramsgate.
"It was Craig who invited me to form a group with him to consider the future of Port Ramsgate and the beaches within the Regeneration Alliance, which I have very much appreciated.
"I realise that in working regularly with Craig, Paul and others in the community, we now have a strong representation for Ramsgate where issues of development for our town can be taken forward with commitment and imagination, both at District and County level.
"We have some wonderful ideas and we have plans for Ramsgate.
"Therefore, following discussions with Bob Bayford, Leader of the Conservatives on TDC, I feel that I can better serve the residents of Thanet, particularly those I represent in Ramsgate, from within the Conservative group.
"I look forward to working with my new colleagues over the next two years.
"I hope also to continue collaborative working and cross-party liaison."
The councillor has been slammed by TDC leader Chris Wells for having 'contributed little at District level' since returning to Ukip.
He said: "Yo Yo Councillor Yo's again.
"I heard earlier today through the press that Cllr Martin has resigned from UKIP. I later received a round robin email from the lady herself giving three reasons for her departure.
"Cllr Martin was elected as a UKIP Councillor in 2015; and then departed to an independent group led by a man whose fake medals and bigamy were later exposed.
"She then returned to UKIP, but has contributed little at District level during her "second term", and she is quite correct in stating that she has hung around with Craig Mackinlay's crowd.
"She now departs from us to join the Conservative Party, who were recently given the biggest fine for electoral offences in Electoral Commission history; whose MP is about to stand trial for electoral offences; and whose newly elected County Councillors have just voted themselves a 15% pay rise, something they forgot to mention before the election.
"So be it. UKIP continue to mop up the messes left in Thanet by both others past errors. We have to make the hard decisions others ran away from.
"If Cllr Martin finds hard decision too difficult, then she is doing entirely the right thing.
And going to the right place."
Beverly Martin, who represents Central Harbour ward, was one of four councillors who quit Ukip September 2015 and set up a new independent group on the council.
At the time, the four said the council was not doing enough to represent the interests of disabled residents but there was also unhappiness over the lack of progress being made on a possible CPO for Manston Airport.
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