Published: 11:00, 23 September 2016
| Updated: 11:17, 23 September 2016
The Ukip group on Maidstone Borough Council has a new member after Independent councillor Gordon Newton crossed the floor to join them.
Cllr Newton, who has represented Downswood and Otham since 2011, said his decision was based entirely on local concerns rather than national issues.
He said: “I’ve have been extremely disappointed at the lack of support I have received from my colleagues in the Independent group in opposing some large housing applications that will impact severely on Downswood and Otham - especially an application at Bicknor Wood.
He said: “I’ve been increasingly disillusioned for some time about the number of houses being foisted upon us.
“Ukip seem to be the only ones showing proper concern for the preservation of our beautiful green fields.”
Cllr Eddie Powell, leader of the Ukip group on the council, welcomed Cllr Newton to the fold. He said: “Gordon is extremely well respected by his voters He is a locally sensitive, strong-minded and principled councillor.”
He said Ukip was continuing to grow following the Leave referendum result. He said: “We now have a record number of members in the local party.”
Cllr Newton dismissed any suggestions that he should resign his seat and fight it again under the Ukip badge.
He said: “When people voted for me, they elected me personally for my views and the work I do for my ward.
“That has not changed. I’m doing what’s best for Downswood and Otham.”
Cllr Newton added: “I’ve not had one criticism from any on my residents.”
Cllr Newton timed his move to take place on the same day as the Shepway South by-election so that council officers would only have to recalculate the breakdown of council committee members - which are allocated proportionately to party size - once. The by-election was also won by Ukip’s candidate Cllr John Barned, meaning the party now has four members, equal-pegging with the reduced number in the Independent group. There are additionally two Labour, 22 Lib Dems and 23 Conservatives.