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Ukip loses four councillors from Thanet council and could be braced for more, say defectors

Ukip could be hit by more defections on Thanet council, according to a breakaway group of four councillors who have quit the party.

The defections of the quartet have left Ukip, which took control in May, with a majority of just one and that could be under threat if others follow suit.

Cllr Beverley Martin, one of the four, said the new independent group would support Ukip on key policy pledges - including the plan for a CPO for Manston airport - but predicted others who were disillusioned were prepared to jump ship.

Cllr Chris Wells
Cllr Chris Wells

“We have been contacted by others and a lot of sympathy from some of the Ukip group. Our door is always open. If others want to join us, they will be very welcome provided they would take our [Ukip] election policies forward.”

She said there remained concerns about the willingness of the council to pursue a CPO for Manston.

But the four were also unhappy about the what they feel is insufficient focus by the council on issues such as housing, mental health and disabilities.

The trigger for the defections appears to have been an incident at a private group meeting, which brought to a head weeks of simmering unrest. The meeting was also attended by party leader Nigel Farage.

It involved the decision to eject the personal assistant to Cllr Konnor Kollins, who is registered blind, from the meeting.

Four Ukip councillors quit and will sit as independents>>>

He said he had wanted his assistant to stay but was not allowed to after a vote.

Asked if he predicted other defections, he said: “I am sure there will..the leadership want the members to keep quiet but there are two or three others who will be leaving to other parties.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage addresses party rally in Margate
Ukip leader Nigel Farage addresses party rally in Margate

Council leader Cllr Chris Wells said he rejected any suggetion of discrimination.
“I, and Ukip, utterly reject any suggestion that there was any discrimination towards Cllr Collins.”

The internal row comes at a difficult time for the Ukip administration, which is in talks with an American consortium RiverOak over a possible Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of the former Manston airfield.

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