Ukip loses the only council it has ever run

Caitlin Logan

Ukip has lost Thanet Council after defections and election of new leader

FOLLOWING THE resignation of Thanet Council leader Chris Wells of Ukip, the party has lost control of the only council in the UK it has ever led.

A new leader was elected on Thursday in the form of Conservative councillor Bob Bayford, after the Ukip group faced multiple defections amid disagreement over the future of a former airport site.

Ukip had controlled the council since 2015, but its position became precarious after 12 representatives split off to form an independent group, prompting Wells’ resignation last week.

Neither Ukip nor the independent group nominated a candidate for leader, and the majority of Ukip members – including former leader Wells – did not attend the vote on Thursday, while the independent group abstained from voting.

Bob Bayford won by 23 votes to six against Labour’s Karen Constantine.

Ukip had 494 councillors in England in 2015, a figure which had dropped below 250 by January 2018

Wells commented: “I wish my successor the best of luck. He will need it. He, like me, will have difficult decisions crafting a local plan which conforms to government and public expectations.

“He, like me, will have to face the future of the Manston Airport site.

“He, like me, will have to face the baying of the shrinking gallery of diehard airport supporters.”

Wells lost support from his party members after backing plans for a mixed-use development on the former Manston airport site after failing to secure an aviation use for the site.

As of 2015, Ukip had no councillors in Scotland, one in Wales, three in Northern Ireland and 494 in England, a figure which had dropped below 250 by January 2018.

The party has no MPs, down from one in 2015, and 19 MEPs, down from the 24 elected in 2014 due to a number of defections.

Picture courtesy of Property Week

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