Huntingdonshire district councillors join UKIP
- Credit: Archant
Two Huntingdonshire district councillors have joined UKIP – claiming they have turned their backs on the Conservatives because the party had become unrecognisable.
Meanwhile the Tories say they did not want the pair representing the party and kicked them out.
Councillors Ken Churchill, who represents Little Paxton, and Bob Farrer, who represents Eaton Ford, have bolstered UKIP’s numbers at Pathfinder House, giving the group five members – the others being Peter Reeve, Lisa Duffy and Ian Curtis. Both councillors stood as Independent Conservatives at the county council elections in May after they were not selected by the Huntingdonshire Constituency Conservative Association (HCCA). Both have claimed they chose to leave the Conservatives.
But Cllr Jason Ablewhite, HDC executive leader, said the pair were expelled from the Conservative Party earlier this year and two weeks ago lost their appeal against the decision.
Cllr Farrer said: “I have not changed my views at all since the day I joined the Conservative Party, but it is today unrecognisable from the party I joined.”
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Cllr Churchill said: “It has been a big decision to leave the Conservative Party. In January, we took the difficult decision to step away from the Conservative groups on both the district and county councils. We felt that we simply could not support some of the decisions that were being made.
“Many Conservative councillors are unhappy with the way the council is being run and many may well follow our lead.
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“They have made some terrible political decisions, whether it is green bin charges, the plan to increase parking charges, which will devastate market towns, or the plan to keep, year-on-year, increasing Council Tax.
“The Conservative leader at HDC has started mentioning figures such as possible 20 per cent Council Tax rises.
“We believe he and the Conservative Party have let down residents and we have joined UKIP so we can stand up to them.”
Cllr Ablewhite said: “This is complete fabrication. The HCCA executive had a hearing to expel them from the party and they were.
“I would say to UKIP ‘Good luck’ with taking them on.”
He added: “We are not discussing any increase in Council Tax. If we were to increase it more than two per cent to protect services this would be put to the electorate in a referendum.”