Ukip has lost overall control of Thanet council after a fifth member, Cllr Jeff Elenor, resigned from the party. The council became the first Ukip controlled authority in the UK after taking the most seats at the election in May.
Cllr Jeff Elenor has defected to the Democratic Independent Group joining Beverly Martin, Helen Smith, Ash Ashbee and Konnor Collins. The group formed after the first four left on 17th September claiming they had lost faith in the leadership of Cllr Chris Wells because of a lack of progress on the decision over whether to try and force a buyout of Manston airport.
The Margate Central representative joined the party in 2008 and is the latest councillor to leave following the ongoing saga of Manston airport’s future. He said:
“I have been a member of Ukip for seven years as a very loyal activist and chairman. I’m experienced in Ukip political life and the real reason for my departure is all to do with Manston. Unfortunately this Manston business became an issue because we promised the electorate that we would deliver on Manston and we haven’t managed it. This seems to be due to a probably failure by council leader Chris Wells – we didn’t seem to be getting clarity and people were getting impatient. My decision to quit was stimulated by Sir Roger Gale’s stance – I realised I had to stand up to be counted so I talked to the people who previously left Ukip, resigned my position and membership of Ukip and joined them.
I knew this would produce a hung council but hopefully this persuades Mr Wells to give a realistic response by resigning the leadership. He is a somewhat remote figure, I’m an experienced county councillor and I found he made it difficult to find out what was happening – there wasn’t the transparency I am used to. I would have liked to have been personally involved with RiverOak discussions but we tended to be excluded from that. We never really knew what he was doing in spite of the statements he made and I would like to have seen more urgency in the pledge to get Manston up and running as an airport.”