Ukip leader on Shepway District Council RESIGNS and quits party speaking of “disloyalty, conflict and chaos” in the local group
PUBLISHED: 12:54 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:02 20 April 2017
Len Laws fumes as he resigns just weeks before the county council elections
The leader of the Ukip group on Shepway District Council has quit his role citing “disloyalty, conflict and chaos” in the local party.
Len Laws, who represents the Walland and Denge Marsh ward on the local authority, also said he was resigning from the party with immediate effect.
He will now serve as an independent councillor.
But he has not quit quietly - taking a huge swipe at the behaviour of his colleagues on the council.
Among them Kent County Council candidate in the May 4 election Mary Lawes who only found out about his decision to quit when contacted by KentNews.co.uk.
Cllr Laws said: “The conduct of some members of the Ukip councillors, their disloyalty and the conflict and chaos within Ukip locally has made my position as leader untenable. I believe I can best serve the residents of Walland and Denge Marsh as an Independent putting their interests first.
“I was elected leader of the group in July 2016 by a one vote majority.
“Seven councillors make up the group. Three made it clear they would not work with me including Mary Lawes, the former leader.
“I contacted the Ukip regional organisers for assistance and Mary Lawes was told by them to work with me or leave. She did neither, instead acting unilaterally in statements and council business.
“By this time the Ukip officials appeared afraid of a full confrontation which would affect the way Ukip was shown in the run-up to the KCC elections.
“Others including Susie Govett and Frank McKenna also tried to countermand our agreed press statements on Otterpool garden town, to which we gave cautious support, and an agreement which we made with Ukip members from across east Kent not to issue any statements on the super council [merger talks between Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Canterbury councils which was shelved after Shepway voted against].
“In the past two months, Mary Lawes, Susie Govett and Frank McKenna have made minimal contact with me, not even sending apologies for non attendance of meetings I have called as Ukip group leader.
“I also feel strongly about the treatment of Bob Neaves who was our Ukip councillor in Folkestone South and not selected to stand for Ukip this May. This selection process has been found to be flawed but unfortunately only after Bob left the party.
“The Ukip Folkestone branch was recommended to have a steering committee put in place but this was never implemented. In one ten month period the branch had one meeting — the rules state at least six per year.
“At the AGM of the branch on April 1 we were told Frank Mckenna would stand down as chairman, we were not told Mary Lawes had been put in his place as a KCC candidate, even though her papers were endorsed after the meeting by a representative of the district chairman. I complained to the new branch chairman who promptly co-opted Frank Mckenna back on the committee.
“I have now learned that Mary Lawes has put out an election leaflet in which she used asks people to contact her on her Shepway District Council email address which is using public resources for party political purposes. The leaflet also contains a major printing error.”
“Councillors Mary Lawes, Susie Govett and Frank McKenna have acted as mavericks rather than members of a group and don’t have the courage to stand as the far left politicians I believe they really are.
“I still believe in the aims and ambitions which I thought the Ukip stood for but the party has changed so much I believe it has left me. Therefore I shall sit as an Independent Councillor at Shepway and represent the residents as best I can.”
Mary Lawes, however, slammed the statement saying there were “a lot of untruths”.
She told us: “I wasn’t aware of this at all. I think it’s rather sad that if he had a problem with us he did not choose to discuss it with us.
“I’m surprised he’s resigned but I refute his claims.
“I am so not a far left politician - absolutely far from it. I did break a protocol by using my councillor address in the election leaflet, but that has now been resolved. And yes, there was a printing error which saw a word duplicated by the printers.
“But I do think it’s a shame he’s gone straight to the press with this rather than letting his colleagues know first.”