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Ukip’s Peter Evans quits party to join Conservatives on Thanet District Council

PUBLISHED: 10:05 30 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:24 30 May 2017

Cllr Ken Gregory, Cllr Peter Evans, Cllr. Emma Dawson

Cllr Ken Gregory, Cllr Peter Evans, Cllr. Emma Dawson

Archant

Ukip dealt another blow locally as former planning chairman defects

Ukip has lost another councillor from Thanet District Council after Peter Evans defected to join the Conservatives.

Cllr Evans, Ukip’s former planning chairman and member of the Salmestone ward, said he was quitting the party after “election pledges before the 2015 election have been largely unfulfilled”.

Ukip took control of its only local council in 2015, swept to victory on promises of re-opening Manston Airport.

It has subsequently supported turning the airport into a housing development.

Cllr Evans said: “After much thought and with the best interests of my constituents in mind I have decided to join the Conservative Party in favour of Ukip.

“This decision has been made for two reasons.

“The first because of the failure of Ukip to capitalise on their previous successes at a national level, where they have been dogged repeated infighting and scandals.

“And secondly locally because of the fact that local election pledges before the 2015 election have been largely unfulfilled.

“Manston Airport and the adoption by the council of the floored and misleading Avia report [which claimed airport was not “financial viable” but has been criticised by pro-airport groups] for the local plan being a major factor in my decision, as this actively supports the building of houses on the site.”

Chairman of the North Thanet Conservative Association, Ken Gregory, said: “We fully understand the reasons for Peter wishing to join us. As he has indicated, he is clearly deeply concerned about Ukip’s breach of its election pledge over Manston and also troubled by Ukip`s lack of leadership and sense of direction both locally and nationally.”

Leader of the Conservative group on Thant council, Bob Bayford, added: “Peter Evans will make a significant contribution to the work of our group and we are pleased to have him on board. We have known for some time that he has been considering his future following [council leader Chris] Wells` U-turn on his ‘we will save Manston’ election pledge and I would not be surprised if other members currently sitting as Ukip councillors seek to follow him: we appreciate that there are several very honourable people who do not care for the turn that Thanet council`s current controlling group has taken.”

In a letter between the pair, seen by Kent News, Cllr Wells said: “I was surprised and saddened to receive formal notice from you after the story had appeared on social media and I tried to contact you.

“I do think the party which has worked with you over several years deserved better.

“Enjoy your moment of fame. In the long run I suspect you will realise all is not what it seems in Tory heaven; I should know, I’ve been there!”

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