Twelve Thanet councillors who quit the UKIP group on the authority to serve as UKIP Independents have now ditched the UKIP tag altogether .
The 12, plus Independent councillors Suzanne Brimm and Alan Howes, have now formed the Thanet Independent Councillors group.
The alliance means ‘official UKIP’ is now currently the third largest party on Thanet council with 13 members, behind TIC with 14 members and Conservatives with 21 councillors. Labour has 6 members and there are two other Independents.
The move comes ahead of a vote on Thursday to elect a new council leader following the resignation of UKIP’s Chris Wells – effective as of tomorrow (February 28).
TIC group leader Cllr Stuart Piper said: “Thanet Independent Councillors name has been accepted and we are 14 in number as of today.”
It is believed the Independent group members will either quit national UKIP or allow party membership to lapse.
Cllr Brimm said: “National party politics has no place at local level. We need to be Independent, working on local issues for local people.”
The UKIP Party split was prompted by January’s vote on the Thanet Draft Local Plan. The sticking point of the plan was the proposal to remove the aviation-only designation for the Manston airport site and instead earmark it for 2,500 homes.
An “11th hour” amendment to defer for two years the mixed-use designation for Manston airport pending the resolution of the DCO process was not enough to get the plan voted through to publication stage.
Instead the UKIP ‘rebel 12’ voted with Conservatives to reject the next stage of the plan – making the vote 35 against and 20 in favour.
Cllr Wells handed in his resignation on February 19 following talks with Thanet Tory leader Bob Bayford who moved to form a fresh administration.
The leadership vote takes place at the council at 7pm.