UKIP, the UK Independence Party, intends to target Conservative-held wards in next year’s local council elections in Croydon and take full advantage of any confusion over the Tory-led government’s position on Europe.
In 2014, UKIP will be seeking its first borough councillor in Greater London.
It is likely that local election day will also be European election day in 2014. UKIP has done well in European polling, securing the same number of European Parliament seats as Labour in 2009, and they will hope for a helpful crossover of Eurosceptic voters on to the local council ballot.
Peter Staveley, Croydon UKIP’s chairman, told Croydon Radio yesterday that his party will concentrate on those areas where they are likely to attract the greatest amount of support.
“We tend to do better in the south of the borough rather than in the north,” Staveley said in an interview on Andrew Pelling’s Croydon Matters programme.
Staveley, 50, who has run his own transport consultancy business for the last 18 years – “I have a real job,” he said, “I’m not a politician” – says that he will probably stand in Addiscombe, where he lives, and where the three ward seats were won by Labour in 2010 from the Conservatives.
He said, “A major criticism of the council is lack of transparency. I hesitate to use the word ‘secret’, but they certainly don’t go out of their way to reveal [information]. Some councillors don’t bother connecting with people and are remote. They don’t tell us what they are doing,” Staveley said.
“We pay for [councillors] through our taxes, and I remember the other day that Councillor Fisher refused to give details of what he is doing in the office and how often he is in the office. He is paid two and half times the average salary just in council allowances, so should be giving those sorts of details.”
UKIP has already overtaken the Liberal Democrats as the third-placed party in Croydon politics after the Assembly list elections in Croydon last May.
Then UKIP polled 5,738 votes compared to the Liberal Democrats’ 4,974. UKIP was also third in November’s Croydon North parliamentary by-election, with 1,400 votes while the LibDems just rescued 4th place with 860.
UKIP’s campaign in Croydon North was controversial following homophobic comments about gay marriage by their candidate, Winston McKenzie, for which Staveley was forced to make apologetic comments at the time. It is undecided whether McKenzie will be a UKIP council election candidate in Croydon in 2014.
“It was regrettable that he made those comments,” Staveley said. “Twenty per cent of the candidates on our London Assembly list are homosexuals. UKIP is a libertarian party that treats everyone the same.”
UKIP’s best wards in the Assembly elections were in Coulsdon East and Shirley, the ward currently represented by the leader of Croydon Council, Mike Fisher.
Although UKIP has had 123 councillors elected across the country, mainly as parish councillors, they have yet to secure electoral success at a local level in any London boroughs (outside the City of London).
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- UKIP’s Farage to campaign in Croydon against gay marriage (insidecroydon.com)
- UKIP candidate McKenzie fails to deliver his own brothers (insidecroydon.com)
- UKIP beats Conservatives in by-elections – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)