UKIP in Croydon, who caused widespread disgust when three of its members lodged the call for the Selhurst ward by-election before the funeral of former councillor Gerry Ryan, have rewarded one of those who created the outrage by making him chairman of their local party branch.
Had UKIP members Emmanuel Ehirim, Peter Morgan and Janet Stollery not demanded the early staging of the by-election, it is likely that the council ward ballot papers could have been distributed together with General Election paperwork, reducing the cost to very little.
Two of the UKIP troika who called for the costly by-election are leading figures in the Croydon Community Consortium, or CCC, which claims to be apolitical and stages various talking shops around the borough, all paid for by a £5,000 grant from Croydon Council. Peter Staveley is the vice-chairman of CCC.
Last week, Staveley organised an extraordinary meeting to re-instate the suspended Croydon North UKIP branch. There, one of the disrespectful and “crass” trio, Ehirim, was installed as the branch’s new chairman.
Ehirim takes over from Winston McKenzie, who was forced to stand down while an investigation is conducted into the use of a large cash donation to party funds. McKenzie remains as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, although there is some doubt among the membership about whether he will be able to raise the £1,000-plus required to pay for his election deposit and towards the cost of a campaign leaflet.
In today’s by-election, Labour’s David Wood expected to be installed as the Selhurst’s new councillor, replacing the widely respected and admired Ryan. The turnout today is expected to be very low.
Ryan and the two other ward councillors in Selhurst all polled around 2,000 votes at last May’s council elections, when the top Tory and UKIP candidates each attracted the support of around 500.
UKIP’s candidate in the by-election today is Shirley resident Annette Reid. The Conservatives have selected Tirena Gunter, the Greens Tracey Hague and LibDems Geoff Morley.
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