UKIP to lose the only council they control as Thanet leader resigns

19 February 2018, 15:57

UKIP are set to lose the only major council they have ever controlled as the party's fortunes worsen further.

They will relinquish control over Thanet District Council next week when their local leader formally resigns.

Council leader Chris Wells announced on Monday he was stepping down after 12 of the party's 25 councillors split to form a new group.

The announcement is a fresh blow for UKIP after party leader Henry Bolton was sacked by members at a meeting on Sunday.

Mr Wells said his resignation was the recognition of "a simple fact of political life".

:: Whither, ousted UKIP leader Henry Bolton?

In a letter to council staff, he added: "An administration needs to win votes to get policy through.

"We will always share an unusual historical footnote as the first - and possibly only bit of local government - genuinely run by UKIP, something I hope you have found generally a good experience."

UKIP now only has 13 councillors - with the 12 breakaways forming an "Independent UKIP" group.

The Conservatives look poised to take over the council, with 21 out of 56 councillors.

Councillor Wells will officially stand down on 28 February.

:: Waste of time to run again, ousted UKIP leader told

Thanet was once one of UKIP's biggest target areas - with Nigel Farage narrowly missing out on winning a parliamentary seat there in 2015's general election.

The move marks the latest downturn in UKIP's fortunes, with the party having at least four elected leaders since July 2016.

On Sunday, Mr Bolton hinted at a comeback by suggesting he could stand in the upcoming election to replace himself.

Asked by Sky News if he was considering standing once again, the former Army officer said: "I don't know yet. I've just spoken to my team, we've had a quick batting around of the different options. I'm not ruling out any option at the moment."