New West Norfolk UKIP group dismissed as a ‘travesty’

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UKIP’s new borough council group has come under fire after opponents dismissed its formation as “undemocratic” and a “travesty.”

Five councillors, who previously sat as independents, joined the party last month in a move that senior officials claimed leaves them well placed to challenge for power at May’s elections.

But the group, which also includes Hunstanton member Richard Bird, who remains an independent, received fierce criticism from Conservatives at a meeting on Thursday.

Former mayor Geoffrey Wareham said voters would be reminded of the reported remarks of UKIP general secretary Matthew Richardson, that the party stood for “bigots”, during the campaign.

Cabinet member Alistair Beales added: “What we have here is an unelected, undemocratic group. It’s a travesty.

None of the group’s members participated in the debate on whether the structure of committees and panels should be altered to reflect the council’s new make-up, although the proposals were passed.

But independent councillor Mike Tilbury, who is not part of the group, insisted it must be recognised.

He said: “We’ve clearly stated over many years we will work on a basis of political proportionality.

“If people want to swim out to a sinking ship that’s their decision. They may not be doing it for very long, but, in the interests of tidiness and legitimacy, we’ve got to do this.”