Sun, 26 May 2024

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The House Live All
By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Ukip loses control of only council

2 min read

Ukip has lost control of its only local authority after a row over the site for a nearby airport led many to vote in a new Conservative leader.

Last week, Chris Wells resigned as council leader of Thanet District Council when 12 Ukip councillors broke away to set up their own group in a dispute over the site for Manston Airport.

In a meeting held on Thursday the new Conservative leader was elected after the Ukip and Independent groups failed to nominate a potential candidate from among their ranks.

Bob Bayford (Con) ran against Karen Constantine (Lab), and won by 23 votes to six.

The majority of Ukip councillors did not attend the meeting to vote, including Mr Wells.

In 2015 UKIP had been elected on a promise to return the Manston site to use as an airfield, but Mr Wells backed a plan which would see part of it used for housing.

In a statement issued after the vote, he said: "I wish my successor the best of luck. He will need it.

"He, like me, will have difficult decisions crafting a local plan which conforms to government and public expectations.

"He, like me, will have to face the future of the Manston Airport site.

"He, like me, will have to face the baying of the shrinking gallery of diehard airport supporters."

Conservative leader Bob Bayford admitted there were challenges ahead but said both himself and his colleagues were ready to face them.

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