A Polegate Town councillor has defected to the UK Independence Party after becoming ‘disillusioned’ with the Conservative Party.
Edward Board, who was deputy chairman of Polegate Conservatives, said the move was due to the Conservatives’ stance on ‘a number of important issues: planning, defence, Europe, economic regeneration, immigration, integration and welfare’.
Cllr Board is the fourth local Tory to defect to UKIP this year and he resigned from the Conservative Party before the East Sussex County Council elections in May.
He said he wanted to spare the local Conservative association, for whom he has nothing but the upmost respect, the embarrassment of running their campaign with their sole councillor having left them.
In addition to his following his political conscience, Cllr Board said he received first-hand experience of the Big Society.
He was part of the original local free school group behind Gildredge House and said they have been ‘appallingly treated by the Ministry of Education, the Liberal and Conservative MPs’. He said he and the team of local parents and teachers who set up the school were ousted by government ministers.
“I now have first-hand experience of what it is like to try to stand up for the community and do the right thing – in the face of the wishes of the Conservative Party and government bureaucracy,” he said.
“There is almost no depth to which they will not stoop to sweep aside those who stand in the way.
“In our case it was the free school – we tried to get maximum benefit for local people and businesses.
“We ran up against the vested interests and the Conservative Party threw us out after we had put in two years of effort. The Conservative Party orbits big money with no regard for local people; they are firmly on the side of big business. The Big Society is just a shallow idea to justify transferring public services to unpaid volunteers and big business.”
Cllr Board said he has received a warm welcome from the local UK Independence Party association and is looking forward to helping them in making Britain a ‘better, freer and more prosperous country’.
Earlier this year Lewes District Cllr Donna Edmunds became the first UKIP councillor in the country when she defected from the Conservatives in January. Cllr Philip Howson, both a Lewes district and East Sussex county councillor for Peacehaven, left the Conservatives for UKIP in April.
This left Lewes District Council with a precarious balance of power with the Conservatives holding 20 seats, the Lib Dems 18, two UKIP and one independent. Peacehaven Town councillor Ian Buchanan, who is a former town mayor, also defected in April.
Both Cllr Howson and Cllr Buchanan said they had ‘lost faith’ with a party that constantly reneges on promises.