Graham Jones, who represents Felpham and also finished second behind Bognor Regis and Littlehampton’s Conservative MP Nick Gibb in last May’s general election, was first elected to West Sussex County Council in May 2013 when UKIP swept to become the second largest party behind the Conservatives.
He Jones said: “First, I must make it clear that I am not in dispute with the UKIP group at County Hall, nor do I have any problems with the national party, its policies or the leadership.
“In fact I have maintained cordial relations with Mike Glennon, leader of the UKIP group at County Hall throughout.
“Whether that continues is entirely up to him of course but I bear him no ill will and hold him in the highest regard. He does a good job.
“My grievance is to do with the irreconcilable differences that exist between me and the branch committee in Bognor Regis & Littlehampton. It was with great regret that I have chosen to leave UKIP but I could no longer reconcile myself to work with a group of members at local level who I felt were not upholding the values of what I thought UKIP stood for when I joined.”
Cllr Glennon added: “I know that Cllr Graham Jones had some personal issues within his local branch, which led to friction. His rationale for moving over to the independent group at County Hall does not reflect any disagreement on underlying political philosophy or ideology.
“Since the start of this council term in 2013 two Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat have made a similar move.
“Certainly there is no ill feeling and I look forward to seeing Graham at full council on Friday - and indeed having a beer with him afterwards.”
He is the fourth councillor to resign from a major party since the last election, following ex-Tories Jim Rae and Andy Petch, and former Lib Dem David Sheldon.
The resignation came to light due to the fact that WSCC has to review the entitlement of political groups to seats on committees in line with the proportionality rules.
More to follow.
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