Shepway District and Lydd town Councillor Lenny Laws has resigned as chairman of UKIP, with some strong words about the loyalty amongst its existing councillors, and a warning that the party is imploding.
Cllr Laws has instead decided to become an Independent, stating that it will be the best way to represent the local people of Lydd, Wallend and Denge Marsh.
This comes in the same week that former leader, Mary Lawes, has been told that her manifesto for the county seat election on May 4th is in breach of electoral standards, and should either be recalled or reprinted.
In a statement to The Looker, he said: “With immediate effect I am resigning both as Leader of the UKIP Group on Shepway District Council and from the UKIP party. The conduct of some members of the UKIP councillors, their disloyalty and the conflict and chaos within UKIP locally has made my position as leader untenable. I believe I can best serve the residents of Walland and Denge Marsh as an Independent putting their interests first.
I was elected Leader of the Group in July 2016 by a one vote majority. Seven Councillors make up the Group. Three of the Group made it clear that they would not work with me including Mary Lawes, the former Leader. I contacted the UKIP Regional organisers for assistance and Mary Lawes was told by them to work with me or leave. She did neither, instead acting unilaterally in statements and Council business. By this time the UKIP officials appeared afraid of a full confrontation which would affect the way UKIP was shown in the run-up to the KCC elections. Others including Susie Govett and Frank Mckenna also tried to countermand our AGREED press statements on Otterpool Garden Town [to which we gave cautious support] and an agreement which we made with UKIP members from across East Kent not to issue any statements on the Super Council.
In the past two months these three [Mary Lawes, Susie Govett and Frank McKenna] have made minimal contact with me, not even sending apologies for non attendance of meetings I have called as UKIP Group leader.
I also feel strongly about the treatment of Bob Neaves who was our UKIP councillor in Folkestone South and not selected to stand for UKIP this May. This selection process has been found to be flawed but unfortunately only after Bob left the party.
The UKIP Folkestone Branch was recommended to have a steering committee put in place but this was never implemented. In one ten month period the Branch had one meeting—the rules state at least six per year.
At the AGM of the Branch on 01 April we were told Frank McKenna would stand down as Chairman, we were NOT told Mary Lawes had been put in his place as a KCC candidate, even though her papers were endorsed after the meeting by a representative of the District Chairman. I complained to the new Branch Chairman who promptly co-opted Frank McKenna back on the committee.
I have now learned that Mary Lawes has put out an election leaflet in which she used asks people to contact her on her Shepway District Council email address which is using public resources for party political purposes. The leaflet also contains a major printing error.
Councillors Mary Lawes, Susie Govett and Frank McKenna have acted as mavericks rather than members of a group and don’t have the courage to stand as the far left politicians I believe they really are.
I still believe in the aims and ambitions which I thought the UKIP stood for but the party has changed so much I believe it has left me. Therefore I shall sit as an Independent Councillor at Shepway and represent the residents as best I can.”
The Looker has asked Mrs Lawes for a comment on both the resignation and her election leaflet, but has refused to comment.
New Romney District Councillor Susie Govett told The Looker: “”That statement says more about Cllr Laws leadership than it does about myself or Cllrs Lawes and McKenna. I’ve always said I will speak and act in the best interest of those I represent, and that the party comes second. It’s spring, and that’s the time that dead wood should be removed to allow the new growth to come through. I wish Cllr Laws all the best and look forward to a newly invigorated Shepway group”.