Doubts over future of UKIP branch in South Holland and the Deepings

South Holland District Council members Paul Foyster (Holbeach Town ward) and Pete Williams (Spalding St Paul's ward) are both considering their futures within UKIP. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG080515-237TW.
  • Members could leave party in protest at national leadership ‘saga’

The future of UKIP’s South Holland and the Deepings branch is in doubt because of “senior level mismanagement and poor leadership” nationally.

Holbeach Town ward district councillor Paul Foyster, branch secretary Geoff Garner and treasurer Robert Gibson have each indicated their intention to resign and wind up the branch, unless replacements come foward.

Richard Fairman, Lincolnshire County Council member for Spalding East and Moulton from May 2013 until May 2017.''Photo supplied.

Nationally, UKIP has been in turmoil since a national newspaper alleged that the former girlfriend of party leader Henry Bolton, Kent journalism student Jo Marney, had sent racist text messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle.

The branch’s future will be settled after a national UKIP meeting in March, but Coun Foyster confirmed that he would continue as an independent member of South Holland District Council regardless of the meeting’s outcome.

In a statement as the branch’s “acting chairman”, Coun Foyster said: “The alleged racist and other foul remarks by Jo Marney, the apparent continued support for her by Henry Bolton and his very poor judgement once all the details emerged greatly disturbs the branch.

“There can be no excuse for it and, in my opinion, it is the last straw in a long saga of senior level mismanagement, poor leadership since the EU referendum and a complete failure to concentrate on the UKIP core responsibility of campaigning for a satisfactory Brexit.

In my opinion, it is the last straw in a long saga of senior level mismanagement, poor leadership since the EU referendum and a complete failure to concentrate on the UKIP core responsibility of campaigning for a satisfactory Brexit

Councillor Paul Foyster, Acting Chairman, South Holland and the Deepings UKIP branch

“I find that I am no longer able to support the national party and all three principal branch officers share the same view that the only acceptable way forward now is to resign our positions.”

Coun Foyster added that although “we would like to go immediately”, the trio’s branch responsibilities meant that they would stay on as “caretaker branch management” until their replacements were found.

But he said: “I will take no personal part in national level UKIP activity, other than essential administration and I will leave the branch and the party immediatly after the March meeting.

“All those who remained during the last difficult months, and those who I know personally, are reasonable and decent people.

“Accordingly, the existing officers reluctantly consented to re-election only on the understanding that we act as a caretaker branch management to give members not at the meeting on Thursday a chance to find replacements for us.

“Unless other members come forward to fill the positions we will vacate, that meeting will vote on a proposal to wind up the branch at once.

“The branch remains united on the need for a swift and proper Brexit as we have all spent a great deal of time helping to force the referendum, and to win it, though we fear Parliament and others wish to retain as much EU influence as possible. “That’s not what the country voted for but, sadly, we don’t think UKIP will be in a position to influence events any time soon.”

Meanwhile, Spalding St Paul’s district councillor Pete Williams revealed that he had been “approached by other parties to see if I’d join them”.

• Former Spalding county councillor Richard Fairman has committed his political future to UKIP, despite uncertainty over the branch in South Holland and the Deepings.

Mr Fairman, Lincolnshire County Council member for Spalding East and Moulton from May 2013 until May 2017, said he was disapppointed in UKIP leader Henry Bolton for having not “recognised a honeytrap”.

Nine days ago, UKIP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) delivered a no confidence vote in Mr Bolton for his handling of a racial row involving former girlfriend Jo Marney.

But Mr Fairman said: “Our job hasn’t finished yet and we still have a part to play, even if we satisfactorily get Brexit done.

“I shall always be a UKIP member because I’ve been working on the UK leaving the EU for 44 years, about as long as ex-leader Nigel Farage has.

“Whatever happens to the South Holland and the Deepings branch, even if it goes dormant, everybody is very concerned that if things relating to Brexit don’t work out as they should then UKIP will rise up again.”

Some members of the branch, including district councillors members Paul Foyster and Pete Williams, have said they plan to leave UKIP in protest at the way the row involving Mr Bolton has been handled.

Mr Fairman said: “These events are a long way outside of our control and we still have to make sure that we do get a proper Brexit deal.

“We don’t want the Government to make a dog’s breakfast out of it and we’ve got to get all the main issues of Brexit sorted out.

“But I’m very, very disappointed that, as an ex-military man and an ex-police officer, Henry Bolton didn’t recognise what I think was a trap.

“I’m afraid that politics sometimes produces people who ought to be good leaders but, somehow. they aren’t.

“However, I’m at the service of my constituents.”

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