Anger after vacant UKIP seat on Royston Town Council taken by Conservative

Clive Porter.

Clive Porter. - Credit: Archant

A town councillor has questioned the democracy of the council after a vacant UKIP seat was taken by a Conservative.

When UKIP’s Paula McGlynn resigned due to ill health, chairman of the council F John Smith asked UKIP’s Mark Hughes to nominate a candidate ‘to maintain party balance’.

The pair agreed not to hold a by-election to save money for the tax-payer.

Mark, who is chairman of the North East Hertfordshire branch of UKIP, put forward Clive Porter, who had previously run as a UKIP candidate in the town, but was left flabbergasted when the Conservatives went ahead and chose Tory Iain Leggett instead.

After the town council meeting at which Iain was appointed, Mark sent a strongly worded email to councillor F John Smith saying: “You have been deceitful in this whole process – by reneging on your commitment that if my party did not call a by-election you would keep the political balance in line with the electors’ wishes at the last election.”

He told the Crow: “I asked Iain Leggett to stand down. It brings into question the whole legitimacy of the town council. They have stolen a seat.”

Clive has also written to councillor F John Smith demanding answers.

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He described the actions of the council as ‘arrogant’, saying: “This council is operating like a load of bully boys – it’s disgusting. I shall be taking it further.”

The Crow spoke to councillor F John Smith, who argued that councillor Hughes had put forward Clive as an independent councillor, and not a UKIP councillor as he first suggested. He added: “So we had someone to fill a gap.”

When this point was put to Mark, he said all UKIP councillors, including himself, stand as independents as they are not whipped – and that Clive is a known member of UKIP. He said: “I was a member of the Conservative party for 28 years and I wouldn’t have expected this behaviour. I think he just thought: ‘We want one of our own’.”

There is currently a vacant seat on the council, as Labour councillor Les Baker recently passed away.

Councillor Smith says the Labour group already has someone in mind for the position, so it is unlikely a by-election will be held.