Former Tory town mayor joins UKIP

A FORMER Mayor of Royston has defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party, declaring: “I have not left my party, my party left me.”

Mark Hughes, a former leader of North Hertfordshire District Council, who was Mayor of Royston in 1990/91, has joined UKIP, which is seeking to withdraw the UK from the European Union.

He has hit out at the Tories, saying the party no longer represents the views of its membership.

Mr Hughes said: “This decision was not reached lightly.

“Colleagues became friends and I had the honour to hold office within my local party, serve almost a decade as a Conservative councillor, and twice contest a General Election as a Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

“The Conservative Party is no longer reflecting the views of the majority of its membership and even less so the electorate as a whole.

“The UK is sleepwalking into oblivion, and the ability to determine our way of life is being destroyed by the undemocratic European Union.”

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Mr Hughes, a financial advisor based in Royston, said he disagreed with the Conservative and Labour policies on immigration, economic growth, and their attitude to young people and the elderly

He said: “It is time for a political party to reflect the wishes of the electorate, rather than party hacks and time-serving ‘yes’ men.

“Ultimately I have not left my party. My party left me and that is a sad realisation.”

UKIP enjoyed a strong showing in three by-elections last week, overtaking the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to finish second in the polls in Rotherham and Middlesborough.

Cllr Bob Smith, leader of the Conservative-controlled Royston Town Council, declined to comment on Mr Hughes’ situation, but said: “I read in the national press that a lot of Conservatives are switching after UKIP’s success in elections recently.

“As a town council we try to remain non-political at all times, and have a good relationship with the Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.”

Mr Hughes is the second political figure in Royston to switch parties this year.

In May another former town mayor, Cllr Rob Inwood, revealed he had switched allegiance from the Liberal Democrats to Labour, citing his disillusionment with the Coalition Government as the reason for his decision.