Bracknell UKIP welcomes Tory defectors
Published: 3 Oct 2013 09:302 comments
Cllr Michael Sargeant, who represents Bulbrook, has made the move alongside former borough and town mayor Cllr Shelagh Pile, the Bracknell Forest Council member for Harmans Water.
Cllr Sargeant, who first became a Bracknell Forest councillor for Warfield in 1989, said he “had grown disillusioned” with the Tories.
He said: “I’m 81 and have been a Conservative since after the war so it’s a long stretch. I just want to see how it goes. Shelagh seems happy with it and she’s pretty astute.”
The pair had been suspended from the Bracknell Forest Conservative group after they voted against its housing strategy in 2011, acting as independents from that moment.
They had remained members of the national Conservative party until their defections.
Cllr Sargeant said: “It was okay as an independent but it is much better to have a proper party behind you. I hope we will continue to pick up and hopefully we will get some other people to join.”
He added he will assess whether he wants to continue as a councillor before the next election in 2015, but had no plans to step down in the immediate future.
Richard Thomas, from Bracknell UKIP, said the move was a “clear demonstration” of UKIP’s growing influence in Bracknell Forest.
He said: “Both have realised that the Conservative Party, of which they had both been members for many years, no longer stands up for the views of local people.
“I have worked with both Shelagh and Mike on the council in the past, and have huge respect for their abilities and talents. By coming over to UKIP they are the clearest demonstration we have locally of the increase in membership of UKIP.
“Membership has more than doubled since the last election, while other parties’ membership has fallen.
“I am sure that Cllr Pile and Cllr Sargeant will continue to represent the views of their constituents very well.”
Cllr Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said he was not concerned about the defections, or UKIP’s popularity growing.
UKIP is now the joint second largest party on the council, both with two councillors. There are 38 Conservatives.