Breaking news: Grantham councillors defect to UKIP from the Conservative Party

Mike and Jean Taylor (centre) with Marietta King behind and fellow members of UKIP.
Mike and Jean Taylor (centre) with Marietta King behind and fellow members of UKIP.
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District councillors Mike and Jean Taylor have defected to UKIP from the Conservative Party following weeks of conflict within the Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association.

Councillor Mike Taylor, a Conservative member for 48 years, resigned this afternoon (Tuesday), also bringing his six years on the SKDC cabinet to an end. He was portfolio holder for Strategic Resources - Well Run Council.

Speaking exclusively to the Journal today, Coun Taylor said of the Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association, chaired by Coun Richard Davies: “I’m grateful to be out of their clutches.

“I hope that people will respect the reasons I’ve joined UKIP and I still want to carry on serving them. If people are prepared to support me as they have done in the last 16 years I will still fight on their behalf for the ward and district in general.

“The ward is my ultimate.”

Councillor Mrs Taylor, a district councillor for almost four years for Grantham St John’s and Conservative member for 36 years, left the district council group on Thursday, after a letter written by her and published in the Grantham Journal angered several Conservative colleagues. In it, she criticised Conservative members, in particular points made by Helen Goral, who has been selected to stand for the Conservatives in the upcoming local election.

As reported in September, Miss Goral, chairman of Grantham Museum, was selected instead of Coun Taylor to run for the Greyfriars ward, a ward he has represented for 16 years. Meanwhile, Dean Ward, owner of Rumours Lounge Bar in Market Place, was selected to run alongside her, putting paid to Councillor Mrs Taylor’s hope to stand alongside her husband.

A tearful Coun Mrs Taylor talked of the “heartache” endured in recent weeks as friction worsened within the Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association, from which she was ejected several weeks ago.

She added: “I’m quite relieved to be out of it. I’m disappointed because I’ve been a member for a long time, but this is a new beginning. UKIP is not a new party but it’s building up and getting lots of new members. It’s exciting.”

The Taylors joined fellow UKIP members on the steps of the Guildhall this afternoon, where prospective parliamentary candidate Marietta King welcomed the two new additions to UKIP.

Mrs King said: “I think Conservatives are joining UKIP because they are going to be able to say freely what they want for their constituents because in UKIP are councillors are free to make their own decisions.

“It’s a positive thing to have them both on board. They are the first two councillors to defect in this area. We are really excited that they have come over.

“It will be a great help to have their experience.”

** Full story and reaction in Friday’s Journal.