Monday, January 10

Party's over for Frank .. And voters get feud for thought

The Evening Telegraph reported that Mr Leeming had quit UKIP as a result of the bitter feud that has divided the party's Derby branch.

Although he will continue as an independent councillor, Mr Leeming had a few parting shots to make before he handed in his party membership.

In a scathing broadside, he described the party as "rotten to the core".

And he claimed that the party has been "inundated" with resignations from other members.

He also alleged that following the October meeting of the Derby branch, the minutes had been "doctored" by the branch chairman and secretary, David Black and Josephine Rooney.

He claimed it was agreed at the meeting that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) should be called in support of a national leadership challenge by East Midlands MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk.

He said Mr Black and Miss Rooney voted in favour of calling for a leadership contest at the EGM, but he alleges this was not reported to head office and did not appear in the minutes of the October meeting, which were presented at the next monthly meeting.

Mr Black firmly denies the accusations. An EGM was held last Wednesday, but it was unable to resolve the matter.

Yesterday, Mr Leeming decided to sever ties with the party altogether, accusing party representatives of "passing out misinformation".

His resignation leaves Derby without any UKIP councillors - a bitter pill for all those people who voted UKIP.

It is all well and good that Mr Leeming wants to carry on as an independent councillor, but how many of his electorate voted for the party and not the man?

It could be that some of the 1,781 who voted for him in Boulton were staunch UKIP supporters - but now, here is their man walking out of the door, accusing his former party of all manner of ills.

Do they still feel that he can represent their views without a political party behind him?

As far as voter John Hudson is concerned, it should not matter if Mr Leeming continues on his own, without the backing of UKIP.

"I voted for the man and not the party," said John (63), a retired Rolls-Royce worker, of Penzance Road, Alvaston.

"And to be quite honest, what with the amount of damage that is being done to the national image of the UKIP as they squabble over its leadership, he is better off without them.

"I do not know Frank personally, but I have a lot of respect for the man."

He has similar views to myself and I believe he is representative of how many people in Derby feel."

Recent councils seem to have this attitude of once they have their sights set on something, they plough straight ahead with it and ride roughshod over everyone else's views until they get what they want."

That is why it is important to have someone like Frank on the council."For that reason alone he should not resign as a councillor and I would very much like to see him stay on."

If Mr Leeming did decide to resign, the effects for Derby could be far-reaching.

His resignation would mean another election taking place in Boulton.

But it would not just be an election to find a new councillor for the ward - it could ultimately give Derby a new council.

As when Mr Leeming was voted in, with Labour and the Lib Dem-Tory alliance having the same amount of seats, whoever won, Boulton ward would decide the fate of the council.

Steven Street (45), an import/export business finance director, of Shardlow Road, Alvaston, was another who voted for Mr Leeming during the elections in June."

Like many people I voted for him and not the UKIP," he said.

"He should be judged on his merits as a councillor - not as a representative of a political party - and in that department I think he has been a bit of a wet blanket."

All he has done is go on about a lot of national issues and, occasionally, what is happening with Elvaston Castle.

"But local elections are about local issues - not national politics."

It is all about getting the best deal for his constituents. In this respect, I believe his first mistake was siding with the Lib Dem-Tory alliance, instead of Labour."

I'm very disappointed at what he has done - or not done."

He is in a great position in the council but does not seem to have exploited it like past independent councillors such as Ron Allen, who successfully played one party against another until he got what he wanted - namely, the removal of the speed humps in the ward."

I think it can only be a good thing that Frank has severed ties with UKIP, because I think it was a distraction.

"Now that he is free from the shackles of UKIP, I think he should get his finger out and start to fight for what is best for the people in his ward.

"He should take a good, hard look at what he has to do, which I am sure he will do."

I don't think he should resign altogether. If he does not deliver before the next election then I simply won't vote for him next time."

"To be quite honest, at the time of the elections, I thought that Frank was an independent councillor, and not a member of the UK Independence Party," said Fay Kidger, of Alvaston."

So, for me, it really does not make any difference, whether he is with them or not."

"Frank is an older man and has got his own gut feeling about things, like us older people have," said Ivy Ryalls (81), of Strathmore Avenue, Alvaston, who voted for him at the elections.

"If he feels that things are not right then he will get out.

"He knows his own common sense and when to do the right thing.

"I don't think that leaving UKIP will affect his standing in the ward at all. In fact, it could be a good thing.

"A lot of councillors get bogged down in the policy of their party, which stops them from giving us the whole truth.

"Frank likes to tell the truth, but the other parties try to keep him quiet.

"Now that he is fully independent he may feel more able to speak his mind."

Richard Bannister (76), of Gilbert Street, Alvaston, agreed that Mr Leeming leaving UKIP should not make any difference.

"I saw Frank yesterday morning in the street and he seemed a bit down about the whole thing," said Richard.

"But as long as he does the job, it should not matter if he is a member of UKIP or not.

People around here first and foremost think of Frank as more of an independent councillor than a member of UKIP.

"I get really fed up when they drag party politics into local government."Personally, I think it is better for him to go it alone."

Source: This is Derbyshire, 21 December 2004

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