AN acrimonious split has developed between Ukip councillors in Tendring due to rival factions supporting Clacton MP Douglas Carswell or party leader Nigel Farage, it is claimed.
Peter Cawthron and Alex Porter, district councillors for Clacton’s Alton Park ward, have quit the Ukip group on Tendring Council. It follows a chaotic annual meeting of the local branch.
Mr Porter said there are rival factions in the group due to allegiances to Mr Farage and Mr Carswell, who support rival out campaigns for the EU referendum.
"There are people who support Farage and then people who are very much behind Carswell,” said Mr Porter.
“There is a definite split - it goes right through the party. Ukip supporters generally speaking support Farage.
“Carswell is local, but what he is trying to do is take the party in a different direction when we should all be focusing on the EU referendum.
“A lot of the division has come recently with the separate campaigns.
“There’s a big divide in Ukip and that’s the problem. It will continue until someone somewhere decides to sort it out, but Farage wants to fight the referendum, not fight internal battles in Ukip.”
Mr Porter said the divisions have increased due to the separate Vote Leave campaign, supported by Mr Carswell, and the Leave.EU campaign, supported by Mr Farage.
Mr Cawthron and Mr Porter remain as Ukip councillors and members of the Clacton Ukip Association, but are not part of the 14-strong Ukip group on Tendring Council.
Ukip group leader Mark Stephenson said there has been a “clash of personalities” within the group, which has caused “irreconcilable differences”.
He said: “I’m sure Peter and Alex will continue to look after residents in the ward.”
Mr Stephenson said he was not aware of any factions in the group and that most councillors supported Mr Farage and Mr Carswell.
Mr Carswell said he is sorry there has been a few squabbles among some of the councillors.
He said: “We had an incredibly well supported action day on Saturday leafleting for the referendum and I’m going to focus on that rather than get involved in squabbles.”
TEMPERS flared at the latest Clacton Ukip Association meeting.
When electing a chairman, it understood more votes were cast than the number of people who signed into the meeting. Anthony Finnegan-Butler eventually replaced Mary Newton.
The meeting, being run by eastern counties Ukip chairman George Konstantinidis, was closed early.
Ukip activist and former minutes secretary Colin Sargeant resigned from the branch.
He said: “The agenda was not followed, voting papers did not tally with the number of members present, a motion on the agenda was ignored and the relevant voting papers were not included in the pack given to members on arrival.
“When the committee was confronted by a number of people, the chairman said unless people desisted from complaining he would close the meeting – which he promptly did.
“Many members left in disgust.”
The latest row comes just eight months after a number of Ukip councillors split to form their own party, called Coastal Independents, following a disagreement over whether to work with the Conservatives to form an administration on Tendring Council.