TWO more former Ukip councillors in Tendring have defected to the Conservatives, giving the Tories a majority on Tendring Council for the first time since 2015.

Jeff Bray and Richard Everett quit Ukip in May to form their own independent political group after Mr Bray, who was selected by local Ukip members to fight the General Election in Clacton, was side-lined for a member of the party’s national committee.

Peter Bruff ward councillor Andrew Pemberton also ditched the Eurosceptic party on Monday.

Ukip held 22 of the council’s 60 seats after the district council election two years ago, but that number has dwindled to just eight following a series of defections.

The Conservatives have increased their numbers from 23 to 32.

Mr Everett has been welcomed by the Conservatives, despite previously threatening to launch a judicial review against the council over what he said was its failure to recognise a five-year-supply of housing, which he said had paved the way for speculative developments.

Mr Everett, who has been campaigning on behalf of residents who have been fined for parking at a private car park in Great Clacton, said: “I have come to realise over the last couple of months that I can get better outcomes for my residents by being part of the council administration.

“The ongoing situation with Ravensdale Car Park has taught me that working with the Conservative-led council, rather than against it, makes me a much more effective representative for my public.”

Mr Bray said: “With the recent demise in the opposition generally and the main opposition Ukip group particularly, it has become more and more difficult to represent my constituents effectively.

“After much consideration, I have joined the Conservative group to ensure I am able to give my constituents the voice they deserve.

“As a steadfast supporter of Brexit, this move will also allow me to campaign from within the governing party for a full and clean Brexit.”

Council leader Neil Stock said he was pleased to welcome Mr Bray and Mr Everett to the Conservative group.

He added: “I’m very pleased we have attracted a lot of councillors to come across to join the Conservatives.

“They are pleased with the way we are running the council in an open and inclusive manner and want to be part of the group.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Andy Pemberton has left Ukip to become an independent

Mr Pemberton said he has decided to leave Ukip group to become an independent councillor after suffering abuse on social media.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honour being part of the Ukip group,” he said.

“It’s been fun, but a lot of hard work.

“I will still continue as a councillor and do my best for the residents until 2019 and then I will rethink about my position as a district councillor.”

“I blocked out the haters and the trolls from Facebook and Twitter, but they now shout abuse out of their cars.”

Mr Pemberton said the “trolls” have caused trouble for him at work by making allegations to his company’s head office.

“I have no option and I have to put my livelihood first,” he said.

Tendring Council’s Ukip group leader, Mark Stephenson, declined to comment on the latest defections.