THE chairman of Clacton’s Ukip branch is pleading for election candidates to come forward… after losing more than 14 councillors to defections and resignations in two years.

Mary Newton said the Eurosceptic party still hopes to win back people disillusioned with the party despite a tumultuous year that saw a slew of national leadership contests.

The party saw 22 candidates elected to Tendring Council in 2015, but the number of Ukip councillors has plunged to just eight.

A recent by-election in Clacton’s St Paul’s ward, which Ukip won at the last district council election, saw the party pushed into sixth place with just 71 votes.

Mrs Newton said: “Ukip has had its own annus horribilis in the last year.

“We have gone from the dizzy heights of 2015 to what we are today – currently with yet another leadership crisis at the top of the party.

“We are here to serve the people who voted us in and in spite of the small number of councillors left in opposition, we will continue to make our voices heard.

“We have tried our best to assist residents where and when the need arises and have had a fair share of success.

“We are looking for residents who are interested in becoming Ukip local councillors in 2019 and will offer guidance as to what is required.”

“I would like to ask those people that have become disillusioned with Ukip – and some individuals who have left – to have faith in the party.”

Mrs Newton added that Brexit is “far from a done deal” and the party will continue to lobby the Government to ensure the UK leaves the EU.

Conservative council leader Neil Stock said: “History will show that Ukip was an interesting blip on British politics, but it could arguably be claimed that they changed the direction of the nation by forcing the referendum.

“Given their raison d’être was to get us out of the EU, it is job done and there is no further reason for Ukip to exist – so much so that even elected councillors are leaving the party.”

He added: “Nationally, they’ve had so many leaders that I can’t even name them.”