JUST nine Ukip candidates will fight for Tendring Council seats despite the party narrowly missing out on winning the election four years ago.

The previous district council election in 2015 saw the Conservatives win 23 seats, just beating Ukip’s 22 seats, although Ukip’s number dwindled to just five following a series of defections.

This time the Eurosceptic party is fielding just nine candidates.

Mary Newton, chairman of the Ukip group, said: “The problem is that we can’t find candidates.

“We have a membership in triple figures, but they are not active people.

“They support the party and want to vote for it, but don’t want to participate in an election.

“We had 22 elected last time but many had walked from the Conservatives to Ukip and once they were elected they walked back.

“I honestly don’t know what will happen to Ukip at the election.

“I think it relies on what could happen with Brexit in Parliament in the next few weeks.”

The election will also see the number of Tendring councillors cut from 60 to 48 following a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission last year.

All but one of the new wards will be contested on May 2, with St Osyth’s poll delayed until May 23 following the death of Conservative candidate Anita Bailey.

Clacton MP Giles Watling, who remained as a Conservative district councillor for Frinton following his election to Parliament in 2017, will be standing down as a councillor.

Mr Watling said: “It has been hard work to maintain the service I wanted to offer for the Frinton ward and nobody wanted another election in the area so I kept going.

“But standing down now is for the best, so I can focus on being an MP. I wish my successor all the best.”

Clacton Labour Party chairman Max Morris, who was due to stand for election, has resigned from the party after taking issue with some Labour MPs’ views on Brexit, including a tweet by Labour MP Clive Lewis, who claimed “Leave was an inherently right wing, deregulatory and racist project”.

He said: “We need a massive change in our system, make the main parties history and elect people that actually listen.”

In addition to the district council elections, the five wards for Harwich Town Council, five wards of Frinton and Walton Town Council, the Point Clear ward of St Osyth Parish Council are being contested along with Wrabness Parish Council.

The remaining parish and town council elections will not be contested, with fewer candidates than seats available. Voters must be registered by Friday.