DUDLEY Council’s Conservative group leader has rubbished claims UKIP will become the second biggest political group in the authority.
UKIP got a boost after the recent arrival to their ranks of former Tory councillors Ken and Hazel Turner, instantly giving the Euro-sceptic party two seats on the Labour-run authority.
Dudley Council previously had no UKIP members but buoyant party leaders say the Conservatives are heading for the political wilderness.
Bill Etheridge, outgoing chairman of UKIP's Dudley and Halesowen Association, said: “I am delighted to welcome Councillors Ken and Hazel Turner to our team as well as taking their son Adrian as a candidate for the forthcoming council elections.
“This is another example of how UKIP is becoming more and more relevant at a local level, providing a real viable alternative for people in the West Midlands and indeed across the country.
“Support for the Tories is collapsing and in our area it is becoming a straight choice between Labour and UKIP, with the momentum gathering behind our party.”
However Dudley’s Conservatives were not sorry to see former shadow cabinet member for regeneration Ken Turner go; after his recent resignation from the Tories the party described him as “a frequent source of embarrassment”.
Cllr Patrick Harley, Dudley’s Conservative group leader, says Ken and Hazel Turner should now resign from the council and stand as UKIP candidates in May’s local elections.
He said: “They should put their money where their mouths are, they were voted in as Conservative members, UKIP will be lucky if they get any seats in Dudley, it is still a straight fight between us and Labour.
“If you vote for UKIP you will get 100 per cent of nothing, they won’t get sufficient numbers to influence anything.”
Mr Etheridge is standing down as chairman of the Dudley and Halesowen UKIP group to focus on fighting for seats in 2014’s Dudley Council and European elections, he is being replaced by UKIP’s candidate for the Dudley Council ward of Upper Gornal and Woodsetton - Dean Perks.