The Labour group at Northampton Borough Council has been thrown into further disarray today with the sensational defection of another councillor, this time to UKIP.
Beverley Mennell, who was elected to represent Kingsley ward in 2011, today resigned from the Labour Party and announced she would now be standing as an independent candidate for UKIP, making her the first councillor in the authority’s history to represent the Euro-sceptic party.
Councillor Mennell, who recently lost a bid to take the leadership from veteran Labour leader, Councillor Terry Wire, said she would be making a full statement at tonight’s full council where should be sitting apart from the Labour group for the first time.
She told the Chron: “I have been unhappy with the situation within the Labour group for several months now and I know several of my former colleagues have also expressed similar concerns. UKIP now has more than 600 members in Northampton and that is growing all the time and the party performed well, taking three seats in the recent county council elections.
“I believe UKIP will stand up for local people’s concerns in Northampton in two years and I am confident they will get behind UKIP and we will win more seats.”
She claimed those who voted for her in Kingsley two years ago would be happy with the decision, adding that she had recruited “10 UKIP supporters within her own street” in the past few days including her husband and her new personal assistant Martin de Rosario.
A few minutes ago, Northampton Labour group tweeted that it was “sad and disappointed” by Councillor Mennell’s decision.
The announcement comes only a few days after borough councillor for Abington, Iftikhar Choudary, defected to the Tories and the Chron’s columnist Aufona revealed deep divisions within the Northampton party in the aftermath of the county council elections when Labour won just four seats in Northampton borough and only 11 out of 57 overall.
Councillor Mennell is understood to have already completed a photocall with UKIP MEP, Derek Clark, at the party’s Billing Road office this morning and she is likely to make a full statement giving the reasons for her split with the party at tonight’s full council meeting and ahead of her first AGM this Thursday.