Half of UKIP’s Norfolk councillors expected to stand down in May
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
The UK Independence Party's performance in the Stoke Central by-election is not going to make life any easier for party members fighting council seats in May, the party's Norfolk County Council group leader has said.
Toby Coke said he thought about half of the existing UK Independence Party councillors would not be standing again in the elections this May - although the names and numbers are not yet confirmed.
It will be the first major local electoral test for the party since the European Union referendum last year.
The last time all of the 84 seats on Norfolk County Council were contested was in 2013,
At the time UKIP made 14 gains helping to bring to an end 12 years of Conservative Party rule at County Hall.
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It saw the formation of the 'rainbow alliance' of UKIP, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats which had loose support from the Greens and an independent.
The Conservatives subsequently took back control last May following by-election wins.
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Mr Coke said it was difficult to tell how his party would do in May, adding: 'Obviously what has happened in Stoke and the performance there is not going to make life any easier.
'Certainly in North-West Norfolk we are going to have a full slate. Of course in local elections you are not fighting on national issues, it will be what is relevant to Norfolk.
His party is poised to make a call for unitary authorities to be considered in Norfolk a centrepiece of its campaign following the failed attempt to bring an elected mayor to Norfolk and Suffolk.
'On local issues, the main thing is to let the people decide about local governance reorganisation,' he said.
'There is so much benefit can stem from that if it goes ahead. Many parties are keen for the status quo. This affects everyone who pays council tax. Nationally too the business rate situation in my opinion is a complete farce,' he added.
Mr Coke said he thought about half of Norfolk's incumbent councillors would be standing again, but there would be new faces standing too. He also confirmed that he would be standing again in his Gayton and Nar Valley seat.