UKIP leader Nigel Farage optimistic of winning Norfolk seats
- Credit: Archant
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told a meeting in north Norfolk that he was 'cautiously optimistic' next month's elections might see enough of the party's candidates returned to form a group on Norfolk County Council.
Mr Farage made his bold prediction at a packed public meeting in Holt Community Centre last night where he went to support local businessman Michael Baker in his bid to oust the Conservatives from the seat.
He said the national mood had changed as had been shown when UKIP pushed the Conservatives into third place in last month's Eastleigh by-election.
UKIP is fielding candidates in all seats covered by the party's North Norfolk and Broadland group.
The up-beat head of the United Kingdom Independence Party was largely preaching to the converted and was cheered by the crowd of 200-plus at frequent intervals through a speech which ranged from 'open-door immigration' and over-bearing European rules, to strains on the NHS.
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Some of the loudest applause came when he denounced wind turbines - the subject of many controversial north Norfolk applications - as 'ugly, useless and bird chomping.'
The government should instead focus on exploiting the shale gas found in the north-west of Britain, according to Mr Farage.
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UKIP organisers had to abandon a planned 'walkabout' in Holt's Budgens supermarket because Mr Farage arrived nearly two hours later than expected.
Rumours that his open-topped tour bus had broken down in Cambridgeshire were not confirmed by party chiefs who would only admit that there had been 'some problems' with the vehicle.
Instead, Mr Farage arrived in a London-style taxi, painted in UKIP's plums and custard colours.
Over a swift pint of real ale in the town's Feathers Hotel, before he took to the stage, he said he used to be a frequent visitor to north Norfolk in the days when he had played golf at Brancaster, Cromer, and Sheringham. He had also attended shoots in the area.
Mr Farage said he had visited Holt in 2011 to support Mr Baker's successful bid to serve on North Norfolk District Council as a UKIP representative and hoped that by 'Backing the Baker' again, he would help him to a county council seat too.
? The county council elections take place on May 2. Other Holt candidates are: Sarah Butikofer (Liberal Democrat), Helen Eales (Conservative), Martin Langsdon (Green Party), Jono Read (Labour).