Yarmouth council’s UKIP head calls leadership bid a “stitch up”
- Credit: James Bass
A bid to elect a UKIP leader of the borough council was branded a 'stich-up' by the woman at the centre of the argument.
The motion to elect Kay Grey as council leader was defeated by one vote on Tuesday night, after being proposed by two former UKIP councillors, Robert Connell and Adrian Myers, who now sit as independents.
Labour councillors Michael Jeal and Barbara Wright, alongside the two independents and nine UKIP councillors also voted in Cllr Grey's favour.
However, the en bloc 14 Tory councillors defeated the bid, which could have gone the other way had UKIP Cllr Tom Andrews abstained, and Mayor Malcolm Bird, also UKIP, used his vote. One UKIP councillor was absent from the meeting.
Conservative Cllr Graham Plant was later that night re-elected as leader. Cllr Grey said she felt 'stitched up' by Labour, as she believed they were trying to get her elected when UKIP were only the second biggest party.
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'It is every group leader's dream to lead the council. I maybe would have liked to do it if the public had voted us in,' she said, adding they are three seats short of being the biggest party.
Cllr Trevor Wainwright, Labour group leader, said: 'If Cllr Grey was stitched up by anyone it was the two UKIP councillors who did not vote for her. 'I find it incredible she would try and blame Labour – if we wanted to stitch her up we would all have voted for her.'
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He said the two Labour councillors, who had been given a free vote by their group, might have thought Cllr Grey was the better person to lead the council.
Cllr Andrews said: 'I did not think it was a good idea. I could sense mischief in the air and I think Labour set the whole thing up. When I abstained everyone on the Labour side laughed and said they had never heard of anyone voting against their leader for chair before.
'I told them that is the difference between you and us – we're not whipped into making a decision by our leaders.'