UKIP eyes up county opposition role after by-election win

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News.

UKIP says it hopes to re-take the mantle of official opposition on Lincolnshire County Council after bagging a by-election win last night.

Robert Foulkes won the Stamford North seat yesterday, meaning UKIP and Labour are now neck and neck on 12 councillors behind the Conservatives, who have 35.

UKIP was the official opposition at County Hall after the election last May but gave up that status when the party ousted then-Lincolnshire leader Chris Pain, who took a breakaway group with him out of UKIP.

Coun Robin Hunter-Clarke, deputy leader of the UKIP group and General Election candidate for Boston and Skegness, said his party now wants to take back the official opposition title from Labour.

He said: “Yet again we have proved that if you vote UKIP, you get UKIP. I look forward to welcoming Robert to the team. This result shows that the residents of Lincolnshire are recognising that only UKIP are representing them at County Hall.

“I am certain Robert will be as all our Councillors are - a strong voice for his patch.”

A county council spokesman said Labour will continue to act as official opposition for the time being.

Nigel West, head of democratic services said: “Robert Foulkes (UKIP) has been elected to the Stamford North seat on Lincolnshire County Council following a by-election.

“It is now a matter for the relevant group leaders to discuss as soon as appropriate how the role of the official opposition will be fulfilled under the council’s constitution.

“At present, the Labour Group remain the official opposition at the county council with 12 Labour councillors.”

The Stamford North seat had been vacant since the death of Lincolnshire Independent councillor John Hicks in October.

Lincolnshire County Council has 77 elected members. There are now 35 Conservative, 12 Labour, 12 UK Independence Party, 8 Lincolnshire Independents, 3 Independence from Europe, 4 Liberal Democrat and 3 Independents.