UKIP representatives claiming ‘democracy has failed’ in Uttoxeter have visited the town to gather support for proposed by-elections in four of its wards.
Members of East Staffordshire’s UKIP group came to town after the borough’s ruling Tory administration was ‘disgracefully’ ousted from power last month.
The Tories were toppled by four former members who left the party last year to run under the title of East Staffordshire Independents.
Nathan Birnie, Peter Ball, Robert Hardwick and Malcolm Barrett were originally elected as Conservative councillors in Uttoxteter wards.
But they gave Labour a crucial majority as it tabled a motion to remove the Tory administration last month.
Councillors Hardwick and Barrett were given roles in Julian Mott’s new-look cabinet after he was voted in to replace former leader Richard Grosvenor.
UKIP chiefs claim the move has signalled the ‘failure of democracy’ in Uttoxeter.
And they secured around 40 signatures on their petition during two hours in the town centre on Saturday.
The petition stated: “We, the undersigned, demand that by-elections take place in the wards of the so-called ‘gang of four’ because we believe democracy has failed and they no longer represent the will of the electorate.”
UKIP’s regional campaign co-ordinator, Brian Buxton, said his party was lining up candidates for Councilors Ball and Barrett’s Town ward, Councillor Hardwick’s Crown ward and Councillor Birnie’s Weaver ward in time for next year’s elections.
He said: “We don’t think these councillors’ actions are fair or democratic for all the people who voted them in as Conservatives candidates.
“Although they are technically independents, they’re effectively operating under Labour leadership.
“Therefore, we think the only reasonable way forward is for them to agree to put their seats up for re-election so the true wishes of the electorate can be represented.
“Uttoxeter wasn’t particularly busy on Saturday but the majority of those we spoke to supported our stance.”
Councillor Hardwick said: “UKIP is quite entitled to do that but it does depend on whether they are revealing the true facts or not.
“It is their prerogative and I don’t have a problem with it.”
Councillor Birnie, who briefly joined UKIP after leaving the Tories, said: “UKIP’s a good party and they’ll do well in the next election.
“Everybody is entitled to their own view. UKIP has been described as a Mickey Mouse party but they are doing well and it seems others are jumping on the band wagon.
“They have done a good job and the only reason I left the party was because I had divided loyalties.
“I cannot see a reason to call a by-election as I have not done anything wrong.
“I attend every meeting and have not broken any rules.”