Ukip leader quits as tax hike unveiled

Cllr John Perry
Cllr John Perry

‘It’s better to be safe’ police tell the public

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THE prominent leader of a council’s Ukip opposition group has quit his position in a shock resignation.

Councillor John Perry dropped the bombshell at a lively meeting of full Havant Borough Council meeting at the Public Service Plaza on Wednesday night.

At the end of an emotive speech responding to the Conservative authority’s 2018/19 budget proposals, he announced he would step down from his post later this month.

Councillors approved a 2.99 per cent hike in the borough’s share of council tax – the first hike in nine years.

Cllr Perry, who represents the Hayling East ward, said: ‘The prime objective of Ukip was to have the UK exit the EU – we are close to realising that prime objective and that makes me very happy indeed.

‘I will close in announcing that, effective midnight on February 28, I shall be standing down as Ukip group leader and from March 1 Cllr Malc Carpenter will assume the role of Ukip group leader on this council.’

The admission came after Cllr Perry delivered a damning rejection of Havant Borough Council’s financial forecast for the upcoming year, which he described as ‘the most depressing budget I have seen.’

And while the anti-EU representative has not yet outlined his future political plans – but will ‘over the coming weeks’ – the council’s Conservative leader Michael Cheshire says it is unlikely Cllr Perry will defect to his party.

Residents at the Public Service Plaza heard how the council is being hit by central government’s shrinking revenue support grant – which was £1.4m in 2016/17, but is now £290,000 – and will be scrapped from 2019/20.

Defending the council tax hike, Cllr Cheshire said: ‘We didn’t want to go down this route but we had no option on this particular occasion.

‘We’ve got to do something to provide our residents with the best services we can with the minimal budget we’ve got.’