Second Portsmouth branch for Ukip as party’s popularity soars

Ukip won its first seats on Portsmouth City Council this year, including an election victory in Paulsgrove for Stuart Potter
Ukip won its first seats on Portsmouth City Council this year, including an election victory in Paulsgrove for Stuart Potter
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UKIP has created a second party branch in Portsmouth to cope with the volume of people joining.

Hampshire organiser Paul Lovegrove says the party cannot cope with just one branch representing the city.

Now, one serving the north and one for the south will be created. It means the existing local branch is ‘in flux’ until it is split in the new year.

Private hustings due to take place on December 12 to determine Ukip’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South have been put on hold.

But it is suspected a candidate will be brought in from elsewhere to fight for the seat as it has now been identified as a target seat in next year’s general election by the party.

Mr Lovegrove said: ‘The branch is in a state of flux while things change.

‘The Portsmouth branch will go under some restructuring because there are so many members now.

‘It’s got too big, so we have to make some adjustments.

‘Instead of one dedicated membership secretary, who is swamped, we need two, and we need two branches. ‘

‘We need two chairmen. It’s just gone so well.

‘In Portsmouth, local people have taken the reins and that has made all the difference.’

Mr Lovegrove is now in charge of Portsmouth Ukip operations on behalf of the south-east regional branch.

But Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said a party having two branches is nothing new and each one operates in a different way.

‘The Conservatives operate with two branches, but Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens operate as a city party,’ said Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who is also the Lib Dems’ prospective candidate for Portsmouth South.

The Ukip council group is unaffected by the changes as it is separate from the party branch.

The news comes after an anti-Ukip coalition was formed earlier this week.

As reported, 40 members of various political parties and concerned residents met to discuss ways they could fight what they describe as a ‘racist’ party – and it was agreed a committee would be formed against the rise of Ukip.

Mr Lovegrove criticised the stance as he is the party’s anti-racism officer and is responsible for ensuring good practice.

‘Ukip is the only major party you cannot join if you have any connection to the British National Party or the English Defence League,’ he said.