Ipswich: Former leader Dale Jackson on the comeback trail as he is selected as UKIP candidate ahead of borough council elections

Dale Jackson

Dale Jackson

Controversial former Tory council leader Dale Jackson is attempting to make a comeback in this year’s borough elections in his old ward – for UKIP.

Mr Jackson, who left the council after falling out with his Conservative colleagues, has been selected as UKIP candidate for Castle Hill ward.

It is a seat that his new party is targeting – the party’s James Crossley won the Whitton and Whitehouse county council division last year and that includes part of Castle Hill.

Mr Jackson will be up against former Conservative leader Chris Stewart who stood down earlier this year after a split in his group during the borough’s budget debate.

The Castle Hill ward will now be a key battleground – with Mr Jackson well known in the area.

He was Conservative leader in 2004 when the party took control of the borough in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but stepped down as council leader after he became subject of a Standards’ Board investigation into claims that he had sent an inappropriate letter to the teenage daughter of a fellow Conservative councillor.

He was cleared of wrong-doing, but the group did not allow him to return as leader. After that he fell out with other Conservatives, and ended up sitting as an independent councillor.

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Mr Jackson has since made other attempts to return to the authority as an independent – but has never gained a significant number of votes. That could change with his endorsement by UKIP.

He is also a former Conservative county councillor – and at one point he attracted controversy after revealing that he had taken part in Orange Parades during visits to Ulster.

Mr Crossley, who is helping to organise the UKIP campaign in Ipswich, said the party was aware of Mr Jackson’s colourful past.

The party is hoping to field 15 candidates in the 17 borough council elections being held this year.

Mr Stewart was relaxed about Mr Jackson’s intervention in the election: “I do not think it makes any difference to what will happen.

“He is known in the area, but he has stood against (current group leader) Liz Harsant in the past and didn’t do very well then.”