Suffolk: UKIP seeking policies at the county council

Bill Mountford

Bill Mountford - Credit: Archant

They may be the third-largest group on Suffolk County Council, but the nine UKIP members are still looking for policies for the next four years.

Lowestoft South councillor Bill Mountford – the only UKIP member of the last county council – has been elected group leader with James Crossley, who represents Whitton and Whitehouse in Ipswich, becoming his deputy.

However Mr Mountford accepted that the nature of the party – and the wide geographical spread of its councillors – meant that it was difficult to come up with coherent county-wide policies.

He said: “We’re still working on that. I don’t know if we’ll have them in place by next week.”

The county’s annual meeting, when the cabinet and key committee positions will be decided, is next Thursday, May 23.

Mr Mountford said: “We were elected by fighting on local issues in our particular parts of the county, so we are still working out our policies on county-wide issues.

“In Lowestoft we are committed to fighting for a third crossing of Lake Lothing.

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“In the Stowmarket area the changes to the school system is the major issue facing people. I think that may have gone too far to do anything about, but we shall see.”

The UKIP group met last week when they “signed in” at Endeavour House, picked up security cards, and had photographs taken for the county council website.

However Mr Mountford said it was difficult to get together too much because of the geographical spread.

The nine councillors are from all corners of the county – three are from Lowestoft, two are from Haverhill, one is from Newmarket, one from Brandon, one from Stowmarket and one from Ipswich.

“It’s not easy for us all to meet up. We shall be having a group meeting before the council meeting next Thursday. Then we can talk about how we approach the council policy-wise.”

Mr Mountford will be appointing spokesmen – and all the party’s councillors are men – as soon as possible, but again he was not sure whether this would be before the annual meeting of the council.

During his first four years on the council, Mr Mountford rarely missed a full council meeting or meetings of committees of which he was a member.

In full council his interventions were not prolific – but when he did speak it was always to raise issues that were of concern to his constituents in south Lowestoft, and other councillors always listen to him with respect.

However a larger UKIP group could find that other parties are more hostile towards them.