TWO UKIP councillors have walked out of the party – with one returning to the Conservatives and the other now sitting as an Independent.
Both Alan Preest and Colin Guyton sat as UKIP councillors on Gloucestershire County Council and Forest of Dean District Council.
UKIP’s leader on the district council, Cllr Richard Leppington (Blakeney and Bream) said the party would not be affected by the defections which were made public after the recent EU referendum vote.
Cllr Preest, who represents Lydney on the county council and Lydney North on the district council, has returned to the Conservatives.
Cllr Guyton represents Drybrook at county level and Lydbrook and Ruardean on the Forest Council. His party affiliation is described as ’Independent’ on the county website and UKIP officials have confirmed he is no longer represents the party.
Cllr Preest said he could achieve more for Lydney as part of a larger group and had made his decision after speaking to many people in the town.
He said electors could pass their verdict on his decision as a county councillor at the election next year and he would prompt a by-election at district level “if there was a call for it.”
He said: “I’ve gone as far as I can with UKIP – I’ve had five good years with them but I think I’ve done as much as I can.
“My mandate is to take Lydney forward and I think I can continue to do that better as part of a group.
“A lot has been achieved and that is the mandate that has to be taken forward. What else can I do as UKIP councillor?
“I’ve not taken this decision lightly, I’ve spoken to a lot of people around the town and I’ve had favourable comments.”
Cllr Leppington said: “UKIP remains a strong voice for the people of the Forest of Dean.”
UKIP’s Forest branch chairman, Mr Alec Tritton, said the first they knew of Cllr Preest’s defection was when they were contacted by the media.
He said: “As Mr Preest has not been a member of UKIP since October 1 2015 (it was) not unexpected.
“This is despite numerous conversations by both our district council leader, Richard Leppington, and myself with Mr Preest concerning his membership.”
The Review was unable to contact Cllr Guyton.
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