LANDLORD Colin Campbell is to fight a South Tyneside Council ward by-election for UKIP – as the on-the-up party prepares to establish a branch in the borough.
These are heady days for the United Kingdom Independence Party.
It achieved almost 25 per cent of the vote in the recent South Shields Parliamentary by-election, as its support nationwide also soared.
Now Mr Campbell, an ex-marine engineer, is to stand in the Cleadon and East Boldon ward, which is vacant after the recent death of UKIP councillor David Potts at the age of 30.
No date has yet been set for an election, but is likely to be next month.
At present, the ward is being represented by a Conservative, Coun Jeff Milburn, and Labour’s Joan Atkinson.
Mr Campbell, who lives in the ward and owns several properties in the borough, joined UKIP late last year.
He believes Nigel Farage’s party has hit a nerve with voters “tired of traditional political parties”.
Meanwhile, UKIP is to officially launch a South Tyneside branch at a gathering at the Little Haven Hotel in South Shields from 7pm on Wednesday, May 22.
It plans to have enough candidates to fight all 18 wards up for grabs in the borough at next year’s May local elections.
Mr Campbell said: “I knew David Potts from when he was 18.
“He will be a hard act to follow.
“David was never elected, becoming an independent after losing the Tory party whip and then joining UKIP, so I can’t be sure what support I’ll get.
“What I do know is that voters have had enough of the main political parties, of cabinet members who all went to private school and who have never had a proper job.
“They have no understanding of ordinary people’s lives. The party achieved almost 25 per cent of the vote in South Shields and across the country.
“They were not protest votes, they were votes for change.”
Mr Campbell will fight the campaign on local issues, including a call for free parking in town centres, removing traffic humps from main roads, reducing the number of councillors by a third and freezing executive pay at the town hall.
He added: “I’ve never been a member of a political party before. I’ve always been an independent, but so many of the party’s policies I agree with.
“I waited for the euphoria surrounding the by-election to die down before I approached the party about being the candidate in Cleadon and East Boldon.
“I’m hoping that the local issues I’m fighting on will resonate with voters.”