UKIP joy as scalp makes it a double celebration
THEY may have only gained one seat – but what a seat to win.
UKIP members looked almost as shocked as their Conservative counterparts when their triumph in Rusthall was announced at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections.
The result has doubled UKIP's representation on the council with Piers Wauchope joining party leader Victor Webb in Rusthall after claiming the scalp of council leader Bob Atwood.
UKIP said this result, along with a strong performance in the 11 other wards where it put up candidates, meant it had "a lot to build on", even raising the future possibility of Tunbridge Wells becoming the country's first UKIP-controlled council.
The party came second in four of the wards it contested and in Pembury came within one vote of the second-placed Tory hopeful.
Mr Webb said: "This result was about having the right policies and hard work. We did think we would win this. We worked our socks off.
"We thought if the people that gave us their pledges came out to vote, we would be okay.
"This is a step to regain our right to self-governance and to return prosperity to this great country."
Asked if being well-known in Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall had helped with UKIP's latest victory, he said: "You mean the 'Victor effect'? A lot of people do know me and I think I have worked hard as a councillor and they appreciate that. I can do more with a second councillor. Having two now makes us a political 'group' on the council."
He added: "Could I see the council ever being led by UKIP? Yes, I can actually. We have the right policies and people are waking up."
Mr Wauchope, a barrister famed for intervening in a courtroom brawl two years ago, said: "The big result for us is not only did I win in Rusthall, but in wards where we made hardly any effort at all we did not come worse than second. We were knocking on people's doors and a lot of them knew what UKIP policies were both nationally and locally and a lot of people saw that we were a serious alternative."
He added: "Bob is a good man and a good local councillor. It was David Cameron that lost the election for them. I am very much looking forward to my first meeting. I will be studying my papers with care."
The Conservative leader Mr Atwood said he had been "quietly confident but not complacent" about Rusthall. It is understood in the last few days of canvassing, the Conservatives had re-deployed representatives from Sherwood to Rusthall.