Former Sunderland City Council UKIP group leader joins Conservatives
The former leader of Sunderland City Council’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) group has joined the Conservatives.
St Anne’s ward member Coun Pam Mann was one of three UKIP members who announced last week that they would sit as independents.
Coun Mann was elected alongside her Redhill and Ryhope colleagues Coun Keith Jenkins and Coun Steven Bewick in 2019 as the party’s popularity on Wearside surged following the unveiling of Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal.
The councillors formed an official UKIP group which was the third largest opposition group to Labour on the council behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Earlier this month, all three announced they had quit the party, leaving the authority with no UKIP councillors.
The move followed a slump in UKIP’s fortunes at the local elections in May, when the party failed to secure a single seat on Wearside – and the UKIP candidate in St Anne’s claimed just 190 votes as the Tories took the seat from Labour.
The decision to leave UKIP and continue as independents sparked a political row, with members of the council’s ruling Labour group saying the three no longer had a mandate as councillors and should resign.
Announcing her decision to join the Conservatives, Coun Mann said she believed the collapse in the party’s support meant UKIP no longer had a mandate to represent people in Sunderland: “When I was elected in 2019, UKIP was relevant as a party, and I now feel this is no longer the case,” she said.
"I have had many discussions with the residents whom I serve, who support my decision to join the Conservative group in opposition to this Labour-led council.
“I have worked well throughout my term with all opposition members and Leaders and will continue to do so. My remit is to serve the residents of St. Anne’s with honesty, integrity, openness and transparency.
“I will continue my work with the passion I hold for my neighbourhood, community, and the residents who need an advocate, a voice, or a helping hand.
“I am proud to join the Conservative Group and I strongly encourage all current and former UKIP supporters in Hetton to vote Conservative in the upcoming by-election. It is the only way to beat Labour.”