UKIP 'not a protest vote'

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 03 May 2013 Updated: 03/05 17:12

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Buy photos » New UKIP county councillors for Redditch Stuart Cross and Martin Jenkins. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

UKIP insisted they were more than a protest vote after winning two of the Redditch county council seats.

The party was predicted to do well in Redditch South, where residents elected Stuart Cross, but also picked up votes in Arrow Valley East, with Martin Jenkins now elected as one of the two councillors there.

But the new Councillor Jenkins insisted in his acceptance speech to say voters were merely using UKIP as a party of protest was insulting.

"This is an historic day for politics. The press, the media, the Government, candidates and councillors who have lost their seats, do not insult people of this town by suggesting they can't make an informed decision themselves about which party to vote for," he said.

"People went out with the intention of voting UKIP, we were the only party talking about issues people are worried about. This is a victory for democracy, the people of Redditch fought back and said enough's enough.

"Democracy is about carrying out the wishes of the people, the minute you stop listening it's all over. I hope today the Government will sit up and listen to the people of this country who are crying out to be heard."

The victorious Mr Cross added: "We are talking a lot of common sense. We are all normal people looking to change the town for the better and nothing seems to be changing under the current government. This is a vote for change."

But the biggest winners of the day were Labour, who gained five seats leaving the Conservatives with just one councillor - Philip Gretton.

Coun Graham Vickery, newly elected to Redditch North, said: "Our campaign has focused on local issues, what we have talked about to people on the doorstep and what we have talked to the media about is the matters of interest and concern to those who live here.

"All local elections are influenced by voters' views of what happens in national Government and the conduct of the national leadership. We however will fight for Redditch, for proper services at county hall, for improvement and efficiency at delivery local services."

Coun Gretton paid tribute to his seven colleagues, five of whom lost their seats - Juliet Brunner, Brandon Clayton, Gay Hopkins, Jane Potter and David Thain - and the other two who stood down - Barry Gandy and Terry Spencer.

"We will be listening very carefully to all the messages from the voters of Redditch. Had we been judged by our performance over the last four years it might have been a better result. But national issues carry more sway and the Government has been taking some very hard, unpopular decisions."

Simon Oliver, chair of the Redditch and Inkberrow Liberal Democrats, added: "I would like to thank all those who voted, not just those who voted for us but everyone who voted. At 30 per cent turnout, as politicians we need to go out and engage with the public on a much more fundamental level."

Green party spokesman Kevin White said he was pleased to see the Greens had not come last in some of the wards and elsewhere in the county had won some seats, adding 'I'm sure Redditch's time will come."

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Buy photos» Heads down - Redditch MP Karen Lumley knows the Conservatives have work to do to deal with the rise of UKIP. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

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Buy photos» Brandon Clayton was among the Tory councillors to lose their seats. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

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Buy photos» It was a glum day for the Liberal Democrats and party chairman Simon Oliver. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

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Buy photos» Graham Vickery, Redditch Labour Party chairman, said UKIP were campaigning on national issues in a local election. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

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