THE UK Independence Party has formed an unofficial electoral pact with Southend’s Independent group.

The anti-European Union party has decided not to stand in any seats where there are candidates representing the council’s Independent group.

They will be fielding candidates in nine Southend wards in this year’s council elections, mostly in the west of the town.

James Moyies, UKIP’s chairman for South Essex and candidate for West Shoebury, said: “We believe that local councillors should represent their wards as independent people with no party whip forcing them to vote one way or another.

“Therefore, we have made the decision this year not to stand against Independent councillors and candidates we believe can help break the suffocating stranglehold of this failed, arrogant and complacent Conservative cabinet-led regime.”

Mr Moyies, who stood in Southend East in last year’s general election, said, if elected, UKIP councillors would fight to scrap the “undemocratic” cabinet system, organise referendums on major planning issues and fight for jobs, homes and services for Southend people.

He criticised the Conservative administration for high borrowing levels and missing Government targets on affordable housing.

Martin Terry, the Independent leader, said there was no official electoral pact. He said: “I was quite surprised at their decision. That’s down to them.

“It’s interesting. There is a lot of synergy between us and UKIP though we are not anti-EU.”

Southend’s Tory leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “UKIP’s criticisms show a complete misunderstanding of the current position Southend Council has and the demands of local government.

“Our borrowing has been planned and we’ve received no opposition from any other party on the council.

“There is no local authority in the country that has hit the targets on affordable housing because of the economic situation.

“UKIP is a one-issue, anti-Europe party which has no place in local government.”