THE leader of Southend’s Ukip group has been suspended by his own party following a rift in the ranks.

James Moyies, Ukip leader on Southend Council, is at loggerheads with Floyd Waterworth, who pipped him to the post to stand as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Southend East and Rochford.

Mr Moyies, who represents West Shoebury, lodged a complaint against the process, alleging Mr Waterworth used a confidential database of party members to canvass for selection.

The party’s head office dismissed his complaint and Mr Moyies has had his party membership suspended for six months, which could see him banned from Ukip meetings.

A defiant Mr Moyies, who is still having discussions with the party, said: “I am still hopeful the party will see sense and correct the wrongs that have happened in the south east Essex branch.

“I will continue to hold group meetings as normal and all members are welcome to attend.”

Mr Moyies resigned as chairman of the local Ukip branch following Mr Waterworth’s selection, but it is thought landed in more hot water after commenting to the Echo last week that he should have been chosen.

Mr Waterworth, who represents Blenheim Park, said: “It is a shame it has come to this.

"Councillor Moyies could have continued to work well with us.

“The chairman of Ukip has requested he supports the successful parliamentary candidate.

To announce he won’t be supporting the party’s own candidate was very disappointing and out of the blue.

“If he won, I would have backed him 100 per cent. I’m always ready to work with him still in council business and I’m happy to put the interests of the party and the electorate first.”

The party is challenging sitting Tory MP James Duddridge in the general election next May after winning its first five seats on Southend Council earlier this year.

A leaked email, apparently to Mr Moyies from Ukip’s chairman Steve Crowther, confirms Mr Waterworth is the party’s choice to try to dislodge Mr Duddridge.

The email said: “While I imagine youwill be unwilling to actively support these campaigns, I ask you to ensure no obstacles are put in the way of them and that other members are encouraged to give them their fullest co-operation.”

Ukip’s regional office confirmed Mr Moyies’ suspension.


Ukip rocked by high-profile spats after taking south Essex by storm

SINCE taking south Essex by storm in May, Ukip has been rocked by two high-profile fallouts among senior figures.

Last month, Kerry Smith, leader of the party on Basildon Council, was sensationally axed as the party’s candidate for the general election swing seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock.

It is understood that decision was due to the party wanting a bigger name, with several highprofile defections rumoured, but Mr Smith leads the 12-member party as the official opposition to the Tories in Basildon.

No replacement has been unveiled.

Last week, the Echo reported a rift between Southend Ukip’s group leader James Moyies and the party’s parliamentary candidate for Southend East and Rochford, Floyd Waterworth.

That spat has seen Mr Moyies suspended from the party for six months.

In Basildon, Ukip gained 11 seats in May, dismantling the Tory rule, while the party won five seats on Southend Council.

Earlier, Mr Moyies told the Echo the party was aiming to secure six extra seats next year.