Derbyshire county councillor Juliette Stevens quits Tories and joins UKIP ahead of council elections
A COUNTY councillor has left the Conservative Party to join UKIP because she said the authority had "failed to represent the views" of her constituents.
Juliette Stevens was elected to represent Heage in 2009 – gaining the seat for the Tories as they won the county from Labour after 28 years of trying.
But she announced last night that she had decided to join UKIP in the hope of giving voters "a fourth option" to consider at the authority's forthcoming elections.
Ms Stevens – who has previously been leader of Ripley Town Council and sat on Amber Valley Borough Council – said: "I have long felt that the Conservative Party, both locally and nationally, are losing touch with their electorate.
"While acknowledging that, as a party, the Conservatives are a far better option than Labour or the Liberal Democrats, I am convinced the people of Derbyshire deserve more.
"I hope my move will give them a fourth option to consider.
County council elections will take place again in May and Ms Stevens said she had waited as long as she felt she could before making the move.
She said: "My intention is to help UKIP – who are fresh, energetic and optimistic – to help fight for seats across Derbyshire.
"I'd encourage anybody who has been turned off voting by three tired old parties to look at what UKIP can offer – a chance to bring real democracy back to local politics in Derbyshire."
East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer, who also left the Conservatives to join UKIP last year, said he was delighted by Ms Stevens's move.
He said: "Councillor Stevens will be a great asset to UKIP, as she has been to the people of Heage.
"I'm looking forward to working with her in the coming months as UKIP's first county councillor in Derbyshire."