Bishop Auckland Labour mayor defects to UKIP
The Labour mayor of a County Durham town has defected to UKIP after claiming the party he once knew is "no more".
Bishop Auckland councillor Colin Race, a life-long Labour voter, said year-on-year it had become "increasingly clear" Labour was "neglecting voters".
He said he now felt UKIP was the only party that supported "hard-working families".
The announcement was made at a town council meeting on Tuesday evening.
Mr Race said: "The Labour Party that I once knew - the party that stuck up for the working families - is no more.
"We have a cosy consensus of politicians in Westminster who spend more time patting each other on the back than representing the people who pay their wages at the end of the month.
"Here in the North East we have the highest rates of unemployment in the country, how are my kids meant to get a job when our political class support open-door mass immigration from 27 other EU member states?"
The move was welcomed by UKIP's MEP for the North East, Jonathan Arnott.
He said: "Labour Party members across our region are simply realising that the incredibly wealthy individuals who sit at the top of the Labour Party don't, and make no attempt to, work for hard-working, law-abiding citizens across the country.
"Only UKIP are offering a sensible, credible alternative to the Labour Party who have neglected the North East for years."
Labour town councillor Ann Golightly said members did not know about Mr Race's decision until the meeting.
She said: "As the Labour Party group of the council, we feel very disappointed and very let down because we'd actually elected him as mayor and thought he'd be a good mayor and a good representative.
"What was most distressing was that the room was absolutely jammed full of UKIP members and it was very intimidating.
"We feel now that the council is a stage for the dubious policies of UKIP."