Controversial County Councillor Tony Hooke no longer represents UKIP on Hampshire County Council according to the new group leader.
Cllr Philip Fawkes, leader of UKIP in Hampshire, said today: “Cllr Hooke has decided to become an independent on the Council” adding that “He feels he may be able to get more done without the constraints of the party.” Cllr Fawkes implied that he would be welcomed back into the group however and said there was no animosity between them.
In a widely circulated email seen by Andover & Villages last week a UKIP councillor appeared to confirm that Cllr Hooke had been asked to leave the group. However, on speaking to the new group leader the next day it became clear that the Cllr involved may not have had permission to make the claims – with Cllr Fawkes telling us that no decision had yet been made and that Cllr Hooke was deciding over the weekend whether to remain part of UKIP, or to become an independent.
In the meantime the Facebook page run by UKIP in North West Hampshire advertised his well known UKIP car along with it’s loudspeakers. Cllr Hooke also stood down as Chairman of the local committee along with some other members.
The incoming branch chairman Norman Woods was approached about Cllr Hooke’s position within UKIP but told Andover & Villages that he knew nothing about the situation and that he was “surprised” having not been made aware at the committee meeting the night before.
Confirmation of Cllr Hooke’s position comes on the day that Hampshire Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh was cleared of wrongdoing in an investigation by Essex Police into the handling of the Stanbridge Earls School allegations. Cllr Hooke had been a vocal critic of Mr Marsh, suggesting previously that he should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cllr Hooke was later arrested himself on charges of assault relating to a UKIP event in Portsmouth, he is currently on police bail.
The change reduces the number of UKIP councillors on Hampshire County Council to nine.
Cllr Hooke could not be contacted for comment at the time of publication.