UKIP party members in Hartlepool have raised concerns about its local leadership ahead of a visit by national party leader Paul Nuttall.
A letter of no confidence has been lodged over a series of allegations against the five-strong group which leads the party in the town, with the matter now in the hands of its headquarters.
It comes as UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is due to visit the town today in support of Headland and Harbour by-election candidate Tom Cassidy.
The document, seen by the Mail and verified as being genuine by members, calls for the committee to stand down as the signatories “have no faith” in them running the branch.
It says: “The branch can then move forward in a spirit of co-operation with everyone pulling together for a common goal, including yourselves, being free to contribute, treat equally and with respect.”
It also states: “In the interests of the group and for the whole of UKIP Hartlepool we request you amicably stand down before the feelings of discontent come to a head and a formal public vote of no confidence is called.”
Ultimately, it’s disappointing this has happened and there has been a lot of misunderstanding, but we are looking forward now, we’ve got a campaign to win.Councillor John Tennant
Issues raised include the claim democracy is not practiced, information is not shared, meetings are not advertised and give the impression “we hide behind the parapet,” while dates “vary like the weather” leaving members not knowing when or where they are being held.
It is also said national matters are being put before local ones, and private agendas are being prioritised over the town and group.
The letter, signed by 11 members, adds: “The committee bumble along living in a private little world without regard to other members.
“We need to target seats that will make most difference to the people of Hartlepool, not the easiest.”
The party’s candidate for the General Election on June 8 is yet to be announced.
Hartlepool Borough Councillor John Tennant, chairman of the branch and the party’s Tees Valley mayoral candidate, has said the letter is “disappointing.”
He says his record speaks for itself, with his seat on the council now one of six held by the party, making the second largest party on the council.
Coun Tennant said: “It was a real surprise and we’ve been working very hard in Hartlepool to do things professionally.
“These members are lovely people, don’t get me wrong, they’re just not used to the way we do things.
“We have been doing our best to include everybody.
“Unfortunately, there’s been a little bit of disagreement, but we’re working to address this.
“I stand by my record since I became chairman and we have had lots of achievements and I think they speak for themselves.
“Ultimately, it’s disappointing this has happened and there has been a lot of misunderstanding, but we are looking forward now, we’ve got a campaign to win.”
One of the issues raised by the letter was concern Member for European Parliament Jonathan Arnott has been used for local affairs, but Coun Tennant has said the base in Elwick Road has been a place where people have called into discuss matters of national concern.
The Mail understands UKIP members hope to speak to Mr Nuttall about their concerns during his visit.
Yesterday, he said he would be “leading the party into battle” as it officially launched its General Election campaign in London.
He confirmed he would be standing for election, but declined to say which seat, with the constituency he will run expected to be announced today.