A POLITICAL leader is heading for Hartlepool after claiming the town is “the best place” to gain a regional breakthrough.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said last year that he considered Hartlepool to be “interesting” as he earmarked areas where his party could gain seats.
As the build-up to May’s General Election hots up, Mr Farage has now confirmed he will be spending two days in the town next month with a gala dinner followed by UKIP’s North East conference.
Eric Wilson, chairman of the UKIP regional branch, said: “Obviously we are delighted that Nigel Farage has chosen Hartlepool to host the regional conference and to do a keynote speech.
“This will be a boost to Phillip Broughton’s election campaign, and will be the chance to show how much support we have built up in Hartlepool in recent years.
“We have done well here, and it is a target seat for UKIP.”
Speaking on his last visit to the region, Mr Farage told the media in Gateshead: “We will not win where Labour has a massive majority, but we can find marginals or other seats where we can make a difference. Hartlepool is very, very interesting. Watch Hartlepool. It is an interesting seat for us in 2015.
“We have a base there, it is our longest established branch in the North-East.
“The North-East is our fastest growing membership area, and if I had to pick I’d say Hartlepool was an area where we can make a substantial impact.
“We will have to look hard after the elections at what our targets will be in 2015, but Hartlepool is very interesting to us.”
Back in 2010, UKIP took just seven per cent of the vote in Hartlepool and Iain Wright retained his seat.
But with Phillip Broughton put forward as the parliamentary candidate for May, the party are hopeful he can turn up the heat on Labour.
And Mr Farage will be hoping he can sweet-talk some of the electorate in Hartlepool early next month.
He will be at a dinner, which is being held at the Grand Hotel, on Friday, February 6.
Tickets for the event, which includes a four-course meal and entertainment, are £25 though people can shell out £99 if they want to sit with the UKIP leader.
The following day, the Borough Hall on the Headland will host a conference which will see various speakers and exhibitions between 10am-5pm.
Day passes for that event are £20.
Mr Farage added: “It’s a Labour heartland, but you know what, we’re having a go.
“Let’s be honest. We are at a later stage in our development in the North-East, compared to, say, the East of England.
“That’s because we didn’t quite get over the line in 2009, 15.4 per cent in those elections. Let’s see where we are after these elections.”
The UKIP party’s North East webpage says more details will be released nearer to the time.