The UK Independence Party has declared that it is actively trying to recruit EU migrants to stand in this year’s South Holland District Council elections.
The move might come as a surprise to many people who accuse some of the party’s thinking at national level to be racist and anti-immigration.
But South Holland and The Deepings group chairman Paul Foyster firmly believes there are benefits to be gained by having foreign nationals on the council.
He said: “UKIP are happy to welcome people from all walks of life and would also like to have representatives from settled European and other groups.
“We feel this would foster better mutual understanding between the various communities in our area.
“The only qualification we insist on is a desire to serve everyone in their ward equally, without prejudice of any kind.”
EU nationals may stand as a candidate if they have lived or worked in the local authority area for at least 12 months.
The news came as UKIP revealed the names of its 11 candidates so far.
They include Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce president Phil Scarlett, who has recently joined the group.
Mr Foyster said: “Phil has both wide and deep knowledge of business matters in the town, has served and still serves on a number of other local organisations, is already assisting us and our Parliamentary candidate, David Parsons, on commercial and other matters and he will be heading our Spalding Town Policy Unit.
“We are very pleased to welcome him. He will be a valuable member of our team.”
Mr Scarlett will contest the two-seat Sutton Bridge ward currently occupied by Independent members Chris Brewis and Michael Booth.
He said he was running due to a “desire for openness, transparency and a demand for value for money”.
Meanwhile, UKIP has selected Richard Fairman to go up against council leader Gary Porter and fellow Conservative Harry Drury in Spalding St Mary’s ward.
Mr Fairman ousted former district council chairman Eddy Poll from Lincolnshire County Council’s Spalding East and Moulton seat in 2013.
And he says he is “reasonably confident” of claiming another scalp.
Mr Fairman, of Cowbit, said: “Gary Porter’s ward is a bite out of my ward at county level. I would hope to do well.”
Also hoping to be elected to the council for the first time is Pete Williams, landlord of Spalding pub The Punchbowl. He is targeting the Spalding St Paul’s ward currently held by two Conservatives.
UKIP is hoping to have a full complement of candidates to contest the election on May 7.
Mr Foyster, who will stand in Holbeach Town, said: “UKIP have now adopted sufficient candidates to have a real chance of changing the balance of power on South Holland District Council, with at least one candidate in most wards and some still in the pipeline awaiting approval.
“We would now like to fill in the slate with additional representatives.
“We invite anyone who broadly agrees with our national policies to consider joining us and standing for council.
“We have no local whip system, our councillors are expected to put their individual wards first, even at the risk of voting against usual party policy.”
Labour is hoping to contest every ward and the Independents group – currently the opposition on the council – is expected to reveal its candidates shortly.