Political party UKIP has its sights firmly set on Bradford Council at the next elections.
And it is taking the fight directly to the Tories, with one candidate hoping to give Conservative group leader Councillor Glen Miller
a run for his money.
But Coun Miller has hit back, dismissing UKIP as a “protest vote” and saying the Conservatives were the only real challenge to the Labour-led authority, as Bradford Council’s official opposition.
UKIP does not currently have any councillors elected onto the council but is hoping that will all change when the district goes to the polls in May.
This year, the local elections coincide with the European elections, held once every five years, and the party hopes this will give them a boost as those voting for UKIP in Europe could be more likely to vote for them locally too.
Bradford district chairman Jason Smith, who is standing in both the European and local elections, said they hoped to get up to three local councillors elected across the district.
He said: “I have been in this game for about 10 years and when we first started off, no-one knew who we were, or thought we were just against the European Union. Now they understand all our different policies and can say, ‘We agree with you on this policy’.
“We have currently selected 19 candidates in the district. We have only ever had up to nine historically in Bradford, so that’s double what we have always had, from a local standpoint.”
Mr Smith, 42, who works in data management and also runs a hypnotherapy business, said he predicted Bradford Council would look very different in the coming years, with minor parties, independent councillors and coalition politics playing a far greater role.
Mr Smith is standing in Queensbury
, one of UKIP’s target areas, alongside Keighley
And Keighley Town Councillor Peter Corkindale hopes to create an upset by running against Tory chief Coun Miller in the Worth Valley ward.
Coun Miller said he struggled to see how many people would vote for Mr Corkindale after he supported Keighley Town Council’s controversial Council Tax precept rise of 72.6 per cent in 2013/14.
He said: “I welcome anybody standing for election because I do believe in democracy, but I should imagine that UKIP will be sucking sour grapes after the elections.”