UKIP conference coming to town

A CONTROVERSIAL anti-immigration party is holding its political conference in Eastbourne this week.

More than 1,000 members of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) will be visiting Eastbourne from Thursday (September 8) for the five-day meet-up.

And hot on the agenda will no doubt be the country’s immigration and asylum policy, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage set to speak on Friday (September 9).

The renowned Eurosceptics have lined up a host of guest speakers, including Patrick O’Flynn from the Daily Express, ex-Tory MP Neil Hamilton, Alex Singleton, the former Daily Telegraph leader writer, and Paul Doyle, who served with the Grenadier Guards in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Best known for its lobbying for a withdrawal from Europe, UKIP also wants to see immigration capped at 50,000 people a year and currently boasts 11 seats in the European Parliament – including Mr Farage, who is one of the MEPs who represent the south east.

Speaking in the run up to the conference, Mr Farage said he was ‘delighted’ the conference would be held in Eastbourne, despite the fact that in the 2010 general election its candidate Roger Needham polled just 2.5 per cent of the vote.

He called Eastbourne ‘one of the nicest seaside towns in the country’, and said, “As we have members travelling from all over we wanted to pick somewhere with good transport links and a great venue but Eastbourne has particular appeal with its unspoiled beach front.

“The party is well-known for its views on the EU and immigration but has a full range of policies which it feels addresses the issues which people are concerned about but politicians are ignoring.

“One of these is the question of the treatment of England and the subject of Englishness which has been brushed to the side by the three old parties. We will be putting forward our views on that and we hope they will prove popular.”

And party chairman Steve Crowther added, “This conference shows the party is attracting the highest quality speakers – and indeed new members – from among the political and media establishment.

“I’m particularly pleased we have guests coming from Finland, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Iceland.”

Despite the fact the town has a Lib Dem MP and a Lib Dem-run council, the local authority’s head of tourism, Tracey McNulty, was delighted with the UKIP visit.

She said, “We are very pleased to have secured this major UKIP event in Eastbourne at our main conference venue, the Devonshire Park Centre.

“The conference is set to bring more than 1,000 delegates into Eastbourne, a huge boost to local accommodation providers after a busy summer season, with the event boosting the local economy by an estimated £500,000.

“With a review of Devonshire Park currently taking place, considering the long term future of the venue, and coupled with an aspiration to develop conference facilities in Eastbourne, it is brilliant that we are starting to attract the party conferences, such as UKIP, back to the town and it certainly helps Eastbourne to become recognised as a premier business destination.”

For more information on the conference, which will take place at the Congress Theatre, visit www.ukip.org. And, to hear from Mr Farage, this week’s Herald newspaper for an exclusive interview.