The Eastbourne branch of the United Independence Party held its annual dinner at the Langham Hotel last week.
More than 80 people attended the event which featured Diane James, the former UKIP by-election candidate at Eastleigh and a panellist on the BBC’s Question Time, as the guest speaker.
After the dinner, Mrs James said 2013 had been the year for UKIP and congratulated the Eastbourne party members for their success in the county council elections earlier this year which saw the party take seven seats.
The newly-elected councillors from Pevensey and Westham, Seaford Sutton, Ouse Valley East, Peavehaven and Tescombe Towns, Hailsham and Herstmonceux and Bexhill King Offa attended the dinner along with party supporters.
She also praised party campaigners who stood in the recent Eastbourne Borough Council elections, who despite not gaining a seat on the council came second in seven of the nine wards across the town.
“All of you here in Eastbourne have so much energy and enthusiasm for the party cause, I wish we could bottle it and send it across the country,” said Mrs James, who came second in the Eastleigh by-election in February and which was triggered by the resignation of the sitting MP, Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, which coincided with his guilty plea on the eve of a court case in which he and his ex-wife were to be prosecuted for lying to police about a historical speeding offence.
Mrs James, who is standing as a UKIP candidate in next year’s European Union elections, said party members needed to dispel myths that UKIP was a racist organisation and must continue to build on the success of the last year.
“The Eastleigh by-election was a major turning point for UKIP,” said Mrs James.