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UKIP to field record number of candidates in Worcester City Council elections
THE UK Independence Party has revealed it will field a record number of candidates in May's local elections - amid hopes it can make an historic breakthrough.
The Worcester branch of UKIP says it will contest "at least" eight of the 12 available seats at the city council.
Such a tally could have a dramatic impact on the end result because Nigel Farage's party has soared to record popularity levels in the polls.
At the moment there are no UKIP city councillors, and in the last district elections of 2012 it only fielded four candidates.
The party is still working on beefing up the final number and says it could hit double figures.
Earlier this month an Ipsos MORI poll put UKIP on a 15 per cent approval rating, well ahead of the Liberal Democrats on just nine per cent and in third place overall.
Fielding candidates across the city could hamper both the Conservatives and Labour, neither of whom have enough councillors at the moment to form a majority administration.
UKIP is also campaigning on a pledge to offer free Worcester parking for at least three hours a day in the hope it will tempt voters.
Steve Davis, chairman of UKIP's Worcester branch said: "In 2011 we had no candidates and in 2012 it was four, so it shows how far we've come.
"We're going into it with cautious optimism. Part of the national picture is that the polls are more favourable than one year ago, so as far as we're concerned everything is up for grabs.
"UKIP is a national movement but we need a basis in local government and that's what we're looking for."
Last year UKIP won its first ever seats at Worcestershire County Council, with four candidates being elected.
Two of them have since resigned and another, Tony Baker, died of a heart attack leaving just one remaining, Councillor Stuart Cross.
The party says in Worcester it wants to offer three hours free parking during the day, as well as during the evening, set at around 6pm onwards.
Such a move would lead to a massive loss of income for the council but UKIP says it would boost traders and encourage more people to come in.
The Conservatives have pledged to cut parking if they regain power, but Labour has called the idea "fantasy budgeting" that would lead to cuts elsewhere.
Labour, the Tories and Greens plan to field candidates in all 12 wards.
The elections are on Thursday, May 22.
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