UKIP to contest just one seat in Sandwell
UKIP will contest just a single seat in one Black Country borough in this year's local council elections.
The party has entered a sole candidate for the 26 seats that are up for grabs on Labour-dominated Sandwell Council, with Graham Nock standing in Charlemont with Grove Vale.
It comes after the borough branch's six-strong committee quit in December, citing disillusionment over the direction in which the party was heading under then leader Henry Bolton.
The contrast could not be greater with Dudley, where UKIP has candidates in 19 wards.
For the May 3 poll it has entered two candidates for 22 seats in Wolverhampton, while UKIP representatives will battle for seven seats in Walsall.
Pete Durnell, a former UKIP candidate in Sandwell, said the election in the borough had come at a bad time for the party.
"Nationally there has been a lot of upheaval, but it has survived and it think there are enough people interested to keep things going," he added.
"While there are those who are trying to breathe life back into UKIP, in Sandwell it is comatose at the moment.
"It is a case of getting through the difficult times in the belief that things will eventually pick up again."
UKIP had formed the sole opposition on Sandwell Council until Princes End councillor Philip Garrett quit last August.
Two former UKIP council candidates and former committee members will contest seats for the anti-Islam party For Britain.
Darryl Magher is up for Great Barr with Yew Tree, and Steve Latham will contest Newton. The party has entered a third candidate, Sam Harding, in Charlemont with Grove Vale.
Labour currently holds 65 of the 72 seats in Sandwell. There are four independent councillors and Mahboob Hussain, who is classed as Independent Labour.
This year's election will see 26 seats contested in 24 wards. Councillors' Gurcharan Sidhu and Preet Gill have both stood down.
In Dudley UKIP has the largest block of councillors defending seats, at six.
Bill Etheridge, who is defending his Sedgley seat for UKIP, said: "I have been contacted by people from all over the country complaining they do not have a UKIP candidate to vote for.
"That is not the case in Dudley. I've been absolutely amazed by the level of support and good feeling here."
UKIP's influence on British politics has diminished rapidly over the last two years, and the party lost all 145 of the seats it was defending in the 2017 local elections.
It came close to bankruptcy earlier this month, only surviving after members raised £300,000 to cover legal fees the party owes.
*See next week's Express & Star for a full rundown of candidates in this year's local elections.