The Horsham UK Independence Party has held its annual general meeting ahead of the European elections in May.
In the past year the branch’s membership has grown from 70 to a record 125 and some of those were there to hear their new chairman speak on February 22.
Members re-elected their branch committee under the new chairmanship of Neil Whitear, following the resignation of Stuart Aldridge.
Mr Whitear told members this was a key year for them.
He said: “With European elections in May along with a general election next year, this is now one of the most important times in the history of UKIP in Horsham. My committee will be working hard to make UKIP a force in Horsham district, starting with a public meeting the Denne Hall on the April 22 which will be attended by MEP candidate Dianne James, who caused a shock result at in the Eastleigh Parliamentary by election.
“UKIP is on the cusp of making electoral history, not just in Horsham where I hope to have many district councillors elected in 2015 but across the whole of the country.”
In West Sussex, UKIP has had a successful year. In March last year Horsham District councillor Roger Arthur (UKIP, Chanctonbury) resigned as deputy leader of the council to join the party.
In the West Sussex County Council (WSCC) elections in May, UKIP took over from the Liberal Democrats as the main opposition party on the council. They now have 10 members compared with eight Lib Dems and six Labour councillors.
Reflecting on the year, Mr Arthur said: “In May 2013, we saw Tory and Lib Dem WSCC votes fall by 40 per cent and 60 per cent respectively, compared with 2009, whilst UKIP’s rose by over 170 per cent, with similar stories across the country.
“The party put up more candidates than ever before, which tells us that given the chance, many will vote UKIP.
“Voters are disillusioned with spin and deception. They have found a way to influence the agenda and will trounce other parties in the Euro elections, in the nearest thing that they will get to a referendum for some time.
“They see that the UK is being bled dry in a misguided attempt to sustain the Eurozone Project, despite the fact that it is in long term economic decline and costs us around £170bn per annum, whilst our Parliament is becoming increasingly redundant.
“We will need leaders of real conviction and tenacity to break the chains that shackle us to the sinking European Union superstate.
“We can build on the sea change of May, by getting as many UKIP councillors, MPs and MEPs into office, putting backbone into councils and into Parliament, to restore control of our destiny & to restore democracy.”
The branch also had a number of members volunteering to join the committee, to become district councillor candidates for 2015, or to deliver leaflets.