THREE sitting councillors have defected to UKIP, it was announced today.

The trio - former Conservative Stephanie Todd, and independents Sam Cross and Mick Jay-Hanmer – will stand in May’s county council elections in North Yorkshire.

Councillor Todd, a 52-year-old single mum and self-employed florist, who has represented Hipswell on Richmondshire District Council since 2009, broke her defection news today at a press conference in Scarborough - before telling her former Tory colleagues.

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She said: “I want to be part of a party which is supporting this country and its people. And a Party which actually listens to the people and takes notice of their concerns.”

Coun Sam Cross, a 53-year-old father-of-four, has represented Filey on Scarborough Borough Council for eight years, while Coun Jay-Hanmer, 65, married with two children, has represented Derwent ward on Scarborough Council for six years and lives in the pub he runs in West Ayton.

UKIP has never had candidates standing in the North Yorkshire County Council elections.

The party said it had already got candidates for most of the 72 seats, including acclaimed horror author GP Taylor.

Mr Taylor, who lives in Scarborough, said: “I am sick to the back teeth of what is happening to my fantastic country, seeing it being ground down.

“I was a Conservative supporter and have donated money to them but I now believe they are out of touch with people.”

“This is fantastic news and shows what I have always known - that we are the way forward for our country,” said Godfrey Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

“We are writing ourselves into the history books and being assisted by three successful authors will also help ensure the writing is on the wall for the other parties.”