UKIP 'will fight all seats' in Leicestershire County Council elections
The United Kingdom Independence Party says it intends to stand for all 55 seats on Leicestershire County Council.
The party said it was planning a serious challenge to the Tories, who run County Hall, as well as their Liberal Democrat and Labour rivals.
UKIP has two councillors but has yet to successfully contest a county council election.
Former deputy leader David Sprason defected to the party from the Conservatives this month, while Rob Fraser quit the Tories and was an independent until joining UKIP
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The party said it had recruited 30 candidates so far and more people had expressed an interest in representing UKIP in the election on May 2.
East Midlands constituency manager Paul Oakden said: "In 2009, UKIP did not stand a single candidate in Leicestershire.
"We don't want a situation this time where people come to us after May 2 and say "I would have voted for you but you didn't have a candidate.
"Every day, we are gaining fresh people so it is an achievable goal to have a candidate in every seat.
"Will we take control at County Hall? Probably not, but we will take votes from the other three parties and that will play a major part in the results.
"We are past the point where people can dismiss us as an irrelevance.
"Ours will not be paper candidates. They will be real Leicestershire people who have something to say about the county."
Mr Oakden said one UKIP target was Valley, in North West Leicestershire, which is held by Conservative council leader Nick Rushton.
However, Coun Rushton said: "They won't win one single seat.
"They are just another right wing opposition party.
"I don't think anyone had given UKIP much of a thought here until David Sprason decided he wasn't a Tory anymore and went to join them.
"That caused a bit of interest – but not much.
"They are a single-issue party with nothing to offer people in Leicestershire."
Liberal Democrat group leader Simon Galton said: "I don't understand what their appeal is for councils.
"They want to take us out of Europe but they can't do that by winning seats at Leicestershire County Council.
"The outcome of the county council election won't change the Government.
"We will be fighting the election on local issues and the Tories' questionable record."
Mr Oakden said UKIP had policies relevant to local politics, such as opposition to raising council tax and holding county-wide referenda on issues such as the hunting ban.
He said: "Our opponents say we are a just protest party but if they believe people are voting for us in protest, why are they not listening?"