THE United Kingdom Independence Party has acquired an eye-catching shop front on a busy Poole road as it gears up for the European elections.

UKIP has rented an office next to Everything 4 Printers in Bournemouth Road, Parkstone, taking up a large shop window and signage.

David Young, the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Poole, said: “The proprietor there is a member and a keen supporter and was willing to let us rent an office adjoining his shop.”

The party is hoping the proportional representation system used at May’s European elections will strengthen its position in the European Parliament.

It then hopes for a strong showing at local government elections and the general election, both to be held on May 7, 2015.

Mr Young said UKIP membership in the Poole constituency had doubled in the last year.

“I think there’s a groundswell of disaffection in the Conservative ranks and it’s not just Poole,” he said.

“Under Cameron, national Conservative membership has halved to less than 100,000, whereas UKIP membership is running at about 35,000 and growing fast.

“While that’s the case, our local chairman, John Butler, reports that the new membership is coming from traditional Labour supporters and from Liberal Democrats, where there’s quite a collapse in support following the coalition, but it’s also coming from the non-voting segment which accounts for about 40 per cent of the population at the last election.”

Mr Young, a business consultant, said the party was telling people about its position on local issues.

It is opposed to the Navitus Bay wind farm scheme and to a planned transit site for travellers at Creekmoor.

Poole council’s Conservative leader, Cllr Elaine Atkinson – whose Penn Hill ward includes the site of the office – said she was unworried by UKIP.

“My personal view is that UKIP play to an audience.

“But they’re not the same audience that I listen to because they tend to be people who believe there are no advantages to Europe.

“But when I speak to people that keep our local economy going and provide our local jobs – the small, medium sized and larger businesses in Poole – being a member of the European Union is important for them. In my personal opinion, membership on the right terms is what’s needed to keep our town economically active and to keep the jobs here in Poole.”