Former UKIP councillor, Kevin Wheeler, has stood down from his position in public office, sparking a possible by-election.

Mr Wheeler joined the rest of his 16 UKIP colleagues in defecting to a newly formed party called the ‘Thurrock Independents’.

But less than a week after this announcement was made, Mr Wheeler was expelled from his party for what TI called his “unacceptable behaviour” in council meetings.

The behaviour they are talking about referring is an alleged incident where he verbally abused a member of the public after a council meeting in September last year and, more recently, a hand gesture he made towards the Thurrock Labour Party in Wednesday evening’s council meeting.

Mr Wheeler could have remained as a councillor, representing his ward of Ockendon independently, or even continued as a UKIP councillor when the Thurrock Independents officially become a party recognised by Thurrock Council.

But Mr Wheeler has decided to stand down, which means it is likely that there will be a by-election for his seat in Ockendon.

There will be local elections in Thurrock for the first time in two years on May 3.

However, Mr Wheeler was not set to defend his seat until 2019 as only a third of seats are up for election each year with an extra year where no elections are held.

A notice was put up outside the Thurrock Civic Offices today explaining that Mr Wheeler's former seat in Ockendon was vacant.

It explains that a by-election will be held if a minimum of two local government electors submit a request for one and it will take place within a maximum of 35 days of these submissions.

A spokesman for Thurrock Council said: "Thurrock Council received formal notification of Cllr Kevin Wheeler’s resignation as councillor for the Ockendon Ward on Thursday 1 February 2018.

"The Local Government Act (1972) states that if two Thurrock local government voters submit a request in writing to the Local Authority asking for a by-election it will be held.

"If a by-election is called, it will have to take place within 35 days of the two requests being received."