A Merton councillor has been propelled onto the front bench of UKIP as a spokesperson for the community.

Coun Suzanne Evans, who was elected as a Conservative councillor but defected to UKIP, will be the party’s communities spokesperson in a bid to prepare for upcoming elections.

Coun Evans, who represents the Hillside ward in Wimbledon, said: "This is a really exciting opportunity I am really pleased to accept.

"UKIP has a full range of policies beyond the flagship issues of getting out of the EU and restoring control of our borders.

"I am looking forward to getting the message out there."

Ms Evans is among three appointments to the front bench team and will draw on her experience as a councillor in Merton, a school governor and an NHS patients’ campaigner to highlight quality of life issues.

Party leader Nigel Farage said: "UKIP is growing and UKIP is changing. We have a depth of talent available that has never been at our disposal before and I am determined to use it to the fullest extent.

The three new appointments will help get us battle ready for the electoral challenges we face over the next 16 months or so."

The new role was made public on Friday, February 21.