My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Friday, 22 November 2013

Statement Re Thanet Council Standards Committee


Statement of Thanet Green Party Re Council Standards Committee meeting 21 November

Thanet Green Party condemns the shameful and unacceptable response by the two main political parties to the critical report aimed at improving Thanet councillors’ conduct.

The four independent members of the council’s Standards Committee, who produced the report, resigned immediately after the committee’s meeting on Thursday when the party leaders and councillors angrily denounced the  report’s findings.

The walk-out by the independent group followed these attacks and a decision by the committee to ask the authors to rewrite the report giving more evidence of their findings.

 Green councillor Ian Driver, who attended the meeting, said: “The resignation of the four independent members was hardly surprising considering the sustained and unfair bullying and browbeating they were subjected to by Labour councillors.

“This unfortunate event will serve to strengthen the public perception that Thanet councillors do not listen to their constituents and are out of touch, unresponsive and defensive. Instead of being an opportunity for Thanet Council and its councillors to move forward and become more open and democratic, the meeting last night took a big step backwards.This was a classic case of shooting the messenger.”

 The report’s authors report are non-party political and have broad range of expertise and experience in the world of  business, the public sector, management and communications. Their role is to act as “critical friends” to the council and provide advice about the development and management of ethics and conduct.

Pulling no punches, their report published earlier in the week, said that the council was seen as secretive; that councillors appeared to be out of touch; did not engage with or listen to  residents and community groups; and there was local suspicion of corruption. The report  also cited examples of councillors being rude and abusive towards each other and on occasion making threats to members of the public. The report  pointed out  that some councillors have disobeyed council rules.                     
Despite its highly critical findings, the report had intended to present and honest picture of public perceptions. Unfortunately, most of the councillors at the Standards Committee did not see it this way and were extremely angry and defensive.

Labour Leader Clive Hart, his deputy Allan Poole and Cabinet Members Iris Johnston and Michelle Fennel, attacked and verbally bullied the report authors in a quite extraordinary way. Instead of seeing the report for what it was – a starting point for an important debate and overdue change – they regarded it as personal criticism which it clearly was not.                                       

The views of Conservative Leader Councillor Bob Bayford,  who had pledged to support “steps which will change the public perception of council affairs”, were clearly not shared by his party colleagues.
Thanet Green Party noted that some councillors attempted to divert blame for the council’s poor reputation on Councillor Driver, who faces  disciplinary action for taking pictures of  council meetings— a practice allowed by most councils in Kent.

The Green Party supports Councillor Driver’s principled efforts to force more transparency and openness on to Thanet Council in his campaign to allow the public the right to film meetings.
Councillor Driver has been campaigning tirelessly against corruption, incompetence  and secrecy at Thanet Council. He was the first councillor to raise concerns about Pleasurama, the secret £3.4 million TransEuropa  debt, and the mismanagement of the Royal Pavilion lease disposal.

Councillor Driver made an audio recording of last night’s (Thursday)  Standards Committee meeting. The Thanet Green Party is happy to publish this recording. It can be accessed below.

Although the recoding may have been made in breach of council rules we believe that there is overwhelming public interest in making this recording publicly available. Let the people of Thanet judge for themselves how well served they are by their councillors.

 

 

 

        

3 comments:

  1. It's great news for the two main parties. Now, they can people the committee with their chosen lackeys and can continue to cover up malpractice and incompetence. No wonder the public has so little faith in these clowns. Roll on the election when we can elect a new troupe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I see that £2.7 millions has been paid to KCC out of reserves as TDC's share of the cost of the New Haine Road under the EKO arrangement. EKO being another secretive part of TDC. If reserves had to be used why did TDC agee for this venture knowing that it was not affordable.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's easy. They did it because the councillors don't understand what they are doing and they don't care because they've been doing it for years without being held to account. What this really calls into question is the competency of the district auditors. There are already big questions about how TDC hid the Transeuropa deal. Now we find that further millions have been lost on a road scheme. We haven't yet been told how many millions short they are on the Dreamland thing. How can these sums of money have been hidden from public scrutiny when there is supposed to be a body which audits the council and is not supposed to sign off the accounts until and unless they present a true and accurate picture of the state of her finances? I, for one will not be paying increased council taxes to pay for failed schemes which were concocted in secret. In my opinion, the auditors should be fired and the councillors and officers who have lost this money should answer for it in court. I can't see how immunity from prosecution can apply if you were operating in secret.

    ReplyDelete