The Party agrees with the report’s criticisms of the frequent and distasteful squabbling between councillors, the personal attacks at meetings and in the media, and the lack of respect towards the public which appear to be stock-in-trade of many of Thanet’s elected politicians.
We also share the concerns of the four independent members about the lack of transparency in the conduct of council business. These serious failings have brought the council into public disrepute and destroyed the trust between many residents and politicians.
The report says: “Council has the appearance of a dysfunctional organisation whose behaviour and internal squabbles adversely affect the delivery of services, capital projects etc. to the residents of the local district”.This highly critical report also refers to councillors’ lack of respect, hostility and personal threats towards members of the public, public suspicion of secrecy and corruption, and little evidence of changes in councillors’ behaviour.
The Green Party calls on the council to take urgent steps to transform Thanet Council into an open and accountable organisation with councillors who listen to, and engage with, local residents. Compulsory councillor training suggested in the report will be a positive step in this direction, but genuine change will only come about when many of the current councillors step aside for new people with different more modern and progressive ideas and new ways of working.
Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, has been campaigning hard to break down the council’s unacceptable veil of secrecy. He was the first local politician to raise concerns about the scandals of the Ramsgate Pleasurama development, the secret £3.4 million TransEuropa Ferries Debt, the mismanagement of the Royal Pavilion lease sale and the demand for the public to be able to film all council meetings. Making a principled stand on these issues has required Councillor Driver to break council rules in the public interest. He has not engaged in the party-political bully-boy antics which the independent members group have highlighted and complained about.
The Thanet Green Party believes in open, transparent and honest local government, with councillors committed to working in partnership with local residents. We will be campaigning in the 2015 elections on this platform.