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Thursday, 3 April 2014

TDC Leader Hart "Nobbles" Misconduct Investigation

Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver,  alleges  that  TDCs  Labour   Leader, Clive Hart,   is  “ desperately trying to nobble” an independent investigation into claims of improper interference with a major planning application.

The planning application for 550 houses at  New Haine Road  Ramsgate  was submitted by  East Kent Opportunities LLP (EKO),  a property development partnership  jointly owned by Kent County  Council and TDC.  TDC’s  Planning Committee rejected the  application in October 2013. EKO then  launched an appeal which will be heard later this year.

Three weeks ago Driver submitted a complaint to TDC  alleging that the Council’s Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal,   may have tried to improperly influence  the planning process in relation to the EKO application. An external assessor has now been appointed to review Driver’s allegations and decide if there is a case for the Chief Executive to answer.

In the meantime,  TDC  Leader Hart and  his Labour Cabinet colleagues, Councillors Michelle Fenner, Allan Poole and Rick Everitt  put forward proposals  which would have resulted in the departure of  the Council’s Monitoring Officer, who is managing the investigation into Driver’s allegations,   and his replacement with someone, who Driver claims “ might be more pliable than the incumbent, making easier for this extremely serious investigation to be nobbled and any alleged misconduct covered up”.  However,  Hart’s  plans were defeated when Independent, Conservative and UKIP councillors voted to block his  proposals  at a meeting of TDCs General Purposes Committee  earlier this week.

Said Driver  “Thanet’s Labour leadership are  desperate to kill off this investigation because they are key players in the  unsavoury EKO  story.  It was TDC  Leader  Hart,  along with Chief Executive McGonigal, who  supported  EKO’s plan to build 550 houses at the New Haine Road, even though they knew it  was against Thanet Council’s Planning Policy.  It was  TDC  Leader Hart, along with Chief Executive  McGonigal , who supported EKOs  decision to appeal against the rejection of their plans, even though they knew that the appeal is  likely to cost Thanet taxpayers up to £100,000.

I congratulate those councillors from across the political divide   who were brave enough  to stand up against the Labour Leadership’s crude efforts to manipulate,  influence and kill off  a very serious investigation into alleged misconduct in public office. I am a firm believer   in open and transparent government and if there has been any wrong doing by politicians or officers there should be a fair and proper investigation which is not nobbled or fixed for reputational or party political purposes. I trust that Councillor  Hart and his colleagues will now act in public interest and  let due process take its course without  further interference.”

 

3 comments:

  1. I'm no Tory voter, but I don't think that the Labour group is covering itself in glory on this one. It is quite clear that, at the very least, this development proposal has been handled improperly. One would imagine, following Ezekiel's disgrace, that local politicians would be ultra-sensitive to allegations that things have not been done by the book. Any politician who cares about the Council's reputation and image would be supporting the inquiry as a means of demonstrating that there it's a simple case of cock-up rather than corruption. It does not reflect well on those members of the Labour Group who voted in favour of replacing the monitoring officer with a patsy.

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  2. Not a patsy Anon. Homer is McGonigal's brain and minder. Iris and Clive will want her as Chief Exec next.

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  3. "Homer is McGonigal's brain." I'd never have associated Homer with that part of the body.

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