My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hart Must Resign as Planning Vice-Chair

I believe that Ex-Council Leader Clive Hart should resign from his post as Vice-Chair of Thanet Council’s Planning Committee. Why? Because he has demonstrated through his actions that he is unlikely to be able  to comply with the Council’s constitutional requirement that the  Planning Chair and Vice-Chair “act in the interests of Thanet Council”.

When Leader of Thanet Council, Hart, along with Council Chief Executive Sue McGonigal,  was a management board member of the highly secretive East Kent Opportunities(EKO). EKO is  a limited liability partnership organisation jointly owned by KCC and Thanet Council. As board members Hart and McGonigal supported a planning application to Thanet Council to build 550 houses on greenfield land owned by EKO at New Haine Road, Westwood Cross. The application was very expensive (somewhere in the region of £50,000 but EKO refuses to tell me). The only source of EKO income is Council Tax so you had to the foot the bill for the planning application.
EKO was advised on several occasions that their application was contrary to  Thanet Council planning policy and had little chance of success. When the application was discussed by Thanet Council’s Planning Committee in November 2013 it was rejected. Soon afterwards  the  EKO Board, including Hart and McGonigal, met and voted to appeal against the decision of Thanet Council’s Planning Committee. The appeal will take place  later this year and is scheduled to last about week. It will cost close to £100,000 and once again as Council Tax payers you will be forced to pick up EKOs and Thanet Council’s bill for this appeal.

So what does this tell us? That Clive Hart the new Vice Chair of Thanet Council’s Planning Committee actively supported a planning application for an housing estate on greenfield land which was clearly against the policy of the Council he was leading at the time. That he also  voted to support a massively expensive planning appeal against the decision of Planning Committee he is now vice-chairman of. In short Hart now occupies a senior post on a Planning Committee which he recently shafted!   As vice-chairman of that committee, can he fulfil the constitutional  requirement  to “act in the interests of Thanet Council”? With a track record like this I don’t think so.
Finally the Local Government Association publication “Probity in Planning” asks “how a reasonable member of the public, with full knowledge of all the relevant facts, would view the matter (in this case Hart’s appointment as Vice Chairman of the Planning Committee) when considering whether the councillor’s involvement would be appropriate”. In my opinion most reasonable people, when made aware of Hart’s EKO shenanigans would view his appointment to this very influential position as an extremely poor choice. What do you think?

10 comments:

  1. I 100% agree with you Ian!! I think with all shenanigans with Manston and that he knew of talks with Manston Owners about potential houses on the northern plot he has been given a role in TDC which seems very inappropriate and ill timing and is making a lot of people in Thanet angry.

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  2. As an out sider looking in it does seem as though elements of TDC are raising two fingers to those that they are supposed to represent! Lets hope those same elements are playing musical chairs on the titanic!

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  3. Have you considered the fact Mr hart was on EKO board supporting building. EKO now in court action with TDC ( defending action ) and Hart is now on the defending side. This should be interesting when he has to give evidence against himself.

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  4. It's a bit like giving a bank robber a shotgun by the prison governor the day he is released from prison. It's inevitable he robs a bank.
    No wonder they call this the most corrupt council in the UK!

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  5. Looks like an open and shut case. Councillors who are not joining you and demanding his resignation must be held to account too.

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  6. Ian - I am concerned that there is a difference between “act in the interests of Thanet Council” and act in the interest of Thanet's people.

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  7. Andy Jefferson18 May 2014 at 02:04

    I am a member of the public. I am reasonable. Clive Hart should absolutely NOT be allowed to be on any planning committee, he certainly should not be the vice chair. He has demonstrated that his actions are likely to be made in the interest of himself and other councillors, not in the interest of the council, or the people the council is supposed to represent. I want my representatives, first and foremost, to be honest with the public. I do not believe Clive Hart is able to do this because of his apparent conflicts of interest. I'm more than happy to help and support you, Ian, any way I can. I may not agree with all your policies (actually, i do agree with many of them), but I know you will act in the public interest and be honest with us. Please, if there is anything I can do to help you in this, just ask me.

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  8. Clive Hart should not be on the Planning Committee for all the reasons you give Ian - that is a concern. What's a double concern is the people who gave him this influential position are showing the usual disregard and contempt for decent standards of council behaviour. As someone has already commented, it's two fingers up to Thanet residents and business as usual - on their terms.

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  9. I am a reasonable member of the public. I would be keen to hear Cllr Hart how he intends to wear both hats at once.

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  10. I'm far from impressed with Iris J's justification for him being put in that post. The whole thing stinks

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