Kent

Thanet District Council warned over 'homophobic behaviour'

Webcast footage of Thanet District Council meeting Image copyright Thanet District Council
Image caption A previous report highlighted "personal threats" at public council meetings which were broadcast on the internet

A Kent council has been told it needs to tackle "toxic" and homophobic behaviour.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said it found examples of "hostility and discourtesy" at Thanet District Council (TDC).

A council spokeswoman said TDC would be preparing an action plan to tackle the key findings in the LGA report.

A previous report found a suspicion of "secrecy and corruption" at the troubled Labour-led council.

In November, the independent standards committee also highlighted "disrespectful comments" and "personal threats" made between councillors at public meetings and said the council appeared "dysfunctional".

"Rebuilding your reputation is the most important challenge you face," the LGA told the council in its peer review based on a visit between 11 and 13 March.

Its report said: "There has been some evidence of improvement in behaviours and relationships between politicians in recent months. Sustained and rapid improvement in this area is critically important."

'Extreme behaviours'

The LGA said: "You have not addressed some behaviours which we described as 'toxic'. We found examples of antagonism, hostility, homophobia and discourtesy in the way that some councillors behave.

"We recommend that the advice of the Local Government Association is sought, particularly in respect of the most extreme behaviours."

Sue McGonigal, chief executive of Thanet District Council, said: "The peer review was an important opportunity to gain a valuable external perspective on the council as a whole.

"This process has helped us identify the council's strengths, highlight areas for improvement and the constructive feedback in this report will help inform our future plans.

'We're putting together an action plan to take forward the LGA's recommendations."

The standard's committee report in November, was commissioned following a BBC South East investigation into the conduct of councillors.

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