Fresh blow for beleaguered Thanet District Council

Webcast footage of Thanet District Council meeting A recent report said attendance at council meetings was seen as "entertainment"

If Thanet District Council thought the independent report into behaviour at the council would draw a line under the recent difficulties the council has experienced it seems they were wrong.

Instead, at a meeting on Thursday night to discuss the report's recommendations the four independent members of the council's standards committee, including chairman Robin Hills, quit.

Their report concluded standards of behaviour at the council were so poor it had "the appearance of a dysfunctional organisation".

It also found the public thought councillors were secretive and corrupt, and it recommended compulsory training for all councillors to improve standards.

Councillor Clive Hart Councillor Clive Hart said the report had damaged the council
'Damaging local democracy'

But council members didn't take kindly to the criticism and rejected the conclusions. The council's leader Clive Hart said the report had damaged the image of the council and unfairly tarnished the reputation of all members.

There's no doubt their resignation is a further blow to the beleaguered council.

Last month, the council was the subject of a complaint to the European Commission that it had provided TransEuropa - an ailing cross-Channel ferry company with "illegal state aid" worth £3.4m. The complaint was rejected.

And the council's image was dealt another blow when its former leader Sandy Ezekiel was jailed in March for misconduct in public office.

Tony Travers, the local government expert at London School of Economics, said on-going problems at Thanet council were damaging local democracy ahead of the next local elections in the district in 2015.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Councillors are volunteers so they're hard to find. If you're not party tribe you're excluded. They tend to go native in time because they're part of a private club with it's own procedures & weird vocabulary.
    Add Prescott's Cabinet system, useless officials, yet more vast policy & bureaucratic burdens from Westminster and you get every ill.
    Just a jaundiced view from years too close to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    When will someone in a higher authority intervene and sort our council members out, I mean c'mon how much more of this do we have to put up with, everyone knows but nothing is done!?

    Thanet has a lot to offer as other have already pointed out. The local, or should that be loco, council are just holding the future of Thanet back!

    Surely we can do better than this, please, anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Look, We have a port in Ramsgate along with an airport at Manston.
    I know lets build houses then! o I forgot maybe we should have the infrastructure to support all this, first.
    No wonder people complain about the local council, time for a change I think. Thanet should be booming and it' still one the most deprived areas in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    No, Clive Hart, it is not this report which has damaged the council - it is the behaviour of the councillors (which led to the report). If they behaved like grown-ups instead of spiteful children in the playground, if they were not so positioned that they cannot tolerate disagreement, THEN MAYBE the council might work for the good of the community, instead of trying to build personal credit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    £3.4m to the ferry, £2.7m to the road to no where, £1.4m to the live animal exporters. CPO derelict buildings in Margate, give Ramsgate buildings away for £1. How can councillors deny their reputation is at an all time low? Their response to the Standards Committee confirms it. They live on the moon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    The report is to be celebrated because it finally points toward the possibility of transparency (as a response) and the hope of a more democratic process. That said, I would be a fool to hold my breath. There is a lot of resistance to transparency as evidenced by the response to cameras in the chamber. This begs the question "what do they want to hide"? Quite a bit, evidently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Thanet council has had a bad reputation for many years going back to the 1950s. There has been an suspect approach to many projects and the Ezekiel affair seems to have been a tip of the iceberg. Thanet could be a thriving resort area but with the present crew in charge it is going nowhere. And as for the report, don't blame the messenger.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The suggestion by Clive Hart that the reputation of the council had been tarnished by the report shows his total lack of awareness of how the council is perceived (and has been for many years). Anybody who has witnessed first hand the conduct of the council members at meetings (as I have) comes away with an overriding impression of almost pathological dysfunction.



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