MP Sir Roger Gale confirms ‘informal discussion’ over Thanet local plan with Secretary of State

Sir Roger Gale says it was an informal discussion rather than a meeting

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) says MPs Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale did not have a meeting with Secretary of State Sajid Javid last week about Thanet’s local plan.

But Sir Roger says the pair did speak to Sajid Javid in an informal discussion at ‘Westminster’ rather than a scheduled meeting.

Questions have been raised following a claim that an extension to a deadline for Thanet’s draft local plan was secured from government before last week’s vote by councillors.

Council leader Chris Wells suffered defeat when 12 of his own UKIP members aligned with the Conservative Party and three Independents to vote down taking the Local Plan to the publication stage.

A change of status for Manston to a mixed-use designation to include 2,500 homes proved the downfall of the plan, with 35 councillors rejecting the proposal to put it forward for publication. Just 20 voted in favour and one Conservative councillor was absent.

An amendment to defer for two years the mixed-use designation pending the resolution of the DCO process was not enough to persuade the majority of councillors.

Government intervention

A threat of government intervention was  issued in November by Secretary of State Sajid Javid. He said the failure of Thanet and 14 other authorities to meet deadlines to put a local plan in place meant the government serving notice of its intention to intervene.

In his letter Sajid Javid said Thanet, and the other authorities, had until January 31 to justify to Government the failure to produce a Local Plan.

‘Extension’

Conservative county councillor Paul Messenger 

Following the vote Conservative County Councillor Paul Messenger posted to social media saying an extension to the deadline had been secured.

He wrote: “Both Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale had a meeting with Savid Javid on Monday (January 15) who completely understands the ‘Thanet question.’
“He assured both our MPs at this meeting that his department would not in any way shape or form ‘penalise’ Thanet with demands for even more housing given that the Local Plan is voted down.

“Sir Roger is correct that a tweaked revised Local Plan can be brought forward with the ‘airport only use’ designation preserved for Manston before the deadline. However, our MP’s have also managed to get the deadline extended.”

In response to the revelation Thanet council leader Chris Wells and Labour group members have written to the Ministry of Housing to ask whether the claim is accurate.

Mr Mackinlay declined to answer questions about whether there had been a meeting but said he and Sir Roger would be having discussions with the Ministry this week.

‘Informal meeting’

Sir Roger confirmed there was a discussion. He said: “Craig and I had an informal meeting with Sajid to get answers to the questions that our councillors were being asked.

“We got the answers that I then made public. He (The Secretary of State) said he can’t bend the rules but does not want to be bloody-minded.

“If it’s clear the council is making a real effort to deliver the local plan then there may be some leeway.

“But this needs political will and Chris Wells wants to blame the Conservatives and those UKIP councillors for Sajid Javid stepping in.

“Wells has got to go, so that Stuart Piper and Bob Bayford can form a coalition and get on with delivering a local plan that goes through.”

Sir Roger says modifying the plan to “remove Manston from the equation” would mean no extension – or just a slight one – would be needed.

He said if MHCLG did have to step in there would be consultation with residents before any final decisions were made.

‘Formal process’

The MHCLG spokesman said: “We’ve made clear that the housing market in this country is broken, and for too long, we haven’t built enough homes.

“We have written to 15 planning authorities, including Thanet, and started the formal process of intervention for failing to produce a local plan.

“They were given until January 31 to respond and we will consider next steps after that.”

14 Comments

  1. “Wells has got to go, so that Stuart Piper and Bob Bayford can form a coalition and get on with delivering a local plan that goes through.” I think we can begin to see what’s been going on here. The Conservatives don’t want to step up and take responsibility for the local plan. They know they can’t reserve it for aviation-only, so they want some patsy to take the blame. Ideally, they want to plaster the blame all over UKIP so that they can ride in an take over running the council when it’s all over. Wells is a bit too long on the tooth and a bit too savvy to be set up so they’ve engineered this vote on the local plan to try to get rid of him. In the background they’ve been buttering up the gullible Piper and setting out their plans to install him as the new leader, taking his instructions from Bayford. I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether UKIP are going to allow Sir Roger to appoint their new leader.

  2. It’s very easy to see this is all politics led by SRG and RSP conning the councillors into voting the Local Plan down so that UK are gone and the Tory councillors Piper and Bayford are instated. And if their meddling little non meetings with those Government Ministers are anything to go by then those desperate lies are being used to persuade them on side. The Governments own Scrutiny Committee should be quickly informed of foul play by our two Thanet MP’s. SRG has a lot of questions to answer, on mainly why he is so persistent in trying to forcefully take a huge chunk of prime Thanet land, ie Manston, in any way he can to hand it over to a shady business man from the USA who has previously failed already at Manston under another name !

  3. Defamatory statements are actionable. The backs of our MPs are broad, but their patience is not inexhaustible. If those who are being defamed do not sue when maligned, that is likely because (a) they can’t be bothered because the offensive remarks will clearly cause no loss or damage; (b) the person(s) making such statements are obviously mentally defective; (c) the comments are risible; (d) the person(s) making such comments are likely not worth suing because they have no money or assets.

    • It’s to Thanet’s credit that their councillors have stood uo to the ploy to turn Manstonairport into housing estate. I know SRG to be a hardworking honourable MP It is a disgrace that the asset of Manston airport should be lost because of the greed of power hungry developers. THe TLP is a mess.TDC should have talked to Dover and the other councills about the Local plan,and in particulr, Manston Airport.Besides, who will pay for the roads for this new town at Manston. No mention in the TLP. The water infrastructure. No mantion either.THe TLP is a mess. I’m glad our MPs are doing their job and backing the sensible members of TDC who have voted against passing the plan under a barage of disgraceful threats.

      • What are RSP if not greedy, power-hungry developers? Altruistic philanthropists?

        Roger Gale seems to care more about animals than he does about the human beings in his constituency.

        The TDC councillors who voted against the Local plan are far from sensible. They have behaved like spiteful children, unable to consider the situation impartially in their desperation to get one over on their opponents..

        14 local councils have not got their Local Plan in on schedule – I wonder if their MPs have also been buttonholing Sajid Javid !

  4. The Minister for State denying he had a meeting, yet the MP for RSP confirming that he and Craig Mackinlay did have a meeting. They are opposing democracy by holding ‘clandenstine’ meetings, particularly prior to the formall council meeting. The local councillors are responsible for making their own decisions, not taking a lead from Government. Roger Gale should be removed, as he is interfering, and against the benefits of the residents of Thanet. I am sick of hearing the phrase that Ramsgate is a price worth paying, and yet people are denied to have a proper say in something which directly affects the quality of their lives. I believe they are misleading the enthusiasts by even referring to the creation of an airport, as they have no plans to create a passenger service, but a huge freight hub which would blight the whole of Thanet. Please think about what you are wishing on this area.

    • To Very Concerned Resident. I too am a very concerned Ramsgate resident and try to get to Westwood Cross several times a week, via the set of traffic lights by Lord of the Manor (which is an eyesore at the moment, as planning has been denied, but they’re still there, making a horrendous mess). I queue in a stream of crawling traffic from the moment I turn right towards the dragon roundabout which goes towards Manston Airport on the left, and straight on to WX. I dread a housing estate being built at Manston. If another 2500 cars join that queue every day, nobody will ever get anywhere in a hurry! The water shortage in Thanet will become an emergency situation and there will still be very few jobs for Thanet residents. #savemanstonairport. It’s a no-brainer.

    • I cannot see how Very Concerned Resident’s statements are overblown or lacking in evidence. Please let readers know which of his or her statements is/are not true.

  5. How many people like me, have family members who have moved away because there are no jobs in Thanet?

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