Fourteen Thanet UKIP councillors have demanded party and council leader Chris Wells resigns with immediate effect, according to a statement issued by Cabinet member Stuart Piper on behalf of the group.
The call comes after a vote on Thanet’s draft local plan last week split the party.
A change of status in the plan for Manston axing aviation-only status in favour of a mixed-use designation to include 2,500 homes proved the downfall of the plan, which is a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure until 2031. The result was a vote of 35 councillors rejecting the proposal to put it forward for publication. Of those 20 were Conservative, 3 Independents and 12 were UKIP councillors. 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.
Following the vote Cllr Wells slammed the “stupidity” of the outcome, adding that he saw no reason to allow councillors who “refused to take proper legal, advice free rein to wreak havoc on the council.”
But members of his party are now calling for him to go. Two more councillors have joined the ‘rebel 12’ although it has not yet been revealed who they are.
This leaves just 10 UKIP councillors backing Cllr Wells – not enough to keep him in power.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Stuart Piper, who voted against the plan, said: “Cllr Wells has been asked by UKIP councillors to call a meeting of his group and has so far refused to meet before the end of the month.
“He has therefore been asked to resign with immediate effect. He has been advised that he cannot count on enough members of the group to stay as leader.
“Fourteen councillors have supported the request for him to resign. UKIP councillors need to reassure Thanet residents that we put serving our communities with integrity, at the very heart of our decision making.
“This was demonstrated clearly last Thursday when we put local communities first by rejecting what we believed to be an undeliverable and unsustainable Local Plan.”
Suggestions that the split could see the UKIP group ditch the party to become Independents have not been confirmed.
However, if that did happen it would mean the Conservatives becoming the largest group in the administration with 21 members, followed by 16 Independent Councillors plus 2 Independent Group councillors, 11 UKIP and then 6 Labour.
Conservative leader Bob Bayford has confirmed there are discussions regarding a vote of no confidence but would be dependent on the fall out within the UKIP ranks.
The voting down of the plan may result in government intervention.
In November Secretary of State Sajid Javid 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.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (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.”
Cllr Wells has been asked for comment.
The UKIP vote against the plan