Thanet Local Plan: Cabinet member ‘sacked’ and political group leaders’ meeting called

UKIP leader Chris Wells (left) and Thanet Independent UKIP Group leader Cllr Stuart Piper

Political group leaders at Thanet council will meet on January 30 to be briefed on what options they have to move forward with the isle’s draft local plan.

The proposal to take the plan to publication stage was voted down by 35 councillors against, with 20 in favour, at a meeting last week.

The failure to have the plan published could mean central government stepping in to take over the blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure in Thanet.

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.

Following that deadline it should be clear what levels of intervention may be relevant to Thanet.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Chris Wells, said: “There has been a lot of commentary during the days since last week’s local plan vote. The facts remain pretty simple. It is my view that the decision by councillors to vote down the proposed local plan will have consequences and these consequences will only become clear over the coming days and weeks.

Thanet council leader Chris Wells

“The reasons councillors give for voting the plan down are varied. There has been a suggestion that the plan was not sound. I can clarify, only a planning inspector can decide that and voting not to submit, means the planning inspector does not get to make that judgement.

“Some hold the view that the housing total was too high, yet the vote now means risk of additional housing numbers.

“Other views are in relation to retaining the airport, but there is no formal evidence to demonstrate a viable airport is achievable within the Local Plan period in order to include it for consideration.

“The Leader of any council has a responsibility above party politics. Part of that is to ensure any proposals for the area are legally safe, and within Government guidelines. Whilst we continue to seek evidenced alternatives to get a local plan through, as a council already in intervention, the options are limited.

“I take my responsibility as Leader seriously and believe we must make decisions based on fact.”

Councillors voted the plan down

Cllr Wells suffered defeat on the proposal 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.

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.

Since the vote 14 UKIP members have issued a demand that Cllr Wells resign with immediate effect, according to a statement from Cabinet member Stuart Piper on behalf of the group.

Cllr Wells has not resigned his post and is said to have removed Cllr Piper from his Cabinet role for housing.

He told The Isle of Thanet News: “I understand Cllr Piper has expressed dissatisfaction in his Cabinet role. I would not want an unhappy Cabinet member, so am happy to release him from irksome duty”.

Cllr Piper said he learned of the ‘sacking’ from a facebook post. He later received an email on the issue.

He added: “This is an entirely predictable response from Chris Wells who does not handle disagreement at any level. I am surprised he waited as long as he did but then he has consistently denied any request that he resign so at least by this move he can deny it no longer.”

Cllr Piper’s details have been removed from the Thanet council page listing Cabinet posts and those responsible for them.

20 Comments

  1. “I take my responsibility as Leader seriously and believe we must make decisions based on fact.”
    Such a pity he doesn’t hold his election manifesto promise in such high regard 😡

    • The TDC councillors who are trying to protect the quality of life for local residents are surely those who voted for the local plan and no longer support the harmful short-sighted policy of trying to replace an airport near Ramsgate.

  2. Pleased to see that Gale’s choice of UKIP leader, the loathsome Piper, has been dismissed. He orchestrated the rebellion and voting down the local plan with no idea whatsoever of what to do next. The whole thing was a silly piece of political points scoring. People who play politics with serious issues have no place in a position of responsibility.

    • I dont know about Mr Piper but your discription fits the current TDC leader perfectly, the undemocratic Mr Wells who has not delivered on any of his election pledges, has bullied the UKIP councillors to the point of defections and finally open rebellion. The man has failed to listen to or act upon the clear wishes of the electorate either verbal or as responses to the Local Plan. He must go and return democracy back to Thanet rather than follow his own deluded plan of what he alone thinks is right for Thanet.

  3. About time Cllr Piper went anyway as he was working in opposition to his posting for Housing ! All this childish behaviour by those elected Cllrs will be remembered when it is time to vote again. Instead of trying to push their political careers forward through desperate actions they should have been working for their electorate on matters which are important. They have based everything on Manston coming first in their opinions so voted against the Local Plan which is much more than just Manston and was completely wrong to do.

  4. If it wasn’t for Chris Wells Fraudmann backed up by sir Roger Gale MP would off made sure by now the site ‘Manston’was a building site with the nod from the powers that be to wack up as many properties as he ‘Freudmann’ could squeeze on the land.

  5. So sad to see the level of denial by those who support UKIP and actually want to build all over Manston and destroy the one major asset that has a potential to create skilled jobs in Thanet rather than let it become a dumping ground for Londons social housing crisis! Fortunately the DLP and Wells will be history soon and we can get on with the business of self determination rather than bullied into believing we have no say in the matter (ie the false dialogue of Wells and Homer) Let this be a real test of “localism” because as a result I am sure the result will be a re-opened airport!

  6. Shame that one the councillors with a conscience has lost his cabinet job. Couldn’t expect much else from the current leader, just hope that soon he will be history and we have a new person in control and get rid of the cabinet system.

  7. Having ditched the Local Plan, “self determination ” and “localism” are about the last things we’ll see.

  8. Mr. Burlacs, will you listen to yourself: “Mr Wells who has not delivered on any of his election pledges, has bullied the UKIP councillors to the point of defections and finally open rebellion.” So, you are claiming that Mr. Wells made Piper and his motley crew vote down the local plan? That they wouldn’t have voted it down if it hadn’t have been for the nasty Mr. Wells? You are joking, aren’t you? Wells did everything in his power to deliver a compromise. No reasonable person could have rejected the offer of a 2 year delay on development to allow any serious bids to reopen the airport to come forward. I’m afraid you have to face the fact that Piper’s motley band were naive and allowed themselves to be used by the Conservatives. The Conservatives all voted against the plan and needed some gullible kippers to join them. You’ll note that Sir Roger Gale has called for UKIP, under the leadership of Piper to work with the Conservatives to deliver a new local plan. Jumping the gun or what? Piper hasn’t even challenged for the leadership, let alone declared that he will go into coalition with the Conservatives. At least, he hasn’t come out and said so publicly. This whole episode was a political stunt. The UKIP rebels aren’t fit for office.

  9. This all smacks of a school playground and the “It wasn’t me, Miss” scenario. This is NOT a game. The future of our island is at stake. We need mature adults to govern us not petulant school boys. Commitment to Thanet is surely more important than party politics and point scoring. We need a woman to run TDC.

  10. Many of these councillors were following their election pledges and a democratic right to vote for what they believe is right For THANET.
    Where would all these houses have gone if Manston had not closed.
    And again with Threat to close Margate Hospital.
    Lack of JOBS Very High Unemployment,Doctors,Schooling.Police,Water Supply and all the other services and infrastructure required for the current population
    How would these extra residents be accommodated.

  11. As I recall we did have a woman running Thanet District Council before the current leader took over. When she left office there was a massive black hole in the accounts caused by illegally trying to stop live exports, subsidising a loss-making ferry service and getting involved in a hugely expensive compulsory purchase for Dreamland; what a great success that has been. Let’s not start claiming that women are in some mysterious way, better than men. We need the best person for the job and, for the time he’s been in office and, certainly, in comparison to most of the council’s leaders in recent years Chris Wells has done a very good job. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before the fruit-cakes and loonies broke loose.

  12. Nobody is claiming that women are better than men. But the current situation does seem to have rather a lot of badly-directed testosterone in evidence. A lot of power-struggling and holier-than-thouing (politically speaking) is going on and there doesn’t seem to be much co-operation between parties.

  13. “We need mature adults to govern us not petulant school boys. Commitment to Thanet is surely more important than party politics and point scoring. We need a woman to run TDC.” I apologise if I misunderstood these remarks. I thought they were intended to convey the idea that women are more mature than men and would do a better job. In response, feel it is necessary to point out that at least 13 women councillors voted to reject publication of the local plan. That’s over 75% of the female representatives on the council. If petty political points scoring was taking place, the female members of the council were fully involved.

  14. Personally, I don’t care what sex our councillors are, so long as they’re sensible, well-informed and ready to change there minds if new information comes to light, as it does pretty often in the Riveroak saga…usually thanks to the research skills of Manston Pickle.

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