Thanet council’s Conservative leader and Cabinet to create 10 point priority plan

TDC leader Bob Bayford

A ten point outline of priorities will be put together by the new leader of Thanet council, Conservative Cllr Bob Bayford, and his Cabinet.

Cllr Bayford was voted in to the top spot by other members of the authority last Thursday (March 1) in the wake of the resignation of former UKIP leader Chris Wells.

There was a noticeable lack of UKIP Party councillors in the chamber for the vote with only Cllr Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing evident on the Cabinet bench. Former leader Chris Wells did not attend.

South Thanet Tory MP Craig Mackinlay was present in the packed public bench.

The leadership vote marked the end of the UK’s only UKIP-led authority and the beginning of a minority Conservative administration.

Cllr Bayford has already nominated Cllr Jason Savage as his deputy and the full Cabinet line up will be announced on Monday. It is expected to closely resemble the former Shadow Cabinet structure.

Cllr Bayford said the 10 point outline and the Thanet Local Plan will be priorities for the administration once the ‘realities’ of the task become evident.

He said: “Initially we have to find out what is the reality of Thanet’s situation. I know from bitter experience that what you think you know in opposition and what the reality actually is can be completely different.

There are a lot of things bubbling under the surface that as opposition we would not necessarily be informed of.

“The Local Plan will, of course, be a priority. We need to look and see what can be done. I would like to revisit it and get on with getting it out for comment, which is what failed to happen on January 18. I would hope to do this fairly quickly, but we need to look to see where officers have taken it over the last month.

“Over the next two to three weeks we will also come up with a 10 point ‘wish list,’ things that are priorities and that the public can hold us accountable for.”

Cllr Bayford reiterated the party’s backing of aviation-use at Manston and said this will be re-examined in the context of the local plan.

He added: “The real challenge is the shortness of time. Normally when you take over a council you have 4 years and a majority. We have 14 months and a significant minority.”

Pro-airport campaigners welcomed the change of leadership at TDC.

Photo John Horton

A spokesman said: Save Manston Airport association (SMAa) welcome Cllr Bob Bayford as the new Leader of Thanet District Council, together with his still to be formed team. We hope that they will be able to work together for the benefit of the population of the Island of Thanet.

“It is to be hoped that all councillors and officers will now unite behind this minority administration and enable significant progress to be made on the restoration of commercial aviation at Manston Airport, in conjunction with a much improved draft Local Plan to present to the Secretary of State, that reflects the wishes of Thanet.
We wish them well.”

The No Night Flights campaign group has requested a meeting with Cllr Bayford to diiscuss the Manston issue.

Ian Scott, No Night Flights campaign group spokesman, said “Successive council leaders, when confronted with the facts, have faced the truth that Manston is not viable as an airport. Cllr Bayford will be presented with those same facts.

“Real leadership is about evidence-based decision-making and the real role of the council is listening to and representing its residents – all of which might have to fly in the face of party politics. We request an audience with Cllr Bayford to discuss the facts as an immediate priority.”

Karen Constantine

Labour’s Karen Constantine, who was also nominated for the leadership contest, has questioned why there was no opportunity to speak at the meeting and why the ‘proper democratic process’ was not followed by  the Chair and why council officers did not prompt this to happen.

She had wanted to address Tory austerity and council outsourcing prior to the vote, adding: “We have seen services outsourced – council tax, housing benefit, non-domestic rates, debt recovery, customer services and parking appeals. We are now faced with the spectre of yet more services being outsourced.

“Doesn’t the epic failure of Carillion prove that these services are best kept in house? Doesn’t it make sense to remove the profit motive and to plough that money back into Thanet.

“We now learn that this council has entered into a pilot business rates scheme, this will take no account of deprivation or need. There is little interest in the blatant unfairness of this.

“This council needs Labour leadership and Thanet residents deserve a party who will put them actually put them first and know what they are doing.

“I’d like a commitment from Bob Bayford that he will concentrate on and take urgent action on housing, staggering child poverty, and the low pay that mars our area. I’d like his support to challenge the STP and closure of NHS services and to apply his political weight and get the street lights switched on without further delay. I’d like a commitment from him to challenge sexism in the TDC chamber.”

Former leader Cllr Wells said the new administration would “encounter the same legal and moral dilemmas” over Manston as UKIP in a bid to hang on to a “sterile airport site.”

The Conservatives last had full control of Thanet council in 2003-2007. Since 2011 there have been three periods of no overall control. UKIP had the majority in 2015 but lost it the same year. It regained that majority in 2016 but lost is again last year after defections and resignations.

Read here: Thanet council has a new leader -marking the end of the UK’s only UKIP-led authority


  1. We need a Labour leader and councillors to get anything important done in Thanet. We will just get more delaying and the blighting of Thanet with this Tory bunch that has no understanding of what the residents of Thanet actually want them to deal with as a matter of urgency. The Hospital not losing it’s Stroke services and being downgraded, deprivation in parts of the Isle, homelessness, unaffordable rents, there is so much that needs sorting out but will they bother or are all they interested in is Manston. Manston is just a small part of Thanet but getting all the attention. It is bang in the middle surrounded by homes and they want to re-open it as an airport. It’s unbelievable how incompetent and foolish some people can be. If you could pick it up and move it out of Thanet then maybe it could be viable, but not here, there is too much to lose.

  2. Let’s hope that we can now have the “Open, Hinest and Transparent “ governance we expect…
    Not what we have been suffering under of late …

  3. Who can forget Craig Mackinlay’s five point plan to save Manston. That was a great success wasn’t it. Now we are to be treated to Bayford’s ten point plan to save Thanet. I can’t wait.

  4. Now we wait with baited breath to see when Bob will act on Manston. If there is an ace up his sleeve, its time to play it.

  5. Do local Tory councillors support the massive cut in funding by Tory governments in the last 8 years to all local councils or is he a puppet of his national masters?

  6. The QEQM is not within the remit of the Council – that’s why the MP’s discuss it! I am sure the new Leader will not have a million excuses to sit on his hands with regards to Manston Airport and will do what the local people want: reinstate Manston Airport (its location is irrelevant and has been for many years with regards to freight) The NO NIGHT FLIGHTS group can lobby as much as they like but really need to accept that the airport has been there 100 years and new technology is making aircraft significantly quieter and sensitive planning will mitigate Ramsgates problems. A new Instrument Landing System facing the East will mean aircraft will finally be able to land much more easily from the West and give the people of Ramsgate the peace they deserve and call for. Wells did manage to brainwash a few people but most could see he wasn’t genuine and self interest lay at the core of all he was doing. Night became day and vice versa with him. He tried to take everybody for mugs but he has failed and failed badly! Now where have I heard that expression before!

    • Firstly Manston was an air-force base not an airport.
      Every attempt as a public flight base has failed.
      The myth about KLM, they got a subsidy and the 100 seater planes was less than 50 % full at best..
      The proposal from the DCO will mean 24/7 freight flights & the rest of the land sold off piece meal for housing, with no other services in place,roads, doctors, schools etc,etc,.
      This is the reality

      • David Larkins – Manston has been and still is an Airfield and has been so for 100 years. It has had American fast jets, transports flights and cargo in and out of it for 70 years!

        KLM where NOT failing. They where planning the next season and where happy with progress building up the route. Gloag threw them out along with everyone else. KLM received NO subsidy!

        The DCO does not propose 24/7 freight flights. It modelled for all contingencies but will work mostly daylight hours. There is no money in Nightflights for airlines or airports – its expensive to keep Airports open 24/7. Only East Midlands Airport operates a full Night Flight operation.

        RSP require all the airport but not for housing. The North Grass is for an aviation related Business Park – This will likely be freight forwarding companies who are operating out of the airport. This will create many real jobs.

        All the services the airport requires will be provided. The local infrastructure – roads etc are part of the DCO application. You clearly haven’t looked at it.

        That IS the reality!

    • There is no longer an airfield. There is a large brownfield site owned by a company whose plans tick all the boxes for government approval.

      Manston’s location certainly is relevant. It is in a corner of England with poor transport links, and it is only a couple of miles from a town of 40,000 people.

  7. Lets hope that Mr Bayford has bigger sphericals than Wells. If he does at least they won’t fit in the chief exec’s pocket and the council will be run how it should be and not how she wants it. Its time to step up and eradicate any trace of the bullying culture and lies.

  8. Lots of macho b*llsh*t being churned out. Councils have limited powers and have to act within the law. As with his predecessors, Mr, Bayford will have to act with regard to legal advice and advice received from the professional council officers. He will also be hampered by the fact that he does not have a majority. Any controversial policies can only be pushed through with the agreement of other parties. I suspect he has far more in common with UKIP than the band of misfits who have now left the party. Given his recent comments I would expect him to push through the local plan as it stands. He can easily do this with support from Labour and UKIP. He will then impose a two year moratorium to prevent SHP from developing the site for 2 years, to give time to find out whether the DCO is successful. That seems eminently sensible to me. The only reason the Tories turned it down first time around was to get rid of Chris Wells. Now he’s gone they have no reason not to get on with it.

    • Cllr Bayford was a leading member of the Local Plan Cabinet advisory group in November 2014 when they ‘advised’ myself and our Cabinet to support Manston as ‘and opportunity site’. The Cinservative Minister Repobert Goodwell in a phone conversation with me spoke of regional airports failing throughout the country. In the run up to the 2015 elections our Labour administration had a special working party looking at the airport site . It never met after the elections no more than Sir Rogers Taskforce in 2014. We couldn’t find a back to back investor by December 2014 and told you the truth throughout. We suffered a heavy defeat in 2015 for doing so as the Conservatives and UKIP poured money into Thanet to win seats on the back of reopening the airport. Bob will need to deliver on many issues but at least he will have an excuse to blame his own Government if the yet to presented DCO fails.

      • I just received a reply from Sajid Javid. He was previously unaware of the January 2000 debate in Commons. He was previously unaware that police are conducting inquiry (Economic Crime Unit) into activity when last Manston was operating as a civil airport.

        He was previously unaware of the precautionary principle trigger on Sericol massive contamination of Thanet water supply.

        He was previously unaware of cllrs being lied to about Sericol and cllrs so misled and/or ill informed they were not equipped to approve the 2006 local plan. I believe a Cllr in 2009 called for overall risk assessment as a matter of diligence .. but this never happened.

        I think if National Planning approve the River Oak application it would be extraordinarily generous. But the fact would remain nothing was done to uphold the other principle “Polluter pays”. It is Sericol who should pay for the public health impact study the expert authority said is required .. back in 2009. The absence of such a study may thwart the River Oak application. I think it may well thwart River Oak.

  9. Let’s now get on with it and re-open the airport. Enough excuses from previous administrations so this conservative led council must move this forward. There’s also many other local issues such as waste collection and street cleaning that urgently needs to be addressed.

  10. What are you talking about? The council has no powers to reopen the airport. The site of the former, failed airport is in private hands and the only people who could reopen it are people who have the money to buy it. To date, and despite all of the hot air, nobody has offered the legal owners of the site a sum which would tempt them to sell? Why not? If it’s such a sure-fire thing why has nobody come forward with a bigger offer?

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