Disruption caused a Thanet council meeting to grind to a halt last night (April 12) when members of the Thanet Independent Councillors (TIC) group disputed parts of an annual Standards report.
Council chairman Janet Falcon ordered an adjournment after Cllr Alan Howes refused to sit back down following a protest about what he said was a “disgusting” report.
The report, authored by Dr Jonathan Sexton, Independent Chairman of Standards Committee, highlighted a vote in February to reprimand former UKIP Cabinet member Suzanne Brimm.
Cllr Brimm was subject to an investigation after posting comments that a senior Thanet council officer “…needs to go!! Not fit for purpose!”
Cllr Brimm was asked to remove the comments but refused. Following the complaint an investigation, costing £3245, was carried out.
The independent investigator found that Cllr Brimm’s facebook post compromised the integrity of an officer and she had brought her office and the council into disrepute.
A vote to formally censure Cllr Brimm was passed but it was not unanimous. Cllr Stuart Piper asked what the formal censure entailed and said the lack of an informative answer was the reason he was one of around a dozen who voted to reject the formal reprimand.
Thanet Independent UKIP Group members (now TIC), bar one who abstained, voted against the motion as did then- Independent Alan Howes (now TIC).
‘Endorsing errant behaviour’
In Dr Sexton’s report it stated the group voted en-bloc. He went on to say: This stance, seemingly endorsing the errant behaviour, was noted by many present in the public gallery and drew some unfavourable comment.
“A bizarre feature of this episode was that the lead member of the group, had sat in person on the Sub Committee, heard all the evidence, and at the time, concurred both with the findings of fact and with the recommended sanctions.
“With publication of the sub committee’s findings he then sought to distance himself from the conclusions reached. This culminated in posing at Full Council, an obtuse question as to the nature of censure, before declining to support this recommendation (the group colleagues following his lead). Members might wish to speculate amongst themselves as to the reasons for this change of stance.”
Another instance highlighted in the report was the early exit of Cllr Brimm and Cllr Alan Howes from February’s budget meeting.
Cllr Howes branded the report as “disgusting and not factual.”
He was admonished for “inappropriate language” by council chairman Janet Falcon who then temporarily shut the meeting after Cllr Howes refused to sit down.
Once the meeting restarted Cllr Lynda Piper said she disapproved of the report section, adding: “In my view the report should not comment on the way elected members exercised their vote in this chamber. (He) does not have the right to malign my integrity when I do not have the right of reply.”
She added: “We have a democratic right to vote as we wish without incurring such scathing, and incorrect, criticism in a public document.”
The report was also disputed by Cllr Gary Taylor, who said he had abstained, so the vote was not en-bloc, Cllr Brimm, who said she had made a ‘public disclosure’ regarding the report to the council chief executive and monitoring officer but received no reply and Cllr Stuart Piper who branded the section “inaccurate and misleading.”
He said making “allegations against elected members” would “set a dangerous precedent,” adding that he had lodged a formal complaint about the report.
In response Dr Sexton said it was an independent report on conduct inside, and outside, the chamber, adding: “The observations made in the report are accurate and I will not change it.”
The report also highlighted a rise in Standards complaints against councillors in the 2017/18 year. Some 31 complaints were made and 12 passed the initial jurisdiction test and progressed for further scrutiny.
Of these 12 cases, 4 progressed to formal investigation. 1 case so investigated, was judged not to be a breach of the Code of Conduct. In one case a member’s conduct was found to have breached the Code of Conduct. The remaining two formal investigations are currently still open. Twelve separate complaints concerned one councillor.
One complaint involved the meeting of former leader Chris Wells with Stone Hill Park development representative Ray Mallon.
Some 40 complaints were received about the meeting. The report states: “After due consideration, the appointed Standards Sub Committee determined that whilst such a meeting was ill advised, there was nothing in such behaviour which breached the Code of Conduct.
“I am advised that following this determination, a number of the complainants referred the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s speedy response stated that the Council had conducted its Standards enquiries entirely properly and there were no grounds for intervention by the Commission for Local Government in England (the Ombudsman).”
Dr Sexton also highlighted the rising number of complaints involving social media and a number of complaints made by members against other councillors.
A request for the ‘offending’ paragraph to be removed from the report was rejected with monitoring officer Tim Howes saying TDC was not “in a position to correct the report.”
How much is this continual squabbling costing us?
I do not think my taxes should be spent on investigating these councillors’ pettty personal disagreements. I would prefer them to spend my money and their time on picking up litter if they are incapable of running a proper local council. It makes me want to weep when I think of how well our town could be run. They should be ashamed of themselves. Any group of residents could take over and do a much better job.
I think the Council officers should be left to do what they do best, and these children we have acting as Councillors stop complaining about each other, reorganising themselves politically, and just resign.
The local Plan should not have been voted down by those fools who care less about Thanet than the residents who actually live there. Next time the elections come along we need to vote people in who have our towns best interests at heart rather than those who just want to cause problems and trouble. They have brought themselves into disrepute and ridicule, far and wide.
This lot couldn’t run a bath! Vote anyone out in May, who still want to reopen Manston as an airport! All local politicians who want this only want to confuse the public, and muddy the waters, in order to get re-elected! Manston has failed four times as an airport, and opening it up only for cargo, with day and day night flights, which is proposed by an American Hedge Fund company, will destroy tourism in Ramsgate, devalue property, and harm health with noise and air pollution, because they must fly in at only 300 meters height over the Harbour, and only 100 meters at the Nethercourt estate before touch down! Jobs, forget it, the only jobs going will be for skilled technicians, who will have to be bussed into Thanet!
This nasty Woman is still insulting people on Facebook, she is Rude and spiteful, any other Councillor who does any good for the area of Thanet, Brimm will put on the most degrading posts about them. Anything she has ever done for Birchington she has done for her own self promotion and getting the Press involved at every opportunity. She has upset many people not only in Birchington but in Thanet also with her Vile personal insults
What a farago of nonsense! I would be able to blame their political Parties for their behaviour but, it turns out, most of the current Councillors chop and change between Tories/Ukip/Independent and back again. If this lot ever managed to run an airport, we wouldn’t know if we were landing, taking off, or raising the periscope. Thank goodness the airport plan is already dead in the water.
It was pretty obvious when the Ukip candidates originally put themselves forward in 2015 that most of them were (to be kind) ignorant and misinformed about how the council and how it works. They behave worse than schoolchildren, make inaccurate statements and don’t seem to know anything about logical thought. The sooner they are all voted out the better. A pity we have to wait until May 2019.
At the very end of the very long dark day, and it does seem such a farce for everybody involved. With what can only be termed as the mad house or the carry on at the council, it simply cannot carry on for much longer, with dwindling finances and a dwindling work force, when you then add the erratic
temperamental and wholly unsuitable behaviour of those councillors whom we’ve grown to know too well because their faces give us such joy and comfort when we see them popping up time and time again in the news, only to be told they’ve created more attention for themselves like the naughty school children who sit at the back of the bus jumping on the chairs and shouting obscenities out the windows to little old ladies below. We need a new culture of upstanding law abiding considerate men and women to take on public life and be the good public servant that we all deserve.
AAAAch, these armchair Politicians criticising everyone and everybody again. Shame on you all gutless lot.
1. Instead of complaining about Litter on our Streets…. Teach people NOT to drop it.
2. Instead of complaining about Councillors…. try it yourselves.
3. There was a recording AND witnesses to the charges that brought against Cllr Brimm… where were their statements AND where was the copy of the recording. These seem to have been ignored (?)
4. Dr Sexton may be correct in his Report, but, it does not tell all!
If councillors can’t abide by the rules which are there to ensure they behave properly they ought to resign.
Just think of the tens of thousands of pounds of your council tax money that these disruptive councillors have had. And ask what have they achieved apart from a load of bad publicity. Bankcrupts, thieves, wife beaters and social psychopaths, that’s what you get for voting UKIP. Going to be a long year in politics.
Since when have the words ‘disgusting & disgraceful’ become inappropriate? They are mere expressions.
Here we go again, someone out there still thinks the delinquent two deserve applause. You would think Ukip would have run DBS checks on their candidates in the North, highly unlikely. The conduct of those two that call themselves councillors couldn’t counsel themselves on good behaviour, you can’t expect to gain respect from the general public if your seen a brawling lout, we all know the importance of public life starts with how one conducts oneself and you may want to stick up for the desperate two, as it suits you to rumble up a cluster of support for your mates. It appears you are the cheerleader for these two Mr Robster roll on and so be it, if this satisfies your addiction with this never ending saga of shout and blame and argue and waste tax payers money.
It’s all about numbers, the TIC group needed Cllr Brimm and Howes to make up their group. They add their support for them on this basis however badly those cllrs behave. It’s not about integrity of their group it’s about numbers which makes it a failure from the start. There have been no principles or decernment regarding the poor behaviour which those cllrs have shown. The TIC group have no values with the selection of the two councillors that have such a poor track record of controlling themselves in public and in the council chamber. They as a group should not feel proud but concerned at who they have allowed to enter their group and disrupt from within and to blindly support those individuals in the face of a breach of the code of conduct. They have shut their eyes to this because they so desperately needed numbers to make up their group. A group which is fragmented and will suffer because of the disingenuous decision.