Birchington councillor Suzanne Brimm has been removed from the Thanet Independent Councillors group following a tweet saying she “can’t waite (sic)” for a council officer to “pass away.”
Cllr Suzanne Brimm made the comment in reference to Thanet’s director of operational services Gavin Waite on the day of the funeral of her colleague Cllr Alan Howes. The council is now seeking legal advice on the matter.
The decision follows a spat on social media about the comment between Cllr Brimm and TIC leader Cllr Rev Stuart Piper.
Cllr Piper has now issued a statement after handing paperwork in to Thanet council to say Cllr Brimm has been expelled from the group.
He said: “The last few months at TDC have been unsettling for some, particularly since the vote not to publish the Draft Local Plan but for Thanet Independent Councillors we have tried to get on with the business of supporting the administration and officers where we can and opposing them where we feel we need to.
“There have been some notable comments, particularly on social media, which have been picked up by the press which have not helped any of us in our role as public representatives. Cllr Suzanne Brimm has received considerable help and support by TIC group and advice to curb her outbursts and be more accurate with her criticisms.
“Unfortunately sometimes that advice has been ignored. We had some disagreements over her latest outbursts and she informed me she was leaving the group.
“As a group of hard working councillors we could no longer support her. We have tried to help and support her throughout her difficulties but she has made it impossible for us to continue. We cannot condone her style of criticism nor her abuse of officers on social media.
“We agree there are challenges to be made to some issues but Facebook is not the place to do it. Members of the public are entitled to balanced comment and accurate criticism where it applies, from all elected members. We did not feel that she was doing that.
“Today I handed in to TDC Democratic Services, the necessary papers signed by a majority of our group, informing the council that we no longer wished her to be considered as a member of TIC.”
Cllr Brimm, who left the UKIP party at Thanet last August to work as an Independent following a move to ditch her as Cabinet member for Operational Services, joined TIC when the group formed in February following a break away from the UKIP administration.
The move followed a statement issued by Cllr Piper earlier in the month from the ‘rebel’ UKIP group calling for then council leader Chris Wells to resign with immediate effect. This came in the wake of the voting down of Thanet’s draft local plan on January 18 which split the party.
Cllr Brimm remains unrepentant, saying she is happy to continue as an Independent.
She said: “If I am to be expelled for speaking my mind, so be it, I work best alone, it’s of no particular consequence to me.
“I joined the group to bring Chris Wells down as he was not representing the constituents on key priorities, the local plan or Manston Airport. That job has been done and so I am more than happy to go back to standing as a true independent in TDC benches representing my constituents without a whip which is essentially what you get when you join a party,
“I firmly believe party politics and the whipping system have no place in local politics and local government is best served by truly independent councillors.
“The only thing I care about is representing my residents.”
The move now means Thanet council’s political make up is 21 Conservative; 14 Independent and UKIP Group; 12 Thanet Independent Councillors Group; 6 Labour; 2 Independent and 1 vacant seats.