A ‘concrete piling,’ an electrician, sports journalist, nurses, radio DJs and a 21-year-old entrepreneur are among the candidates who will be fighting to be elected to Thanet council this week.
The elections on May 2 will poll for the 56 seats on the local authority which is currently led by a Conservative minority administration.
Last time Thanet went to the local election polls was in 2015 when a landslide victory, 33 of the 56 seats, resulted in the isle voting in the country’s first UKIP council.
But the group suffered defections and resignations, including an en-masse withdrawal of 12 UKIP members last year who formed the Thanet Independent Councillors group in protest at the administration’s stance on the future of the Manston airport site.
The rebel 12 became Thanet Independent Councillors, ditching the UKIP label altogether, leaving just 13 UKIPs at TDC.
At the end of February last year council and Thanet UKIP Party boss Chris Wells resigned from his role as authority leader in the wake of the Manston row. Conservatives took the helm of a minority led council with Kingsgate councillor Bob Bayford taking the leader’s position.
Just two of UKIP’s currently serving councillors will stand again for the party -Terry Connor, who currently represents Sir Moses Montefiore ward and Derek Crow-Brown for the villages. All others, including party leader Chris Wells, will be stepping down. Newcomer Paul Weller is also standing for UKIP.
Labour’s Iris Johnston, who served on the authority for a whopping 24 years, Beacon ward’s Jenny Matterface and Michelle Fenner, who was councillor for Sir Moses Montefiore ward, are also stepping down.
Independent Bill Hayton is also stepping down as is villages Independent Bob Groves who joined forces with UKIP to create a coalition last year.
Conservative county councillor Paul Messenger, who was forced out of the Conservative Party over Islamophobic posts on facebook, is standing as an Independent.
Thanet Independent Councillors say:
The TIC group has added new members to its party. Peter Cook and Philip Cutler, formerly of Independent Democrats, will now poll on behalf of the group.
Group leader Cllr Rev Stuart Piper said: “There is no place for party politics in Local Government
We have been officially recognised by the Electoral Commission and registered as a political party for the purpose of enabling candidates to represent local people on local issues in elections in the district of Thanet.
For many years successive administrations have focused too much on national party interests and it has often been to the detriment of local residents.
Thanet Independents has been working hard as a group of committed local representatives since January 2018 when we forced the UKIP administration to stand aside because they were not even attempting to keep their main manifesto pledges. Many residents felt betrayed by them and tough decisions had to be made.
We believe it is time to take tribal politics out of Thanet District Council.
We will insist on open and transparent local government and not play fast and loose with our pledges to you.
We will challenge the West Kent Boys Club at KCC at every opportunity on the condition of our highways and many other local issues.
Local Government funding from central government is being reduced to zero by 2020/1 across the UK by the Austerity Party and it seems that areas like ours will take the biggest hits.
Together we can make Thanet Independent.”
Labour Party candidates are pledging to review parking fees, waste collection and increase recycling.
The party manifesto says if they take control they propose to review all council spending, re-directing it, wherever possible to local suppliers that benefit the local community, boosting jobs and opportunities locally.
There would also be a feasibility study for Ramsgate Port, the creation of a business Cabinet post and attempts to curtail greenfield development.
There will also be reviews of TDC’s current £1.3 million/year expenditure on temporary housing with plans to use the £7 million in the housing capital fund to solve the problems.
A party statement adds: “We’ll listen and respond to residents. We know how frustrating it can be trying to get hold of a councillor when you need one. We promise to be available, to be a listening ear and to act quickly to solve problems on your behalf.
“You’ll see us ‘out and about’, at our regular surgeries, involved in community action, from hands on litter picking to full on campaigning. We’ll be alongside you.
“At council we will be a formidable force for positive change. We’ll scrutinise all decisions, we’ll be open and transparent, and we will be accountable.
Our diverse candidates truly represent Thanet’s population; through our diversity we are united in our desire to enable everyone in Thanet to thrive.”
Among the pledges from Conservative candidates are aims to see a Margate Town Council established, backing for the return of Manston Airport to aviation use, continued support for the campaign to have a hyper-acute stroke unit at QEQM, engaging with investors to promote the benefits of creating business in Thanet and protecting against overdevelopment.
Robert Jones, chairman of North Thanet Conservative Association, said candidates are already working hard meeting residents and finding out how they can help.
He said: “Our candidates are all local people who care passionately about Thanet and its wonderful communities. Because they live here, they know the issues that matter to residents and many of them have been campaigning to improve things for years.
“Together with our colleagues in South Thanet we will continue our fight to return freight traffic to Manston airport, and to support the local economy by encouraging tourism and supporting our valuable local businesses.
“Residents can be confident that a Conservative-run council will provide the services people need and want, while keeping council tax as low as possible.”
Liberal Democrats say:
Housing, clean streets, protecting green spaces, looking at new ways to balance the council budget and halting the asset sell-off all feature in the Liberal democrats manifesto.
They say: “As Liberal Democrats we are committed to making sure there are enough homes for everyone. We want to build emergency housing for the homeless. We believe the council should be building council houses.
“The solution is to build high quality council houses with green energy technology making energy low cost or even zero cost.
“We will make sure that everyone has suitable rubbish bins including recyclying ones. We want to put an end to fly-tipping and believe charging to take rubbish to the tip, proposed by Conservatives, is likely to worsen not help this problem.
“We want to protect our green spaces and improve cycle paths. If we are to reduce car use to protect our air quality we need to improve cycle paths and public transport. We need to find new ways of working. Lets not spend £3M on the council offices, lets get our priorities right, stop waste and spend wisely.
Selling off assets to plug a budget deficit is a short-term fix. We want to look at how public assets can work for us. This could be by making money for the council that can be put back into services or by becoming a community asset for communities to use where communities look after each other.
Thanet Greens say:
Pledges from Green Party candidates include finding creative ways to address poverty, supporting small businesses, delegating greater powers to town and parish councils and improving street cleaning and recycling.
Another big concern is the environment and how to improve it at a local level.
Candidates say this can be done by improving public transport and providing more walking and cycling opportunities and improving waste services to make recycling easy, natural and automatic.
Aims include: “ Ensuring open, honest, straightforward decision-making at town and district levels, delegating more powers and funding to town and parish councils, i improving street cleaning, waste and recycling for a cleaner, greener town and exploring how councils can help address poverty, low aspiration and limited opportunities, particularly for our young people.”
A spokesman added: “Thanet Green Party is 100% opposed to the revival of aviation at Manston, which would create both air and noise pollution, threaten our reviving tourist industry and sadly not create many local jobs as so many airport processes are now automated.”
Clean streets, regular bin and recycling collections and finding a solution for the deficit at ramsgate Port are on the manifesto list for UKIP.
Candidate Terry Connor says the marina village option could be looked at although it may exclude ordinary ‘working class’ people.
He added: “I would like to see more social housing and the hospital keeping its stroke unit. I also feel we could do a lot more with our open spaces, for example ramsgate FC want to move to Jackey Bakers and have a centre and facilities for children. I’d also like the free parking back at Leopold Street that Ramsgate Town Council were paying for until Thanet council put the price up.”
Women’s Equality Party say:
Kanndiss Riley, 24, will be standing for the Women’s Equality party. The businesswoman is passionate about education, health and anti-violence against women.
She said: “ I want to encourage and support more women to speak up about their experiences and share their knowledge from life, career or family so that the Women’s Equality Party can be effective in its policies and commitments to the public..”
Ramsgate artist Gary Perkins –aka last Summer’s escapee Pleasurama piling – will be standing for the Sir Moses Montefiore ward.
As an independent he says he is sidestepping any party political endorsement in a bid to be better placed to represent everyone and offer them a choice at the ballot box.
Suzanne Brimm will stand again to represent Birchington.
The electrician, mother, grandmother and Vice Chairman of Campaign to Protect Rural England in Thanet said: “ I have been involved with the campaign against the overdevelopment of Thanet and the Local Plan for several years.
“I have dedicated spending a large amount of my time representing local residents on a wide range of issues that affect their daily lives and look forward to the prospect of working on behalf of the village of Birchington once again.”
Grahame Birchall Independent, Cliffsend and Pegwell, f I am fortunate enough to be elected, I can guarantee delivery of a Local Mayoral Referendum in Thanet, which is the first step in our campaign to re-write TDC’s constitution, as a cross party exercise. The overriding aim of the campaign is to bring much more, open, transparent and accountable government to Thanet.
Sarah Larkins Independent, Eastcliff
Gary-Paul Derriman (PIeman) Independent, Margate Central: “A vote for me is a vote for Margate, sorry but that is my priority people, businesses, toilets, street cleaning and tourism.”
Richard Baxter Independent, Salmestone: “I’m standing as an independent councillor because I believe that the people of Salmestone Ward, and the people of Thanet, want councillors that are responsive to THEIR wishes; and get value for the money that they pay in Council Tax.”
Ruth Brackstone Bailey Independent, Viking: “My belief is that national party politics have no place in local governance. As an Independent I am free to vote with integrity without toeing a party line. I regularly attend local community and council meetings and contribute on a range of community issues.”
Paul Messenger, Independent, Sire Moses Montefiore: “If elected I want to support the initiative of a plastic free coastline. I will continue to support Aviation returning to Manston. I will support maintaining and improving NHS medical services for the area.”
Search Thanet district election for candidate profiles by town/village.
The count and results announcement will take place on Friday, May 3 at Margate Winter Gardens. Results are expected from 1pm.