Thanet council chief exec reports Labour councillor to Standards in row about suspended top officer

Cllr Karen Constantine

Ramsgate councillor Karen Constantine has been reported to the Standards Committee by Thanet council chief executive Madeline Homer.

The move follows a statement made by Cllr Constantine about employment law and the need for councillors to be able to have an overview of staffing matters and a policy that promotes impartiality and clarity.

The comment came following the shock suspension of Thanet council’s deputy chief executive and s151 officer Tim Willis last week.

The reason for his suspension has not been confirmed by Thanet council. Mr Willis has been with the authority since 2015.

But the suspension has been heavily criticised. South Thanet Labour policy officer Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt said: “It is utterly unacceptable that Thanet District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Willis, has been suspended. I’ve always found Tim to be a man of integrity keen to support a positive vision for Thanet.”

Retraction demand

It has now emerged that Cllr Constantine was ordered to retract her statement but has refused.

She said: “ As a result of my comments to The Isle of Thanet News, the chief executive Madeline Homer took the highly unusual step of phoning me to ‘demand’ that I retract my statement. I was very clear that as an elected councillor I am able to state that councillors should have an overview of staffing matters at TDC. Not the detail as that would be inappropriate.

“ I was told three times to retract my comments. I was very clear that not only do I have the right to make my statement but that I will not be bullied.

“As a result I have been reported to TDC standards committee.  I stand my comments. I believe I am owed an apology and I am seeking legal advice.

“In the meantime I wonder what the residents I represent and support on a daily basis think of this misuse of power? If our chief executive has nothing better to do, I do. My commitment is to those people that put their trust in me as their councillor. “

Section 151 officer

The Local Government Act 1972 requires every local authority to appoint a suitably qualified officer responsible for the proper administration of its affairs. Section 151 officers are required to ensure the legality and financial prudence of decisions. Officers must be a qualified accountant belonging to one of the recognised chartered accountancy bodies.

The Section 151 officer has a number of statutory duties, including the duty to report any unlawful financial activity involving the authority (past, present or proposed) or failure to set or keep to a balanced budget.

The Section 151 officer also has a number of statutory powers in order to allow this role to be carried out, such as the right to insist that the local authority makes sufficient financial provision for the cost of internal audit.

The responsibilities of the S151 Officer cannot be delegated. The S151 Officer  is a role prescribed by law.

Thanet council does have a deputy S151 Officer.

Mr Willis is one of a four person top team of officers at Thanet council. The others are chief executive Madeline Homer, Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite and Director of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer.Tim Howes.

A spokesperson for the authority said they were unable to make comment on the Standards complaint against Cllr Constantine.


  1. I feel it is right that Councilors are allowed to have there right to have there say in all matters regarding council matters and Question the Excecatves they are Voted in were the Excecatves are not.

  2. Perhaps Madeline Homer ought to be reported to the Standards Committee for the alleged bullying of Karen Constantine?

  3. The Chief Executive has a fiduciary duty to the constituents of Thanet to clarify her report to the standards committee. Councillor Constantine has been fairly
    elected with a duty to express her views on behalf of the electorate, including over controversial matters such as the suspension over a senior member of staff

  4. Councillor Constantine is doing what she is elected to do and doing it well. There is no office or officer of the council nor any function or action of any officer of the council which is not available to scrutiny by the councillors.

    • Are we getting to the situation where the alleged lovers Homer and Waite are trying to run TDC on their own. Both of these need to be suspended and got rid of.
      Thanet would be a much better place without them!

  5. It sounds as though the Chief Executive has lost the plot. What Cllr Constantine wrote was carefully considered, appropriate and relevant to the shock suspension of an excellent senior officer. Madeline Homer has been clearly shaken by the public disclosure of her alleged relationship with her 2nd IC. What is even more alarming is that she does not appear to have formally reported this relationship which debars her from being her alleged lovers boss in public office. Madeline Homer has betrayed in public yet again her Modus Operandi in bullying and haranguing staff, Sir Roger Gale, former Councillor Suzanne Brimm, even the incredible injuncting of former Councillor Ian Driver and keeping a control on what’s discussed at Council eg 6 mins discussion to sell-off Dreamland. All very undemocratic. I hope Cllr Rick Everitt, Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Helen Whitehead Deputy Leader, respond sharpish in public to defend one of their number. If they don’t then they would be condoning this outrageous attempt at censoring the views of Councillor Constantine specifically by the CEO against.

  6. So typical of the TDC senior manager modus operandi. Can’t handle any criticism or anyone disagreeing with them so they start shouting the odds at any one speaking out. From what I understand it is about time the elected members started reminding TDCs management team who is actually in charge in that building. I don’t always agree with what Councillor Constantine does or says but am right behind her on this one.

  7. So dictator homer bullies an elected councillor, who says we live in a democracy and free speech,

    • Homer has to go and take her partner in crime too!

      This town is ruined 1972 you all had a chance and you have all ruined it ….

      Nothing at Ramsgate
      Nothing at Margate

      all expect high wages
      expenses that this town cannot afford
      You wiped off an ex councilors debt of £67k you said they had no money
      and you said in a report that I have you were going to write off the debt with arrowgrass Ms Homer and Waite and team of executives

      What say you all resign on Monday and do us all a big favour ….Incompetent, dealing with offshore companies here in Margate and Ramsgate and what about the Thor situation
      Manston was also AG with offshore leaks

      Bullies I hate
      this town does not deserve this treatment

      • 1972 was also the time of EU
        do us a favour
        Ms Homer and et all!
        leave this town
        we do not need bullies
        we shall not tolerate this kind of behaviour any more
        a woman being a bully to another woman

        sack her or she resigns today

  8. Well done Karen! It needs someone like you to hold these unelected people to account! They think they run the Council, but they don’t! They are there because we Council tax payers pay them to do a job on our behalf, and they must be open, so we can see what they are up to! Its elected councillors who should be able to make these unelected people accountable to us!

    • we can all hold them to account and it is about time we all did and told them that we do not want them here in this town anymore and we want people to love what they do not rip us off or fail….Homer knew about the secret ferry payments, Homer was there when she was going to write off the massive debt of SHL! So was TW and a councilor ….

      Homer also knows about the offshore people attached to the Ramsgate seafront land banking …Homer knows about the Manston offshore leaks and arrowgrass offshore leaks
      Resign please

  9. report it all to the Ombudsman
    Report it to the CIPFA
    the deputy is not qualified accountant

    what the hell is going on MS homer ….no more lies no more brushing things under a carpet like arrowgrass being an offshore company that I know you never did any due dilligence for

    sack her

  10. arrowgrass
    was to bail you out of a hole
    that you never charged SHL anything for years
    who did you tell about this decision ….the public …NO
    offshore accounts

    sack him

  11. It is about time the elected councillors scrutinised the decision making of the chief officer and her team . For far too long the elected councillors of all parties have colluded and acquiesced under pressure from Madeline Homer etal . Whilst labour councillors historically have a lot to answer for,on this occasion Cllr Constantine May have have been raising some valid points . If as some suggest Madeline Homer has broken protocol by managing her second in command whilst in a relationship she should be censured . Is Tdc run along the lines of don’t do what ii do but do what I say ! All the residents of Thanet want is an open honest and transparent council , is it not now time for Homer to resign .

  12. TW is the only section 151 officer I am going to complain to the CIPFA suggest you all do
    he has a right to report anything of a fraudulent nature past present and future!

    Bring him back home and why did Homer want rid of him I want answers yesterday Ms Homer

  13. Madeline Homer is not qualified to hold the position of a chief exec. She does not even speak well and certainly does not act well. Bob Bayford opted for her to be placed into that position and no one else from outside was given the chance. What you have now is complete power given to a very inexperienced person. How on earth can someone with no experience in this high end role manage a council. It is not possible. That’s why all of the childish phone calls are being made to Cllr Constantine. In a fit of persistence to get her to back down. Now threatened with the stupid standards threats that had no teeth to deal with Cllr Brimm. It’s a waste of tax payers money. The legal aspect costs. Madeline Homer is just wasting money by doing this and that is why she is not fit to lead the council. As competent chief exec wouid have dealt with this in a different way.

  14. Karen Constantine is our elected representative. The day she is denied the right to question the executive is the day democracy dies. We need to be grateful that she has asked the questions she did.

  15. Accountability
    These are standards we have a right to expect
    Any bullying is (albeit indirectly) bullying of the citizens of Thanet
    It’s about time TDC pulled themselves together and started to do more of the right thing and less corruption and sneaking around please!
    We are not stupid. We will not tolerate much more of this and FYI the people of the District have the power to insist on the removal of a council which is not fit for purpose

  16. When the leader isn’t good at his job to protect himself he puts his friends into high places to protect himself. Or to help with any cover ups that might be needed. Than when the sh*t hits the fan he sacks them to save himself, but the friends he has put into high places still think the leader is great.
    I read what cllr Constantine wrote and must say it seemed fine to me , I can only guess she must have hit a nerve so TDC go into bullying mode. Speak out against TDC and we will try to get rid of you it seems ..

  17. We the people of Thanet elect our councillors, Cllr Karen Constantine, is carrying out her role as a district councillor, the officers of the council should ultimatly be responsible to the elected councillors they are our representatives. The TDC CEO needs to recognise, that she is the employee in this situation not the boss. It is to be hoped that the standards committee recognise that Cllr Constantine is not the one that should be investigated for wrongdoing it is the CEO.

  18. no wonder the isle of thanet is going to hell in a hand cart council seems to spend its time bickering and nothing else same as parliment new broom needed

  19. Have to say again (in a gentle, reflective way ..) that there is a disconnect between the role of the elected Councillor, the role of the officers, the constitution, and electoral mandate. Decent lines of communication cannot take place in such a muddle. I say this from four years of serious work (with community members) on aspects of homelessness, and the Port. I well remember the road blocks and endless prevarication encountered on both. Tedious to say the least.

  20. The current CMT should appreciate that the Councilors are voted into office by the residents and the CMT gang are not ! Not only is TDC run by idiots and terminally malicious highly paid nincompoops, it is fast becoming the dictatorship[ (previously mentioned) and the laughing stock of Kent and the South East.

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