Councillors and community groups due to protest outside Thanet council over top officer actions

Thanet council

A protest will be held outside Thanet council’s Margate offices tomorrow (August 27) by Labour councillor Karen Constantine, Green party councillors, community groups and members of Ramsgate Action Group.

The action follows the reporting to the Standards committee of Cllr Constantine by council chief executive Madeline Homer

The report against Cllr Constantine was made after she spoke to The Isle of Thanet news 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.

Cllr Constantine was ordered to retract her statement but has refused. She said she “would not be bullied” and has since sought legal advice.

The protest, which will take place at 10am, will also be joined by RAG members who claim council monitoring officer Tim Howes has been intercepting emails from the group to councillors without permission,

RAG member Steve Coombes says a question submitted to Mr Howes on whether this is lawful remains unanswered after 10 months.

Lat year Thanet council said Mr Coombes had been “designated as a persistent, vexatious and unreasonable complainant on the grounds of ongoing pursuit of information based on unsubstantiated, false grounds.”

Mr Coombes has made complaints to police and the Parliamentary Investigatory Powers Commissioner and the matter is now being investigated. He has also sought legal advice and pre-action letters have been sent to Thanet council with the threat of launching court proceedings over accusations of breaching Civil Procedure Rules and defamation.


  1. ‘Last year Thanet council said Mr Coombes had been “designated as a persistent, vexatious and unreasonable complainant on the grounds of ongoing pursuit of information based on unsubstantiated, false grounds.”’
    Says it all, really.

  2. You are completely wrong Tony. Steve is a Thanet Ratepayer and a very concerned citizen. He simply won’t be fobbed of with either no answer or false answers. He speaks for many many people in Thanet who are sick to death with the culture at TDC and concerned that it may be hiding serious misdeeds.

    • It’s not me who’s “wrong”. I’m simply quoting what TDC said.
      “He simply won’t be fobbed of with either no answer or false answers” is a typical trait of conspiracy theorists. He asks questions which are either unanswerable or not within the gift of the questionee to answer, then poses, usually with dramatic statements and and an attitude of righteous innocence “what are they covering up?”; “what else are they refusing to reveal?” and so on. Quite often their enormously wordy postings are littered with statements such as “It is alleged that .(by whom?)” and “If [this] and if [that] then [Some dire consequence].” But if any of the chain of logic is false, the whole premise is false, too.
      You say that Steve Coombes speaks for many … I think not. I think the “many” are being lead a merry dance, to Mr Coombe’s tune.

      • Hi Tony, the questions I asked were deemed “trivial” and their “answers” were apparently “unimportant”. With every day that passes, we see that this was untrue and the designation was purely a device to shut me up. Tellingly, the designation lapsed 5 months ago and Mr Howes hasn’t dared extend it. As to the substance of the questions I asked… well, I was a 100% right about Seaborne Freight and TDC were 100% wrong. You could say the questions I asked about Brett are still outstanding. But only because they have now become more pressing, urgent and important. With regards to the port losses and accounts or the 1.5 million “invested” as an emergency in the RoRo berth (1.5 million which has now effectively been written off, they don’t look that trivial or unimportant now, do they? Or at least they certainly didn’t to the S151 officer before he was suspended for asking questions.

  3. Why doesn’t Steve Coombes drop the adolescent smutty so-called jokes from the RAG website and focus on facts?

  4. A bit hypocritical of RAG when one of the committee member’s is a vile, nasty, bully. I wonder if that person will be there today protesting?

  5. I think more residents should be asking searching questions of TDC like Steve has. Let’s face it, they aren’t exactly the most open and transparent Council around are they and appear to have plenty to hide.

    • They “appear to have plenty to hide” because the likes of Steve Coombes and Ian Driver say so.
      If there are irregularities, then the correct place to have them sorted is via the Local Government Ombudsman, not the RAG Facebook pages nor Ian Driver’s Blog.

  6. Since May of this year TDC has continued its downward spiral. Departments decimated due to staff cut backs. A minority Tory administration without a manifesto, scruffy Labour and Green councillors mostly inexperienced and without a clue. The best director by far suspended. Could it get any worse at TDC?

  7. I see the in fighting has started on the RAG facebook page and the hypocrisy continues from a RAG committee member re: bullying

  8. I do both, Marva Reese. The facts and information I supplied to BBC business and C4 about Seaborne Freight Jan-Feb 2019 won both channels awards for their reporting of the affair and I have emails from the journalists concerned, thanking me for my research and stating that “they would never have won these awards without me”. I was also the go-to, talking head expert on the Port of Ramsgate for TV and radio across the world at this time. TDC never challenged any of the facts I presented in those interviews. Preferring instead to hide at Cecil House, refusing to comment; and unlike me, never daring to put anything on the record. But I am also an award-winning TV writer myself who has won prizes for his jokes. Reviewing a series I wrote about the criminal justice, both the Times and Guardian’s legal correspondents celebrated my “dark sardonic extreme humour” and claimed it resulted in the most accurate portrayal of the realities of the British legal system that has ever been shown on British TV. You’re welcome to take a different view of my “so-called” jokes, but they are usually recognised as jokes by a lot of people who might know what they are talking about. But here’s another way of looking at it, normally I get paid a lot of money for my jokes. But here I am in Thanet, giving them away for free. What’s not to like, eh?

  9. Gosh, Mr Coombes. Thanet should be eternally grateful for your selfless dedication, your erudition and your wit, smutty or not
    Shame you couldn’t get Ms Rees’ name correct.

  10. God help Us_ Your 2nd and 3rd links are the same document. Also, I don’t see why you want people to look at these links. Karen Constantine’s statement to this paper seems completely reasonable. If the role of the officers is not subordinate to that of the elected councillors then it ought to be. But the councillors on their part should not reject the officers’ recommendations if the latter are based on legal grounds. (As they did when they banned live exports.)

    • Marva there are only two links not 3.
      So you don’t think TDC is Toxic then?
      neither role Officer nor member is subordinate they are supposed to work together. The events in 2013 where just the members, todays toxicity is both some members and the senior management team.
      It does feel surprising that at a time when money is tight that TDC seem able to find over £1M to support just one employer and also surprising that the 151 officeris suspended so he cannot be questioned over the matter

  11. I don’t know if TDC is “toxic” or not because I am not a councillor, I am not an employee
    and I don’t think there is enough impartial information being given to the public for me to decide.

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