Thanet Green party is calling for outside intervention to help the district council amid a crisis of bullying allegations, a breakdown of trust and financial fears.
Thanet Green Party Branch Chair Tricia Austin Hartley said: “Our three Green councillors on TDC are willing to admit that the council has some very serious problems to tackle and to request external help to deal with them. Will other members join them in calling for the Leader of the council to bring in the support and expertise we need while there is still time?”
The group says trust between elected members and senior officers at TDC, and within the officer group and amongst members, is under considerable strain.
They add that allegations of bullying and harassment, the suspension for undisclosed reasons of a well-respected senior officer, threats by the Chief Executive to refer an elected member to the Standards Committee and suggestions that a motion of No Confidence in the Leader of the Council is imminent all paint a picture of an organisation in crisis.
In a statement the group adds: “Meanwhile, TDC’s financial picture is equally worrying, with substantial sums paid out in non-disclosure (gagging) settlements with former staff, ‘fire sales’ of assets, little staff capacity to bid for or manage external funding, hurried sale plans for the Dreamland complex and the proposed ‘emergency’ £1m spend on pontoons for Ramsgate port, now apparently halted as breaking financial rules.
“It appears increasingly unlikely that the council will be able to set a balanced budget for the 2019-20 financial year, particularly in light of the continuing suspension of its chief financial officer.”
Thanet Green Party say that between them, officers and members have emphatically not shown they have the range of skills and expertise that are now required to run the council effectively and they have reluctantly concluded that members need to ask for external help for TDC now – before this is imposed on us and the council placed in special measures.
The statement adds: “Asking for help now has several things to recommend it – It’s the responsible thing to do, while there is still hope of turning things round; it gives councillors the chance to do what we elected them to do (ie take control) – even if they do so by admitting they urgently need help and it may help avoid the councillors we elected to represent us being suspended for up to 6 months at some point in future, as is likely to happen if they cannot fulfil their legal duty to set a balanced budget resulting in the authority being compulsorily placed in special measures.”
A demonstration is currently (September 5) taking place outside Thanet council’s offices in Margate ahead of tonight’s full council meeting