Concern raised that Thanet council deputy leader may quit role amid claims of being bullied by ‘members of own party’

Helen Whitehead

Concern has been raised that Thanet council’s deputy leader may quit her role amid claims of being bullied by members of her own political party.

An emotional account was published on the Labour councillor for Margate Central’s facebook page today (September 9) saying she has endured a campaign waged against her because, she says, other members dislike her partner.

In the post it says Cllr Whitehead has been belittled due to living with autism and seen guillotine images posted in reference to her role

The statement says: “I have been bullied by members of my own party for well over a year now. Unlike them I haven’t taken it to public forums, because I don’t believe it’s right to do so.  Unlike them I haven’t attacked because that isn’t who I am, much as it suits some people to believe otherwise.

“I have done my best to protect my party and live up to my ideals. Whispering (in fact, pretty much shouting) campaigns have been running against me for a very long time.

“Both officers and Cabinet members have commended my work. So does the community that I work with directly. But that hasn’t mattered to them, because I am no longer perceived to be “left” enough, simply because I fell in love with someone the left of my party dislikes.

“I have been accused of horrendous things. I have been labelled as a bully. As an autistic woman I have been called Cabinet’s “useful idiot”. I have been told that if you speak and write fluently you’re not disabled. I have been told that the fact that I’m autistic isn’t relevant when considering how difficult it has been for me to do as well as I have at this role.

“I have seen other councillors within my own party like those comments about me. I have been told that I need to be ashamed of myself, that I’m useless at my job, that those members will make sure I am removed from my job, I have had to watch threads unfold with pictures of guillotines and images of a politician being dropped off a cliff by members. I have had to watch people I was friends with stand by and do and say nothing, because they are scared of the same thing happening to them.

“The above images aren’t metaphors to me. They are what has been done to me mentally over the past year and a half.

“To our knowledge I was the first autistic woman to take on this role. I did it as a single mother with two disabilities. I did it well. And the very last thing I expected was to be deliberately harmed by my own party, and people I thought were my friends.

“I have had to be quiet for nearly a year and a half. I managed it. There’s no point in being quiet any more.  Thank you to those who supported me.

“I did my absolute best, and I’m sorry that I can’t take any more.”

Following the statement there have been many messages of support for the Margate mum-of-one and former special needs deputy head teacher.

Cabinet colleague Steve Albon responded: “As a cabinet colleague, I can honestly say, that in the work you have done and are currently doing, has been outstanding . We have worked together on various issues and your advice and input has been invaluable.

“As for you bullying anybody is complete fiction. There are a number of aggressive people within any political party and ours is no exception. I have personally witnessed the results of bullying against you and it’s not good. The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. Now is the time and I will be right beside you.”

Cllr Whitehead was elected to her district council seat, alongside ward colleague Rob Yates, last year. Cllr Yates also posted to a message of support.

She became deputy leader when Labour took the council leadership from the Conservatives following a vote of no confidence in then leader Bob Bayford.

In the run up to the election she said her aims were to “provide a voice for those who need it; acknowledge the huge difficulties we have both in housing provision and in support and provision for those with disabilities; represent residents on a local level; and continue to raise issues on a regional and national level for those issues that affect our local provision.”

Council and Thanet Labour Party leader Rick Everitt said: ““Helen has my absolute support as deputy leader and as a person. She is an outstanding councillor and I and the Labour group want her to continue to serve the people of Thanet.

“She also has the respect of other political groups, even if they don’t support Labour’s view of particular issues. It is grossly unfair that she has been pushed into a place where she feels she needs to speak out publicly in this way and I will continue to take whatever action I can to support her. She knows that.

“However, her own welfare is paramount and I will support her in whatever course she decides is best for her.”


  1. There is one thing I will not tolerate under any circumstances and that is bullying. Good for you girl stand up to those creeps who try to bully you. They are cowards if their bullying is in fact harassment then report them to the police that is a criminal offence.

  2. Ho no the only one that seem to help council tennent without Helen we don’t stand a chance of getting anything done. Helen you are doing a good job. Don’t let the bullys win

  3. Helen you are doing an extremely good job stand up to the bullies this is not school this is supposed to be a workplace where bullying doesn’t happen. Stand up to them name and shame them this shouldn’t be tolerated in any workplace its not tolerated in schools

  4. So sad to learn that yet another good councillor has suffered bullying from her own party members. Unfortunately, it seems to be endemic in TDC and needs to be stopped. Good or bad councils start at the top with the CEO and that situation and behaviour runs from the top to the bottom, throughout the whole council. If repeated bullying is allowed from the top, without consequences, others will get away with it too. The disciplinary procedure was passed by full council in February. Why hasn’t it been used? In my opinion, it’s time TDC was put in Special Measures, to get rid of the rot within it.

  5. Who you choose to be with as nothing to do with your work you’re extremely hard-working and you care about the residence of Thanet for these people that are bullying you they must be very small minded if they think that having a pop at you because of your partner is ok then they’ve got a very sad life.

  6. Helen, its rare to see a politician these days doing good work. Bullying is a sign that your a threat to them, although unacceptable. Don’t let them win, keep going and expose their actions.

  7. Helen who you choose to live with and to fall in love with has nothing to do with anyone else so they should butt they’re nose out of your business. You are extremely good counsellor you should not jeopardize your career for the likes of small Petty minded people. Carry on the good work Helen don’t be intimidated buy a bunch of Fools. Stand up to bullies

  8. The way you have been treated by fellow Party members, one at least has taken the cowards route of resigning before being pushed, beggars belief. There are still Labour members, now on Nationalforums who have passively aggressively allowed this to perpetuate under their watch, indeed have allowed the bullying to continue despite all their virtue signalling. Whatever you decide to do, unless there is a complete clear out of the CLP’s from the closed shop Trotskyists playing at politics, this situation will continue. What has your Leader had to say on the issue? Good luck Helen!

  9. Don’t support labour but this victimization is out of order especially from people in her own party. Leave her alone and just allow the councillor to carry out her duties!

  10. Bullying should not be allowed in any aspect of life but if you walk away then they have won and their bullying will continue to the next person. Take a stand name and shame them. That is the only way to deal with bullies

  11. As a councillor Ms. Whitehead is far too selective in who she chooses to reply to, her actions and lack of liason with the local community in respect of the British Legion in St. Johs Road have included willfully neglecting local residents, being complicit in disregarding building and listed building regulations all in a single minded pursuit of what she sees as being right.
    By all means have an opinion but as a councillor she needs to explain and persuade those affected that she’s made the right decisions not rail road through her views . If such an approach is part of her character then is she really suited to such a position? Those who’s enquiries she has chosen to totally ignore will think so.

      • I said no such thing, i’ve merely pointed out that she is not as good a councillor as she’d like to believe, far too interested in pusuing personal goals and to do so ignores questions from her constituents, seems quick to play the autism/disability card when it suits yet cannot accept that maybe it hinders her doing her job properly.
        She was heavily involved in the British Legion project and has purposely and flagrantly been complicit in bending tand ignoring the rules to get what she wants. How many times has the council had over 50 objections to a proposal and it not then going in front of the planning committee?
        Such behaviour is not that expected of a councillor and council in general. My personal view is that councillor Whitehead is a nasty piece of work who’ll do whatever it takes to pursue her own blinkered agenda. She can’t expect to bend rules and play games and not be criticised.
        As to her personal life i’ve no interest whatsoever.

  12. So the toxicity, back-biting, bullying, intimidation, etc. at TDC continues unabated – regardless of whichever political party claims to be in charge.

    The situation clearly applies to officers as much as members as we recently read about officers who claim to have been bullied and complaints against senior officers brushed under the carpet.

    Whoever claims to be in charge is clearly to blame and/or complicit if they have failed to stamp it out. Or is it those in charge who are causing the problem . . . ?

  13. So we have mass allegations of bullying and harassment by the Chief Executive and her close colleague the Director of Operational Services at TDC that Rick Everitt chooses to sweep under the carpet. Now we have bullying allegations from within Rick Everitt’s own party aimed at his own deputy that little is being done about.

    It’s clear that Rick Everitt either doesn’t want to, or is incapable of, dealing with issues like this so I would maybe suggest he stands aside for someone who will take the Leader role seriously and lead by example.

  14. Some people lead very sad lives! They should remove the plank from their own eye before worrying about the sawdust in someone else’s. From all accounts you are doing a grand job Helen and long may you continue.

  15. Bulling is victimisation, do not be a victim! All bullies are very sad people, trying to make others as miserable as themselves! Stand up to them, and if they are members of the Labour party, make an official complaint, and out them!

  16. Bullying is bad, I think we can all agree on that.

    However, there’s a degree of hypocrisy here. Cllr. Whitehead mentions people being unkind about her partner, Gary Perkins. The same Gary Perkins who has lead a number of hate campaigns against prominent local women (note, it’s always women), including the Mayor of Ramsgate amongst many others. These online attacks have been vile and have been going for some years now.

    He’s also due in court soon for an assault on a disabled man, which is pretty poor behaviour by anyone’s’ standards. The guy is a total douchebag.

    As someone with autism myself, it seems this is being used as a prop to gain sympathy. Sure, autism impacts on life in many ways as with any disability. I wish Cllr. Whitehead well but if she supports the hate and physical behaviour of her partner, the ability to feel sympathy with regards to bullying behaviour fades somewhat.

    Thanet District Council is completely dysfunctional. If we’re calling out bullies, there should be consistency.

  17. This is the third female Labour Councillor who has said they’ve experienced bullying at the hands of their own CLP. It’s time this was investigated as it doesn’t seem to be abating

  18. Is there no editorial control preventing some of the langauge used by some of the participants to this discussion, whatever one thinks of particular individuals? THE IOT News should be above permitting this

  19. This is disgraceful! Your choice of partner is YOUR business, not theirs. You helped me once, and I don’t forget things like that. This disunity within the Labour party is one of the reasons that the Tories keep winning elections. Keep strong! As Barry Lewis said, SOLIDARITY!

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