A Ramsgate Town Councillor has called for an investigation into procedures at the grassroots authority following a resolution to donate to a Judicial Review bid to challenge the granting of a development order for Manston airport.
Thanet Independent group member Cllr Stuart Piper says due process was not followed in the run up to the meeting to discuss the issue and Standing Orders were “manipulated.”
In July Ramsgate Town Councillors voted to contribute £5000 – and up to £10,000 if needed -towards the Judicial Review application against the government decision to grant a development consent order on Manston airport. The DCO enables the site to be used as a cargo freight hub.
A recorded vote showed the majority of councillors, who say they had campaigned for election on a platform of opposing the freight hub plans, in favour of making the contribution with Cllrs Lynda and Stuart Piper, Cllr George Rusiecki against the proposal and Cllr Wing abstaining from the vote.
But Cllr Piper, who is in favour of the airport development, says information about the resolution should have been published earlier.
He says the procedure is “Standing Orders, 9.2…’The Clerk shall insert in the summons for every meeting, all notices of motion or recommendation properly given in the order in which they have been received…’
Town clerk Richard Styles, whose role is non-political, has refuted this claim and says the points made “do not hold water.”
Cllr Piper said: “I am calling for an independent investigation into procedural matters at Ramsgate Town Council. There are occasions when due process is not being followed and matters are being railroaded through without accurate management or governance.
“I believe there is evidence that the Standing Orders for the council are being manipulated to achieve outcomes rather than followed to ensure open, honest and transparent governance.
“Recently certain elected members of the council took part in what I have described as a raid on public money. They were assisted by the Town Clerk who I believe did not ensure Standing Orders were correctly followed.
“A resolution was submitted requesting that RTC provide up to £10,000 of public money to support a Judicial Review into the decision to grant permission for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for Manston Airport.
“I believe the process that followed was flawed and that actions were taken to withhold pertinent information from certain elected members as well as the public.”
Cllr Piper says he has written to the town council clerk to ask why details of the resolution were not published until the afternoon before the meeting despite being submitted almost a week earlier and who made that decision.
He is now calling for an independent investigation into the matter.
Town clerk Richard Styles said Cllr Piper has been invited to follow the complaints process. He added: “Cllr Rev Piper has made a number of allegations which I have answered in some detail. He does not accept those answers and prefers to repeat them continuously in the hope, and presumably the expectation, that RTC will give an answer he does like.
“His points do not hold water and he makes allegations without providing evidence to substantiate them. He has been offered an independent complaints procedure in two options by myself and the Chairman, Cllr Campbell.”
A Judicial Review would look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for RiverOak Strategic Partners.
Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act and are instructing barristers Richard Wald QC and Gethin Thomas in the action.
An application for Judicial Review has been submitted following the rejection of a pre-action letter. Responses to the submission have now been lodged by RSP and the government.
The decision on a development consent order for the Manston airport site was announced on July 9 after delays in January and May.
The Department of Transport approved the application to create an air freight hub at the site. The Examining Authority panel of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning had recommended that development consent should not be granted.
Jenny Dawes, who launched the crowdjustice appeal, says her action is due to the decision being made against the examining panel’s advice. The fundraiser has received 1,114 pledges for £78,870 of a £100,000 stretch target. The fundraiser has 30 days left to run.