Conservative bid to remove Labour leader and regain control of Thanet council

New council leader Ash Ashbee and former leader Rick Everitt who resigned from the role in April

A Thanet council meeting has been called after a motion was submitted to remove authority leader , Labour’s Rick Everitt.

The motion has been lodged by Thanet Conservative Party leader Cllr Ash Ashbee and says: “In my opinion the Leader has failed to address the major governance issues that have been apparent within Thanet District Council for a considerable amount of time. As a result, I propose the Council removes the Leader of the Council from office.”

Councillors will then make the decision whether to debate the motion or not. If the motion is not debated it will fall.

If the motion is debated and the proposal is subsequently passed, this will result in the removal of the Leader of the Council from office.

As a result the council must then immediately elect a new Leader. This could result in Thanet council undergoing yet another change of administration – this time from a minority Labour lead to a Conservative lead.

Cllr Ashbee took on the Thanet Tory Party leadership after former leader after Lesley Game stepped down from the role. Cllr Game had been leader since a vote of no confidence in Cllr Bob Bayford in October 2019.

The motion will be tabled at a meeting on April 22.

Cllr Everitt has accused the Conservatives of running scared of voters due to tabling the emergency motion to try to change the council’s political leadership just two weeks before three key by-elections.

Cllr Everitt said: “I absolutely respect the right of the Tories to seek to regain control of the council, but it is cynical and undemocratic to try to do so 14 days before the by-elections in Dane Valley, Central Harbour and Newington. It is disrespectful and wrong to deprive voters in those wards of their full representation when they will have new councillors in place within a fortnight.

“I am certainly not taking any voters for granted, but it appears the Conservatives have so little confidence in their own candidates that they are prepared to deprive residents of their proper say.

“The Conservative group could have called a vote to change the leadership at any point in the last year. Labour has never had a majority or a formal alliance.

“In reality the Tories were too busy jostling for position among themselves, as the fact they have changed their leader twice in 18 months shows. Now they are cynically looking to take advantage of the death of one respected councillor and the resignation of another.

“I suspect many voters will rightly view this as undemocratic and it raises serious questions about the Tories’ judgement and their fitness to govern.”

Cllr Ashbee said she would not be making a statement to respond to the allegations.

All change – previous challenges

A motion to remove a council leader was last put forward in October 2019 and a vote of no confidence in Conservative leader Bob Bayford was passed. The motion was put by Thanet Independent Group leader Stuart Piper and resulted in councillors voting Labour’s Rick Everitt in as the new leader, meaning the end of the Conservative-led administration.

In March 2018 Cllr Bayford had been voted into the leadership role after the resignation of former leader Chris Wells. This had been forced by a UKIP Party split prompted by a failure to vote through the Thanet Draft Local Plan. It meant the end of the country’s only UKIP-led administration.


Thanet district council has been in no overall control since the 2019 election. A by-election for a casual vacancy in Newington was cancelled in March 2020 due to Covid concerns. Two further vacancies have raised in 2021 because of the recent death of long-serving Labour councillor Peter Campbell (Central Harbour) and the resignation of Thanet Independent Group councillor Gary Taylor (Dane Valley). All three by-elections are due to take place on May 6.

On the same date voters will take to the polls to vote for candidates running for Kent County Council.

The current council is Conservative 25, Labour 17, Thanet Independent Group 6, Green 3, Independent 2, Vacant 3.


  1. Wouldn’t it make more sense to agree the leadership after the elections?

    Of what benefit is this pre election jiggery to Thanet residents?

    It would also be good to understand which governance issues Cllr Ashbee is referring to.

  2. What a bunch of clowns – so busy thinking of themselves and handbagging each other that they forget why they are there.
    Someone get a grip, please!

  3. I will be voting for cllr Everitt he is the only one that help my elderly mother. her pairs where done within a day of contacting him. I left 5 e-mail explaining the repairs ti my mother’s property needed. Even contacted Mears explaining my mother’s property needed repairing but they refused saying that her property and her was not priority and my mother is In her 80s so he as my vote.

  4. Rick Everitt seems to me to be the first cllr who actually listens to the voice of the people. He deserves, at the very least, to be given some time to prove his worth.

  5. Ash ashbee wants to be full time leader of thanet council while standing to a full time county councillor for Margate in mays election, she must withdraw from one of the positions to be fair to the electorate

  6. Ironic this was proposed on the day of debate on Tory sleaze.only those with short memories will forget the days of Ezekiel ,cross channel non existing boats,ramsgate port and original mansion closure…all behind closed doors.not to mention the Bayford indecision and corruption on planning decisions…sue me!

  7. No single Party has enough councillors to run the Council outright. So it doesn’t matter too much if the Conservative’s bid succeeds or not. Afterwards, whoever ends up as the Leader will have to cobble together enough supporters from other Parties for any decision to be made. Just like now!!
    In a way, we can’t blame any of the Parties. Let us be honest. The voters of Thanet are simply not committed to any Party in sufficient quantities to give an overall majority.
    Maybe I could suggest that the voters back the Green Party in overwhelming numbers so that the Greens can take over control without having to worry what the other councillors think.
    But that is not likely to happen any time soon.
    Those calling themselves “Independents” don’t help, really. I mean, if they are independent of the main Parties, what on earth do they think when a new issue arises? What will they do? We can guess what the well known Party members will do, but how can we predict what an “Independent ” will do?

    I fear that voting for somebody calling themselves “Independent” is a bit of a “cop-out”. Avoiding difficult questions. And so is grumbling about the way the Council is run when the councillors don’t choose themselves or who they face in Council. The voters do THAT. And if the voters are hopelessly divided over what policies to pursue, the councillors will be as well.
    As I often think as I survey the “chumocracy” that constitutes the current government, “you get what you vote for!”

  8. Keefogs if no one party has enough councilors then how could the green party take control with 3 councilors when conservatives ( sorry for using that horrible word) have 25 councilors??

  9. Keefogs – I actually think all councillors should be independent and that party politics should not come into local councils. All councillors should do what is right for their area regardless of what the party politics might be. And that is why some local councillors are independents – they vote and make their decisions on each individual matter – precisely as should be done. So far from being a “cop-out” it is more likely they want the freedom to do make their decisions on each matter rather than having to follow a party line. So the more independents the better as far as I am concerned.

    But, I just wish everyone could work together for the benefit of Thanet, but we all know that’s not likely to happen!

  10. The only way the Conservatives would have tabled this motion is if they know they have the support of one of the minority parties to get it through.

    I was all for giving the Labour party a chance to demonstrate locally they had the ability to start to turn around the Council’s fortunes and hold the senior executive to account. They haven’t succeeded in either of these and are regarded as being Homer and Waite’s nodding dogs so perhaps a change of political leadership will bring about some much needed progress.

  11. TDC Senior Executives are to blame. Most Councillors (representatives of their constituents Voters), have an awfully tough battle when they start to cross swords with the likes of Homer & Waites, and usually lose face very quickly.

  12. Cllr Stuart Piper now has a big decision as he holds the balance of power at TDC
    Which way will ne persuade his group to jump.
    On one hand the Tories support the Cargo hub as does Stuart o the other he hates the Tories
    This would be fun if it wasn’t so serious

  13. A vote for Manston is a vote for the decimation of the tourist industry and an end to the Ramsgate regeneration. It is a vote for job loss not job creation.

    What has Cllr Ashby got to offer the residents? This article is long on her criticisms and very short on solutions.

  14. It amazes me the number of councillors that are Independent, or similar. That came in as Ukip. Their only pledge was to reopen the airport without any question or delay. Has anybody asked them what happened? Or has just changing to Independent or Independent group whatever means it has nothing to do with them. I will not vote for any of them any time soon. Either for Thanet of Kent Council.

  15. The UKIP leader withdrew his support for Manston when he recognised it really was a terrible idea. Chris Wells.

    Some Kippers then went Independent so they could shove the leader Chris to one side, install aviation loving Bob Bayford instead so that a new administration could protect Manston in the local plan.

    Therefore even UKIP recognised very quickly it was a dead duck but resurrecting the Manston dream is also their fault.

    Meanwhile, the residents suffer the shambles.

    • I’m not getting into another silly boring Manston debate, but UKIP were voted in on the promise of reviving the airport. So they were right to get rid of Chris Wells when he changed his mind, whatever his good intentions.

      • If you lived in Ramsgate you would probably not find a discussion about an uncomfortably local potential airport either silly or boring.

        • Yes, I would probably care more, but I’d still find the debates just as silly and boring. People just go around in circles, again and again and again.

      • I can imagine Chris Wells’ face when he sat behind the Leader’s desk and opened the Manston” file.
        He did his best with a rubbish hand. He commissioned an independent report into the viability of commercial aviation at Manston (the Avia report) which concluded that, even using the most optimistic assumptions, aviation wouldn’t work at Manston.

  16. A case of a recurrence of the night of the long lives . We will just have to wait to see how this pseudo drama plays out on the night.
    This is yet another unnecessary distraction from the business of holding senior officers to account
    over their mismanagement of basic services in Thanet.

  17. Peter, what did the Kippers hope to achieve by elbowing their leader who had faced facts?

    Some kind of magic show?

    In giving him the elbow they also gave up TDC control.

    So not all bad then in a shower of shambles.

  18. With incompetence at the top TDC it makes little difference who leads. I pity the councillors as they battle the indifference at TDC. Thanet is doomed if nothing changes at TDC.

  19. Sadly a very capable, progressive Labour Cabinet will be removed from their roles if this misguided and badly timed Tory motion is successful.

  20. I suspect the paid leadership team is delighted at the constant churn of administration power as it offers less scrutiny on their delivery. How can four administrations in five years possibly have a long term or strategic view of anything at all or hold the paid staff to account who, after all, are supposed to serve the residents.

    Thanet residents deserve SO much better. Too many are in this for ego and power, and not for the residents who they are there to serve. Not all, but many.

    We need change, vote GREEN.

  21. councillors don’t listen to the electorate any way, so a couple of weeks before elections won’t make any difference. the only thing a councillor needs to do to be effective for the whole isle is listen, and then work for the people ,not themselves.

Comments are closed.