Thanet council leader quits post amid Tory bid to oust him

Councillor Rick Everitt

Thanet council leader Rick Everitt has resigned from the position.

The Labour Party leader has quit the role just as a Conservative motion to remove him was due to be heard today (April 22).

The move means deputy leader Helen Whitehead will take up the leadership position temporarily until a vote can be taken.

The motion was 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 were due to make the decision whether to debate the motion or not.

However, that has now become defunct with Cllr Everitt stepping down.

‘Undemocratic’

Cllr Everitt said: “I respect the right of the Conservative group to call this vote, but they have had a year to do so and they waited until two weeks before by-elections for three vacant seats. I cannot say what the outcome would have been tonight and I cannot predict who will win the by-elections, but I am very clear that it is undemocratic and wrong to try to deny the voters of Central Harbour, Dane Valley and Newington wards their proper say in who runs the council in such a way.

“Earlier this week, I offered the Conservatives a compromise under which their motion would be heard at an extraordinary meeting on May 13, one week after the by-elections. They could have taken this opportunity if they genuinely believed there was any urgency to make a change or any real justification for it except numbers, but they declined.

“It is clear that the only urgency they felt was to try to get in before these voters had their say. Consequently, I have resigned, solely to prevent that happening, and a date for an additional ordinary meeting which can elect a new leader is likely to be decided at the annual meeting next month.

“In the interim, my deputy Cllr Helen Whitehead will assume the responsibilities of leader and the Labour administration will continue. It is important to say that she has my complete confidence and, I believe, cross-party respect on the council. She will have my total support and that of cabinet.

“It has been a privilege to lead the council for the last 18 months, in very difficult circumstances, and I pay tribute to all our officers, my Labour cabinet and members across all parties for the way we have worked together in the pandemic for the benefit of the people of Thanet. The council as a whole has risen to the challenge and I have been proud to lead it at this time.”

The council’s constitution allows for a leadership vote at an extraordinary meeting if the leader is removed by resolution of the council at that meeting, but if the leader resigns the vote must take place at the next ordinary meeting. It cannot take place at annual council.

‘Lacklustre’

In response a Thanet Conservative Party statement has been issued, saying: “We are incredibly disappointed that Cllr Everitt has taken the decision to stand down as leader of the council ahead of an extraordinary council meeting, one which could have resulted in a new Leader of the Council being elected by members.

“Cllr Everitt has shown the residents of Thanet the little regard he and the Labour Party have for the democratic process at council.

“This lacklustre Labour administration has failed to address the serious issues of governance that have been apparent within Thanet District Council for a considerable amount of time.

“Far from respecting the democratic process, Cllr Everitt has sought to undermine the very fabric of our council by undermining the Leaders of other political parties and this will not be tolerated. Residents deserve better and they can anticipate a Conservative administration that will put them first when a vote of the leadership of this council takes place.”

‘Disappointed’

Thanet Green Party leader Mike Garner said: “The recent events at TDC are indicative of the problems which are stopping us focusing on resolving the real issues in Thanet that our residents expect us to tackle.

“While we might agree with Cllr Ashbee that there are major governance issues to be resolved, we were disappointed that she waited until 2 weeks before 3 key TDC by-elections and the KCC elections before trying to do something about it.

“The residents of Thanet expect and deserve better from us. We should be able to work together, across party, not just to resolve the governance issues but to make sure we have a council fit for purpose working to improve the lives of the people of Thanet.

“Our already overstretched services need to be maintained and improved and we also need to pay more attention to protecting and enhancing the area’s green spaces. None of this is going to be easy but we have to move away from antagonistic politics and focus more on collaboration and cooperation that puts the people and places in Thanet first.”

56 Comments

  1. As a candidate for Central Harbour Ward, I applaud this move. I belive the electors in Central Harbour and the other two wards up for election should not be cheated of their say over who represents them in such a crucial vote. The conservatives sank to a new low in this manoeuvre.

    • I think it is high time we had Councillors who were prepared to work with people from every party to ensure the best for Thanet, instead of wasting time on pointless between-party (and in-party!) shenanegans when they should be serving their wards. For me, that rules out both Labour and the Tories (particularly the Tories, I must say, who don’t seen to care at all for the underprivileged of Thanet). Tricia Austen, Green candidate in Central Harbour, gets my vote. Incredibly knowledgeable and kind, you can bet your bottom dollar this is the one Councillor Thanet Distric Council don’t want holding their feet to the fire!

    • How low can these Conservatives go ? Cllr Ashbee should be ashamed to be using tactics such as those at the last minute when they had plenty of time before or after the elections. The voters should have that say at the polls only.
      Well done Cllr Everitt !

      • I agree whole heartedly, I am not a member of any political party, but what the conservatives did was shameful, and left Councillor Everitt with little choice but to step down until after the by elections!

        • And no labour goverment has ever tabled a motion of no confidence in parliament when they felt it was opportune to do so? It’s nothing more than politics.

    • I agree with you. The conservatives are bottom feeders and this just proves it. They should have waited instead they have kicked themselves up the backside by being so underhanded.

  2. David Green. We certainly need another Green Councillor in Central Harbour but it is certainly not you!

    • And he, and many other councillors, or would be councillors, dont even live in the ward they want to represent. So how can they represent the people who votes for them.

  3. Conservative, a vote to turn Thanet into a giant patio, a dumping ground for London’s unwanted and of course line their own pockets. Labour lack backbone to stand there ground, shame could do a lot better…so the remaining group’s maybe it’s there time to stand together and make Thanet a better place to live n work. What ever happens let’s keep conservatives out of Thanet they have done Thanet no favours now is time for big change. We hope??????

    • What do you think a new crop of councillors will do?
      Get a ferry service going again? – no.
      Reopen the port? – no.
      Sort out Manston? – no.
      Stop 17000 houses being built? – no.
      Make Thanet great again? – no.
      Get refuse collections sorted? – maybe.

        • Agree. It’s fabulous! Every day spent here is a blessing. Thanet is wonderful. TDC, not so much …..

          • Our local council is diabolical and has been for decades, but I CHOOSE to live in Thanet because I (largely) love the place.

    • Let’s get this clear. Is Thanet going to be “a dumping-ground for London’s unwanted” (who exactly are they, by the way?) or is it going to be stuffed full of ex-Londoners who can afford the hideously expensive new houses which people already living here can’t afford? (Except for the richest ones,eg people who live in detached houses with swimming-pools.)

      Or will there in fact be some of each?

      • Many of the developments underway or being put forward have deals in place with housing providers , the london boroughs have extensive waiting lists for social housing and some of the highest provision costs in the country, so have arrangements wiith providers that makes the much cheaper housing in thanet very attractive. The london boroughs can then offer good quality housing to those on their lists knowing that if the offer is refused then the person has effectively removed themselves from the list. Either way problem solved. The unwanted tag gets applied as many on the housing lists are unemployed and don’t want to live in thanet . Cliftonville has a good number that have been moved here under similar schemes and is partly why local rents have finally risen in the last few years.
        The other group you mention move here because in relation to london property in thanet is very cheap ( though anything but to locals).
        Hopefully the wealthier incomers will bring cash and spending power that boosts the local economy for us all.

        • There will, then, be some of each. Much more social housing of all types (except perhaps high-rise flats) is needed – not just in Thanet, of course.

          • Social housing is incredibly expensive ( being built/managed by those with no “skin in the game”) and as Lakanal and Grenfell showed hardly the best in terms of safety. Social housing is provided without floorcoverings and decoration is the responsibility of the tenant, its only notionally cheap to the tenant as a result of the endless public subsidy. The tenants don’t pay the bulk of the council housing staffs pensions just the same contribution all council tax payers make.
            If the private sector was subsidised to the same degree private rents for properties at the more basic end of provision would be similarly priced.
            The government also needs to provide funding or mamdate that councils / housing associations regularly check who is living in their properties far too many are sublet and doing little more than providing a very nice tax free income to the supposed tenants.

  4. What a shame that the undemocratic, cronyistic attitude of the national Conservatives clearly permeates the local party, who would deny 3 wards any representation in the decision to remove the council leader. And during purdah too – surely a breach of any moral code of decency. Cllr Ashbee should be thoroughly ashamed of her politicking. At least we have a chance to make amends in 2 weeks time. Time for a leader that is not beholden to Tories or Labour who can collaborate across party lines for the good of Thanet residents.

  5. Losing track of this council of its leaders. conservative, labour, and ukip.No wonder thanet is the way its is.

  6. Maybe its time we had a super-run council of canterbury and dover and thanet all in one council.

  7. The cracks still deepen thanks to the Thanet Independents Group that commited a coup in the not too long past.

    Thanet Independents Councillor Group have themselves to blame for the state of TDC. I bet they all regret that decision now.

  8. Would it not be beyond the realms of common sense for the elected officials to agree a list, and agree a priority order, to address these major governance issues? Achieve a majority view on these and then just ruddy well get on with it? Meanwhile, the residents are blissfully ignored. Stop the red blue okey cokey.

    Vote Green, vote for change.

  9. What on earth are the Tories smoking? Who’s bullying who? I think calling an EGM to try and oust the sitting leader when 3 council seats are vacant is bullying of the worst kind. It’s the Tories who are being undemocratic, and this bizarre late statement trying to justify their position makes this clear. Cllr Ashbee you should resign for bringing your position into disrepute. Sleaze, sleaze and more sleaze from Tories both high and low.

    • Totally agree. This whole issue was well out of order from the beginning; the traditional pre-election purdah regulations discourage it, for a start. Not only is it politically ill-advised, it’s indicative of a Tory party locally who just want to be in power no matter what. The fact that they’ve been out-smarted just goes to show how stupid they are. I don’t think I’d trust them with running a beery party in a brewery. And their candidates are pretty poor too. Not much brain power going begging in Thanet Tory Land, that’s for sure.

  10. Meanwhile, who is serving the residents? That is the real question to ask yourself.

    The pontoons and the harbour and the port are an utter omnishambles and Ramsgate deserves, and could be, so much better.

    • One who stands out pushing on harbour, port and pontoons is Beckie Wing. I’ve never come across a councillor who works so hard for the community, she’s tireless in fighting for the common people. The perfect example of the Green party approach. People, not politics. Vote Green for a better Thanet.

  11. Naughty little tories being naughty little tories.

    The party needs disbanding, corrupt and entitled to the core.

    • The senior officers of the council operate in a dysfunctional manner and yet again we see the political parties and elected members behaving in the same manner. It’s about time central govt got involved as this council blunders on from crisis to another and in the meantime services for its residents continue to fail.
      The senior officers at TDC and its elected members have lost all moral authority to govern. The issues of poor governance questions of probity and lack of transparency and accountability plague all or most associated with TDC. It’s time central govt inspectors came in and took control of affairs .

      • And what conclusions were reached by the various Regulatory Bodies (Local Government Ombudsman, police etc) to whom so very many formal complaints have been made?

  12. Get rid of TDC go back to three councils, it worked far better. Cleaner streets , nicer parks and gardens, more pride in the community and towns

  13. Fascinating to see that no one has spoken up in favour of these Tory tactics or defended them in any way. How wonderful that not even their own members can find a positive in all these shenanigans. Fingers crossed for the May elections – seeing the comments above makes me feel hopeful that real change is afoot.

    • I doubt if I’ll be voting for any of them (even The Monster Raving Loony Party would be an improvement!).

  14. We should all be revolted by the conservative councillors’ attempt to force a vote: They would not have tried to force this through before the local elections if Ramsgate has not tragically lost a well respected councillor recently. Not only underhand and opportunistic, it is utterly ghoulish and shameful behaviour, they really should apologise to the elctoriate they were trying to disenfranchise.

  15. Meanwhile, behind the scenes it is alleged that some members of the Labour Party have been sharing an anonymous tape attempting to defame a candidate who could be a an electoral threat to their bid for a Central Harbour canditate. The Police are currently making enquiries. The level of sleaze that is practiced amongst the established politicians and in particular Labour Party factions, locally is obscene, undemocratic and cowardly.

    • If it’s damaging in any way, presumably the Tory candidate to whom you refer has disgraced himself and has something to hide or be very ashamed of? Tape recordings are only damaging if what they reveal is damaging, surely.

      • Yet you have the current interim leader of the council who aided and abetted in the shenanigans at the old British Legion enabling the developer /turning a blind eye to flagrant breaches of planning and listed building law , chose to ignore the 60 odd objections to the proposal , didn’t put the matter to committee , effectively kept the conservation officer out of the matter. All pointing to a rather cosy relationship with the developer/service provider.

        Hardly a shining example of behaviour expected of someone in ttheir position. But hey wears the correct colour rosette so is beyond criticism on here. Politicians of all hues are inherently dishonest people, bending the truth/rules in pursuit of what they think is best. Safe in the knowledge that its the electorate that pay the bills for the errors they make.

      • Lucy Lime I refer to no-one. You however, have just said something that is probably libellous and based on no evidence whatsoever. Unless there is something you want to tell the Police?

        • Clare. Your initial comment led me to the same assumption as LL, you explicitly did refer to someone. You named the ward, it’s obviously not a labour candidate, ànd the Greens would not stoop so low unlike the tories, as this whole saga proves. You introduced this, and implicated Labour interference. Do you have anything that should be referred to the police? As to libel, the buck stops with you.

        • Low-down Tory tactics, getting threatening with libel. I think anyone reading your comment would draw the conclusion I did. It wasn’t very clever. I suggest you go and apologise to the people concerned, because it was the first I’d heard of it and I won’t be the only person who’s intrigued, I’m sure.

  16. Let’s face it – they are all at the trough to get as much as they can for themselves.
    The problems with some TDC officers and elected representatives are so deep rooted that it is going to take something major to cause a change. For long standing politicians it’s a political game and for officers it’s all about self preservation – none of this benefits the people of Thanet.

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