Thanet council has a new leader – and yet another change of political control

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

A vote for a new leader of Thanet council has resulted in yet another change of administration with Conservatives now back in control of the authority.

Former council and current Labour Party leader Rick Everitt resigned from the role in April to thwart a Tory bid to use a vote of no confidence to retake control of the council prior to the local elections on May 6.

Parties on the council were invited to make nominations for leader to be voted on at a meeting held at Ramsgate Leisure Centre tonight (June 3).

This led to nominations for Conservative Ash Ashbee, Labour’s Rick Everitt and Green’s Mike Garner.

A request from Cllr Becky Wing for each of those nominated to outline their plans was not accepted by the council chairman.

Cllr Garner did not get through the first vote. A second vote resulted in 30 for Cllr Ashbee and 18 for Cllr Everitt. Votes for Cllr Everitt included  the three Thanet Greens who were present along with the 15 Labour members in attendance.

Cllr Ashbee said the group would be “rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work immediately.”

She added that she would like to make positive changes and to introduce forward thinking projects to the isle.

She said her priorities would be dealing with the issues of governance and finance. She added she wanted Thanet to be a place where businesses would want to come and where good quality jobs would be offered.

Cllr Ashbee said: “I’m incredibly proud to be elected as Leader for Thanet District Council. As a Thanet resident for 33 years I have a great fondness for the district and I want to assure residents and business owners that I along with my group will work hard to resolve problems and look for opportunities to bring positive community and business success to the area.”

Members of the new Cabinet will be confirmed tomorrow (Friday 4 June) and the first Cabinet meeting will take place on Tuesday 8 June.

Cllr Everitt said he was proud of his Cabinet and council members for the work done over the difficult previous months. He added that the council’s performance during the pandemic was exemplary.

Since 2018 the council has been led by UKIP, Conservative and Labour. UKIP’s control came to an end in February 2018 when party leader Chris Wells resigned due to a rebellion in his party over the Manston airport site.

Conservative Bob Bayford then took up the role. But a motion to remove him as council leader was last put forward in October 2019 with a vote of no confidence being 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.

The attempt to oust the Labour Party from its minority administration then came but Cllr Everitt’s resignation from the role meant a takeover was not possible. Cllr Helen Whitehead, deputy leader in the Labour Cabinet, temporarily stepped up into the leader’s role during the interim until tonight’s vote.

Thanet has 56 councillors in total. The political composition is: 25 Conservative; 17 Labour; 6 Thanet Independents; 4 Green and 3 Independents plus one vacant seat following the resignation of Tory Lesley Game to concentrate on her county council role.

The political numbers mean control will still need to rely on support from others, such as Thanet Independents group, Thanet Greens or independent councillors, to gain a majority vote in decision making.


  1. Presumably our new leader will oversee a change of leadership team at TDC. The legal and tribunal stories are just appalling and are the accountability of those at the top.

    Presumably a focus on governance and finance will involve a full public enquiry into the two berths purchased incorrectly and the ongoing Bretts saga.

    Presumably a focus on finance will be a committed anti Manston stance given the government inspectors confirmed a hub would kill more jobs than creates and Tony F himself has admitted his own job numbers were written by a unicorn.

    Oh, and governance presumably means mo more fudging the local plan to suit the whims of Roger Gales aviation obsession.

    I look forward to change.

      • Well there is Bretts Internal Inquiry into the water supply they were never warned about. The Manston aquifer, I called in DEFRA DWI to secure a ban on its use. 2019.

        Were Bretts for a decade mixing PFAS toxic concrete and redistributing PFAS to the Port. Will Bretts and Port be investigated re PFAS by Environment Agency enforcing UN Stockholm Convention ?

    • I found myself agreeing with all of that. They have promised to sort the leadership out. Crack on. Bye bye Homer et al.

    • I keep getting a picture in my head of deckchairs, and a large ship sinking, Oh, yes of course the Titanic!

    • 30 for Tories and there are 25 Tories so yes I expect so. Only one other voted with Labour so I suspect the Greens abstained

      • The report says 15 Labour present plus three Greens voted for Cllr Everitt. 30 for Cllr Ashbee making a total of 48. With a vacancy due to Cllr Game stepping down that implies 7 either did not attend or did not vote. Cllrs Gregory and Farrance did not attend leaving 5 who either didn’t attend or abstained.

  2. It’s a madhouse at TDC all the councillors think they are on the ball not sure when they are about to fall of it. Whilst behind the scenes the employees are being bullied and undermined / harassment with staff members threatening to self harm themselves because the toxic environment they work in TDC is so unbearable they have taken long term sickness.

  3. Brilliant news.
    Now we can lay the blame fair and square on the Tories when everything (as it will) goes wrong.
    When UKIP was in charge, what did they achieve, other than the day to day running of the Council?
    When the Tories were behind the desk, what did they do, other than (with UKIPs help) scupper a perfectly reasonable Local Plan, resulting in 1000s of houses being built in Birchington? Will the new Tory leadership stop all the house building?

    • The most significant thing the UKIP ruling party did was take a good look at the Manston reopening business case and decide there actually wasn’t one and tried to in it off. Common sense almost prevailed until the Thanet Gammons started howling on social media so the Council ended up supporting a dead duck for the last few years.

      • UKIP were, in fact, told about Manston acquisition fraud and related crime complaint in 2014. Standing later on a pro Manston ticket, knowing it committed them to breach statutory duties in Environmental protection AND NHS Planning Law, was “Significant” as electoral fraud on an industrial scale.

        This should feature in the joint CPS/Police scoping inquiry re corporate manslaughter, QEQM maternity tragedies.

        But given Police role re SERICOL water supply contamination cover up. Given Police role in Manston aquifer contamination cover up. Given Police role in GEC toxic burials cover up. Don’t hold your breath.

        I have pointed out to Chief constable, a number of times, that Terrorism Law has been amended such that he cannot lawfully contain the cover up to Kent Plodstabulary. So his statutory duty report to NCA will need to go back to 1983 (OIRA counterfeiting caught at same time as Cyril Hoser counterfeiting) and account for persons whose qualies came off Cyrils printing press. Even if one such suspect was close to Roger Gale.

  4. Brilliant news. I bet Barry Lewis and others are now crying.

    Time for Tory to get Thanet back into shape.

  5. Andrew, of course they won’t stop the building of houses on prime land, it was Tory interference at District and MP level that saw the current dreadful local plan do the hokey cokey all to suit the obsessive support by a vocal minority of Tory/UKIP cheerleaders and of course, our MPs. The ruin of Birchington farmland is because Tory led TDC changed the local plan to protect Manston as aviation only, rather than mixed use. It started out as a coup by Bayford against the then UKIP leader. And here we are. Under the recent Labour administration they were studiously quiet on the matter and hugely let down the Ramsgate community as a consequence.

    This merry go round of red/blue bickering foggy nonsense which generates no meaningful change at all is set to go on and on and on and on.

    It is an appalling situation down here and meanwhile tourism is on the up, but our streets get dirtier. The harbour anniversary approaches and all we have to look at are two ruddy great pontoons that don’t belong there and the High Street fund is being spent on highways.

    I look forward to change under the new leader but it would be unwise for folks to hold their breath. And why did Labour put Rick back up for election? He lost a confidence vote some weeks back. Have they no successor?

    What Labour should have done is form a coalition with the Greens and the Independents and voted Mike Garner in. We deserve change.

  6. Hopefully at some stage in the future the DFL will be appalled at the sheer incompetence of TDC under its councillors they will step up to the plate and start running for councillors.

    Coming from the capital areas they will be able to show the cowboy councillors how leadership and true democracy works.

    • Tower Hamlets , Kensington superb examples – Not !!
      Greenwich good however funding is used – unlike here
      Before anyone starts I’m not a DFL , am local and lived all over UK , well aware of the small town , nepotism, pomposity of the self interested , especially here – some DFL’s seem to like it that way.
      Be careful for expecting DFls attracted to this area being any different or they may be very different , efficient and show our TDC councillors- however that will be disliked too

  7. There’s a delicious irony in the fact that Birchington folk launched a successful campaign “Birchington Against the Local Plan”. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.
    I await with interest the amazing improvements to Thanet now that the tories are in control.

  8. Thanet has always lacked any credible leadership, and this change in administration just proves the point. Be it Labour or Tory, the incumbent councillors, by and large, have all the professionalism, skills and acumen of a turnip. Couple this with a senior management team who should be doing hard time for their crimes against the district and an inflated staff, comprised predominantly of people hanging on for their pension, it is no wonder Thanet is in such dire straits.

    The tragedy is, the residents are thick enough to keep on voting the same dross in. A combination of voter apathy and dyed in the wool, true blue Conservatism is the reason Thanet is destined to remain empoverished. Those who go out and vote are the ones with something to lose. The rest of the electorate is so disenchanted and disconnected that they don’t bother. I mean, what other possible reason could there be for the likes of the Tomlinsons, Bayford, the Pipers, the Saunders, Wright et al? Either people have a vested interested in keeping these dinosaurs in place, or they’re just plain stupid, or maybe it is a combination of the two?

    Do you want to know the best bit? These scumbags have made politics in Thanet so profoundly toxic that it then actively discourages good, hard working, moral, principled, decent, talented and capable folk from actually stepping forward and standing as councillors. The result being? You got it… The same old dross is re-elected in the absence of anything or anyone better.

    • … In the absence of anything better. Some new faces appear from time to time but until more people are prepared to put their money where their mouth is instead of shouting from the sidelines the same people will be reelected. Simples.

  9. There is more than a handful of “good, hard working, moral, principled, decent, talented and capable folk ” currently in office.
    Unlike when UKIP ruled the roost.

  10. Bl**dy TDC! Everything was fine until we got this new Tory management… and low and behold our bins haven’t been collected.
    Couldn’t organize a storm in a teacup.

  11. NEWS flash, for the past week Researchers for a television company have been in the area regarding a documentary on Thanet district Counci and Manston airport and the need for it to reopen in so that should be interesting viewing I asked one chap who he was working for was it Channel 4 or BBC he said Channel 4.

    • There is no need for an airport to reopen at Manston. Perhaps it will be a very short documentary.

    • You could have referred them to PINS. All the documents are there, including the reason why there won’t be a commercial cargo hub.
      Other than interviewing you at your North Foreland estate, who else’s opinion did they seek?

  12. Different leaders, same old crap. Will things that mean anything to us change for the better? I very much doubt it. TDC is rotten at the top.

  13. PvP. I do hope the new TDC administration is strong and carries the current Governance and Finance issues through, regardless of cost. It’s the only way to get rid of toxicity within the council. If it is stopped for financial reasons, the people who go will get a golden handshake, a big payoff and able to get another job on a council somewhere else. It has to be seen through to the end. Dismissal without a payout!

  14. Votes have consequences.
    Isn’t Thanet a bit like most of Britain? Lots of people regularly vote for the same Party they usually support. Change only happens when one lot lose a bit of interest in bothering (like a lot of current Labour voters) while the other lot feel a bit more motivated and turn up to vote(like a lot of current Tory voters). As a result, there seem to be sweeping changes about to happen. But then they don’t happen at all so it all swaps round and it will be the Labour voters who will start going to the polls again and the Tories will start to lose heart when Brexit fails to deliver the promised land.
    So it all goes round again…..
    In recent years , there have been a few signs that things might change but nothing sustained. The Green Party is on the up a bit but our first past the post system makes it pointless voting for smaller Parties when the main two usually win.
    UKIP briefly glowed but they turned out to be “The Tory Party in exile” and soon returned to their natural home in Johnson’s Tory Party.
    And Corbyn’s Labour Party showed a huge surge that so horrified the Establishment that they blasted it with every accusation they could think of until the membership surrendered in horror and elected a nobody for leader. Just to feel safe!
    So, we are back where we were. Crooked or feeble politicians. Blatant inefficiency in Local Government and open corruption and cronyism from the bought politicians at Westminster.
    Never mind, our leaders always have huge Union Jacks on display when they give speeches and Churchill’s statue is still standing in London. So it’s all OK then.

    • Brexit – you lost
      Corbyn – he lost
      But, still you live in cloud cuckoo land and blame everything on a system – that is free, fair and democratic – under which voters consistently reject your point of view.
      The government would be a LOT more accountable if the main opposition focused on what people want rather than politicising everything, a strategy that has clearly been ineffective for some time now.

  15. I think the voting system would be much better if we had proportional representation.

    More people, by a small minority, voted to leave the EU than to remain in it, but now that Brexit is upon us all, it looks as if we’re all losers.

    • If we had had PR then Ukip would have had over 50 seats after the 2015 general election, howdifferent would the political landscape have been in such circumstances?
      The idea of PR is usually bought up by the losing side. The brexit result was a 1.3 million votes in favour of brexit in a turnout of 72% of the electorate. A quite significant margin of victory in reality.

      • In the EU referendum, 17,410, 742 people voted to leave the EU. 16,141,241 people voted to stay in the EU.

        • So i rounded to the nearest 100k, but if it makes you feel better round down and pretend the loss wasn’t as bad.

  16. Leaving the EU is just a very bad idea. We are now having to try to make deals with dodgy distant countries instead of our fellow European neighbours.

    • 1.3 million people more people disagreed with you than did. They felt that as a nation we are better off determining our path rsther having to accept the compromises of being in a group that comprises of so many different needs and wants, especialy when we are one of the wealthier members and so endless a net contributor.
      The mood of the nation may have been very different had it not been for the decision to allow full access to the accession countries in 2004. Being the only wealthy country offering such access at the time we became very attractive to those looking to improve their lot within europe and so we experienced huge levels of migration which were not planned or catered for.

      • And where are we now?
        Our fishing industry has been sold down the river.
        Our farmers are about to be stuffed, to accommodate the Australians .
        In its desperation to curry favour with India, the government delayed shutting down travel from India, with the very likely direct consequence that we won’t be opening up on 21st June.
        Leaving the EU has (we were told by Boris) saved us £350M a week – but we can only afford to give our brilliant NHS staff a 1% pay rise.
        There’s no question that we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to vaccines (after having one of the worst death rates in the Western World). But apart from that, what has Brexit done for us?

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