Row breaks out over blog accusations of Thanet councillor’s ‘move to France’

Ian Driver (left) blogged about Trevor Roper's failure to notify the council of his move

A Thanet Green Party councillor has responded to a blog accusing him of ‘a lack of truthfulness’ over the sale of his house in Minster and ‘a move’ to France while still serving as a district councillor.

Former councillor Ian Driver published two posts highlighting the sale of the property 14 months ago by Cllr Trevor Roper and his failure to notify the council’s Monitoring Officer, which can constitute a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Mr Driver wrote: “Failure to update his register of interests and to include in the register information which is knowingly untrue, is a breach of TDC’s Member Code Conduct and depending on the circumstances it is also a criminal offence which can lead the perpetrator to be disqualified from office.

“To continue to claim, in his register of interests, that he is living in a property which he appears to have sold to someone else, and not to have declared where he lives now, might be seen by some people as an effort to deceive and mislead the voters of the Thanet Villages ward who elected him to office in 2019.”

Mr Driver goes on to say that Cllr Roper made a social media post on May 15 this year which included a geolocation tag placing him in the area of Fontenille Saint Martin D’Entragues in southwest France.

A second post by Mr Driver says Cllr Roper had responded to say he was in France and had forgotten to update his details with the council.

Mr Driver questioned this on the basis of councillors having received training for the code of conduct and an exchange of emails between the councillor and TDC Democratic Services about making the update.

Thanet Green Party has responded to say they are ‘puzzled’ over the ‘vicious attack’, which they describe as ‘distorted, inaccurate and based on half-truths’.

They say Mr Driver, a former Green and Labour Councillor, is known for his hard-hitting citizen journalism, but also for personal blog attacks on individual councillors.

Cllr Tricia Austin said: “In the past we’ve challenged Ian about his inappropriate personal attacks on Labour colleagues. Evidently he’s now decided it’s our turn.”

A statement issued by the party says: “After selling their house in Minster last year, Cllr Roper and his wife Karen rented in Ramsgate for a few months and later stayed with relatives in Maidstone.

“During this time he continued with his council duties as usual, including attending many parish council meetings in his Thanet Villages ward, for which he has chalked up nearly 100% attendance since his election in 2019. When travel was allowed again, the Ropers went to France to realise their retirement dream of buying a French property – only to find themselves stuck there by increasingly restrictive Covid rules and trouble obtaining vaccinations.

“Cllr Roper continued to attend online meetings and undertake other duties from a distance, but could not return from France – so when physical meetings restarted in May, he was unable to attend.

“Mr Driver’s blog claims Cllr Roper has behaved ‘deceitfully’ – but colleagues insist he has deceived no-one, and his only error was forgetting to update TDC’s Register of Members’ Interests to show he had sold his Minster property.

“Cllr Roper had contemplated resigning as a councillor when he was first stuck in France, but was persuaded by colleagues to wait to see if things improved so he could return. Unfortunately, concerns about the new variant and ever stricter quarantine rules have prevented this.“

Cllr Roper said of the research carried out by Mr Driver: ““We face so many serious issues in Thanet: perhaps Ian could have put all this effort into pursuing Southern Water or Gladman Developments, rather than stalking me online and then jumping to unwarranted conclusions?”

Leader of the Green group on TDC, Cllr Mike Garner, added: “Trevor is an excellent local councillor whose attendance record compares favourably to most other councillors’, even when his recent inability to attend meetings is included. He’s always been responsive to residents’ concerns and receives great feedback from people in his ward.

“He is very unhappy about the current situation, and has told us and TDC officers that if it persists he will feel obliged to ‘consider his position’ as a councillor, which would be a great loss to all of us.

“Whatever decision he makes will be with the best interests of residents in his ward in mind, and not as a result of the deeply regrettable online campaign against him.”

Since the blog publication Cllr Roper has updated his details with Thanet council. However, Mr Driver said he will be submitting a complaint to the Green Party and to Thanet council’s standards committee.

He added: “(Trevor) had received two official reminders from TDC that he must update his register of interests if his circumstances had changed. Despite promising TDC in September 2020 he would do so, he did not make the necessary changes to his register of interests.”

Mr Driver has called for Cllr Roper to resign.

A spokesman for Thanet council said: “”Cllr Roper has now updated his register of interests, the council is taking no further action and considers the matter closed.”

52 Comments

    • Very strange – my sister=in-law lives in France and has been to and fro three times diuring the pandemic to look after her mother – seems where there’s a will, there’s a way?

  1. So exactly where does councillor Roper live. If in Thanet fine, if, in France as Mr Driver has said, how can he represent his constituents on a personal and daily basis, so he should resign, regardless of his merits, or otherwise.

  2. As long as contact details are on tdc website for constituent’s to contact him are up to date. And he responds quickly and does take up the matters at hand then no problems where he lives as long as he attends when possible public meetings

    • So if you need your councillor, and he lives outside the area, you can’t complain if he takes time to see you personally.

  3. FRANCE IS HIS HOLIDAY HOME AND GREAT BRITAIN IS HIS UK 🇬🇧 HOME 🏡 SIMPLES. MOST POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE 2 OR MORE HOMES 🏡 AND A YACHT AND NOBODY TELLS THEM OF EXCEPT BREXIT MAY TAKE THEM AWAY FROM THEM DUE TO US COMING OUT OF THE COMMON MARKET AND GOING OUT TO FACE THE WORLD 🌎 ON OUR OWN. HOPEFULLY THIS WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING ON THIS MATTER IN HAND AND IN THE MEANTIME WE CAN CARRY ON FIGHTING THIS CORONOVIRIS PANDEMIC AND FINGER’S CROSSED GET BACK ON WITH OUR LIVES AND LIVE HAPPY EVER AFTER. 😊 AMEN 🙏

    • No need to shout. Thank you for your comment. Capital letters mean you shout and maybe aggressive. Just saying.

      • SO SORRY PAUL SOME PEOPLE WEAR GLASSES 👓 AND CANNOT READ SMALL PRINT SO YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES WITH 20/20 VISION DON’T FORGET TO LET ALL THE OTHERS KNOW WITH EYE SIGHT PROBLEMS THAT YOU ARE OK JACK AND IT’S THERE PROBLEM IF THEY CANNOT READ OR EVEN SEE PROPERLY. I BELIEVE THAT IS A DISABILITY AND SHOWS YOUR TRUE STATUS AS PEOPLE WITH SIGHT LOSS ARE ALL AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE THEY USE LARGE WORDS. JUST SAYING PAUL LINK THINK OF OTHERS NOT JUST YOURSELF IN THIS WORLD.

        • I wear glasses, why are you discriminating against people who wear glasses. Be careful discrimination happens in all forms. Maybe if you continue with these remarks I need to seek leagal advice

        • WRITING ENTIRELY IN BLOCK CAPITALS IS SHOUTING, and it’s rude. … But in email etiquette, online chats and/or forum posts, writing in capitals is the online equivalent of shouting. It’s rude, so best not to do it unless you really do want to shout at someone.

          • Morning Paul sorry my phone went flat as i didn’t see the power percentage left but fully charged now. With regards to writing in big letters or bold font i was unaware of the legal status on this however i could not find any point of Law that states that it is illegal for you to use Big letters in emails etc in Great Britain UK TECHNICAL. However i write in big letters and found out the reason for this is a Medical condition and was unaware of the situation until you brought it up last night which I am grateful for because nobody has informed me about this problem before but people are aware that i always write in Big words as easier for me to do. This is by no means insulting or shouting etc its how I cope with small print as mentioned much easier for myself to use Large font due to disabilities etc hope that you understand this and I have my partner typing as not to affend you in any way whatsoever. This does not mean that I shall be typing in small letters when my partner is working looking after vulnerable people and unable to type things for me so i may get told off again for using Large font. Hope that you now understand why I find it easier to cope this way but everyone is different and you should never judge a book by its cover as there could be reasons behind why they have to do it unfortunately. Have a good evening and carry on with your comments.

  4. I was wondering when Mr. Driver was going to resurface. Did I miss his court case and sentencing, for his vandalism and graffiti around Thanet? Or has his case been dropped?

      • Thanks for that information. Hopefully they will send him down. It is good it is the 3rd. So he can not bother the people at folk week. with his protesting if he is inside.

        • I was going to mention that Mr Driver is well acquainted with disobeying council regulations and criminal activities.

  5. Time to resign Cllr Roper..

    enough issues in Thanet without councillors bringing their own scandal.!

  6. For someone who has deceived the electorate himself by defecting from Labour EX Cllr Driver seems to have a hard on for both Labour and the Greens.
    “might be seen by some people as an effort to deceive and mislead the voters of the Thanet Villages ward” somewhat passive/aggressive a statement when as far as I can see only Driver gives a toss. Now when Covid came please explain just how easy it was to move from France to the UK and then back

  7. Does Councillor Roper intend living in Thanet or stay in France? If he stays in France how can he work in the best interests of his constituents? How will he manage visits to eg areas considered for new developments?
    Simple question… Is he resident in Thanet or France?

  8. Is there any evidence that Cllr Roper is doing less for his constituents than other councillors? His attendance record is better than most, despite being, through no fault of his, stuck in France. Maybe Mr Driver should be slinging mud at those who aren’t so diligent, but frankly he’s such a ranter I don’t think anyone takes any notice of him.

  9. To angry old guys that both bend the rules for their own gain… desperate to cling to some power they don’t deserve.

    Clearly if he isn’t living in Thanet he should be in this role… the “staying at parents” in Maidstone is a rubbish excuse.

    Both of these should be miles away from any power. I honestly believe only way to clean up British politics is a one strike and your out rule – leaders should not constantly be bending rules

  10. So one of our 56 illustrious Councillors has moved to France! Maybe we can encourage 19 more to go,thereby cutting the Council to 36 a far more sensible number. Maybe in time Mr Roper may decide to seek election to a French Town Council. With his experience in dealing in Thanet Council politics he would be well suited to a 21st century version of Clochemerle. For the uninitiated the story centres around a dispute over the construction of public urinals near the village church.

  11. It’s odd but Cllr Roper, as the article says, went to France to buy a home for retirement. He got caught there by covid restrictions. As a result of covid Council meetings were on-line, enabling Cllr Roper to “attend”.
    With email and the good old telephone it’s easy to see how Cllr Roper could be asked questions from residents and respond. In this way he could also manage case work.
    So, we see a coincidence that kept Cllr Roper away but also allowed him to continue his representation of the electorate.
    It seems that Ian Driver has taken some facts to create a story of drama and intrigue – using the old adage “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”!
    What would be useful and in the public interest is for Ian Driver to explore how it is that a Cllr, stuck in France, can not only attend 100% of meetings but continue his case work. While at the same time Cllr’s stuck in Broadstairs cant manage to make 10% of meetings.

    • There is a limit to how much a cllr can do remotely. For example, if I wanted him to check out poor parking/illegal camping/litter (etc), he/she wouldn’t be able to do so.

      • Peter that is very true. Covid would be a serious problem for a Cllr stuck in France. From the article it seems Cllr Roper did very well and better than some who had no such problems.
        I also understand from residents that Thanet Green Party members have been going around the Villages for some months talking to people and getting views on behalf of Cllr Roper.

  12. Would be nice to see all councilors live in the area they represent made law, that way they see and live first hand what is happening daily and experience life in that area. Would benefit everyone and the area 100% just common sense

  13. political leader my a**e , blame it all on covid i say – thats what they do with everything else nowadays – what a get out of jail card it has been for them.

  14. All good, knock-about stuff! But, in the end, what is the LAW? (Sorry for shouting!) But is a councillor allowed to carry on in that role if they no longer live within the Council area?
    A simple question.

    • ‘ A spokesman for Thanet council said: ”Cllr Roper has now updated his register of interests, the council is taking no further action and considers the matter closed.” ‘
      Sums it up.

      • Sums up the Council’s indifference despite its statutory duties.

        Can you imagine what the DWP would do if it took a year to update your change of circumstances?

    • Yes they are good until the end of their term of office.

      Four ways to qualify:

      On the electoral roll for the council concerned.

      Main employment is in the area of the council concerned prior to election

      Owns property in the area of the council concerned prior to election

      Has lived in the area of the council concerned for 12 months prior to election

      Broadly he might still qualify at a further election if his main work is in the area or he owns property there.

      Ultimately this is left for the electors to decide at the following election.

  15. Councillors are elected to the local council to represent their own local community, so they must either live or work in the area. Each councillor has their own reasons for running but the role offers the chance to make a huge difference to the quality of life for people in your local area.
    https://www.gov.uk › take-part › be…
    Become a councillor – GOV.UK

    • That says it all Paul.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/become-a-councillor

      “What is it?

      There are roughly 20,000 local councillors in England. Councillors are elected to the local council to represent their own local community, so they must either live or work in the area.

      Each councillor has their own reasons for running but the role offers the chance to make a huge difference to the quality of life for people in your local area. Being an effective councillor requires both commitment and hard work. Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent (if any) and the council.”

      En pleine vue

  16. The Council spokesman says TDC is taking no further action and considers the issue with the ‘virtual’ Councillor closed.

    The conditions for being eligible for election are set out clearly by the Electoral Commission. It is at least presupposed that you maintain these conditions whilst in Office.

    The mere fact of fulfilling Zoom meeting requirements was an emergency measure in a Public Health Emergency, not a change in eligibility status for our democratically elected Councillors.

    Using the appalling Covid Pandemic to cover for a Councillors desire to retire to another country without a home or job in the constituency is an insult to all of us who have been impacted by the disease through bereavement, inaccessibility to loved ones and more.

    I am surprised that ethically the Green Party who knew about this don’t see a problem and further perplexed by TDC reneging on its responsibility to properly investigate this sorry situation.

    No amount of smearing detracts from these fundamental issues.

    • Clare, the article says that Cllr Roper went to France to look for a place to retire to but got stuck thete because of the covid restrictions.
      I don’t get the sense Cllr Roper is using the pandemic as an excuse, it’s just the reason why he couldn’t come back.

      • Garry, I suggest you refer to rules for eligibility for being a Councillor.

        I have friends who have had to go back and forth to France since the Pandemic started and they have had to observe quarantine regulations.

        He alleges he was stuck, but where was he living when he came back?

        You are entitled to sense what you like but the points I have made are based on legislation – UK Law and what is acceptable behaviour for a Democratically elected representative for local people.

        • Obviously I can’t comment on your friends, adhering to restrictions and quarantine. Cllr Roper obviously had to make choices about making the trips back and forth.
          The articles and Driver’s Blogs don’t explain Cllr Roper’s circumstances around this. I can imagine lots of reasons why someone would want to avoid this extra hassle. Especially as Cllr Roper attended so many on-line meetings and was able to manage case work remotely.
          As for the law, I don’t know the answer to that but the article says TDC were aware of his situation and consider the matter closed.
          Meanwhile Ian Driver was found guilty of many counts of criminal damage. Now, what was that one about people in glass houses not chucking stones?

  17. I may be wrong but is there division between Camp of Roper & Camp of Driver.

    Social media will only further divide the community so forget social media.

    Ok back when i was young there a record and video of frankie goes to hollywood. Two Tribes

    Maybe Driver & Roper can get into the ring! as in the video.

    Sort your row there, it will attract a good audience and make some cash in the granville theatre.

    Two problems sorted, already

  18. Hats off to Ian Driver for bringing this to public attention I say – It’s good to watch a worm wriggle when you pull it out the soil :))))

  19. Yes they are good until the end of their term of office.

    Four ways to qualify:

    On the electoral roll for the council concerned.

    Main employment is in the area of the council concerned prior to election

    Owns property in the area of the council concerned prior to election

    Has lived in the area of the council concerned for 12 months prior to election

    Broadly he might still qualify at a further election if his main work is in the area or he owns property there.

    Ultimately this is left for the electors to decide at the following election.

    You can qualify under one or more of the the conditions. Only if you rely on the electoral roll qualification does the condition need to be maintained for your entire term.

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