Thanet’s council’s deputy chief executive Tim Willis leaves authority today

Tim Willis

Thanet council’s deputy chief executive is to leave the authority today (October 15).

The departure of Tim Willis, who oversees the Housing and Planning service, Communications and Digital, Finance and Procurement and leads digital transformation across the council’s services, was discussed by councillors last night (October 15) after a requirement to exclude press and public from the chamber.

Mr Willis has been with the authority since 2015.

In August 2019 he was subject to a shock suspension from his role. No reason was publicly given for the suspension and it provoked an outcry from many councillors.

Mr Willis was reinstated a month later and cleared of all gross misconduct allegations.

That same month Thanet’s head of operations Trevor Kennett left the authority.

This followed his lodging of a grievance naming both chief executive Madeline Homer and Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite in a list of 10 complaints including bullying and harassment.

He then lodged an appeal over the way his grievance was dealt with. The appeal was submitted to Deputy Chief Executive Tim Willis, who had not been involved in the grievance, but he was then suspended from his role.

Mr Willis, 61, is understood to have been carrying out his role away from Thanet council offices, working from Dover council when necessary.

His departure and £280,000 severance pay follows mediated talks with Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee.

The news comes just days after the publication of a report by auditors Grant Thornton which said there have been “a number of interlinked instances of whistleblowing, lodging of formal grievances and disciplinary action including examples of serious allegations made by senior officers without adequate, or in some cases any, supporting evidence.”

The report added: “that people raising grievances and whistleblowing complaints with merit have been “subject to disciplinary action prior to the substance of their complaints being formally considered,” and that “Senior officers’ behaviour was found to fall below the standard expected on a number of occasions.”

The issues have already led to Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee calling in central government to step in to deal with the culture at the council amid on-going disciplinary and grievance proceedings at the authority which have racked up a legal bill of more than £733,000.

Future anticipated/potential costs are split between £78,000 to conclude Thanet council internal processes and £408,000 for external employment tribunals.

There have been complaints and counter complaints involving all four of the top management team – CEO Madeline Homer, Gavin Waite, Mr Willis and monitoring officer Tim Howes, who has been suspended from his post since last December.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Tim Willis, Deputy Chief Executive and Section 151 Officer is to leave the organisation. Tim’s last day will be today (Friday 15 October).

“The council has arrangements in place to ensure that the statutory elements of the S151 role will be covered by the council’s Deputy S151 Officer. As is entirely appropriate to respect confidentiality, we will not be commenting further on internal staffing matters.”

UPDATE_ Council leaderAsh Ashbee said: ““Tim Willis was suspended by the council in August 2019. This should not have happened and on behalf of Thanet District Council, I apologise to him for that. The council’s General Purposes Committee subsequently unanimously dismissed all allegations against Tim Willis. He leaves the employment of the council with a spotless employment record, and I would like to thank him for his service.”

Damning report lists failures, “bullying,” “allegations without evidence,” and use of disciplinary action against staff raising grievances at Thanet council


  1. Its time to get rid of thanet district council and replace it with a east kent unitary authority which also means the end thanet being told by Maidstone county council what is best for us, the savings would mean lower council taxes

    • And what difference will that make? I am afraid the same old political cliques will emerge pressured by local political parties who seemed devoid of quality and ideas. Very sad for us ratepayers as no savings will be achieved.

    • Do us all a favour and reflect on the so called benefits of creating east kent housing and the diaster that turned into, how much was wasted on that? Thanets issues arise from historical and on going mismanangement, poor decision making ( often associated with the personal whims of councillors of the day wanting to force their hobby horse through , rather than dealing with the basics first), TDC ihas been almost a plaything of its councillors and officers merrily spending other peoples money with no care.
      The housing department in particular with its links with east kent housing is a case in point of money just thrown away , the extent of incompetence / idiocy in this department alone must have cost millions.
      It would also be interesting to know if rumours of dodgy dealings within planning and external contractors was covered up with a settlement and NDA.

    • But it will also mean the East Kent unitarian authority will forever be controlled by a Conservative administration. In the words o Arthur Wilson, “Is that entirely wise?”

    • Totally agreed Barry,the recent spate of daft ” Active Traffic Schemes” and the continual pressure for ” White Elephant”schemes IE Parkway Station and the Thanetbürgering show how backward the Local CC outposts are because of the amateurish management of the current C.C.staff .Problem is ,though,they would have to be assimilated into Unitary Authority as they have ” jobs for life”

  2. Sounds like the clear out has started. Hopefully the rest of the senior management team will follow and we can have a totally new bunch of Executives to take Thanet forward.

    • It’ll probably be another in house appointment as was Homers , effectively engineered by combining roles leaving only one viable applicant.

  3. No doubt he will walk into a similarly high paid job elsewhere.
    The Peter principle in fine effect I’m sure he was good at one job at one point but promoted passed all usefulness. We have a habit of promoting people without the compassion and empathy needed to lead but instead value spin and buzzwords.

    Unfortunately people like this don’t suffer from imposter syndrome because they believe their own hype.

    Another institution rife with bullying is local university Canterbury Christchurch University- again senior and middle management engage in institutional bullying and are protected by a flawed system. Serious wrongdoing by management is either ignored or rewarded by huge pay offs.

    When we will stop allowing people playing with public funds from being held to account.

  4. As far as I’m concerned it’s one down three to go.
    The management culture at TDC must be incredably toxic by now with deep seated destructive dynamics in play.
    Changing this will require a complete change of senior officers, either they resign or they change their, by now, entrenched behaviours and stay.
    However this plays out TDC will require a CEO who can take on individuals and departments that are toxic, necessitating active support from Cllr’s and a trusted (Officer) leadership team around them.
    One can foresee major battles by those wanting to retain their positions of power at lower levels accross TDC. These may be overt challenges as well as more subtle manoeuvrings.
    If there is corruption we can also expect the kind of action one sees from organised crime, threats, blackmail, manufactured complaints and even violence.
    Other Councils have seen this time and time again.
    Our elected representatives have a key role in managing this process and this is the weakness. Most of them seem unable to say boo to a goose, let alone engage in individual decision making and action based on principles a public service!
    2023 will see elections. It may be very timely. As residents we can take this fight to the source of the problem – demand all candidates set out THEIIR plan for action, not their Party’s or their clique.

    • There should be more than ‘one down three to go’ – these four functioned because they had people around them who enforced the toxic culture they created, even if they do jump ship there should be a full investigation to weed out ALL those involved or implicated to rid the organisation of any remnants of revenge or recrimination.

    • There does not appear to be another group competent to take over the role of managing the Council. It will be the same old clique that will switch parties just to remain in power. The management model for the public sector is a failure throughout the world. They are not focused on the customer/electorate but on appeasing the political parties in power. The systems and processes are incomprehensible to me. Have you ever tried to analyze the accounts of TDC? It is written in advanced gobbledegook. TDC needs a team of MANAGERS who should come in and take over organisation until such times as it can be able to manage itself with a structure of trained staff. I don’t know what democracy means apart from giving the electorate the opportunity every 4/5 years to electing another crown who will ignore us for the next 5 years until it is time for another vote. What a crazy system!

      • TDC /Thanet has become a such a basket case that it’ll be difficult to attract any real talent/ability to sort the mess out. There’s no money and the whole of TDC is riddled with incompetence and cosy arrangements, so any new leadership is going to have huge problems getting to the bottom of whats been going on , getting an accurate tally of the councils true financial position and shaking all the skeletons out of the cupboards. Thanet is effectively bankrupt and has absolutely huge liabilities on its plate, the property portfolio alone probably needs 50 million plus to get it back in good order. A euromillions ticket is about as good a way forward as any right now.

    • Par for the course.

      He has not resigned or given notice. Somebody wants to get rid of him so he has to be offered a golden handshake – a redundancy payment, three months salary in lieu of notice, enhanced early pension, cash in lieu of unused leave.

  5. Rebecca, i am NOT a thanet district councillor,so by definition i did NOT have any involvement in the process.I hope that answers your question

  6. I suppose they do the best they can, but great material for spitting image (local) spin off.

    Observing uk local politics has me in stitches, its so amusing !

  7. Thanet District Council at executive level is dysfunctional and nothing more than a joke and the only people that suffer are the council tax payers of Thanet. It is time that Madeleine Homer and the rest of the senior executive officers resign or are held to account by our elected officials and fired. The incompetence they have shown is quite incredible and I suspect they would struggle to hold down even junior positions in a commercial environment.

  8. Shake-up, clear-out ! One is just a token measure. When are the rest following? Are replacements being trained up in how to take brown envelopes and pat each other on the back? TDC is just a joke and must be the worst performing local authority in the country.
    What is the answer to all this blatant corruption and ineptitude so we can have a proper council performing for the best interests of the people and residents of Thanet? One person leaving will make no difference, that’s for sure.

  9. In the Private sector when there is management incompetence there are set procedures to go through. Does this not apply to the Public sector or is it necessary that we pay out ‘compensation’ to all these Executives when they leave as past history is shown? Does anyone know what the procedure is for Public Sector?

  10. Dear Grant Thornton

    PS There is a corporate manslaughter inquiry ongoing that one’s S151 duties require one to report to you before you pontificate about bullying cultures and other such distractions.

  11. This is corruption and poor leadership at its best. Tim Willis was crooked to the core and he is not the only one. Many staff at TDC worship this culture of bullying and corruption. The whole Private Sector Housing needs removing as this culture is embedded in their department. Richard Hopkins and his team must be removed with immediate effect with no golden handshakes as they have deceived and ruined Thanet for far too long. He has a lot to answer for and we should have an independent inquiry in this department (Private Sector Housing), so we could weed out all the crooked staff.

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