Last remaining member of Thanet council top officer team of four ‘suspended’ from role

Thanet council Photo Frank Leppard

The last remaining officer of Thanet council’s senior management team has been suspended, it is understood.

Gavin Waite, who is Director of Operational Services. Is understood to have been suspended from his post on Monday (June 13). It is understood allegations of harassment and discrimination have been lodged.

A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on confidential internal staffing matters.”

The suspension follows the announcement on June 9 of chief executive Madeline Homer’s exit from Thanet council with an understood £327,000 severance payment.

The council’s Section 151 Officer and Director of Finance Chris Blundell has been appointed as Acting Deputy Chief Executive and took over Madeline Homer’s duties as Head of Paid Service with immediate effect.

His appointment is a short term arrangement to ensure the council meets its obligations to provide the statutory role of Head of Paid Service until an interim Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service is identified. An appointment is expected to be made at the next Full Council meeting on Thursday 14 July.

Madeline Homer’s exit came on the heels of an independent report into failings at the authority, which included ‘serious breakdown’ in relationships of the top management team and the use of disciplinary action against staff trying to raise complaints.

Last year external auditors Grant Thornton issued a report branding relationships between the authority’s top officers as in “serious breakdown” and listing a catalogue of failures within the council, including attempting to discredit criticism in independent reports; draining finances due to disciplinary and tribunal actions and causing significant reputational harm to those involved in prolonged grievance processes.

Thanet District Council unanimously agreed to Grant Thornton’s four statutory recommendations – including bringing in an independent Monitoring Officer.

A summary version of the report by Independent Monitoring Officer, Quentin Baker, was published last month and highlighted concerns such as the personal relationship between then-chief exec Madeline Homer and Gavin Waite; the hostile relationship between the top four senior officers and the pay out of more than £1.5m for redundancy or employment tribunal deals between 2015-2021..

On two occasions disciplinary proceedings were launched against members of the top management team -one of which resulted in a serious disciplinary sanction against Monitoring Officer Tim Howes, leading to his dismissal in April of this year and the other ending with a public apology and £280k severance deal for deputy chief Tim Willis who left the council last October. A leaked document showed Mr Willis had lodged a grievance against Madeline Homer with accusations of systematic bullying, intimidation and victimisation..

With the exit of Madeline Homer, Gavin Waite was the only member of the top team remaining.


  1. If the suspension is made a full sacking this will give the council a clean sweep and enable the new employees a chance to settle in without having to worry about any of the four they have replaced giving them grief. I hope this is the start of this council raising from being the worst to being a strong sound council which is working for everyone in Thanet.

  2. He is now suspend

    Yet the top person is paid 327k to leave. MH is responsible for the people below her. MH must have known how Waite operates and turned a blind eye to it.
    How is she untitled to 327k for over seeing this style of management ?

    It stinks

  3. £327,000 for MH. Maybe £200,000 for GW. Not a bad week for them. Who needs public toilets, Winter Gardens or street cleaning etc. Any more for the gravy train.

  4. Waite is getting sacked. Everyone in that building knows how incompetent he is but Homer constantly defended him and wouldn’t let anything happen to him. Funny that as soon as she is out the way he gets suspended.

    • Thanetian Blind

      You say waite is getting sacked and HM protected him.

      So how come HM is getting paid off for protecting someone who she should of sacked ?

      • It’s to do with the sequence of events.

        The only person who could sack Waite is Homer. She is the only one who could say that the allegations have substance. She clearly wouldn’t have done this due to the huge conflict of interest others have previously flagged.

        Given that, you cannot then charge her with turning a blind eye to his misdemeanours as they haven’t been proven at that stage.

        The quickest, albeit expensive, way to do it is to get rid of Homer and then the path clears itself to suspend and potentially dismiss Waite with someone independent in charge. The only way to make the charge you mention stick to Homer is to get rid of Waite whilst she was still in office. This, of course, would never have happened which I believe is the scenario TDC have now woken up to.

    • Lets hope he gets sacked, I had to deal with him a few times, and he just gave me the run a round!

  5. That council are a disgrace. How could this behaviour and bad practices be allowed to go on for so long?
    I feel sorry for the people who tried to whistle blow. They must have faced years of stress and false accusations.
    Dreadful, through and through.

  6. Waite’s days are numbered, the sooner he goes the better . Let’s hope our elected members deal with him as quickly as possible and do not not roll over with respect to redundancy .

  7. I bet the staff are breathing a sigh of relief. Good riddance to the toxic twins. Now hopefully the staff can get on with their jobs without the fear of bullying culture over them. Let’s hope this was Thanet’s rock bottom and the only way is up.

  8. great news , perhaps we might see a difference around here at last, but is the gravy train going to start rolling again with a new crew ? ?

  9. I’m available and I would sort the place – TDC. I care deeply about Thanet and care not for party politics. I have empathy and sympathy. Both seriously lacking at TDC. I would employ people around me that would never have been considered for the old TDC.

    • Why don’t you stand as a Councillor at the next elections then? The Officers are supposed to work for the Councillors and not the other way round!

  10. The swamp is being drained! Hopefully the long suffering people of Thanet can get Council Officers they deserve and Councillors with a backbone to make sure the wishes of the people are carried out!

  11. The only sad thing about this is that Gavin Waite is only suspended, at the moment so will still be getting full pay. 6 months to a year before he gets paid his big pay out due to ill health etc. Due to all the stress and has his pension topped up.

    • It’s hardto imagine he’ll justhandin hisresignation and wander off, it’s not how local government works, he’ll be working out how to milk his demise.

  12. Lots of vacancies now. I will appoint myself Head of Services and give it a go. Can’t do any worse than these jokers.

  13. Not before time the council should now review all the staff this bunch got rid of as I feel now they have gone the union’s and others may feel they can get a fair hearing now and reopen some cases that were not dealt with in a fair or legal fashion .

  14. I see another large compensation claim being paid quite soon. Bad management equals lots of money in your bank account. Then move on to the next council job elsewhere.

  15. Even more reason to question the haste with which councillors gave in to MH demand for that ridiculous pay-off.
    Letting MH escape from responsibility and all that would be found during TDC’s “Implementation of the eight recommendations approved this evening will begin with immediate effect” (on 19 May), gave her everything she could have wanted within just 3 weeks, plus a £327,000 bonus reward for failure.
    Councillors should have been far better prepared for her predictable response to the IMO’s report, which was about to dismantle her dysfunctional regime. If done with care, it would have cost us nothing and the full extent of failure and responsibility would have been far clearer. Our councillors ensured we residents remain sitting ducks.

  16. There are reasons why GW was not cast adrift years ago and they have been inferred in various reports about TDC’s management dysfunction.
    Decapitating the organisation will not solve the issue.Further down the food chain there are others who should go.
    However I have said before that TDC is not fit for purpose. Madeline Homer was just a symptom, the rust on the pipework, the real corrosion is deep within the structure. Think of one of the buildings in TDC’s ‘care’, and that will give you a visual clue as to the state of the structure.
    I would advocate splitting the district between Canterbury and Dover, but neither are in a fit state to manage even part of Thanet.
    We must start afresh. A unitary East Kent Council and devolved and Town + Parish Councils with realistic viable budgets to do local things.
    I am afraid the vested interests in Kent will not countenance any change and the poor old thing will soldier on till it finally goes bust.

  17. Another pay out coming then! This is the only reason thanet council sells its assets to pay off the staff. Someone should work out what the thanet public have got from all thanet councils asset sales.

    • Capital receipts are ringfenced for capital expenditure as a matter of law – not necessarily spending on buildings, although the maintenance costs of the council’s assets is vast and unaffordable, which is why buildings are sold, but also things like new waste trucks. You cannot spend capital receipts on staff payouts and no auditor would sign off such payments if it happened.

  18. Oh how poorly us residents have been treated.
    We pay full council tax to have our bins emptied, once a year a lorry drives past with its redundent cleaning brushes…unable to get near the kerb due to the cars. Margate’s assets, many gifted to the people of Margate by kindly benefactors who lived in and loved the area. We are likely to lose our Winter Gardens if Leisure Force get their way.
    The money lost by TDC since MH and those having the most clout is utterly appalling
    No wonder Margate is looking so very shabby with dirty grass filled roads,a lack of enough bins, a worrying amount of antisocial behaviour. MH must be laughing with her severence pay considering all her failings. Fail and you get handsomely rewarded, I’m still trying my hardest to understand how this has happened, poor staff, poor residents, poor Thanet

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