Two Thanet councillors suspended from Tory group at Kent County Council

Cllrs Linda Wright and Trevor Shonk

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Two Conservative members at Kent County Council have been suspended for defying the party on housing policy.

Thanet councillors Linda Wright and Trevor Shonk were informed of the suspension by email after last Thursday’s full council meeting.

But defiant Cllr Shonk said he “won’t grovel” to be accepted back into the Tory fold.

Both members had sided with a Green Party motion on KCC’s policy regarding developer money put towards community improvement, known as section 106 contributions, as part of planning permissions.

Conservative spokesman Dylan Jeffrey, who acts as the party whip at county hall, said the suspensions were “temporary”.

He added the Tory group had voted to oppose the motion in advance of full council but Cllrs Wright and Shonk had decided to go against the party line.

Cllr Jeffrey said: “The convention is that members who may have a reason for going against the group decision, on a matter of principle or for local reasons, should let us know first.

“That didn’t happen, so the two members were temporarily suspended.”

Both now appear on the KCC website’s councillor list as independents.

An unrepentant Cllr Shonk said he was speaking up for the people of Thanet who are fed up with “housing, housing, housing” in the area.

The former Mayor of Ramsgate said: “They vote us in to do something and it’s my view that we shouldn’t turn perfectly good agricultural land into houses. Fields are for food.

“We are in a dire situation at KCC and we should be working with the other parties at this time.”

Asked if he expected to be readmitted to the Conservative group at County Hall, he said: “I am not going to grovel.”

Cllr Wright, member for Birchington and Rural, was unavailable for comment but a colleague in the chamber said her vote ”might have been a mistake”.

The councillor added: “It happens from time to time when people accidentally put their hand up at the wrong time but, for the official record, they both went down as rebels.

“Trevor is a serial rebel but that can’t be said for Linda.”

It is another embarrassment for the top table at KCC and the leader Cllr Roger Gough, who has survived two leadership bids against him in the past few months.

In the most recent, at the party’s annual meeting, he emerged victorious by 44 votes to 17. It was a much more emphatic win than many expected.

But there are still grumblings on the backbenches about the council’s leadership and direction.

Former leader Sir Paul Carter used a speech on KCC’s financial woes to appeal for greater transparency to members of all sides in the chamber.

One Tory backbencher said: “What Paul said resonated with a lot of us folk in the cheap seats – that we feel there is little connection between Roger and his  cabinet and the rest of us.

“Decisions are just made and then foisted on us. There are a lot of Conservative members who won’t stand at the next election in 2025 and will feel emboldened to speak how they feel.”

The Green Party saw their motion defeated.

27 Comments

  1. Good for Trevor Shonk, man of principle. He was useless as a Ukip councillor but seems to have blossomed as a Tory. More naturally he is an independent at heart.
    Yes, too much house building going on to the detriment of agricultural land.

    • Yet it was the UKIP / Tory plan than designated this agricultural land for building and a Conservative government that insisted their housing numbers be used.

      • It was the UKIP Council that had to grasp the nettle that both former Tory & Labour Councils had kicked the Local Plan down the road (voters don’t like bad news). I was a member of the cross party Local Planning committee, we were told unequivocally by Government senior civil servants that if we didn’t meet the numbers the Government would and add more!!

    • The issue is the nations addiction to high levels of inward migration, 500k people a year need a lot of houses, seemingly neither labour or the tories have any intention of changing this policy, ( it’s an easy way of increasing gdp so making the country look wealthier, but conveniently ignores the per capita numbers which means we are actually getting poorer) so we’ll be building ever more houses for the forseeable future.
      The south east is where a disproportionate number of new arrivals want to live , so that’s where more houses will be built.

      • Even if only for a short time, it is two less of them. Sure they can amuse themselves by stealing some tents from the homeless, taking food & medicine away from the poorest in society & shouting how they would love to get rid of human rights.

        • It is still not good riddance because you are not rid of them. What part of riddance do you not understand?
          As for human rights, I would advocate the UK ditching a link to the European Court of Human Rights. Our laws run in the UK and should not be determined by those in the ECHR. Human rights should be enshrined in our own Bill of Rights.

          • Really? The Tories have made it clear they want to take away as many, if not all human rights as possible.

            If you think it is just about small boats & migrants, then like others calling for it you are very naive-you can do away with the PACE act, access to legal representation if the police haul you in-even mistakenly, interviews being recorded, being verballed, the right to sleep & not have salt put in your food, physical violence inflicted on you, the police will not have to bother getting an extension after 24 hours.

            Outside of that the right to a minimum wage-which many Tories want to scrap & have been vocal about, the right to tribunals etc. The Tories recently showed with the marches they want a police force that does everything they say with no independence-thankfully there is a Met Boss with some balls.

            Would you honestly trust people like Cruella, Mogg, Anderson, Shapps, Sunak etc to draw up a UK human rights act & think that it would benefit anybody other than themselves & what they want to do to people?

    • Suspended by GB News Anchor – What ignorance you show by choice of words! Have you left school as education is a fine thing?

    • Suspended GB News Anchor, I should make it clear that I was referring to you when I said I agree with you entirely.
      Ms Pink is, of course, being his usual reactionary self with his immature desire to shock.

      • No doubt & I am not sure who Ms Pink is referring to by behaving like animals. The only ones in the UK behaving like animals in recent times are the government-especially Cruella, the far right(invited by the then home secretary) marching on the Cenotaph while attacking police & behaving like hooligans-many of them are convicted football thugs & the right wing media egging it all on/stirring up hate.

  2. Perhaps he means animals on two legs as some far right racist members of Netanyahu’s cabinet describe Palestinians. He would have to explain himself.
    Braverman’s hatred of the Palestinian cause is a reflection of this distain.
    Despite all that, I am fond of animals and enjoy their companionship.

  3. I know Trevor, and he tends to go off on a tangent.Linda Wright is probably responding to the outraged masses in Birchington, old Checksfield’s home ground.
    I saw Trevor hanging around Cliffsend today, I don’t know what for.
    Complaining about the use of agricultural land is not going to cut much ice with PINS.If you want to stop development, you need to offer robust evidence of harm,such as pollution,congestion, lack of infrastructure, poor quality design etc etc. Gladman is not a developer, they are an agent, and they are the harbingers of doom for Barratts who own them.
    If you want to beat them, you need to offer a better case than they do.
    As for self sufficiency, the UK has not grown sufficient food to feed its population since the 1870’s, not even in war time. That said agriculture is growing crops with yields of at least 2 to 3 times than was grown in the 1950’s, and I know our population has increased by 1/3rd since then, but so far we have not reached 90 or 100m yet, so all the racist stuff about mass immigration is somewhat wide of the mark.
    As for the ECHR, it is embedded in our laws via the human rights act.It can be inconvenient,annoying.infuriating, but the alternative is Bravermans law, which is arbitrary and discriminatory.The formation of the ECHR was a lesson learnt by Churchill among others, who experienced the aftermath of what happened when a criminal bunch of populists took over a democracy and subverted it, so it appeared to be democratic, with a rule of law that had allowed the criminals to judge the righteous and the helpless, and of course the Jews.I need not name the perpetrators, but democracy like life is tenuous.The situation in Gaza is so awful, that I think we should cease sloganising and hope that the madness and hate, will end, and that some kind of agreement can be reached to end the violence, and send home the hostages.

  4. As for the tragedy that is Gaza, the real elephant in the room is the very clear criminality of Israel. They murdered over 13,000 people, men, women and children.
    Yet the Western media goes on about something called anti-Semitism with the implications that the murder of so many Palestinians is a secondary consideration.
    The US is culpable in all this but it exerts so much power and influence it goes around the world imposing itself upon all. Blinken is like a mafia boss with an offer no one can refuse. Refuse the demands of Blinken and your card is marked. He tells the leaders of nations that Israel has a right to defend itself. No mention of Palestine’s right to self-defence nor any hope of freedom for them. There is too much evil in all this. Too much pain and suffering imposed on Palestine.

    • Your comment likening individuals to animals is very worrying! It is the language of fascism. If you are indeed proud to be a Jew, you have learned nothing from history. You ought to rethink your language and learn compassion, as is focal to being a good Jew.

  5. That’s fine, but I am my brother’s keeper and Palestine needs to be fully recognised and assisted to become a free state, that fully recognised the state of Israel, but exists as a prosperous homeland for Palestinians.

  6. Question Time: which of the previous comments may have broken current UK laws, and could land both the poster, and the publisher, in hot water?
    The man in the blue blazer, please.
    Yes, you, sir.

Comments are closed.