Thanet Star

Is the new TDC leader up to the job?

As Thanet comes to grips with the fact that it elected a UKIP council we take a closer look at UKIPs only non-novice councillor - Chris Wells.

Before joining UKIP Chris Wells was a conservative councillor in TDC, KCC and Broadstairs Town Council (BTC). He was a significant figure n a number of controversies that outraged the public and he was fond of casting unfounded insults in the direction of Thanet's grass roots news sources.

Cllr Wells was never what you might call a "hard working councillor". In 2013 Wells won the Thanet Star unaward for being the laziest councillor in TDC. He had failed to turn up to 50% of the meetings he had made a commitment to attending.

Not much has changed for Cllr Wells. This year Wells clocked in an impressive 100% absentee rate.

Overall Wells managed to attend 71% of his expected meetings. Or to put this in simple terms he missed more than 1 in 4 meetings. More so recently. Hardly doing a favour to reputation (however well deserved) that UKIP candidates are lazy once in office.

What could possibly be going on that would cause UKIP's only experienced councillor to be even more tardy than usual?

It would appear that UKIP Councillor Chris Wells was only last year (while he was still a Tory) declaired bankrupt for failing to pay his council tax. The news, which I understand was published in the Gazette, was that Cllr Wells had a large amount of unpaid council tax that had been outstanding for quite some time.

For more information on Cllr Wells and the bankruptcy: "Councillor Declared Bankrupt after Failing to Pay Council Tax." Isle of Thanet Gazette, 14th March 2014. (Via HighBeam Research).

While I have no doubt that this was a deeply unpleasant experience, the further details of which are not really any of our business, the nature of the debt and the impact of it raises several significant questions. Not least of which is that Cllr Wells's ability to serve as a councillor at this time.

  • What sort of example was Cllr Wells setting as a sitting Councillor?
  • Has the experience compromised Cllr Wells's ability to serve as a councillor?
  • Can a councillor that failed to show up to council meetings for five months be an effective councillor?
  • Can Wells manage the TDC budget if his own is such a mess?
  • Is this the profile of a suitable leader?

Here are some of this UKIP councillors other news worthy moments in Thanet.

Cllr Wells tried to silence the truth by calling us liars

When Thanet Star published just how much money an outgoing Chief Executive was getting paid he called us a liar and attempted to troll the comments. Only then the accounts were published and he had nothing to say.

Cllr Wells quits after a year

Cllr Wells quit his roll in KCC as Schools chief after less than a year in the post in order to focus on running his own business and fighting a TDC election.

He refused to comment on the move which took many by surprise. Speculation at the time was that Cllr Wells simply could not handle all the work he had taken on. His attendance record in Thanet Council meetings certainly supports this idea.

Made a bid for leadership of the Thanet Conservative Party

Cllr Wells once stood for election as the leader of Thanet's Conservative Party. He was defeated by Sandy Ezekiel (who later served time in prison for corruption).

While it is entirely speculation one cannot help but wonder if Wells left the Tories for UKIP so he had a better run at a leadership position. We will probably never know.

Cllr Wells accidentally accused his own party of lies

It takes some doing to accidentally accuse your own party members of being the worst kind of liars but Wells managed it.

When Thanet Star cited conservative Cllr Moores and his figures relating to Margate Caves Cllr Chris Wells (then also a Tory) wrote to us to call the figures one of the best examples of the unctious fantasy world of bloggers I have yet seen thinking that we came up with the numbers ourselves. (Read more here).

Wells is not a man who has any awareness of what his team mates are doing, I would suggest.

Not all bad

Cllr Wells has not spent his time as a councillor entirely badly. One time he had his name on a press release with some good news.

Trying to weasel out of bad planning

When there was a huge amount of public anger over the cutting down of trees in Pierremont Park to build offices Chris Wells (Then a tory councillor for the town) refused to answer any questions. In what became known as The Broadstairs Tree Massacre there was circumstantial evidence that Cllr Chris Wells if not actually behind it was, at least, knowingly in support of the whole thing.

Eventually Cllr Wells came forward with some information and suggested that the building work in the park was a "Broadstairs thing" funded by BTC so BTC could raise money renting the space out. However in digging around it seemed more like TDC had been left paying for the trees in the Broadstairs park to be cut down and replaced with offices so BTC could rent them out. Did Cllr Wells lie to us?

What now for UKIP's Cllr Wells?

Now he is leader of the council (something he seems to have wanted for a long time) Cllr Wells has promised to start the CPO of Manston very soon.

For supporters of Manston as an airport this is good news although one can only speculate how he plans to do this if he fails to show up to meetings. We can only hope that this new role inspires Chris Wells to show up a little more often.

Meanwhile Cllr wells apparently wishes to run the most boring council ever. I am not sure that's because he does not plan to do anything or that he hopes that there will be no controversy over what he does.

What do you think? Can Wells run a boring council and carry out a CPO?

Can we expect good things from Wells now or is his past behaviour an indicator of what we can look forward to from him?

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