Thanet Star

Is this council a bad joke?

What do you get when you let a man who went bankrupt for non-payment of council tax run the council?

That sounds like the start of a bad joke and the current TDC administration most certainly is. An administration full of whoever UKIP could press-gang into standing led by a bankrupt, ex-tory, backbencher. All without the slightest apparent support or advice of their national party or any real leadership from the local "leader".

Wells' dictatorial behaviour shows exactly why he failed in his bid to become the leader of the Thanet Tories. One has to wonder whether Wells left the Conservatives or was kicked out? Although, I have to admit that his insufficient and non explanatory statements in response to a crisis in the ranks are exactly the same as jail-bird Sandy Ezekiel, who Wells used to kiss up to back in his Tory days.

As for UKIP's Thanet "leader", well, Wells is anything but a team player. Wells, the lazeiest councillor in Kent (2013), back in 2008 actually got himself a KCC cabinet post and then quit months later, perhaps because real work was too hard for him?

In 2011 Wells accused Thanet Star of publishing an unctious fantasy when repeating what Wells' fellow Tory had said. Wells also insisted that we were full of lies when we published the £300k pay-off that the chief exec was getting. Facts that were actually available to Wells but were leaked to us.

Wells' total lack of leadership ability is showing as the loose coalition of bargan basement councillors waving the purple flag crumbles over their only election promise. That's what you get for voting for a "single issue party" - a group of has-been and want-to-be councillors with more interpersonal issues than actual policy ideas.

But then again, what can we actually expect from an admistration that continues the Labour policy of allowing the council to take bribes?

Perhaps it is time to back a party able to offer a true alternative to the old-boys-club mentality that we've seen for so long?

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Why are TDC councillors still allowed to take bribes?

They call them gifts and hospitality but that does not hide the fact that councillors can take bribes and UKIP like it that way.

How do I know UKIP like the bribe rules at TDC? Simple, they still exist and UKIP have control of TDC. If UKIP were as different as some people claim then why did they keep the bribe rule and not changed it?

UK pounds in coffee cup

Two years ago Thanet Star reported that the rule allowing the bribery of councillors was passed unopposed. The rule which was supported by both Tory and Labour still stands.

The change still allows councillors to accept gifts, benefits and hospitality up to the value of £100, from any given party, without disclosure.

Since 2013, when this rule was passed, even the NHS has tightened up on gifts from lobbying persons and groups. Not so TDC. Under Labour TDC allowed themselves more space to take secret bribes. Under UKIP they continued to do so.

Assuming an average gift of £90, where a UKIP councillor to visit five (5) campaigners each day then, over a five working day week, they could net £450 and not tell anyone. Assuming that they take four weeks off a year, that's £21,600 in tax free bribes.

So I ask again, if UKIP were so different why did they not changed this rule?

Folded pile of £10 notes

When we first told you about this rule we also worked out how, with a little laundering, someone could pay just shy of £500 a day to a councillor and it would never show up on any records in the council nor break any rules. Get five people doing that for you each day and you are netting over £100,000 a year tax free in "gifts" without a single rule being broken (on paper).

Even if ongoing gifts do not fit under this rule and this huge windfall is not happening for UKIP councillors there is nothing to stop a developer getting several hundred quid into a few hands to grease a planning application through.

While this rule stands we cannot trust anything that the UKIP council does.

Housing Market Gamble

If UKIP were so different why did they keep this rule?

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TDC staff have no idea where the files are

Apparently not even the TDC Systems Officer does not know where TDC keeps it's files.

I recently sent in a very simple Freedom of Information request (FOI) to Thanet District Council. Asking about records relating to their u-turn on offering Margate a town council.

This should have been a relatively boring exchange of emails followed by a rather dry legal document being shared.

What actually happened was that the TDC Systems Officer tried to claim that TDC were exempt from sharing this file because it was already publically available. She kindly sent a link with her reply to an error message on the TDC website.

It seems not even TDC's Systems Officer can find anything on the TDC website. If the "expert" cannot find the information how are the public supposed to do so?

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Is it just Airport vs Houses in Manston?

Is our only choice for Manston between a CPO and houses?

On the one hand you have Riveroak who are willing to run Manston as a viable airport and on the other you have a group of companies of questionable ethics, liquidity and viability offering us another out of town private town centre.

I look at the mediocrity that Westwood Cross is and the plans to develop a new town with a private high street. That has hardly been the roaring success that was predicted and what little success it did build was at the cost of Margate high street. Even here we rarely balance the loss of jobs against the gain as usually the person doing the presenting is pushing for or against something.

It's all well and good to say that a new project will produce jobs but the real question we need to start asking is will it produce a net increase in jobs or just move the ones we already have about a bit.

Manston offers us the chance of new business at the cost of overhead noise or the more houses and business buildings at the potential cost of businesses elsewhere nearby and an influx of more people who will be looking for work.

Neither option is perfect, far from it, but one of those options adds a net gain for the cost it brings. Which ever the result is Thanet will have a price to pay.

Perhaps there are other options but if there are I have no idea what they are. Even if some third choice could be found there will still be a price for Thanet to pay. We just have to insist that it is the right price for the right gain.

Value for money, in other words.

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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?


» Continue Reading: Is the new TDC leader up to the job?

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Byte Sized


For those interested in blogging local news in and arround the UK this BBC article from last year is sure to be of interest.

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Did you know?

Margate was the first seaside resort to introduce deck chairs way back in 1898.

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Did you know

MP Roger Gail (thanet North) wanted to increase VAT

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Did you know

MP Roger Gale (Thanet North) has never voted on measures to reduce tax avoidance

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Too popular

On Wednesday 28th May the article The staggering truth about Gloag's Manston deal was so popular that it was briefly unreachable as the server could not supply pages fast enough.

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Did Labour Lie?

Who actually believes TDCs Health and Safety line? Comment now on Thanet Star.

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MRP Minutes

All of the Margate Renewal Partnership Board Meeting Minutes (Via FOI)

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Manston Airport

Two weeks to find Manston Airport buyer says North Thanet MP (via BBC)

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CCG to review

Thanet CCG told by High Court judge that policy on assistive reproduction technique is “unlawful”. [link]


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