Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Thanet District Council Leadership Consultation Only Six People Respond

It’s a funny old world, reading the blogs and talking to local people over the years I formed the impression that quite a few people were interested in the way the council is run.

I think the population of Thanet is about 150,000 from memory and I believe the number of those eligible to vote is just under 100,000, so when the council are obliged by the local government act to hold a twelve week consultation about the way the council will be run over the next four years, you would expect quite a few replies.

Well there is only a week of the consultation to go and according to the council only about six people have responded, it isn’t as though it is a complicated consultation, the council are only asking two questions and you only have to make one answer.

1 Do you want to vote for the leader of the council?

2 Do you want the councillors to chose the leader of the council?

You only have to email one of the following two answers to with your name and address so he can check that you are on the electoral roll and are eligible to take part.

1 I want a leader of the council elected by the people of Thanet.

2 I want a leader of the council chosen by the councilors.

I asked the council about this consultation ten days ago and have been promised a response, but haven’t received it yet.

I asked my MP to ask the council about this consultation, because time is running out and she got a response from the council, as obviously not many people are interested in this subject, I will put some of the relevant bits below, here is the link to the whole response

This all relates to an act of parliament, here is the link to the relevant bit

Next some parts of the councils response in red.

We have not received many responses to the consultation so far. Of the half-dozen or so we have received, all of those expressing an opinion have stated a preference for the Mayoral model, and that will be reported to the extraordinary meeting of Council on 16 December. It is worth noting, however, that the current statutory threshold for triggering a Mayoral referendum is very nearly 5,000 people on the electoral register. It will be for Council to decide how much weight to give to the relatively small number of responses we have received.

Before I go on I will endeavour to explain this bit.

The Mayoral model, is not as some of you could expect a charming young lady accompanying the mayor but means an elected leader, it has nothing to do with dressing up of either models or ceremonial mayors, think of it as a Boris Johnson type of mayor if you like.

The “statutory threshold for triggering a Mayoral referendum,” is a bit misleading in this context as this is the figure for a mayoral petition organised and presented to the council by a member of the public. It has nothing to do with the figure required for a consultation organised by the council, which is what he is talking about.

I will add to this post if I get time this evening.

Next the really bizarre correspondence between the council and one of the readers of this blog.

Here is the pertinent bit of what he asked the council:

The Act requires that the local authority must publish in one or more newspapers circulating in its area a notice which—(i) states that the authority has drawn up the proposals,(ii) describes the main features of the proposals,(iii) states that copies of a document setting out the proposals are available at their principal office for inspection by members of the public at such times as may be specified in the notice, and(iv) specifies the address of their principal office.I read the local papers fairly closely and I don't remember seeing such a notice published. Please advise in which paper and on what date such a notice was posted.

And this the council’s reply:

Section 64 of the Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 requires Councils to consult the public before drawing up their proposals (i.e. before they are put to Council). It goes on to say that after drawing up their proposals (i.e. after Council has taken the decision) those proposals must be published in a local newspaper. So there is no legal requirement for a notice to have been placed in a newspaper at this stage.

In other words the council are interpreting the act as meaning the consultation should be publicised after it has happened.


  1. It would help if people knew there was a consultation. Thanks to you I now do and will respond

  2. It seems to me that the TDC respondent has a lack of understanding of English and how his own use of language would be interpreted in law. A proposal is a suggested course of action, a decision binds one to take a particular course. In any case what would be the point of a consulation after council had agreed its policy?

  3. TDC seem to live in their only little world where a cohort of directors who do not live in thanet are given carte blanche by the current elected members to increase their own salaries and conditions whilst making things worse for thanetonians.
    Any consultation is seen as a total waste of time as they do not actually take any notice.

  4. It beggars belief! I haven't seen any notices about this consultation. Granted I don't search the local papers as much as others might. 6 replies to any consultation is an indictment on the local democracy. Or will the council merely interpret as support for the status quo?

  5. Most people, me included, don't care about who does what, I just let them get on with it. It makes very little difference to me personally.

  6. Ditto. Most people are so busy with their own lives they couldn't actually care less. How i wish i had days and days to ponder this stuff.

  7. 17.55 excellent, I am glad you noticed it.

    MAC I think the intention of the 2007 act and probably the intention of the new coalition government is that the local people should decide.

    I am afraid to say whatever the intention of the officer involved and however he interpreted the wording of the act, what he failed to do was to implement the intention of the act.

    This wasn’t about money as during the last week the two local papers have published articles about this consultation, something that didn’t cost the council anything.

    Had they known about the consultation eleven weeks ago when the council were supposed to have publicised the consultation they presumably would have written their articles then and people would have had time to consider this important issue.

    Something publicised so badly that it took all that time for it come to the attention of local journalists I think can be said to not have been publicised at all.

    23.47 if that is what you think I would recommend that you take part in the consultation to decide which of two new forms of local government you favour.

    7.48 I have to admit that I don’t really know what weight the councillors would give to the results of the consultation, I expect there will be officers advice on that one.

    8.25 and the quick thinker 8.27, you do appreciate that this is not so much about who does what but who is entitled to vote for who does what. While I appreciate that you may wish to enjoy the benefits of living in a democracy while not wishing to vote, you may ponder that the result of this consultation could stop others from voting.

    Perhaps you have some alternative ideas for selecting politicians in this country, if you have it would be interesting to hear what they are

  8. No option number 3?

    Abolish TDC, sack the 4 grand a month nameless council officers and demolish the eyesore that overlooks Cecil Square.

    Return the power to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.


  9. Is there a case for the tv news to be informed of what seems to be yet more dubious behaviour of "our" council.However,thanks for doing their job and informing me they will be hearing from me too.

  10. 0825 and 0827. You won't realise it and probably don't care but the alternative to doing something about this is to do nothing.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" (Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland,in a speech in the House of Commons on 22nd November 1641). Yawn, boring, history. He was a man who fully understood the consequences of governance gone wrong and paid for it with his life.
    It makes a lot of difference to you personally, it's just that you don't realise it.
    Next time, don't hide behind anonymity - be grown up enough to tell us who you are.

  11. With the strength of feeling expressed on this blog, there should be more than 6 replies by 15th Dec.

    My wife and I will certainly be adding two more to the list before that date.

    If you vote, you may not get what you want, but if you don't vote you will certainly get what you deserve.


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