Friday, 17 December 2010

Thanet District Council Leadership Chosen

Last night the council held an extraordinary meeting to decide what sort of leadership the council will have for the next four years.

Either a leader elected by the local voters or a leader chosen by the councillors, this decision was based on a consultation aimed at determining the views of the voters.

The result of the consultation was unanimous, all of the local voters who responded said the wanted a democratically elected leader chosen by the local voters.

The council then decided not to adopt the wishes of the voters but to have a leader selected by them the councillors.

The main question here is why ask the voters if you aren’t going to take any notice of what they say?


  1. how many people actually responded?

  2. For your information, the consultation yielded 26 valid comments, all in favour of a mayoralmodel. Current legislation would require at least 5000 for a referendum. For myself, Mayors are expensive. Look at the three London boroughs which are most deprived, and have directly elected labour mayors, who are all paid over £70,000 each, let alone the additional office costs etc

  3. Peter just been discussing this with a council legal bod, I think you could say that the legality is open to question and I suppose you me or any of us could challenge this, the trouble is that it would cost the council about £20,000 the figure is his not mine.

    Another problem here is that if the council was found to have formed its constitution illegally it would cease to be a legal council and couldn’t even collect the council tax after the end of this month.

    Don you do ask some difficult ones, the figure I have from the council is 26 all in favour of an elected mayor, as the consultation seems to have been run totally without rules I don’t know much credence one can give to the figure.

    After I raised the issue it has been in the local papers three times about quarter page size, so as six people has already responded and my wife and I didn’t respond until the day of the deadline that makes another 18 responses, six per half page in the local paper, if this is the case it puts one off advertising.

    I suppose the problem here is that once the council have started down the slippery route of changing the results of the May elections, can you put much credence in their democratic services department.

    I suppose like me you must have asked yourself and a few other people you know if they would prefer to elect the leader or have one imposed on them by the councillors, so you will have a fair idea of what would have happened at the May elections if the council had followed the will of the electorate.

    Once again there is another option here and that is to get up a petition for a mayoral referendum, if we did that and got 5% of the electorate sign it they would have to hold a mayoral referendum, but the snag is that this would cost them about £1 per voter.

    Chris, your comment has just appeared, this is the first time I have seen you make a comment that is just plain wrong, the 5,000 figure isn’t for a consultation, believe me if the council got 500 people to respond to one of their consultations it would be a small miracle, the five thousand figure is the figure for a mayoral petition, you know people out on the streets trying to get people to sign the thing, not the council trying to conceal it.

    You may have been misadvised by officers, you may have your own ideas of what a good system of government would be, but the intention of both the previous government’s legislation and the new governments localism bill is that this consultation is a cheaper alternative to the only other legal alternative, a referendum and that the intention of the meeting was to determine the wishes of the electorate.

    The difference is very clear in all of the legislation and part of the reason that it required a separate council meeting all of its own, why you couldn’t decide it at the normal council meeting before it.

  4. If ever a decision was rigged this one was. I really can't see why we should have to fork out good money to fund this undemocratic shower.

  5. Michael,

    I know the figure is for a referendum, I was merely trying to exemplify how far away from any realistic demand was the figure of responses. The typo is for instead of from.

    But, frankly, your assumptions, accusations, attributions, and false conclusions on this issue, and indeed many other issues, demonstrate a real failure in understanding of what is going on and why.

    I sometimes feel the best way to respond to you would be to come on to your site and write endlessly about how to run a second hand book shop. it wouild appear you can make a fine living, and still have acres of time free to be able to run a website which shows you are also an expert developer, councillor, lawyer, and community cohesion specialist.

    Indeed perhaps I should send all the careers advisers from kent schools to see you, as presumably you have cracked the perfect circle of work/life balance, combined with a brilliant manner of being able to advise any other professional of how to run their business.

    You want a Thanet Mayor, go get the signatures for it. Ramsgate did that for a Town Council - good for them - if you believe so strongly in extra expensive layers of local government, go find the support for them. It is clear that government believe this is best for medium to large city areas. And explain as you go that will leave no role or room for a Ramsgate Mayor; Broadstairs Mayor; or Margate Mayor either.

    I spent 6 hours in KCC meetings yesterday; 5 hours around TDC meetings. That is my choice, and the way I serve. But to find that at least 2 hours of that is wasted by labour tactical showing off (see Tony Flaig blog) when I left the house at 730 am and returned just before 11pm left me with much to catch up on today as I too have to earn the rest of my living.

    I am amazed at all the free time you have to snipe and pontificate on matters on which your knowledge is at best partial, and at worst disingenuous.

    No one in the council chamber wanted an elected mayor - though realising some vocal people were in favour had inevitably Iris Johnston wavering, ready to chase any popularity pre election.

    So, my advice to you, in response to all the advice you have given me uninvited on this and many other issues, is to stop chattering and go do. I have often told the tale of how I became a councillor, when I was overheard by an existing councillor commenting I felt trained monkeys could do better - and was challenged to prove I was better than a trained monkey.

    I took up the challenge, and I offer it on to you now Michael: if you know so much better than any or all of us, go get signatures, get elected, demonstrate you have the support of real people as we all have to every few years.

    Until then, please stop expecting all of us who do that to elevate and weight your opinion above those who have voted for us. That's just a matter of engineering mathematics, is it not?

  6. If at the next elections only 26 people voted in Kingsgate and they all voted for Bob Bayford you can be pretty sure that he would take that as a mandate to carry on not-consulting. And when you read Simon's account on Thanet Life of last night's meeting you wonder whether most of them should be disbarred from standing in May anyway. Maybe this is the time to start the 2011 campaign to oust them.

  7. Oh dear Cllr Wells, a combination of how-much-harder-than-you-I-work, I've-been-elected-so-I-must-know-better-than-you and common or garden arrogance.
    What you have really done is confirm what people like Michael and I already knew; that you and your ilk want to run this Island as your own personal fiefdom, preferably without too much scrutiny or interference.
    Four fifths of the people who voted in the last DC election did NOT vote for you. Four out of ten didn't even vote for your party. I'd be pretty circumspect about calling on your voters' support in this forum.

  8. Interesting comment about "trained monkeys" by Cllr Wells, I think they could do a better job and probably get more votes.

    The trouble with TDC is they "may" be doing the right things but their PR comes over as very "dodgy" democracy.

  9. Hey Andrew

    when you identify which shoulder your chip is on, buy some polyfilla!

  10. 17.03 I think the answer to the fork out is because they were elected democratically.

    Chris the contribution I make to the local community is to publish local history books, over 130 so far, a combination of that, the bookshop and having primary school children doesn’t leave time for many other commitments.

    My assumptions, accusations, attributions, and false conclusions on this issue, and indeed many other issues, are you know open to correction, you only have to say where I am wrong and why.

    Considering the ward you represent you may be familiar with the Viking legend of how they chose their leaders – the one who could pee furthest up the mast of a longship – unfortunately or otherwise both the previous government in the 2000 act and the 2007 act and the new government in the localism bill have decided the selection process is to be decided by the electorate.

    You may consider some alternative more appropriate, but like the rest of us you are governed by the law of the land, so the more simplistic options are not available and non compliance with this law has put the council in a very vulnerable position in terms of judicial review.

    I discussed this with the council’s head of legal and democratic services today and suggest you do the same.

    I can see that this is a difficult forum for councillors, at one time the council would have been subject to a much more investigative press, but the pure economics of intellectual property and the rise of the internet, means that much criticism of local - I won’t call it democracy as I am no longer convinced that it is, because of how the elected is selected, perhaps some new name is required - happens on the internet.

    I don’t quite understand what you think I expect you to do with my opinion, certainly not elevate it, perhaps explain what is wrong with what I have said, with some sort of coherent argument.

  11. A councillor is elected by the people, to serve the people, not to insult them.

  12. Councillors like Chris Wells are alway bleating on about how much they workand yet they seem to make time to serve on more than one council. I wonder why? Just a remindeer that cllr Wells picks up at least £17,000 plus expenses for his 'public spirited' effort.

  13. Readit, you are right, some local councilors as ilustrated on this blog topic and others, are very good at insulting people rather than putting up arguments.
    It tells you a lot about them.

  14. Chris

    Your argument is that there would be insufficient support for an elected mayoral referendum ?

    But, when you touchy on the subject of Iris Johnson, your argument lapses to the possibility she could court a popular wave for a mayoral referendum ?

    Imagine the horror Michael and show sympathy for Chris's exhausted mental state.

    His mind, craving sleep during the late meeting, plays tricks. The image of Iris Johnston (terrifying to any Thanet tory suffering post "Jew Do" Winter Gardens affray trauma) afoot again on the Isle with a petition. Benny Hill chase music intruding on his imaginations as, in his minds eye, Sandy Ezekiel rushes after Iris in full petition kicking mode.

    Having said that Judicial Review would have scant prospect of success and Chris has a point.

  15. You could create a whole new film, retired, and several sequels - a nightmare on cecil street....

  16. I t5hink the Councillor's response to me says it all. Childish springs to mind.

  17. I think many of you are being a bit harsh on Chris Wells. At least he's here attempting to answer questions, unlike most / all the other clrs.

  18. Peter
    You are right. In fact only Michael Jarvis and Simon Moores responded to my email. I'm sure Cllr Wells read it - how hard would it be to click the reply button and write "Noted"? Unfortunately the councillor on occasions resorts to insulting people rather than engaging in sensible debate. When he does this he is no better than the Labour rabble he quite rightly criticises. I would welcome entering into a serious discussion on this - he may find it surprising to discover that I am generally on the same side of the political fence as he is.
    I have queried the legality of this consultation as have you, Michael and several others. Not one councillor has addressed this issue.
    If Thursday's Ordinary Meeting was so protracted, how long did the Extraordinary Meeting take? Long enough to say that they gave the matter serious consideration?

  19. Using a little bit of computer jiggery pokery I have discovered that the "Consultation on new Governance Models for Executive Arrangements" page was published on the TDC website on 18th October 2010. That's eight and a half weeks before the Extraordinary Meeting.

  20. Michael,
    As has been muted before, is it not "TIME" after all that has happened over the last few years, for a group to be formed to actively campaign against the existing collective that occupy TDC both in ruling and opposition.
    The only thing that has been proven in the last ten years is that they are as a collective completely incompetent and not working in the interests of us the public or Thanet as a whole.

    I for one am sick and tired of constantly feeling embarresed by the immature and childish behaviour of what is meant to be educated,articulate and forward thinking adults, nothing further from the truth could be found with TDC.
    Were into a long period now of financial cut backs and severe job cuts which are going to have an enourmous impact on this amazing Isle of ours.
    It really is time to cut out the dead wood and its all floating around in the stinking swamp currently known as TDC.

  21. In response to the article of councillors not responding to the public, I think a day of protest should be held outside of Cecil Sq offices to demonstrate the hatred the population have for the current council.
    After all, if the students can do it, then anyone can....right ?

  22. 20.14 and 18.43 my gripe here and my only gripe is the council undermining the democratic process, I also have serious doubts that the elected leader option would produce a better solution.

    Dismantling the process of local government isn’t an option, disposing of the elected representatives from a position of anonymity just laughable.

    Our only real recourse is at the elections and the party system only really makes two preselected groups available to govern Thanet. I am not convinced that either group could produce enough able people to solve the problems we have.

    The only other democratic option available being a mayoral referendum petition, this may be worth a try, expensive and the result uncertain.

    But either way it is this interference with the democratic process that I intend to resolve, the system we have is supposed to be a democracy and while this is the case that is what I am supporting.

  23. legal or not the con gang will od as they always do what ever suits them best £££ ???

  24. legal or not the con gang will od as they always do what ever suits them best £££ ???

  25. This is not the 1st time TDC have hidden consultations on their web site.

    The 2009 Cliftonville Housing Renewal was posted on there with the excuse that they only wanted local peoples comments.

    Its a disgrace



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