Friday, 6 May 2011

Thanet District Council Hung, Election Special

 The, were do we go from here? Question must be surfacing in the minds of several of our councillors.

Neither party has a clear mandate to run Thanet, nor do the independents have any real mandate as we have three independent councillors now the same number we had before the election.

I suspect that I am going to make some mistakes in this next bit, so any corrections or explanations in the comments please.  
 What comes next is the council elects a new style strong leader, because of the legislation laid down by the last government, the old weaker leader or leader for one year isn’t an option.

There is the new Localism Bill coming soon, probably about a years time, but I don’t think that this will make much difference to the new strong leader business.
 The new strong leader will then be responsible for:

Determining the size of the Cabinet;

Appointing the members of the Cabinet;

Allocating portfolios or areas of responsibility to the various Cabinet Members;

Allocating decision-making powers to the Cabinet and to individual Cabinet Members; and removing and replacing Cabinet Members.

When the council decided against the unanimous results of the public consultation to have a leader chosen by the other councillors and not a leader elected by the local voters, they made a definite decision between two leaders who were already in place.

The Labour councillors decided they would have Bob Bayford for leader if they lost and the Conservative councillors decided they would have Clive Hart for leader if they lost. Perhaps this was a case of better the devil you know.
 Now their decision has created a rather unusual position, the new stronger leader of the council won’t be chosen by the voters in an election, won’t be chosen by the majority party’s councillors, but will be chosen by three independent councillors, Jack Cohen, Robert Grove and Thomas King.

Hopefully, the three wise men.

This leads to the interesting thought that one or both of the two main parties may put up a different leader as candidate, one that would either be more acceptable to the other main party, or indeed the three wise men.

Looking at the national trend I wouldn’t say that the local Conservatives did that well and certainly they don’t seem to have any seats in the two main Thanet towns. When it comes to Ramsgate and Margate Labour do indeed seem to have a strong mandate.

In a general sense I think that both parties prospective leaders were chosen with that party having a strong mandate to govern in mind, a problem here is that the leadership job is really a full time one with low pay and really needs someone in their prime to do it. By this I mean someone who would already have a full time and reasonably well paid job, it isn’t really a job for someone in retirement.

With a strong mandate this can be overcome by having a figurehead leader supported by a group of councillors who are in their primes. Strong organisational and communication skills being required, in short a team effort. There is sense where this may not work so well where the leader hasn’t a strong mandate and may have to give out positions of responsibility to stay in power.

I should point out here that there is one way to remove a new strong leader and this is by a full council vote.

My recent experience of writing to the leader asking why the maritime museum hasn’t opened and getting no reply or even an acknowledgment of receipt, suggests that all is not quite well in terms normal organisations skills and keeping ones finger on the pulse.

It is in fact more suggestive of a muddled operation where council officers are expanding their own domains within Parkinson’s law, rather than a leadership ensuring timely and appropriate benefits to the area.
I intend to ramble on about this one today as thoughts occur to me, the results are in the post below and on the council’s website although the comprehensive breakdown of who got how many votes hasn’t appeared there yet.   

An interesting one for me was that Payam Tamiz got 312 votes, was this based on the fact that it said, The Conservative Party Candidate, next to his name on the ballot paper?

Update the parish and town council results are out, with all of Ramsgate’s independents gone, the results hardly seem believable.  

Parish of Acol

Sheila Mary Patricia Bransfield No description

Jonathan Henry Inchley No description

Helen Mitchell No description

Bob Norris Other

Elizabeth O'Reilly Other

Parish of Birchington -

Birchington North

Ward Bill Furness Liberal Democrats

Steve Hayden Independent

Bernard Anthony La Roche Independent

Parish of Birchington - Birchington South Ward

Josh Coombs Other

Amelia Marie West Independent

Linda Ann Wright Other

Parish of Broadstairs and St Peter's - Bradstowe Ward

Bill Epps Conservative Party

Bill Hayton Conservative Party

David Saunders Conservative Party

Parish of Broadstairs and St Peter's - Kingsgate Ward

Robert William Bayford Conservative Party Candidate

Parish of Broadstairs and St Peter's - Viking Ward

Jo Gee Conservative Party

Mave Saunders Conservative Party

Timothy Bernard Seed Conservative Party

Chris Wells Conservative Party Candidate

Parish of Cliffsend

 Emma Louise Best No description

Maureen Fiander No description

Philip Griffiths No description

Beryl Florence Harrison No description

Vera Ellen Hovenden No description

Ratna Ratnasingham Other

Parish of Manston

William James Bell No description

Jennifer Mabel Fletcher No description

Linda Samme Other

Parish of Monkton

Gilly Brown No description

Nick Cole Independent

Tony Davies No description

David John Spillett No description

John Alexander Way No description

Parish of Ramsgate - Central Harbour Ward

Peter Campbell The Labour Party Candidate

Mary Dwyer The Labour Party Candidate

Tony Ovenden The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of Ramsgate - Eastcliff Ward

Rick Everitt The Labour Party Candidate

David Green The Labour Party Candidate

Corinna Huxley The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of Ramsgate - Nethercourt Ward

Steven Alexandrou The Labour Party Candidate

Kim Gibson The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of Ramsgate - Newington Ward

Pat Moore The Labour Party Candidate

Richard Russell Nicholson The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of Ramsgate - Northwood Ward

Kay Dark The Labour Party Candidate

Ian Driver The Labour Party Candidate

Elizabeth Green The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of Ramsgate - Pegwell Ward

Patrick Edward Doyle Conservative Party

Parish of Ramsgate - Sir Moses Montefiore Ward

Michelle Fenner The Labour Party Candidate

Alan Poole The Labour Party Candidate

Parish of St Nicholas at Wade and Sarre

Bernard Eric David Clayson No description

Richard Charles Garrett No description

Terry Robson No description

Terry Waterton No description


  1. What puzzles me is how the council where able to announce a compulsory buy out of Dreamland during the election period. The new council could decide that the cash would be better spent elsewhere or have other plans for the site.

  2. In Central Harbour Ward. Ralph Hoult, Frank Batt and Trevor Shonk should have stood as Conservative candidates.

    In a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives the Tories would have won.

    Those 3 truly love Ramsgate above anything else.

    Ben Kelly

  3. In Eastcliff Ward: Jerry Mac Donnelll came close - but no cigar. Another vote splitter, and a man who would serve Ramsgate better than any other.

    Ben Kelly

  4. Ben, If Frank, Ralph and Trevor sold out to the Conservatives, they would have to embrace Airport Expansion, Night Flights, Parkway and China Gateway.

  5. Now heres a thought Michael given the arithmatic of the new Council, given that one indie is a former Tory Cllr and one is a well known Tory supporter and one is a moderate Labour sympathiser which devil do you think they will choose to do a deal with?
    Insofar as the strong Leader thing is concerned the only change from now is the whoever is Leader is there for four years instead on being elected annually as now everything else remains the same. At the time of writing this no-one yet knows who will be the Leader of either Group as the AGM's have yet to be held.
    On another subject entirely a quick look at the results for Northwood reveals that the candidate who allegedly is lazy and doesnt do any work in the ward etc, etc actually came top of the poll, maybe that speaks volumes more than the thousands of words that have been written ( usually in ignorance of the facts) on blogs.

  6. Ben and Readit, the problem here is that party politics isn’t really suited to District Council level, an example of this are the Ramsgate and Margate wards which are predominantly Labour.

    Labour don’t have to do much to get in and the Conservatives don’t seem to make much effort because they don’t have much chance.

    Here in Ramsgate last time Labour got in they did a well meaning but very damaging thing to Ramsgate, which was to get the funding for and carry out a seafront improvement scheme.

    Unfortunately a side effect of this was to remove the majority of the seafront parking, something that pretty much crippled the town’s economy.

    What happens when we come to an election under the present system, is that a great many people aren’t looking to vote for the people with the greatest interest in their town and the greatest understanding of what makes it tick, no they are looking to keep the other party out.

  7. Mike I always look forward to your perceptive comments and have to admit I didn’t know about backgrounds of the independents.

    With the Northwood business, you will appreciate that I am not without a more in depth understanding of what went on, but have taken the view that if anyone is to publish a blow by blow account it should be one of the Labour group.

    That said I think it could have been handled better and certainly more openly.

    What you seem to be saying here is that having selected Bob Bayford by default as leader, inasmuch as the Labour group didn’t seem to be too keen on an elected leader, apart from Dave Green, you don’t see the Labour group going to the independents and proposing an elected leader instead, as an answer to the electorate being so equally divided between parties.

    As a further thought, between all of the councillors who have the time to act as a leader and the resources to do the job for what is a very low wage for a full time job, do you think there is anyone genuinely able to lead such a closely divided council?

    Do you think, for instance, you would be up to it yourself, or that you could generate the cross party support needed to do it well?

    I was thinking back to the time Steve Ladyman was leader and considering that he could probably pull this one off.

    There is also the consideration that the Conservative and Labour group could get together on this one, as I have said the independents don’t really have much of a mandate.

    Certainly if there is a time when a bit of open discussion and radical ides could be appropriate, it’s now.

    Perhaps hands up all those who want both parties to go in a corner and mumble? Is a question that comes to mind.

    I am hoping that just for a moment the councillors will consider what it would appear that the electorate actually decided.

  8. Interesting that (for better or worse) those new candidates that have promoted themselves via local blogs have failed...

  9. Well, the Labour party made night-flights an election issue and pledged to ban them if they got elected. In Ramsgate, Labour candidates were elected without exception. I think the people have voted and they have voted "No" to night-flights.

    This being the case, it's difficult to see how Jack Cohen, founding member and ex-Chairman of the Manston Airport protest group, could bring himself to vote for a Leader who believes that night-flights have to be allowed.

    If you study Jack's political history you find he might not be blue to the core. If Jack has a hand in deciding the leader, I think Ramsgate will be in safe hands.

  10. Michael,

    Parish election results seem to be taking an age to be issued, have you any news on Viking ward?

  11. Yes. Broadstairs solid Conservative apart from Beacon Road where two Labour candidates plus one Tory got elected.

  12. 18.50 and 19.22 just put them up, did I miss any of the others, I have children and other commitments so need any help I can get with omissions.

  13. Any news on the final numbers yet?

  14. I note that none of the newly elected Councillors for Central Harbour live in the Ward. However at least Peter Campbell is their and even if I am not of his political persuasion he always delivered when I have raised issues in the past. I am disappointed that the Labour Party had to resort to importing the two new Councillors one from Margate and the other (who also now represents Eastcliff on the Ramsgate Town Council) from a luxury development in Cliffsend.

    Laurence Davies

  15. Bill leadbeaterMay 06, 2011 8:13 pm

    These days it's irrelevant what colour rosette wins a local election, it's the caliber of councillor that counts, I would rather have competent individuals than coloured sheep bleating on and on for hours over small agenda items and then pass important issues with hardly a word said, through lack of knowledge or understanding. Bill Leadbeater.

    Well done to whoever founded this site, it's good to read the opinions of interested people, whatever their political bias.

  16. 19.51 I thought all the final numbers were available, please let me know if there is anything missing, there is much more detail on the council’s website.

    Laurence I have to admit to being a bit surprised by the Labour landslide in Ramsgate, particularly in the town council.

    At the moment I am putting it down to Ramsgate peoples resentment of the previous Conservative TDC administration, voting against rather than for anyone or anything.

    Frankly I think most people have very little idea about who the candidates are and when confronted by a ballot paper just do what they consider to be their best.

    I did try to find out about my candidates and should probably have made more effort to put more details about them on this blog, I went into the election without any information about any of my Conservative candidates despite asking for it by email, consequently I didn’t vote for any of them, although I usually do.

    On the day of the election I got telephoned by one of my friends who was in the same position, i.e. he just didn’t know anything much about the people he was supposed to be voting for.

    He had just that morning received his bumph from the Conservatives and rang me up to see if I knew anything about them, he said a couple of them sounded ok but he had never heard of them before the flyer came through his letterbox, just before he was due to vote.

    Bill, I do my best to try and keep it open to all comment, apart from the libellous and abusive and make no secret of the fact that it is good for my bookshop business, not really sure that it counts as advertising, as I don’t really bother to do any.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  17. Michael I totally agree what you say in your latest post. I have to say this time I departed from my usual voting habits and voted on purely local issues and was swayed by the excellent literature from the three Independants. Time will tell as far as how the District Council functions. But from past experience the only people who benefit from hung Councils are the Officers. I do not envy any sitting Councillor in a hung Council. It will be tedious and frustrating for many elected members.

    Laurence Davies

  18. Laurence I think that what the electorate are saying here is elected leader and as it only takes the signatures of 5% of the electorate to trigger a referendum asking if we want this, I suspect that this is what will happen.

    I think this system is the most appropriate where one has a hung council or where things tend to go either way in elections. At least I means you get a properly paid leader who can give up their job and work at it full time.

    It also means you have a chance of getting a leader who owes nothing to the other councillors so he can select the best people for the jobs, rather that give them to those he owes favours to for making him the leader.

    I think there is a problem in Thanet of officers getting what suits them, which is often proliferating bureaucracy rather than common sense solutions.

  19. The Labour Tory division between Ramsgate and Broadstairs has become even more pronounced. I have no doubt that Labour's backing of the No Night Flights campaign was responsible. I see that Kim Gibson, a prominent No Night Flights campaigner, was elected for Nethercourt.

    It will be interesting to see what happens now. The airport owners said that night-flights were needed for the airport to survive. Presumably, if they don't get them it's dead. Time to dust of plan 'B.'

  20. Michael. I do not wish to appear to be sycophantic but I agree a directly elected Mayor/Leader of local authorities is the way forward. I have experience of being both in the past a backbench Councillor and committee chairman under the old Council structure and for my sins being a Council Leader under the cabinet system for a span just short of two years trying to walk a tightrope of keeping people onside to get policies through. The argument used by some is that a directly elected mayor/leader emasculates the role of the backbench councillor this can challenged by the development of scrutiny process and holding the Leader/Executive to account plus development of policies to submit to the mayor etc.

    Still enough of me I am boring everyone including myself.

    Laurence Davies

  21. Cllr Harrison, is clearly stirring again re Kay Dark

    Everyone in politics and many analysts know that those who have surnames earlier in the alphabet nearly always poll better. Many voters don't realise they have more than one vote and just vote for the first one alphabetically in their chosen party.

    Looking at the surnames...
    Mike Harrison got more votes than Richard Nicholson even though everyone knows Nicholson does more work

    Just look through the Wards. There's the occasional exception due to personal vote but new candidates with no history outdid long term councillors who have good reputations simply because their names were earlier in the alphabet.

    As a Northwood resident, can Cllr Harrison tell me about all the work which Kay Dark supposedly did? And as Michael said in an earlier comment, Let's see a bit of openness...

  22. Bill leadbeaterMay 06, 2011 11:23 pm

    If the people of Thanet were to seek an elected Mayor he or she would best serve the district by being non party political. As another ex councillor and ex leader of the Thanet District Council I know only too well of the difficulties involved in bringing party politicians together.
    Tories would be suspicious of socialists and vice versa.

    I found that good ideas were often tossed aside simply because the proposer came from an opposition party.

    If Thanet is to prosper as it should and could, it will not be because of a strong leader, as important as that may be, it will occur only if the elected members put Thanet before their political party, put simply an independent Mayor of Thanet would have no party political axe to grind thereby putting Thanet first on every occasion, so says an old party politician.

  23. Your talk of men in their prime from whatever party sounds a bit too me like ageism,

  24. Harrison talks nonsence where is the facts?

  25. Long day so my responses to the comments here may be a little odd.

    22.20 not really sure about the night flights issue, it does seem that TDC have taken some proper advice and it would appear what the airport asked for initially was unreasonable, in terms of ordinary national standards.

    Nor is it clear what it is that the airport owners want, it looks as though they bought the airport because it was cheap, rather than with some definite strategy in mind and now they seem to be trying to get the rules relating to its operation as lax as possible, perhaps with a view to selling it on, I don’t know really.

    Regardless of the restrictions relating to night time flying, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the short to medium term that would make it a profitable venture.

    Perhaps there never really was a plan A.

    Laurence, I would say that one of the major problems over the past few years has been that the backbenchers are sidelined.

    I am really not certain that the elected mayor is the best way forward for many authorities, but here in Thanet where there is such a division between the two main towns and the rest of Thanet, I would think that a leadership that is more accountable to the residents of those towns could be beneficial.

    I am inclined to judge the council’s performance on where I live and with this part of Thanet moving fast to a place where it is impossible to live and trade comfortably, I would say we need some sort of different approach and at the moment the elected mayor seems to be all that is available.

    22.31 I am not really sure what happened at the polling stations this time, but talking to people who voted yeasterday, today in the bookshop, it is evident that quite a few of them were only expecting a referendum about AV and were quite unprepared for the other two ballot papers.

    Perhaps there is a problem with voter education, it would be interesting to know how many people confronted by the ballot papers were not quite certain what it was asking them, or who they were voting for.

    I may be completely wrong here of course, but there are some interesting ideas to explore here.

    Bill I think part of the problem here is that local government started with the prominent and well known figures in the community being selected in some way to run aspects of the community.

    There is a sense that most of this has been rendered down to more people being associated in some sort of way with people labelled “Conservative” or “Labour” on a ballot paper than people actually recognising the names of the prominent people in their community.

    There is a bit of a sense here of people crossing the L box as a message to the C government or the C council and crossing the NO box to AV not because they agreed or disagreed with it but because they didn’t understand it.

    Perhaps an elected mayor could be part of the solution, however you look at it the Ramsgate town council results are very odd.

    I am not really sure that a lot of the voters differentiated between the town and the district council, or even understood that there is a difference between them, or that they weren’t say voting for the county council.

    Anyway assuming that you went into the thing knowing exactly what it was all about and think I have the wrong end of the stick here, try tentatively asking a few of the people you know how they got on with voting business.

    Stargazer, you seem to have generated the “men” bit does this mean that you are sexist? As far as the ageist bit goes, I am getting on a bit myself and not doing too badly in the book business. But yes in the world of jobs where people need to be really in their prime, like sorting out Thanet, which would certainly be beyond me.

    How would you feel say if you discovered your surgeon, airline pilot, whatever was what? Eighty, ninety, it is a factor at some point, I think.

  26. 19.16 sorry I think I must have been writing my comment, when you commented.

    I think. “where is the facts?” sums up things better than I could ever have thought. Of.

  27. Michael,unlike yourself who wanted to know about candidates and Lawrence Davies who was swayed by reading the "excellent literature from Independent candidates". the majority of voters, read nothing and went to the polling station with a large L or C on their mind and voted accordingly.

    With this amount of informed knowledge about current local affairs we will continue to have repeated swings back and forth between the two main parties and no progress.

    A hung council may be frustrating but can also focus councillors attention on working together which is the clear message sent to the district council by this result

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  29. Retired, way off topic and full of accusations I am not in a position to take the rap for, whereas comment that relates to the subject of the post is welcome, I just don’t have the time or resources to take responsibility for accusations against people and organisations.

    Please do it on your own blog, your comment has been deleted.

  30. Laurence,

    Just a correction on a previous comment, I was elected a labour town councillor for central harbour. I live in Coronation Road and if you care to look on the map you will find it is in the heart of central harbour ward.

  31. Tony Beachcomber. Sorry I should have made my post clearer I was referring to the District Council not the Town Council. Shame you did not stand for the District seat. Did you wish to? Thank you for pointing out where Coronation Road is, I know it very well as I do most of the ward.

    Laurence Davies

  32. We might all be surprised to find out that our 3 Independent Councillors are actually that, Independent. Assuming that they have not already been 'nobbled' by Hart or Bayford we need to assume that they have Thanet's best interests at heart and therefore will be perhaps pushing for a shared administration by Labour and Conservative? Would it not be refreshing to see a Leader from one party with a Deputy from the other and a shared Cabinet? Balanced committees and a realisation that party interest has no place but rather what is in the best interest for Thanet is the agenda seems an alluring possibility. The reality is that our 3 Independents can make a real difference now; lets hope they have the wisdom to use their wonderful position wisely. Good luck to all 3 of them as they have serious decisions to make.

  33. Does anyone have an email address for Jo Gee, newly elected to Broadstairs Town council? I'm trying to compile an up to date list and when I click on her name I get "not found". Lost already in the mire of local politics....

  34. Living in the Philippines, but like to see what is happening back home......was amazed to see the picture of the donkey's on Ramsgate beach circa late 60's early 70's, my father Eric Simpson, along with Harry and Chris Todd used to own them, the names were John, Paul, George, Ringo, Bingo and Snowy.........

  35. Living in the Philippines, but like to see what is happening back home......was amazed to see the picture of the donkey's on Ramsgate beach circa late 60's early 70's, my father Eric Simpson, along with Harry and Chris Todd used to own them, the names were John, Paul, George, Ringo, Bingo and Snowy.........


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