Thanet District Council Leader, Cllr Chris Wells and Cllr Bob Bayford (Leader of the Conservative group), met on Friday 9 February 2018 to discuss the changed group arrangements within the Council Chamber. Cllr Bayford indicated as Leader of the largest group he would move to form a fresh administration. Cllr Wells agreed to step aside to minimise disruption and maintain stability at the council by ensuring a vote for a new Leader without the disruption of a vote of no confidence.
Cllr Bayford said: "This is an appropriate way to recognise the changed council groupings and a sensible way forward following the fault lines that emerged across the Chamber during the Local Plan vote of 18 January 2018."
Cllr Wells has today (Monday 19 February) given formal notice of resignation as of Wednesday 28 February, allowing the calling of an extraordinary council meeting to take place on Thursday 1 March to elect a new Leader for Thanet District Council. Deputy Leader, Cllr Lin Fairbrass will be Acting Leader for the period between the resignation taking effect and the results of the Leadership election.
Cllr Wells said: "It has been a rare privilege to lead this council through some difficult times, facing declining budgets and increasing demand for services. My resignation recognises a simple fact of political life, that an administration needs to win votes to get policy through, and an administration supported by 13 or so of 56 Councillors would be a highly unstable proposition. The uncertainty that would create damages the smooth running of the council, something so many have worked so hard to maintain in challenging times."
Given the next stage will be a Full Council decision to elect a new Leader, neither Cllr Wells nor the council will comment further until the result of that election is known.
This really does beg the question. "Who would make a good new leader of the council? We have lots of people who have been saying resign, but given that the new leader is chosen from Thanet councillors by Thanet councillors, it may be a good time to decide who you want and tell your councillors, comment publicly on the internet blogs, Facebook and local papers.
An alternative would be to lobby your councillors to change the system at TDC to the one where local people stand for the post of leader and we elect them. Obviously at the moment the councillors voted for the system where they choose a leader from one of their number