Saturday, 8 December 2012

Ian Driver calls for resignation of Thanet Council Chairman


Independent Thanet District Councillor and Chairman of the Council’s powerful Overview& Scrutiny Panel, Ian Driver, has called for the immediate resignation of Council Chairman Doug Clarke for his “appallingly partisan and unconstitutional abuse of power.”

The demand for Clarke’s resignation follows a meeting of Thanet Council on 6th December when, as Chairman, he used his casting ballot to break the 27 – 27 vote deadlock to allow the approval of a major development agreement to take place secretly behind closed doors.
The £36million development at Ramsgate Royal Sands involves the construction of 107 luxury apartments and a 70 bed luxury hotel. The development is being managed by SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd.
SFP became the project developer 10 years ago and in that time precious little development work has taken place, apart from the pouring of foundations.
During this time members of the public and some Councillors have expressed their concerns about SFPs ability to complete the project.
SFP appears to have no track record as construction project developers. They are owned by an offshore parent company which pays no UK tax and is managed by unknown directors. They have on-going problems raising finance and even though the Council changed the development agreement in 2009 to make things easier for SFP, the company still appears to be struggling.
The company is now asking for further concessions including the sale of the freehold of the land to them for what Councillor Driver believes to be “a bargain basement price of £3.3million”.
A final decision on the sale of the freehold is now, following the use of the Chairman’s casting vote, likely to take place secretly behind closed doors.
Said Driver, SFPs management of the Royal Sands Development has been a 10 year nightmare, despite all their promises that the project would create jobs and help to regenerate Ramsgate’s economy all we have got is a “beachfront bombsite”
“There is a very strong public and political interest in sorting out this decade old problem and this should be done openly and democratically and involve as many councillors as possible. Not secretly and behind closed doors by a small unaccountable cabal”
Driver said “By using his casting vote to support a secretive deal with SFP, I believe Chairman Clarke has ignored his responsibilities under the Council’s Constitution and abused his powers.
“Article 5 paragraph 5.01.3 of TDCs Constitution requires that the Chairman of the Council must “ensure that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community and the place at which members who are not on the Cabinet or hold Committee Chairs are able to hold the Cabinet and Committee Chairmen to account.”
By voting to discuss and approve the revised SFP development agreement in secret, Councillor Clarke has, in my view, clearly broken this rule and should now resign. If he refuses to do the honourable thing I will move a motion of no confidence in him and will report his partisan and un-constitutional behaviour to the Standards Committee.
I have written to Cllr Clarke advising him of my views

35 comments:

  1. Blimey, Does Cllr Driver forget that Iris told her little gang to put him where he is. She could just as easily remove him if she dared. Trouble for her is that he appears to know far too much. If only the conservatives could behave and keep out of the limelight, they could then go home and leave the role of opposition to Driver. He is doing a far better job than all of them put together.

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  2. Who is Cllr. Clarke? I was pretty sure that Cllr. Clark was Chairman of the Council!

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  3. The difference is that there is an opposition Cabinet, of which I am a part and I consider that we do our job professionally and through the proper process of local government. Cllr Driver pays little regard to this and campaigns very publicly on issues that will attract attention to him. Everything he's done on Royal Sands has already been raised by the opposition in challenge and the Conservatives actually walked out of the chamber when the last Cabinet decision was made by the Labour group, the very subject that was bought before Council on Thursday, with my seconded motion to bring it before full Council for debate.

    In reality, Cllr Driver rarely raises anything new but thrives on political hyperbole and personal attention.

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    1. Simon I think the problem the opposition cabinet has that Cllr Driver doesn’t have is the history, much of which boils down to what your Fred said about our Irene in 1985.

      With the Royal Sands, we have situation where neither party seems to do much to resolve the issue when in power, the current situation resolving it is made much more difficult because of the action of the previous Conservative administration.

      We have a situation where back in 2002 Labour chose a developer which on the packet looked like Whitbread funded by a Swiss bank, with a developer that looked like it was closely related to the bank.

      It turned out that Whitbread had only expressed an interest, the bank was a Swiss stockbrokers without a banking licence and the developer turned out to be an offshore company that couldn’t show they had ever developed anything.

      The Conservatives inherited this from Labour, but for reasons never made clear, supported continuing with a major development with an important factor missing, namely the developer, instead they were partnered with an offshore unknown.

      Five years later, £1m out of pocket, the thing came before the Conservative Cabinet with officer advice to pull out before the potential liability to the council was unmanageable.

      Now I think the Labour group are in the position where if they pull out they face putting the council in a position where it has a potential liability of millions.

      Of course if they go ahead with the council responsible for the cliff maintenance and sea defence, the council also face potential liabilities of millions.

      The way I see it is plenty of fault on both sides, with both sides hiding behind a wall of secrecy, which seems to be more about covering up the past while trying to make the other side look stupid than any move towards, good, open and transparent government.

      Of course at some time you and the rest of your group could make a break with the past, put their hands up and say this is what we got wrong but now we have some sort of plan and this is what we intend to do.

      Cllr Driver appears to be saying here that the chairman of the council used his position not to act as the chairman should do and ensure the correct democratic process of the council occurred, but used his casing vote to swing a tight vote against his party, what do think?

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    2. If Ian isn't doing anything new but is simply doing what the Tories have already done, then why aren't you swallowing your pride for the good of Thanet and supporting him Simon? Is that really too much to ask???

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    3. Cllr Driver is a natural politician - Cllr Moores thinks being a snide and talking down to people makes a politician, that is probably why power was taken from under his nose!

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  4. Simon, It is sometimes not what you DO but what you are SEEN TO BE DOING. If the Conservative group put as much publicity into the shambles that is Royal Sands, the electorate in Ramsgate may have more confidence in their dedication to look after this town.

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  5. Simon, Not only should you be doing the job but you must be seen to be doing the job. The problem as I see it is that in order to be an effective opposition and get your message across, you have got to have the confidence of the public and the press. Unfortunately time after time you get let down by your own members with their scandalous behaviour. When are you going to sort that problem out. The whole population of Thanet is waiting.

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  6. Annon 12:14 Some of the officers dont help and need exposing

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  7. First of all you need to ask What Cllr Driver has exposed or done which isn't or hasn't already been part of the existing process of political challenge. Secondly you need to ask what he's lobbied-on which is of direct interest to the people of Thanet and which is either not a personal interest.. i.e LBGT issues or downright misleading; i.e. the supposed closure of the QEQM A&E.

    Then you need to ask if this so-called 'publicity' achieves anymore in the Council chamber where matters are debated and decided or simply obstruct progress?

    Sadly and evidentially, a Council run or overtly influenced by he Cllr Driver's and Worrow's of this world achieves very little beyond notoriety.

    As regards publicity, the greater part of the population don't read weblogs or local newspapers or indeed watch national news. That's a fact I'm sorry to say and its a huge challenge for politicians to overcome unless of course you happen to be George Galloway, Nadine Dorries or perhaps locally, Ian Driver.

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    1. So the chairman did the right thing in your opinion Simon?

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    2. I see that Simon likes to Bash John Worrow even though he and Ian have different views on this. Maybe if Simon would have had a more positive attitude towards LGBT issues, instead of LGBT Bashing in the first place he would still be in power.

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  8. A number of senior Conservative politicians announced today that they had formed a new campaign group which supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, in an act of defiance against section 28 style bigots like Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale, who has a history of backing the loosing side.

    A group of senior Conservatives, which uses the slogan “Freedom to Marry”, includes Boris Johnson, London Mayor, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.

    The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, a Catholic, and who had previously been seen as a voice against equal marriage rights, also appears on the list in support of equal marriage.

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    1. So the usual suspect manages to swing a debate on a chairman's resignation over secrecy on issues of public concern round to gay marriage and, for good measure, manages once again to brand Roger Gale a bigot.

      So a few Tories, trying to be all PC, decide for political purposes to launch a campaign for so called Equal Marriage ignoring the fact that the Coalition for Marriage's campaign against has already received more support than any other previous government petition. Religious beliefs are dismissed as are concerns about potential changes in the framework of society that could result from this legislation. Even Peter Tatchell has declared that this legislation will produce a result far from equal, as straight couples will still be denied civil partnerships, an option still available to gays. Matters not to our Diversity Champion, if you do not see things his way you are a homophobic bigot.


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    2. I agree with Allan Mallinson, we also need to end so-called mix race marriages, matters not to our Diversity Champion, if you do not believe in equality you are branded a homophobobe or racist bigot.

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    3. Marriage is a Christian concept and did'nt even exist before we brought the pagan's to their knees.The word marriage is the property of Christians not other types.

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    4. good twist of Tachell's words

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    5. Where is the twist, for Peter Tatchell is on public record as pointing out this potential inequality. Sorry if it does not fit in with your plans, well known Anon, but not all LGBT people support this equal marriage proposal.

      As for these senior Conservatives, shall, we look at some? John Major, more famous for cheating on his wife with the Currie woman than his premiership and the extrovert Boris, also with previous for playing away from home, both want marriage for all people. Well like, Wow, Boo Boo. these people couldn't even honour their own marriage vows so why should we give any credence to their views on the matter.

      Sadly it all reflects the appalling decline in the moral standards of today's society. If that makes me a bigot or a homophobe in the view of the Diversity Wizard, so be it, I wear the badge with pride and suggest you run off to the old Bill, in your usual manner, to see what they have to say.

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    6. Mr Mallinson and anon - please grow up and get over your problems with LGBTs. Equal marriage is coming to a register office and maybe a church near to your soon. In my opinion this won't happen a day too soon. You are clearly on the wrong side of progress and you clearly have extremely old fashioned views which have no place in the 21 century.

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    7. Mr Driver, why are views you do not agree with dismissed as old fashioned. Marriage is an age old institution between man and women primarily for the procreation of species. Let's take it a degree further and look at the laws of nature and sundry different religious orders. Nature creates opposite sexes for procreaction whilst most religions condemn same sex activity.

      If we are to dismiss these rules as outdated then surely that should apply to their other commandments, after all, enlightened people like you know quite well that God never gave Moses a list of them. On that basis, if buggary and sodomy are OK in the 21st century, what about murder or maybe stealing. Perhaps it is OK to covet your neighbours other half and so on.

      No doubt you prefer to pick and choose the bits that are not in line with your modern thinking, but once to go down the road of breaking the rules by which mankind has existed for centuries, just where do you draw the line. Mind you, aren't you the guy who wants to legalise drugs and prostitution. Like I said before, what an appalling decline in moral standards we are witnessing and, regrettably, it will all ends in tears.

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    8. Allan, to help clarify this issue from a purely textural and historical point of view.

      There is nothing textural in the New Testament that you can definitely pin down as saying that homosexuality is wrong, the Old Testament is much more tricky as if we took it literally there would be a lot of stoning to death going on and so on, sometimes just based on a persons nationality.

      The buggery act was introduced in this country in the 1500s at about the same time the age of consent was lowered to the age of ten, this appears to have much more to do with the ineed to increase the size of the population, than any moral or religious imperative.

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    9. Michael, did I quote the New Testament? I think you will find the answer is definitely in the negative so your historical clarification is unnecessary other than to support what is, presumably, your view.

      I think you will find that homosexuality is proscribed by many religions although that also was not the point. Also, your reference to the Buggary Act is irrelevant for that was English law. In case you had not noticed there are many other nations in the world, many of whom made such acts an offence.

      That apart, my main point is that if you start playing around with the rules by which mankind has lived and evolved, just where do you draw the line. Your point about lowering the age of consent to ten, just to bolster population, illustrates this well and may well have been perceived as politcally expedient at the time in the same way that Equal Marriage is by politicians today.

      In conclusion, if, as it would seem, the main come back of the supporters of this insidious legislation is that those of us who disagree with them are out of date, I would suggest they do not have much of a case.

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    10. Sorry Allan I guess I didn’t make my point well, religious moral and historical imperatives tend to work along the lines of what is best for the human species, which up until recently has been increasing the size of the population.

      Perhaps you will concede that at the moment, go forth and multiply, may no longer be the best advice.

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    11. So your answer to population is that we should all go round buggering each other. Interesting notion, Michael.

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    12. Cllr Driver, I was interested in your comment that same sex marriage is coming to a church near you, in a sort of live with it statement. Surely you are an Atheist so why would you want these ceremonies in churches, in which you have no belief, or is it simply to punish Christians.

      In a free world, and religious freedom is included in that, by what right do you decry my faith yet would condemn me if I oppose same sex marriage with labels like homophobe.

      All a bit one sided.

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    13. Mr Clarke


      I was merely repeating the comments of the Prime Minister who last week said that would like churches to conduct =marriages. Personally, I don't mind what churches do in relation to =marriage. Hope this helps

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    14. Thanks for the clarification, Cllr Driver. Guess our views on so called equal marriage will remain poles apart. That's freedom I guess, but shame the PM should suddenly rush through something that was not in his party's manifesto. Mind you, politicians acting where they have no popular mandate is not uncommon as we have seen here in Thanet, so maybe we are not so free after all.

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  9. Unlike Simon and his chum Roger Gale these Tories are on the right side of history. Simon is in dnager of being left behind

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  10. I've had my issues with Cllr Clark's Chairmanship in the past but on this one, its entirely allowed under Council Procedure 21.2. For those grumbling about the use of his vote, there are 56 seats on TDC, therefore two people either abstained or weren't present. If TIG is manipulating it, then I make the point again, Labour and the Conservatives make 51 seats...simply find a way in which you can both vote together.

    The Constitution reference Driver makes I understand to relate to the length of debate rather than the manner of voting. I can see the argument relating to the debate about whether to debate the motions but surely it would be absurd for it to be anything more than the proposer and seconder speaking prior to the vote.

    Bringing it before Standards wont work and only emphasises the point John Worrow has made about wasting precious Council resources on complaints. Clark hasn't behaved unconstitutionally.

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    1. I agree, the standards campaign against our Diversity Champion was counter-productive. The question that should be asked is, why was someone that supports gay marriage selected as a candidate in the first place?

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    2. Hi James I think you have misunderstood the issue I am raising. I am complaining about the fact that the Chairman acted contrary to Article 5 paragraph 5.01.3 of TDCs Constitution. Not 21.1. basically in using his casting vote in the way that he did he prevented the Council from discussing an issues of great public concern. thanks Ian

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    3. Those of us following Pleasurama in Ramsgate would really just like to know who will be making the big bucks when the Freehold is disposed of, unless, of course, Venture Capitalists are involved out of the goodness of their hearts? In which case, we really should not be troubling ourselves? We will then, perhaps, take a nice long leisurely look at the individual/s who would have facilitated this. And as for Gay Marriage, I don't think our local councillors really have a mandate for holding a view, unless it can be proved of course that sufficient numbers of gay people are calling for this? I notice at the foot of the Ramsgate Action Group press release last week, that someone has highlighted the imposition of Halogen Lamps in Winterstoke Gardens, Ramsgate, which, I believe, is a Conservation Area? It is rumoured that gay/bisexual people hang around that area at night looking for sex? Perhaps a rummage around there to gather views about those lights may be more "on the money" than going on about gay marriage? Or, perhaps cruising for sex is the reason why some Conservatives, and the Thanet/Ramsgate Labour Administration, think getting them "married off" is the answer to that problem? David Cameron has, after all, stated that he does not want them to miss out on such a "Great Institution". Sooo kind. Sooo patriarchal!

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  11. Cllr Moores wants Sir Roger's job when he dies. However,so does does Cllr Bruce. My money is it going to KCC Councillor Michael Jarvis

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  12. Cllr Jarvis is my favourite too. A genuinely nice guy, with modern ideas and very hardworking too.

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