Monday, 17 December 2012

Statement from Cllr Ian Driver Current Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel


Last week I called for the resignation of the Chairman of Thanet Council, Councillor Doug Clark, because, in my opinion, he had used his casting vote unconstitutionally in relation to decisions about SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd and the Royal Sands Development Ramsgate at a meeting on 6th December. 

I have checked the Constitution of Thanet District Council.  Article 21.2 states that “there will be no restriction on how the Chairman chooses to exercise a casting vote.”  Technically speaking Cllr Clarke did not therefore act unconstitutionally. I publically apologise to Councillor Clark for suggesting that he did. Any complaint I may have planned to take to the Council’s Standards Sub-Committee is therefore not warranted because no rules have been broken.

However I would like to point out that the exercise of a casting vote does not take place in a vacuum.  A casting vote must be used in a reasonable and balanced manner and the person using that vote must take into account all of the issues related to the subject under discussion including;
·        the level of public interest
·        the level of  councillor interest 
·        the financial implications of the decision
·        any precedents set by previous discussion on this or similar issues
·        any other relevant issues of concern relating to the issue under discussion
·        any advice or guidance about how best to manage the issue under debate

In relation to SFP Ventures Ltd and Royal Sands I think it would be fair to say that;
·        Quite clearly the people of Ramsgate are concerned about the Royal Sands development. They want to know what the Council proposes to do about the lack of progress made by developers SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd during the past decade
·        Quite clearly many councillors share these concerns. That’s why 27 councillors (50% of those present at the meeting on 6th December) voted to have any final decision about a new development agreement with SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd, discussed and voted on by a meeting of the full Council, rather than a decision being taken by a single Cabinet member at a secret meeting.
·        Quite clearly any decision about Royal Sands has major financial implications for the Council and council taxpayers. 
·        Quite clearly a precedent has been set when in 2009 the first changes SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd’s development agreement were agreed at a meeting of the full Council rather than by a secret meeting.

Furthermore there are a number of other relevant issues which Councillors may have wished to raise had they been granted a full debate and vote about the changes to the development agreement including;
·      the value of the land proposed to be sold to SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd
·      uncertainties about the height of the development
·      issues related to the lack of a flood risk assessment when the project is being built in a designated flood risk area
·      issues related to the cost to the Council of maintaining the cliff face behind the proposed development

There is also sound advice and guidance in place in relation to how the Chairman should have managed the discussion of Royal Sands on 6th December. Article 15 (iii) of the Council’s Constitution requires the Chairman “to 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 neither on the Executive nor hold Committee chairs are able to hold the Executive and Committee chairmen to account”. The Government Audit Commission, following an investigation into the Royal Sands development, also cautioned the Council to manage this project as openly and transparently as possible, which suggests to me that any final decision on the proposed new development agreement with SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd be made at a meeting of the full Council rather than in a secret meeting.

It is my opinion therefore that,  when all the relevant factors are taken into account,  there is an overwhelming case for any final decision on the proposed new development agreement with SFP (Ventures) UK Ltd to be taken by a meeting of full Council. 
Although technically speaking the Chairman of the Council did not act unconstitutionally in using his casting vote to block this proposal, I do believe on the evidence above that he failed to use his casting vote in a considered and balanced manner.
Finally I would have expected officers of the Council to have made the Chairman aware of the issues I have raised in this statement.

Cllr Ian Driver
Current Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel 

34 comments:

  1. Once again with this councillor, the mouth is engaged long before either the brain or the necessary research. Is he also now going to apologise to Terence Painter or the Margate Pizza lady? Probably not because, unlike the Labour group at TDC, they do not afford him a nice little earner in return for his support.

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    1. At least he's brave enough to use his name when posting on blogs.

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    2. Anon I think you must be reading a different statement. Cllr Driver's statement clearly shows he is not supporting Labour's wish to have this matter decided by Cllr Poole alone. Hardly the approach of someone who is in thrall to Clive Hart.

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    3. The Conservatives look ridiculous now Driver has admitted he got it wrong. Are they going to try to blag it and continue to smear Cllr Clarke, or will they follow Driver again and now admit that it was a cheap publicity stunt?

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  2. I hope the council, whether considering the matter at cabinet or full committee, will may a clear distinction between which company they are making this agreement with, SFP Ventures (UK)Ltd is a UK based company worth minus £859. SFP Ventures is an unknown, untried offshore company with no track record of development,which refuses to disclose its UK organisation and interests.

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  3. How many TIGS voted with Cllr Driver on this one? Is it true he was in a minority within his own group?

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    1. Looks like Driver did a deal with Bayford and has now changed his mind again and shot Bayford in the back

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  4. Leak the documents rather than this nit-picking - and which 27 councillors are the secretive ones?

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    1. The incompetent Labour mob are the secretive ones and now the matter will be determined by the spluttering Poole togehter with hardly ever heard of Dr McGoogle.

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    2. Bayford's incompetent Conservative mob have made a blunder by supporting Driver on this

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    3. Secretive is Bob Bayford's middle name

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  5. Now that Ian Driver has publically apologised to Councillor Clarke, it puts Bob Bayford's Consevatives in a very embarrassing situation. They very stupidly supported Ian Drver only to be shot in the foot by him - this now makes them look like cheap political opportunists. If Ian Driver is right and Cllr Clarke didn't break any rules, Cllr Bayford must also apologise to Cllr Clarke otherwise he will loose face and credibility.

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    1. What happy little Labour trolls you anons all are. You really are not bright enough to spot the difference, are you? Cllr Bayford and the Conservatives are not beholding to Labour for their nice little chairmanship position like Driver is, so they can say what they like. There is absolutely no reason at all why the opposition should not castigate the chaireman for using his casting vote in this way. If they don't, who is going to or would you prefer a situation where the opposition just meekly accept every action by the currently ruling administration.

      Perhaps at PM's question time in the Houses of Parliament, Ed Milliband should just blow kisses at David Cameron rather than always criticising him.

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    2. Tom they got it wrong you plonker!

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    3. Such an outstanding wit you are, 15:41, I am surprised you have time for blogging, you must be in such demand as an after dinner speaker at your Working Man's Club..

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    4. Tom,
      That is rich coming from a trainee middle englander that spends all his time talking to us lower class people on blogs. The true upper classe laugh at wannabees such as you my dear boy!

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    5. It least the likes of Ian Driver do not pretend to be anything other than 'as common as muck' Tom Clarke. Ian probably has twice as much wealth as you.

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    6. So middle Englanders are to be despised and wealth is suddenly a measure of class and standing. Ee,oop, I must have missed something along the way.

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  6. Why on earth does it make the Conservative's look like "Cheap political opportunists" I wonder. Let me remind you that I seconded a motion bought by the Conservatives, that same evening for a full debate on Royal Sands.

    Cllr Driver turned-up with a similar motion but rather more demanding, given the now censored speech on the council webcast. the Conservatives and Cllr Driver both agreed on the same thing; that the matter should be debated by council.

    Perhaps we rather foolishly expected that the other two TIGs would support Ian Driver in what seemed to be a sensible motion and we were surprised when they voted with Labour to kill it. Even more surprised when you consider that Jack Cohen is Chair of the Planning Committee, who you might sensibly think would have demanded that the subject enter the public domain for debate. very strange...!

    Regardless of political persuasion, what this did show is that debate in the council is now pretty much a dead duck as two TIG's and Labour line-up neatly to kill anything even vaguely critical of the present administration.

    Merry Xmas..

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    1. Nice try Simon Moores' but you've made a blunder.
      The subject will be discussed at a public cabinet meeting which you should attend.
      (But you knew that anyway)
      Both the Chairman of TDC and the Chairman of Planning have a right to vote how they feel fit.

      You are just unable to hide your bitterness towards a non-christian Councillor by the name of Cohen

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  7. It is hardly surprising that Driver has backed off and apologise. He has had is naughty little botty smacked by Iris for bighting the hand that feeds him. Now there would be a sight to behold

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  8. Bayford had better apologise or he will be next to get a smack.

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    1. Conservatives do not apologise, we see it as a weakness

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    2. We being a bunch of Labour voters no doubt. Well that is going to cause the Tories a lot of sleepless nights I don't think.

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    3. Tom you know f-all about whats really going on

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    4. Tut, tut, naughty language. Is that the best argument you can come up with, 13:43?

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  9. Who are the 27 secretive councillors?

    This Pleasurama corruption is looking like the closing of ranks by both parties and civil servants as with the 0% salary fraud and removing the Manston monitors.

    Both Bayford and Hart have kept quiet once the Gang of Four were sacked.

    Shouldn't the councillors or civil servants have called in the Police in by now?

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    1. On what charge would that be 0905. You really are a moron with your perpetual suggestions that police can go around arresting people on your say so.

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    2. Fraud would be the charge 13:36 if I need to spell it out for you. Or are you saying - as TDC are - that Pleasurama and the 0% salary etc is all above board? Why so afraid of Police involvement, that's what they're for isn't it?

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    3. Well if there is fraud, 18:37, why don't you phone the police and tell them. Nobody here is telling you anything is above board, but you are telling us it is not. If so, do something about it or do you just do whinging and never actually have the guts to do anything more about your suspicions.

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    4. I thought you were being gutless 19:47. Denying corruption at Pleasurama and the 0% salaries? Now saying there is. But you want someone else to sort it out for you. Or do nothing at all except circular blog-whining.

      You should be on the council at least you'd get a bung while you whine and do nothing except make excuses. Pleasurama and 0% and Manston monitors are fraud aren't they? So why do you (it's not us)not want the police involved?

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  10. I think you have all missed the point here. Although Driver retracted he did not say that he would not support a motion of no confidence in the Chairman. I think this is a clever tactical manoeuvre by Driver.

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    1. If Driver was clever he would not underestimate those that he needs to rely on - it's nothing more than a publicity stunt - but maybe one too many for Driver

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  11. Why can't Tim simply sign his name rather than hiding behind an anonymous tag. Manston monitors, cancer levels 0% fraud etc.. there is only one person obsessed with these topics in Thanet. I've now blocked him from Thanet Life.

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