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;
In relation to SFP Ventures Ltd and Royal Sands I think it would be fair to say that;
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;
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.