Thursday, 28 November 2013
ONLINE POLL – IS TDC FIT FOR PURPOSE
A series of on-line polls have been conducted asking one simple question – Is Thanet District Council Fit For Purpose?
The question was posed in eight Thanet on-line forum and 402 people responded. 380 (94.5%) said ‘no’ to the question whilst 22 (5.5%) said ‘yes’.
The question was posed after Thanet Councils Standards Committee rejected a report from Independent Members on 21st November, 2013 stating that the public had lost trust in the organisation.
‘What Absolute Nonsense’
Leader of the Council, Clive Hart, said “I’m pretty certain that virtually every councillor will agree that there is now just one particular councillor whose anarchistic tendencies and total disrespect for Chairmen, the constitution and procedures is trying to bring the council and every one of us into disrepute.” He went on to say “in relation to the wording - councillors are ‘distrustful of the public’. What absolute nonsense!” Responding to being out of touch with residents of Thanet, Cllr Hart said, “It’s nothing short of an insult to describe Labour Group members as in any way ‘distant from the realities of peoples lives’.”
Cllr Michelle Fenner responded by saying, “blaming all Cllrs for the misconduct of a handful is PLAIN WRONG”. She went on to say “The real true culprit in all of this, is the austerity policy from Central Government”
Speaking after the resignation of the Independent members , Green Councillor Ian Driver said, “This unfortunate event will serve to strengthen the public perception that Thanet councillors do not listen to their constituents and are out of touch, unresponsive and defensive. Instead of being an opportunity for Thanet Council and its councillors to move forward and become more open and democratic, the meeting last night took a big step backwards. This was a classic case of shooting the messenger.”
Conservative Group leader, Cllr Bob Bayford stated: “The report reflects very accurately the fears of members of this group, who believe the council’s reputation is in real difficulty. I pledge both my personal and my group’s support for steps which will change the public perception of council affairs.”
‘Councillors Need To Listen More’
Responding to the poll, Cllr Chris Wells said, “Whilst any survey must be treated with caution, it is hard not to recognise the similar responses found within the independent standards report in this one. And draw the conclusion that damning their view of public perception of the council is dangerous, simply underlining most people's fears. Cllrs need to listen to public views more frequently, more consistently, and more humbly in future.”
Green Party Councillor Ian Driver said “This astonishing figure lends support to the Report of the Independent Standards Committee which was criticised and rejected by senior councillors just last week. It's clear to me that big changes are needed at the Council.” He went on to say his opinions will be made public in coming weeks
Councillor Julie Marson said, “As a member of Standards Committee present at the meeting, I spoke against the self pity and denial displayed by the Labour cabinet and members. I did not vote to return the report to the independent members and said that instead of trying to blame everyone else, we should be discussing how to improve the council's reputation in the eyes of the public. I remain of that view.”
Councillor Roz Binks stated that cross-party committees generally operate without a problem and that “most councillors hold their positions for the right reasons - to contribute something to their community”, but “there seems to have been an acceptance amongst some councillors that personal and often pretty much slanderous slurs are permissible within Council Chambers.” She goes on to say, “Cllr Fenner's statement is absurd - you can't blame austerity for lack of manners or for the spiteful comments, verbal slurs and downright lies that have been traded across the council chamber on many occasions.”
Other councillors were asked to respond but did not comment.
Thanet Councils reputation has suffered a number of blows in the past year with the announcement that there were £3.4M losses over TransEuropa Ferries, £2.7M paying for road improvements around EKO land, a potential Judicial Review over the lease to The Pavilion in Ramsgate, the former leader of the council being jailed for misconduct in public office, a court case over live animal export in December which could result in payments of over £1M in damages, on going problems with the Royal Sands development and the roll out of a new waste recycling scheme which has resulted in numerous homes without waste collection.
The Independent members of the public who produced the report resigned after Councillors responses and were unavailable for comment.
The question was asked in eight on-line polls: Eastcliffe Richard blog spot, and Facebook pages/groups In Touch With Thanet (x2), Save Margate A & E, Ice Rink In Thanet, Friends of Ramsgate Seafront, Broadstairs! & Ramsgate