Monday 17 October 2011

Conflicts at the first meeting of the Local Development Framework Cabinet Advisory Group

Statement from the Thanet Labour Group:
The first meeting of the new TDC Local Development Framework Cabinet Advisory Group was held on Thursday 6th October. The LDF covers a wide range of detailed planning policy issues guiding development and investment for Thanet's long-term vision.
The first meeting was called to iron out organisational matters for the group who will be working on the long-term vision for TDC.
Regarding poor practice, Cllr Alan Poole immediately raised concerns that two cabinet members (Tories - Cllr Bayford and Cllr Moores) had been put on the advisory group and were therefore 'advising themselves'.

Cllr Clive Hart also raised the issue of a possible 'conflict of interest' concerning Cllr Bayford's membership as the group were discussing Kent county and East Kent Opportunities matters and Cllr Bayford is a Kent county councillor and a director of EKO. The legal officer had to dig very deep to squeeze Cllr Bayford out of this, but he did finally advise all was legal. Cllr Hart strongly disagreed with the legal officers advice that Cllr Bayford could carry on, on the basis that under the councillors code of conduct, councillors are supposed to consider how the 'man or woman in the street' would see any conflict, and he believed they would be appalled regarding Cllr Bayfords confusing roles.

Cllr Bayford then performed his usual 'you're being political' routine on Labour members so Cllr Hart reminded the group that the meeting had been made political even before members had sat down in theirseats as Cllr Bayford, the Conservative council leader, had already decided there would be three Conservative's and only 2 Labour members on the advisory group (most other advisory groups are balanced due to the current 'hung' situation of the council at TDC).

Regarding continued Tory 'spoiling tactics' at TDC. These reached new heights when the LDF group got to deciding terms of reference and other organisational matters for the newly formed group. In the end Cllr Bayford was so angry at the perfectly reasonable request for advisory group members to maintain voting rights for their recommendations, that he ended the meeting prematurely and simply 'informed' the assembled group that he and his Cabinet would write its own
terms of reference for them!

Following the meeting Labour Group Leader Cllr Clive Hart said "I felt it was a terrible shame that Cllr Bayford brought the LDF Advisory Committee to a sharp and premature close with the insistence that he and his cabinet will now write our terms of reference for us. Worse still is his insistence that we should not even be be allowed to vote on our recommendations.

I sincerely hope Cllr Bayford will see sense and maintain voting rights in this process. At the meeting there were several references made to the fact that the group 'ONLY' recommends matters to cabinet and I feel the further changes proposed by Cllr Bayford would water down the hard work of the committee still further".