Monday, 12 May 2014

Ian Driver Statement Re Clive Hart's Resignation.

Clive Hart is using me as convenient scapegoat for his resignation.

Several, normally loyal, Labour Councillors have told me that they are unhappy with Clive's  leadership  and there have been strong rumours of a  challenge against him in the past couple of weeks. There is also strong  public discontent about Clive's management of the Manston Airport closure. I understand a petition is circulating around  Thanet calling for a vote of no confidence in Clive and his cabinet colleagues.

 I totally reject Clive's allegations that I have disrupted the operation of Thanet Council by making vexatious complaints, submitting  excessive freedom of  information requests and posting malicious articles on social media. The truth is that all of the issues I have complained and written about including -

·       The failed Pleasurama development  at Ramsgate

·       The secret TransEuropa Ferries debt which cost taxpayers £3.4 million

·       The East Kent Opportunities planning application scandal

·       The demolition of the Little Oasis Skatepark in Margate

·       The problems with the Dreamland restoration  budget

·       The secrecy surrounding  plans to build 1000 houses on the  Manston Airport site etc etc

have been found to be genuine matters of concern. Have been found to have  substance and legitimacy  and have resulted in the Council being forced, often against the strong opposition of Clive and his Cabinet colleagues,  to take action.

I am a firm believer in open and honest local government and it pains me to say it but Thanet Council is a very secretive organisation which frequently  takes decisions behind closed doors. This is why I am often forced to secure information from Thanet Council via Freedom of Information Requests. Contrary to Clive’s claims that I make excessive FOI request I have made less than 20 in the 3 years I have been a councillor. All of my appeals to the Information Commissioner have  been successful which indicates that there is indeed a culture secrecy at Thanet Council.

 I have, on rare occasions,   published confidential council documents. I have done this openly and in full public view unlike other councillors who secretly leak documents. I have  recorded and filmed meetings of the council. It is lawful to film and record such meetings and a majority of  English and Welsh Councils now allow the public filming, recording and broadcasting of their meetings, but Clive and his cabinet colleagues opposed this. I have published many hard-hitting articles about Thanet council and its politicians on Facebook and my blogsite These articles are based on facts and real events and are not the vindictive, malicious,  social media postings Clive would have people believe.

I firmly believe in open and transparent government and that secrecy must be kept to a minimum. I believe that the public has a right to know what is being done  in their name and with their money. I therefore make no apology for my actions and will continue to record, film, publish documents and make social media comment whenever the public interest requires.

 I must say I am flattered  that Clive credits me with the power and influence to single handedly disrupt the operation of Thanet Council. I am but one of 56 councillors and do not possess  the super-human  powers he obviously thinks I have. As I said I am an convenient scapegoat for Clive’s resignation the real reasons are nothing to do with me.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Clive. He has had an incredibly hard job of work to do as Leader of Thanet Council. Although I have undoubtedly been a thorn in his side on matters of openness and transparency there is no doubt he  has given 100% to the job. I don’t take his comments about me personally and wish him the best of luck for the future.



  1. Well said Ian - you are CLive's scapegoat for failure just as Sandy was Bayford's scapegoat for corruption.

    Macgonigal must go now: vote of no confidence on Thursday and united Independents to ensure FOI etc. It is disgusting that a councillor has to resort to FOI to get information from within the council.

  2. Thank you for all you have done and are doing. With more openness would come more trust. Keep up the good work.

  3. Ian. You are too much of a gentleman. Wasn't it only last week that Hart and Fenner wanted you reported to Police and charged with theft of a piece of paper.

  4. Well done Ian, and keep up the good work. For years TDC has been plagued by incompetence and corruption. Councillors from the main parties have consistently failed to hold the executive to account and have failed to ensure that proper standards of debate were maintained in order that they might make informed decisions. They have simply been far too willing to follow the party line and Thanet has suffered as a result. It's great that you have been prepared to rock the boat and, although I don't agree with many of the things you stand for, I commend your willingness to break the downward spiral. What we really need is a strong group of councillors like yourself, who are prepared to show leadership and to hold the council to account.

  5. I suppose you're as good a whipping boy as anyone!

  6. Hart is such a weak character you would expect him to blame someone and you have been the only opposition on TDC. The conservatives have been a total waste of space and even their statement today is pretty weak. It makes you wonder what Bayford has to hide. He certainly never criticises McGonigal for some reason!!!!

  7. Well said 18:01 and Fenner should go too for that

  8. McGonigal out.

  9. I thought he was more of a gentleman, shouldn't it have been ladies (SM) first!

  10. Ian, you're doing a fantastic job - keep it up. We need politicians like you to really sort out the mess this council has got itself into.

  11. Well done lan let's hope the chief executive & her cohorts now gets some conscious and resigns, the matters you have highlighted are not all that has been covered up according to some insiders

  12. Well done Ian let's hope the chief executive and her cohorts find some conscious & resign as well, we all live in hope.

  13. Surely Hart’s biggest failure is he didn’t remove McGonigal.

  14. Andy Jefferson13 May 2014 at 10:43

    I had to laugh when Clive Hart publicly named you on Radio as the person who disrupted HIS operation of OUR council. I found his tone incredibly juvenile. Like the school kid who gets caught doing something naughty and disrespects his elders enough to think he can talk his way out of trouble by blaming those around him and denies any wrongdoing outright. There was however, much truth in what he said. You, absolutely, along with other local people who have applied much pressure on the council to tell us the truth, ARE responsible for disrupting the operate the council. Only, when Clive Hart operates the council, it is like a puppet on a string. It is immoral and, I suspect illegal, to OPERATE a council the way he has. He was supposed to be a leader, not an operator. His secretive, and I suspect, self serving way of operating the council needed to be disrupted and if he credits you with doing this good work, then he has just made me a bigger supporter of your actions than I was before nasty Mr Hart named you as the man who put an end to his corrupt and tyrannical "leadership". Congratulations Ian, you have much to be proud of. Don't be defensive over this. You should shout it from the rooftops. You have done a good thing and should speak proudly about it.

  15. Your all as bad as each other as it said toxic the lot of you it's all the political back and forth that stops any good every happening.
    Too much spite creates a spiral off distrust no wonder no one wants to invest in the region with all you goons infighting and playing at bar room journalism.

    1. So, in your opinion, running roughshod over planning regulations and bullying councillors in order to throw up a bloody great estate of shoddy new builds is good for the region, is it?

      I'm afraid the ultimate winners in this current building frenzy, up and down the country, will be the banking cabal, who stand to cream off billions of pounds from dubious banking practices, at the expense of future generations of British people. Although the way things are shaping up, I don't think things are going too swimmingly for these crooks and their treasonous minions.

  16. I don't think that this comment is fair. If the council were being run democratically individual councillors would be able to contribute to the debate and have their views listened to and taken account of. However, for years TDC has been dominated by one or other of the main parties. They have suppressed meaningful debate and have bullied through their agenda without taking account of the concerns of local people. Issues have been discussed in little groups and plans have been presented to council as a fait accompli. In this, the officers have been at fault too. Too often they have presented councillors with limited options. The system has to be changed and it can't be changed by polite people. We need a (non-violent) revolution and, with this aim in mind, I am quite prepared to support some verbal fisticuffs. Of course, when we get a more democratic system where individual councillors are given opportunity to have their views listened to and taken account of , in time to make a difference, we won't need this; but we ain't there yet.