Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Green Party's Ian Driver, Calls for TDC Leader Johnston to Resign Over Alleged Polically Motivated CPO Spending

Thanet South Green Party PPC, Ian Drivers Calls on  TDC Leader to Resign Over Alleged “Politically Motivated” Spending on CPO

Following today’s announcement of  the sale of Manston Airport to the owners of Discovery Park Sandwich, Thanet South  Green Party Parliamentary Candidate, Ian Driver,  has alleged that Thanet Council has improperly spent  £thousands in taxpayers money on a “deceitful, disingenuous, politically motivated charade  of securing  a compulsory purchase order on the airport, in order to secure votes”.  
He has also called on the Labour Leader of Thanet District Council, Iris Johnston to “do the right thing and resign for overseeing on her watch  what appears to be an extraordinary and significant abuse of public funds for political purposes”.

In an article on his blog site Driver previously revealed that strategic economic planning agencies the  Kent and Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP)  and the South East England  Local Economic Partnership (SEELEP) of which Thanet District Council is a member,  had agreed,  before Anne Gloag had bought Manston Airport and before she closed it down, to designate the airport land as a major  site for commercial, industrial and residential development and growth.
KMEP/ SEELEP’s successful application for  £10 million Government funding  towards  building the Thanet Parkway station near to the airport site, even after it had been closed, demonstrated, according to Driver,  “that a clear agreement and commitment existed  between  Kent political  and business leaders  to support the  transformation of the  former airport site  into  an area of major economic and residential development”.

Earlier today in a response to a Freedom of Information Request made by Driver,  Thanet District Council, whilst acknowledging that they held the information, refused  to divulge to him documents, notes list of attendees and the dates of  internal and external meetings where senior politicians, council officers and others discussed  the post-closure future of Manston Airport.
Said Driver “it is simply inconceivable that senior politicians  at Thanet District Council were unaware of KMEP and SEELEP  plans for the  Manston Airport site once it had closed. In fact these politicians had discussed and agreed the plans in the 2 years prior to the closure. Furthermore, it is clear from the response to my FOI that extensive internal and external discussions about the future development  of Manston Airport involving senior Thanet politicians and council officers took place in the months following the closure. I will be appealing to the Information Commissioner to force Thanet Council to reveal all the information they hold on these meetings and  am confident that we will shortly know what was discussed with who and when”.

“I believe that it will quickly become apparent to the voters of Thanet that senior Labour politicians, perhaps with the support of officers, may have wilfully and recklessly agreed to spend taxpayers money on securing a CPO in order  to protect their political positions, when all along their intention was to implement the plans they had previously agreed with KMEP and SEELEP to allow the development of  the former airport site into an  industrial commercial and residential growth area. The possibility of political deception on such a huge scale and the associated possibility that large amounts of public money may have been spent to  fund this deception is an extremely serious matter. Once I have collected the necessary evidence I will be submitting a formal  complaint to the District Auditor”.

In a further astonishing twist, Driver revealed that, Paul Barber, the Managing Director of  Discovery Park, the purchasers of Manston Airport, was appointed in June of this as the Chairman of the Thanet Regeneration Board. Said Driver “The Thanet Regeneration Board, its  Chairman, members,  senior council officers and politicians will have been discussing formally and informally the future of Manston Airport since it closure was announced. I want to know what Paul Barber might have said about his company’s plans to buy the airport. I simply can’t ’ believe that Barber , as Chairman of the Thanet Regeneration Board, kept these plans secret from, Regeneration Board members. Surely he must have declared his company’s interest to the Leader of Thanet Council or the Acting Chief Executive? If so then the most senior people at the Thanet Council must have known  about the purchase before it was completed, yet continued using public money to fund the CPO.  The public deserve a full and frank explanation of what has happened here.


Response to Ian Drivers FOI

23 September 2014

Ref No: 65916 / 2729600
Subject:Manston Airport
 Dear Cllr Driver

Thank you for your communication received on 08/07/2014 where you
requested the following information:

Please tell me if Thanet District  Council has conducted any internal
discussions involving officers and/ or Cabinet/ shadow cabinet members
about the future of the Manston Airport site post its  closure by owner
Anne Gloag. If so please tell me the dates of any  such meetings and who
was in attendance. Please provide me with copies of any documents which
have been produced related to such discussions including notes of
meetings, reports or e-mails.

Please tell me if Thanet District Council including members of its  staff
or councillors have engaged in discussions with other  organisations e.g.
other local authorities, Thanet Regeneration Board, East Kent Regeneration
Board, Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, South East Local Economic
Partnership, Government Departments, Ministers, Civil Servants etc, about
the future of the Manston Airport site post its closure by owner Anne
Gloag. If so please tell me the dates of any such meetings and who was in
attendance. Please provide me with copies of any documents which have been
produced related to such discussions including notes of meetings, reports
or e-mails.

I can confirm that Thanet District Council holds this information. This
information is exempt under Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act
and is, therefore, being withheld.

The requested information falls into the terms of a qualified exemption.
In the opinion of the qualified person (the Council's Monitoring Officer),
disclosure would or would be likely to inhibit the free and frank
provision of advice or exchange of views for the purposes of the ongoing
deliberations in this matter and prejudice the effective conduct of public
affairs.  The balance of the public interest test determines that the
information is exempt from release.

Having considered the public interest, the Department’s decision is to
withhold the information.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Information Request Assessor,
Thanet District Council, P O Box 9 Cecil Street, Margate Kent CT9 1XZ, or
send an email to [email address].

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9

Yours sincerely,

Colin Fitt
Interim Head of Built Environment


Email to Ian Driver Re appointment of  Paul Barber to Thanet Regeneration Board


Forwarded Message -----

From: Madeline Homer

To: Cllr-Ian Driver

Sent: Tuesday, 12 August 2014, 16:40

Subject: Appointment of New Chair of Thanet Regeneration Board

 Dear Cllr Driver,

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the Thanet Regeneration Board and the minutes of the Board meeting on 21st March 2014.

The position for clarity sake is that the Board is not a body which is subject to the Council procedures and it is not a formally constituted entity or a part of TDC's formal organisation structure. That said the minute you refer to does not accurately reflect the full and open discussion and conversations with and commitment from the Board about attracting a Chair from the Private Sector.

I made enquiries into the amount of hits the Boards website receives and it is actually quite low. As a result of this  the approach adopted was to receive direct nominations with the support of a role description for the chair. The Panel consisted of 2 members of the Board and myself. All nominations were shortlisted and interviews were then arranged but regrettably this process did not provide a successful  candidate.

In discussion with the Panel given the position we were in I then directly approached Paul Barber and asked him whether he would be interested in talking to us about the role to which he agreed. He then met with myself and one member of the Panel (the other member being unavailable at the time) following which we offered him the role as Chair of TRB on a voluntary basis.

I trust this helps to clarify matters for you.

Yours sincerely

Madeline Homer

Acting Chief Executive


  1. Fitt and Homer refusing to release the minutes and a weird unelected process?

    Iris has failed and must stand down as Clive did over the port secrecy.

  2. Ah, but Ian, haven't you read what it says on her 'T' shirt. It says, "Trust Iris." Surely you cannot be suggesting that somebody who wears the 'T' shirt could speak with forked tongue.

  3. I have been a life long Labour supporter and have been happy with the way RTC have acted but what I cant see is why Labour council members would let their leader do this to their voters. We all know Iris is a SMA supporter as you can see by her T-shirt but when the news of 4000 jobs and £1bn investment at the closed Manston site all TDC could do was release a statement saying they would be carrying on with the CPO????? Why all other councils in the country would jumping for joy with that sort of news. If the other labour Cllr's cant stop her then she needs to go, In fact if she is still there next week I'll be telling everybody I know NOT to vote labour next time. What a waste of tax payers money and for something that the leader of TDC is a ardent supporter, Hmmmmm

  4. Why are tdc part of what they say is a pseudo quango and what happened to EKO. Large council salaries for a shambles

  5. Keep calm and trust Iris...!

  6. Iris could insist the documents are released rather than exemptions being sought.

    Especially as the public interest is cited to prevent the public seeing them!

    TDC seem to forget the public fund them...

  7. The only person who should stand down is you Ian driver you complete tool.

  8. I have never been able to believe that Iris Johnston could be allowed to act as if Thanet was her personal fiefdom, and to court the SMA crowd, with encouraging them to visit her in her office and providing them with info in advance of public knowledge.

    As others have said, other local authorities would be delighted at the news of this fantastic regeneration project, and it looks so bad to see this great opportunity being met
    by negativity, particularly by the leader of the council.

    Iris has complained that Ann Gloag did not inform her directly about the sale, but perhaps if Iris' first steps had not been to threaten Ann Gloag with a CPO before she had never met her, she may have got a different response!

    Quite frankly, Iris acts like a village idiot, she is so needy and wants to be loved by everyone. This is an immature and unhealthy outlook, and she is out of her depth as a council leader, and needs replacing at the earliest opportunity

  9. Green Party's Ian Driver, calls for himself to resign Over Alleged Politically Motivated band wagon jumping.

  10. Exposing this type of activity in local government cannot be wrong

  11. Ians done more for the towns than some rude chav like you 14:06

  12. Most of the Members of Thanet Council are clearly incompetent and do not serve their residents. The residents know this.

    This is a local authority that begs to be cleansed of both major dysfunctional parties.

    The only honourable exception appears to be Councillor Driver who at least tries to hold to account the secretive and lackadaisical leaderships of both Groups.

    1. Completely agree 23:59 can Ian and the Independents begin a vote of no confidence in TDC?

      The public would sign such a oetition and a council tax strike would spur reform and resignations at KCC and TDC...although the wheels have already come off.

      Carter and Gale must go. And Iris and Bob.

  13. How are animal exports happening at closed ramsgate port. The council open it for this trade?

  14. Ramsgate is now famous for racists, animal cruelty and crap councils. We neef a clearout of the councillors