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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Canterbury city councillor Neil Baker promises to support bid for executive to resign if enough Whitstable voters demand it

30 December 2013
by Jamie Bullen

Canterbury shopkeeper Debbie Barwick wants the council's executive to resign over the handling of the Westgate Towers.

Canterbury shopkeeper Debbie Barwick wants the council's executive to resign over the handling of the Westgate Towers.

Whitstable councillor Neil Baker has promised to support calls for the council’s executive to resign over the Westgate Towers saga if enough voters in Tankerton lobby him to do so.

Cllr Baker (Con) made the surprise admission on Twitter ahead of a debate at the council over traffic routing in the city after 3,302 people signed a petition calling for the entire executive to resign.

City centre shopkeeper Debbie Barwick started the petition unhappy at the council’s handling of the Westgate Towers traffic trial which will now remain open after overwhelming public support.

The Tankerton representative, who sat on the executive before his suspension for drink-driving in January, says if enough voters contacted him to demand the resignations he would support them.

He tweeted: “Canterbury Council Full Council on Jan 9 has a petition calling on all Executive members to resign and I believe in democracy. If 50% plus one voters of Tankerton Ward ask me to vote “yes” to the petition, I will.”

Cllr Baker later tweeted he wasn’t a fan of the executive system stating he would prefer a cabinet system similar to Kent County Council and also that he wanted all councillors to “find their tongues” during the debate as supposed to saying nothing and voting.

Speaking to the Gazette, Cllr Baker says he has no response so far and revealed he wanted to unearth people’s views about the governance system.

He said: “I’ve had no contact whatsoever. I was intrigued to find out if there was any underlying feeling towards this issue because there are a number of vocal people on social media making comments against the executive.

“I want to know what more people thought about it and gauge the feelings about them.” 

City council leader John Gilbey

City council leader John Gilbey

City council leader John Gilbey says Cllr Baker contacted him personally after his Twitter post and added he is entitled to his view although its not something he would do personally.

He said: “This was entirely Neil’s decision. As a leader who allows people to do what they want I can hardly complain about it. It’s not something I would do and I’m not on Twitter because I think its a dangerous thing to do.

“He called me up to tell me and I said it’s up to him because there’s no whipping in the Conservative group.”

Cllr Baker’s were seized upon by Lib Dem leader Alex Perkins who tweeted a plea to all Tankerton residents to contact Cllr Baker supporting calls for the mass resignation.

The debate will take place at the Guildhall in Canterbury on Thursday, January 9 at 7pm.

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