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Cllr Chris Wells faces call to quit as Ukip leader of Thanet council over Manston airport row

By Paul Francis

Thanet council chief Chris Wells is being asked to stand down as leader by his own Ukip group.

And now the in-fighting took a bizarre twist with the national Ukip leader Henry Bolton calling on Mr Wells to quit - a call that Mr Wells shrugged aside. The demand has followed the controversy surrounding the fate of the former Manston airport site.

Councillors rejected their own Local Plan last week with the decision to earmark the site for homes prompting a rebellion with half the Ukip group voting not to accept the plan.

TDC leader Chris Wells
TDC leader Chris Wells

Mr Bolton claimed Mr Wells had "contradicted the platform on which he stood for election" and "failed the people of Thanet".

"He must now stand down," he said.

Cllr Wells gave the call short shrift, saying: "I thank Mr Bolton for his views but would have thought he has other things on his mind - like the EGM coming up."

It is understood that Mr Wells was faced with a demand to go by a delegation headed by Rev Stuart Piper at a meeting on Monday.

He has declined to relinquish the role but could now face a vote of no confidence from his own group.

Cllr Piper said: “We are resolved that he should go. We genuinely believe that he has not only let the party down but the people of Thanet down.”

“We are asking him to do the decent thing and the ball is in his court.”

Manston Airport
Manston Airport

The issue that has sparked the revolt is the fact that the Manston site has not been assigned for use as an aviation site in the Local Plan.

It is currently the subject of a long-running tussle between the current owners and a rival consortium that is bidding to acquire the site through a Development Consent Order.

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