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Bid to oust leader of Thanet District Council over 'failure to address major governance issues'

A bid has been made to oust the current leader of Thanet District Council.

The motion was submitted by Conservative party leader Cllr Ash Ashbee, calling for Labour's Cllr Rick Everitt to be removed from the position.

Cllr Rick Everitt (Lab) and Cllr Ash Ashbee (Con)
Cllr Rick Everitt (Lab) and Cllr Ash Ashbee (Con)

In her bid, she said: "In my opinion the leader has failed to address the major governance issues that have been apparent within Thanet District Council for a considerable amount of time.

"As a result, I propose the council removes the leader from office."

Members will meet on Thursday to decide whether or not to debate the motion.

If they choose not to, the motion will fall, but if it is debated and the proposal passed, this will result in the removal of Cllr Everitt from leading the authority.

A new leader must then be elected immediately.

Thanet District Council offices in Margate
Thanet District Council offices in Margate

Cllr Everitt has held the position since 2019, when a vote of no confidence in the then-leader Conservative Bob Bayford was held.

The motion that time was put by Thanet Independent Group leader Stuart Piper, which included a call for Cllr Bayford's removal from the position.

It passed and Cllr Everitt was then voted in.

This also led to the Tories losing administrative control and a Labour minority taking over.

The current council is made up of 25 Conservatives, 17 Labour members, six from the Thanet Independent Group, three Greens and two independents.

There are three vacant seats due to be filled on May 6 in a by-election, running alongside the county council poll.

Cllr Rick Everitt of Labour
Cllr Rick Everitt of Labour

Cllr Everitt, in response to the motion by Cllr Ashbee, says the Conservative opposition is "running scared of voters".

"I absolutely respect the right of the Tories to seek to regain control of the council, but it is cynical and undemocratic to try to do so 14 days before the by-elections in Dane Valley, Central Harbour and Newington," he said.

"It is disrespectful and wrong to deprive voters in those wards of their full representation [in a vote on the motion] when they will have new councillors in place within a fortnight.

"I am certainly not taking any voters for granted, but it appears the Conservatives have so little confidence in their own candidates that they are prepared to deprive residents of their proper say.

"The Conservative group could have called a vote to change the leadership at any point in the last year. Labour has never had a majority or a formal alliance.

"In reality the Tories were too busy jostling for position among themselves, as the fact they have changed their leader twice in 18 months shows.

"Now they are cynically looking to take advantage of the death of one respected councillor and the resignation of another.

"I suspect many voters will rightly view this as undemocratic and it raises serious questions about the Tories’ judgement and their fitness to govern."

Cllr Ashbee has been asked for a response.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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