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Thanet council party leaders to discuss Local Plan options after Ukip vote split on Manston site

By Paul Francis

Political leaders at Thanet council are to meet to discuss the fallout from a decision to reject their ten-year development plan.

The meeting tomorrow will be held amid growing concerns that the government is likely to intervene unless the Local Plan is approved by the end of March.

Councillors voted against the plan last week chiefly over the fact that it did not maintain Manston for some kind of aviation use, instead earmarking the site for 2,500 homes.

TDC leader Chris Wells
TDC leader Chris Wells

If the deadlock is not broken over the plan, the likelihood is that ministers will determine it and set possibly higher housing targets than the council wants.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a political stalemate within the ruling Ukip group with a rebel group of 12 councillors failing in their attempt to oust council leader Chris Wells.

He has refused to stand aside and says that the council’s priority must be to resolve the deadlock over the Local Plan.

The call for him to resign comes after councillors voted down the plan in a split over the future use of the former Manston airport site.

Manston airport
Manston airport

In a statement, Mr Wells said: “The leader of any council has a responsibility above party politics.

"Part of that is to ensure any proposals for the area are legally safe, and within Government guidelines.

"Whilst we continue to seek evidenced alternatives to get a local plan through, as a council already in intervention the options are limited.

"I take my responsibility as leader seriously and believe we must make decisions based on fact.”

In a separate development, a Conservative county councillor could face a formal complaint over his claim that the government minister Sajid Javid had already told the area’s MPs he had agreed to give the authority more time to get its plan passed.

Cllr Paul Messenger said in a social media post that has now been taken down, that the two MPs for Thanet had “managed to get the deadline extended” and that the minister “completely understands the “Thanet situation”.

The Facebook posting went on to claim the minister would not “penalise” Thanet with demands for more housing.

Under the current draft plan, the authority has said it requires 17,140 to built on the isle by 2031

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