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Thanet chief seeks legal advice over MPs' criticism of officers

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A chief executive has threatened legal action over an MP’s criticism of her council.

The clash has arisen between Thanet DC chief Madeline Homer and Thanet North Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale over the council’s long-running attempts to find a future for Manston airport.

In a letter to council leader Chris Wells (Ukip), Sir Roger accused him of failing to honour an election pledge to compulsorily purchase the site for continued use as an airport and having no intention now to do so.

The highly critical letter, published on the MP’s Facebook page, suggested the council’s recent controversial compulsory purchase of the Dreamland amusement park in Margate might have made it over-cautious about Manston.

It said: “In the case of Dreamland, [Thanet] took decisions that may prove to have been ill- advised and it did so unilaterally. Those responsible will have to take the full professional consequences for any adverse fallout.”

Sir Roger added: “Worse, it seems to me that at each and every turn you and those advising you within [Thanet] have sought to create fresh roadblocks to frustrate the instigation of the compulsory purchase process.”

The Thanet Gazette reported that Ms Homer responded to Sir Roger: “Whilst it might be expected that comments about councillors are part of the ‘cut and thrust of debate’ it is also generally expected that it is inappropriate to raise matters relating to the conduct or capability of an officer except in accordance with proper procedures.

“I am now considering counsel’s advice to consider what action should be taken to support the officers defamed by your publication.”

A Thanet statement said: “This letter was sent direct and was not public so we will not be providing any comment on this.”

When Ukip took control in May Cllr Wells said he hoped to run the country’s “most boring” council after Thanet was beset by a series of unusual disputes. These included losing money through an unlawful ban on animal exports and through failing to impound a debtor’s ship, the resignation of a previous leader with a 6,000 words tirade against councillors on Facebook and a peer review finding that local residents viewed council meetings as “a form of entertainment”.

Ukip has now suffered five defections to the Democratic Independent Group leaving its control reliant on the chair’s casting vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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