Saturday, 16 March 2013


Isle of Thanet Gazette - Clive Hart - Leader of Thanet Council


The outcome of the court case involving the former Conservative TDC Leader Sandy Ezekiel should shock me, but sadly it doesn't. As many people know, there was absolutely no love lost at all between Sandy Ezekiel and me. Our politics, leadership styles and our general attitudes to life could not be more different. 

However, the reputation of councillors has undoubtedly been affected by the trial and its outcome, and that sickens me. Ten years ago I stood in the council chamber for the very first time as an elected member and I can tell you I had a lump in my throat. I was so proud that a local lad, born, raised and educated all within a mile of the chamber and who had served a large part of his electrical apprenticeship working on the very same council buildings, could one day stand where I was standing and hold such a privileged position. I truly felt that many years of voluntary service to my local community had been recognised and I looked forward to many more as a councillor.

I was right, my role as a ward councillor, and more recently as leader, has involved lots of hard work but it has been incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately, my early years as a councillor also coincided with several bleak years for me, under Ezekiel's leadership. There is not enough space here to detail all the negative aspects but his more public outbursts were very well documented at the time and reported in both our local and national press.

That was then and this is now. We have a totally different administration and I can assure residents Thanet District Council is led in a very different manner today. The recent court proceedings do not reflect on the current organisation or its leadership and the dishonest action of one individual does not indicate that the council today is in any way corrupt.

Since I became leader, any serious council business I've been involved in has taken place in appropriate offices or meeting rooms and in the presence of council officers, certainly not in bars or restaurants. 

The council’s constitution and its governance processes are subject to regular audit and we are confident that these remain robust. The council is committed to the highest possible standards of propriety and accountability and takes the responsibility for protecting public money very seriously. Council officers are aware that if they suspect any wrong-doing they should view the council’s Whistleblowing Code and/or Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy for details on how to take action. Councillors and officers remain vigilant to signs of illegal activities and if ever discovered, will continue to seek prosecution to the highest extent of the law.

At TDC we continue to work hard with fewer resources to achieve improvements for our residents and it is a great shame that all of this good work has been overshadowed by this incident. I will be working closely with fellow councillors and officers to improve standards, reputation and public perception.

Cllr Clive Hart - TDC Leader

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