KENT County Council’s leader was confronted on stage by an angry resident during a public meeting in Ramsgate last Monday evening. Retired serviceman Malcolm Kirkaldie stormed the political platform demanding to be heard after county chairman Bill Hayton had insisted on questions and not comment. Mr Kirkaldie shouted, “It is not a democracy” before going head-to-head with KCC leader Paul Carter on stage.
The Thanet Local Board meeting was hosted at Chatham House school in Ramsgate and gave residents an opportunity to hear plans for the area and quiz county council politicians. More than 200 people had listened intently to speeches by Mr Carter, Manston airport chief executive Charles Buchanan and Thanet council’s leader Bob Bayford.
Tempers flared when Mr Hayton denied residents the opportunity to put their questions into context. Mr Kirkaldie told the Isle of Thanet Gazette after the meeting:
“I leaned into Mr Carter and told him that we very politely listened to all of you speak and Mr Hayton just keeps interrupting with, ‘What’s your question, what’s your question?'”
Panel member and Labour councillor Elizabeth Green said:
“Mr Hayton prevented residents from asking questions openly and it changed the feel of the meeting. Mr Kirkaldie wouldn’t have stormed the stage if he hadn’t been treated so poorly.”
Mrs Green has written to Mr Carter calling for Mr Hayton to either resign or apologise for the way he handled question time. Mr Carter reinforced his vision to get rail commuter times between Thanet and London down to under 60 minutes and his hopes for a new train station serving Manston airport. Mr Bayford used the meeting as an opportunity to raise awareness of the imminent consultation on plans to overturn a ban on regular night flights from Manston airport. He said:
“The first thing is the section 106 agreement [between Infratil and Thanet council] doesn’t require us to consult with the public at all but we believe this is best practice.”
Mr Bayford denied allegations from members of the audience that Thanet council was in “cahoots” with airport owners Infratil, maintaining that development of the airport must go through the proper planning process.
By saul leese firstname.lastname@example.org