County councillors speak out after forum ‘ban’
UKIP councillors blasted the leader of Canterbury City Council as “a consultant to the mafia” after a row over meetings. County councillors Brian MacDowall and Nick Bond spoke out at a meeting of Herne Bay Area Member Panel last week after learning they were no longer to be part of the committee.
The decision was made by council leader John Gilbey after discussions with KCC leader Paul Carter and, in a rant at Tuesday night’s meeting of the panel, Cllr MacDowall accused city councillors of playing politics and trying to block Ukip from discussions. Said Cllr MacDowall:
“This is a very good forum that allows county and city councillors to meet and exchange views and keep up to date. If John Gilbey wishes to act like a consultant to the mafia he is free to do so. The political landscape is changing. Sorry if you don’t like it but Ukip are not going to go away and we are happy to share.”
The panel was set up by Canterbury City Council to discuss issues affecting the town and included representatives from the city and county council. Other committees include councillors Whitstable, Canterbury and the villages. But after discussions between both council leaders, county councillors were told they would no longer be included. Ukip city councillor David Hirst, who previously represented Herne Bay as a Tory county councillor, said it was a backwards step for democracy and would affect issues such as highways, which is the responsibility of KCC. He said:
“It is quite insulting to our KCC members to be treated in this fashion and I can’t imagine how it has come about. They are happy to answer questions and they were here to get things done and I think the efforts put in at Sea Street are proof of that.”
But city Tory Andrew Cook said the decision had nothing to do with politics and had simply been made because the meetings usually dealt with city council business. He said:
“More Conservative county councillors have been taken away from these panels than Ukip ones. It is important to clarify that for the people in the room because you have misled them slightly.”
Panel chairman Jennie Edwards allowed the pair to be part of the panel and join in discussions, although they were not allowed to vote on any of the issues.
Herne Bay Times, May 28th 2014