She said that “At the General Purposes Committee we acted in support of the Chief Executive’s rights against complaints we did this because we used factual evidence and we were guided by our sense of social justice and our integrity”. I agree that Fenner and Poole “acted to support the Chief Executive” but certainly not from the standpoint of social justice and integrity. On the contrary, Fenner and Poole used all their influence as members of the General Purposes Committee to undermine, cover-up and nobble my complaint and ensure that the Chief Executive’s actions were never properly investigated. It was only the Conservatives, Independent and UKIP councillors voting together that prevented Fenner and Poole from sweeping one of the most serious complaints Thanet Council has ever received under the carpet.Of course as discerning readers with a healthy distrust of politicians you have every right to think that I am exaggerating my claims and bigging up my own position. But hang on. The Council’s Monitoring Officer, Mr Harvey Patterson, an experienced local government lawyer who was responsible for ensuring that the Council acts in accordance with the law, issued a 13 page letter supported by 20 pages of documents alleging that Fenner and Hart acted in ways aimed at undermining the investigation my complaint.
About Fenner he alleges that she “appears to consider it appropriate to use subterfuge and concealment in a crude attempt to mislead the Monitoring Officer. .. conduct such as this falls short of the Nolan principles of openness, honest and transparency that underpin and govern conduct in public life. As Cllr. Fenner has also chosen to disregard of my advice that she has no power to instruct (a senior human resources manager) to become involved, I consider that her conduct brings her office into disrepute”. He adds that the conduct of Cllr Fenner and (a senior human resources manager employee) calls into question the integrity of the investigation as well the propriety of Cllr Fenner's and (a senior human resources manager) involvement in it. He concludes that Fenner conduct “suggests to me that (she) should not have had any involvement in the determination of Cllr Driver's complaints”Which takes us to ex-Council Leader Clive Hart in respect of whom Mr Patterson’s letter says that when he explained to Hart how I managed to obtain a copy of an e-mail (I borrowed it from a file) which appeared to show improper interference in the Council’s planning process by a senior officer
“the Leader's first utterance…. was to ask whether Cllr. Driver's theft of a Council document had been reported to the police. As the Leader had previously been a long serving member of the Planning Committee I was taken aback by his apparent indifference to the existence of the e-mail of 29 May 2013, only to the circumstances of its discovery and the identity of the discoverer. I nonetheless explained exactly what had happened and that it would be difficult to allege theft - and intention to permanently deprive the owner - as the document in question had been copied back to the Council and Cllr.Driver had agreed to return the original”.But it didn’t stop there. Mr Patterson alleges in his letter that Hart contracted the Chief Executive requesting that I should be reported to the police for stealing a council e-mail even though I had informed the council I had taken it and returned it after copying. This rather unusual step of asking someone who is being complained about to call the police on the complainant was described by Mr Patterson as “constituting a serious error of judgement on his part”.
Mr Patterson was dismissed from his post, by the Council’s Chief Executive, less than 48 hours after sending his letter to members of the Council’s General Purposes Committee. Several days after his dismissal both Fenner and Poole voted against a Conservative Party motion to investigate the issues raised by Mr Patterson’s letter. In effect Fenner had voted to prevent an investigation into her own and ex-Council Leader Hart’s actions. A breath-taking act of dishonest self-preservation if ever there was one!So there you have it, the ex-Leader of Thanet Council and 2 of his senior colleagues acting in such a way as to prevent an investigation into serious allegations about improper interference into a planning application. This is one of the hidden reasons what Hart was forced to resign as leader and his supporters forced from the Cabinet. I sincerely hope that new leader Councillor Iris Johnston will now make sure that a fair and thorough investigation without any interference is now allowed to take place without further delay.
Although Hart, Poole and Fenner have now been removed from (almost all) positions of influence at Thanet Council. I think it is beholden upon the Labour Party to launch a full investigation into the actions of these three councillors who, in my opinion, have brought their party into considerable disrepute. If found guilty they should be expelled from the Labour Party. But in the sad event that Labour covers-up the actions of its members and fails to act, you can exercise your right not to vote for the this shameful trio in 2015.