click here) that at tonight's Conservative Group Meeting, Cllr Bayford would be elected as the new TDC Conservative Leader with Cllr John Kirby being the only other candidate. My congratulations to Cllr Bayford and to the Conservative Cllrs in Thanet, for at last taking a decision that they should have made last year, to replace their Leader.
As predicted, it would seem that Cllr Bayford will 'understudy' Cllr Ezekiel until May when at Full Council, Cllr Bayford will be installed as the Leader of TDC. I hope that Laura Sandys will now have a better wicket to bat on in South Thanet but I am concerned that this move for change will be too late to benefit her.
I trust that Cllr Bayford will now look closely at how he is to regain the confidence of much of the electorate in Thanet before the 2011 Council Elections. I am sure he is already considering the structure of his Cabinet and that perhaps a new Deputy (Cllr Bruce comes to mind here) and standing down Cllr S Tomlinson and Wiltshire might be a good idea. Would a leaner Cabinet make sense?
He should also consider the make-up of that vital Committtee, Planning. If Cllr Bill Hayton cannot return to the Chair here due to KCC committments, then perhaps a sensible choice would be Cllr Mike Jarvis. who has already demonstrated he is a man of principle and integrity. Cllr Bayford needs to consider if the present Chair (Cllr Gregory), Cllr M Tomlinson and Cllr Simon Day have long passed their sell by dates on Planning and that the retoration of public confidence in TDC's Planning Committtee should be a priority.
Cllr Bayford might also like to get to grips with the perception, rightly or wrongly, that for too long TDC's senior officers would appear to have been the 'tail wagging the elected dog'. Their professional advice and expertise is vital but the bottom line should be that they are all servants of the elected members of TDC acting on behalf of their electorate.
Cllr Bayford has a tough job ahead of him and I wish him the very best. Openess, genuine consultation, frank admission of mistakes when things go wrong (as they always will) and a reaching out to The Labour Group and Independents to utilize their talents and expertise to make TDC more effective, are positive steps that are now needed. The petty silliness that has characterised TDC for too long needs to end.
He might also like to get the message across that TDC's share of the Council Tax we pay is roughly only 14% of the total. Bertie's charge by TDC actually works out at only £3.59 per week and for that I think I get pretty good value for money with my bins emptied; parks and beaches looked after and the service from TDC's Gateway.
Of course there are issues of concern, but a Council is ultimately judged by its public's perception of it. Look after the electorate more; get all of your Cllrs more active in their wards. When Thanet residents feel that their interests, needs and concerns are a greater priority to its Council than developers and 'grandiose' wasteful schemes, then Cllr Bayford, you will have them on your side. Good luck!