Kent

Thanet council leader ousted after no-confidence vote

Bob Bayford
Image caption Former leader Bob Bayford wished his successor luck running the council

A council leader and his Conservative administration have been replaced after a vote of no confidence.

Thanet District Council leader Bob Bayford was defeated at a meeting on Thursday evening.

The Labour group headed by Rick Everitt was voted into office by opposition parties despite only holding 20 out of the council's 56 seats.

Mr Everitt denied the ousting was a co-ordinated "coup" between Labour and the Thanet Independents.

He said: "We did not instigate this and are not in collusion with the Thanet Independents. There was not plot we were a part of."

Image caption Bob Bayford was voted in after UKIP lost control of the council in 2018

In March 2018 Mr Bayford was voted in after UKIP lost control of the council when 12 of its 25 councillors set up an independent group.

Questions over Mr Bayford's competence came to a head four months after it was revealed that the council-owned Ramsgate Port had recorded losses of £2.5m this year, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

'Extraordinarily personal' attack

Thanet Independents leader the Reverend Stuart Piper said: "This was an occasion where the captain should have gone first and he would have saved the ship, but he didn't."

The outgoing council leader accused the Thanet Independent councillor of launching a "personal attack" on him.

Mr Bayford said: "I believe Councillor Piper's actions are extraordinarily personal and aimed solely at me for reasons I'm not quite sure."

Mr Everitt was selected as the new council leader after receiving the support of 29 elected members, including Labour, the Greens and Thanet Independents.

He said: "It will have to be a very collaborative council and hope we can work with other parties in the chamber because we are going to need to if we want to stay in control."

Mr Bayford said he feared for the "ongoing instability" of the authority but added: "I wish Councillor Everitt good luck because he is going to need it."

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