A Letter to Eric Pickles

9 Mar

Dear Secretary of State,

Last week the former leader of Thanet District Council from 2003-2010, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court of four serious offences over the purchase of two properties close to Margate’s sea-front conservation area. Sandy Ezekiel was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

Even before the verdict was announced, the Isle of Thanet Gazette reported that Kent police detectives were investigating several cases of major planning applications where councillors and officers may have had undeclared interests in the schemes. The report said that there had been extensive research and interviews with figures past and present about council contracts and undeclared business connections.

The report also pointed out that the Information Commission, responsible for openness in public life and data privacy, was investigating claims of a council cover-up after the council repeatedly refused to comply with requests under the Freedom of Information Act and official business had been conducted through councillors’ personal e-mail accounts.

Inevitably, these developments involving corruption at the highest level, call into question the planning decisions and property deals made by Thanet Council and its willingness to act in an open and transparent way with the public. The verdict in the Sandy Ezekiel case and the police investigations tarnish the reputation of the council and an area which badly needs sustainable development and regeneration.

In view of this we urge you to reject immediately the application for a Tesco Superstore to be built on the Arlington House site and that the developers be requested to make a fresh application once Thanet District Council has, with a little help from Kent Police, put its house in order. Only if this is done, can the public be reassured that this major development on Margate’s seafront can be fairly and openly considered.

Yours truly,

Tim Spurrier, Thanet Green Party Spokesman.

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