join donate discuss

Councillor Jull’s Wish To ‘Take Back Control’ – Leaflet in Walmer 

Councillor Jull is a Dover District Council (DDC) councillor (cllr) on the controlling Conservative group and member of the DDC planning committee, and was elected to Walmer Town Council in 2021.

With the support of the Conservative election agent Keith Single, from the address of the Conservative Party on the Strand, he has produced a leaflet with accusations of the mostly independent Walmer Town Council of 2019-2023, and the 3 Green councillors on it.

At best cllr Jull and Mr Single have distorted reality, at worst they have contradicted the truth. As a member of the party who has long had a lot of control at DDC, why does Mr Jull want more control in Walmer?

Examination of cllr Jull’s text: the wording of the original is in italics. The reality is in bold type.

REALITY: The only information that identifies this as a Conservative leaflet is the blue in the title, the use, once in the text, of the word Conservative and the statement that it was promoted by Keith Single on behalf of Peter Jull, both of 54 The Strand.

Most people would not know that Keith Single is the Conservative election agent, that Peter Jull was elected a Conservative DDC councillor in 2019, and a WTC cllr in 2021 and that 54 The Strand is the Conservative Party office in Walmer. Why is this leaflet not more explicit about who it is from ?  

Quote: Since the last elections for Walmer dominant GREEN councillors have:

REALITY: There are three (3) Green Party councillors on Walmer Town Council out of a full complement of 15. There are three (3) card-carrying Conservatives and two (2) former Conservatives. The rest, 7, are Independent (1 ex-Labour). No party dominated between 2019 and 2023, there was a considerable degree of cooperation.

Quote: Ignored a parish consultation and borrowed £1/4million to buy a house which still needs another £100,000 spending on it to make it useful as council offices.

There was an advisory survey split 50:50; the whole Council saw the results and agreed to acquire a publicly-owned asset, a functional office with room for committee meetings; the whole council passed the full results of the advisory survey on to the Public Works Loan Board, which agreed with the purchase and approved the loan.

The loan was made at a rate of 1.5%, fixed for 20 years. The building had already been converted into offices by the previous occupant.

The figure of £100,000 is far in excess of reality.  Planned changes to the building will save on energy bills, improve security and fire safety, add a disabled access and provide a committee meeting room, all of which were lacking at the previous premises.

Quote: Incompetently mishandled the process of disposing of a commercial lease on the existing office leading to delays costing £000s in additional property payments.

REALITY : Negotiations have been blocked time and again by the Conservative ex-Vice chair (in 2013) of WalmerPC, the landlady of the unsatisfactory premises at 8 The Strand, to such an extent that the landlady may well be in breach of the lease, and WTC would be justified in ceasing to make any further payments. All negotiations have been undertaken by the council’s staff competently and it is unacceptable for Cllr Jull to pretend otherwise.  

A potential new tenant, who passed all the due diligence tests, was identified but the landlady of the property delayed progress so long that the potential tenants withdrew.

On the suggestion of Conservative Cllr Peter Jull, the Council engaged Tersons to find a new tenant, which they did. Again the landlady and her lawyers have put this transfer of the lease at risk through their repeated delaying of the matter.

Quote : Attempted to pass the blame onto the Conservative councillors with vexatious disciplinary action in excess of their legal powers even though the responsible Monitoring Officer found there was no wrongdoing, risking £0,000s of public money on futile judicial review costs.

REALITY: The original lease was entered into in 2013 and was agreed between the then Conservative Chairman of the Council and his Conservative Vice-Chairman, who was and is the landlady of the property, 8 The Strand. Legal advice on the terms of the lease were sought by the Council. When provided and paid for, the advice was ignored by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

Apart from the rent of £6,000 per year, some £26,000 was spent by the Conservative controlled council on refurbishing the property owned by Conservative Vice-chair/ landlady plus another £18,000 to put in heating. All the details of this dubious arrangement have been published on the Council’s website following a vote in full council, Feb 2022.

The Monitoring Officer at Conservative controlled DDC took the view that the dodgy deal had taken place so long ago that it was outside his remit. The Nolan principles on behaviour in public life says “They [holders of public office] should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.” The public-spirited 2019-2023 Walmer Council and all 3 persons who have chaired it (cllr Lechevalier, cllr Murray, cllr Eddy) have all sought to uphold the Nolan principles, and substitute a publicly-owned asset, for a lease that would never become an asset except for the landlady, one of the Conservative leaders of council in 2013.

The only truthful statement in this Jull fiction is that public money was put at risk by a futile judicial review, which was brought by Conservative Cllr Pat Heath, the 2013 Chairman of the Council against the 2019-2023 Council.

Quote: Created toxic relationships which have seen 2/3 of staff and over ½ of councillors resign so they could co-opt their cronies onto the council.

REALITY: In 2019 there were 3 part-time staff. One moved to take up the post of Town Clerk at a council in Thanet and the other moved to job with a legal practice in Canterbury, career reasons not reasons of toxicity. The third is still with the council. Of the councillors, 3 resigned during lockdown as they were working in the NHS or the care sector. A Green Party councillor resigned to take up a job in Bristol, and an independent councillor resigned because he moved out of Walmer. Understandable reasons. 

Co-options were dealt through a rigorous recruitment process which required CVs and interviews undertaken by a panel of 3 councillors – and independent, a former Conservative and a Green, markedly less one-party domination than prior to 2019. The Conservatives have called two by-elections at a cost of some £7,000.

Quote: Increased the staff wage bill from £48,000 to £100,000 per year.

REALITY : The wage bill has increased, as the council has become more of a can-do council maintaining the busy schedule of events and bringing in new services for residents, and standing up to DDC planning dept, (recommending to DDC the protection of Walmer from overdevelopment) as we went through Local Plan consultation, and pressing KCC for road safety measures.  There used to be 3 part-time staff servicing the council’s committees, and the wage bill was less than the sum paid to Dover District Council for cleaning the public toilets in the town.

There is now the equivalent of 3 full-time staff dedicated to delivering services for residents, and the bill for the toilets has been reduced through tough negotiations, so that some new staffing costs are offset using this saving.

Quote: Tried to throw the rugby club off the Drill Field which would lead to houses being built there.

REALITY: This is untrue. The Council and the rugby club have recently concluded a Heads of Agreement for a new 30-year lease for the club and both sides have instructed lawyers to finalise the lease. The only members of the council to speak of building on the land have been two Conservative councillors.

Quote : Can you afford to allow these people back onto your local Council? Vote to restore Walmer to the exemplar (sic) council it was before 201

REALITY: Can Walmer residents afford cllrs who think insider deals/ leases for friends, that are in breach of the Nolan principles, are acceptable, cllrs who claim their party needs full control of a local council? Variety and multi-party collaboration seems a lot healthier, allowing for the prevention of one-party domination and insider deals.  

Since 2019, collaboration between mostly Independent and 3 Green councillors has seen, among other things:

The introduction of electric vehicle charging points (with a £4,000 grant from Kent County Council);

The current construction of secure cycle storage at Walmer station (bringing in some £45,000 of investment into the town);

The introduction of a new standing order in 2019 to ensure the chairmanship rotates every 2 years, so that no single person stays in power for so long that they come to regard the council as theirs to command.

And the popular thermal imaging camera service to help residents save money on energy.

9 non-Green and 3 Green cllrs voted on 2nd Feb 2022, to refer the report on the lease of 8 the Strand to the authorities, to make the report public (it is on the Walmer TC website now under ‘recent posts’) and to seek to recoup costs. This is evidence that most fair-minded Walmer councillors) except for Cllr Jull, did not regard the Walmer council prior to 2019, as exemplary.

These matters were discussed at the Annual public meeting on 19th April 2023, an informative and pleasant occasion when Cllr Eddy was complemented on his chairing of the meeting; Cllr Jull was not able to attend.  We suggest to Cllr Jull that he might find it useful to re-read the Defamation Act 2013.