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If you run an incompetent and sometimes dishonest outfit such as Bexley council, the Freedom of Information Act must be the bane of your life
as interested individuals strive to prise the truth out of an organisation
unfamiliar with the concept. So naturally Bexley council puts obstacles in the
way and their latest is to publish the names of applicants on its website. That
puts a legal FOI request into the same category usually reserved for fugitives
from justice and bus vandals. How long before the same technique is applied to
late library books or bin lids left slightly open?
Councillor Colin Campbell, cabinet member for corporate affairs is the bright spark who has dreamed up this latest assault on democracy. He says that FOI requests are costing more than the council leaders allowance. Perhaps he should ask himself which provides the best value for the money.
Personally Im not convinced that putting names on a website is much of a disincentive and I hope that Colin Campbells authoritarian scheme fails. Does anyone have any idea why so-called Conservatives are so keen to act like left-wing dictators these days? I suspect that its not unconnected with the partys abysmal poll ratings. If the choice is between two sets of idiots you might as well vote for the party which is the acknowledged expert in that field.
Ive not yet found any FOI names on the council website even though they are said to be there. My name wont be included, Ive not made any FOI requests.
The News Shopper which has just arrived reports Councillor Alex Sawyer
expressing justifiable concerns about the spread of CCTV across the borough. How
refreshing to hear a Conservative speaking as if he is not ashamed to be one. He
also reminds us that the German electronics company Siemens has been contracted to
update Bexleys CCTV system which causes me some concern. Howard Dawber (Labour
candidate for the Bexleyheath and Crayford Parliamentary constituency) has some
interesting things to say about the Siemens contract and how much money it is likely to waste.
Read it here. (Link to his blog, the
Siemens page is no longer available - October 2010).
Back in 2004 Siemens took over all the IT functions of the BBC, a responsibility that extends from office systems to the transmission network - and as a bit of a radio enthusiast myself I believe that to have been a disaster. BBC radio now falls off the air far too often due to stupid errors that never used to happen when BBC engineers were in charge. What sort of idiot puts the main system and its back-up in the same room, so when one air conditioning unit goes down both transmission systems fail at the same time?
A close family member works at BBC White City and tells me that even the phone system doesnt work properly and that the unreliability is causing the BBC to rethink its contract with Siemens. Trust Bexley council to get into bed with a bunch of incompetents. For the record I have a large Siemens fridge and it came with a bottle rack inside. 2 litre drink bottles are too big to fit and 75cl. wine bottles are small enough to fall through the gaps. Fortunately my supplier agreed the shelf was useless and obtained a standard glass shelf as a replacement free of charge.
The electioneering has started;
a glossy leaflet from
Labours Lesnes Abbey Action Team bearing the slogan What
a load of rubbish has dropped on to my doormat. And they are not wrong. It
is certainly a load of rubbish. Apparently a Labour governed Bexley would
reintroduce weekly refuse collection and a balanced approach to recycling.
Have they forgotten that it is the Labour government that pushed councils into
degraded refuse services both directly and indirectly through massively increased
taxation on rubbish disposal? I suppose that the constant lying in high places within
the Labour party permeates down to every level and it just comes naturally to them.
And what does a balanced approach to recycling mean anyway?
The leaflet then goes on to say that they will restore the Meals on Wheels service and complains about parking charges, promising to get rid of some altogether. They imply they will increase expenditure on the Abbey ruins and complain about cuts in street cleaning. They dont actually say they will change those things, so its nothing but the smoke and mirrors weve come to expect from Labour. The Labour Party has a long and uninterrupted history of believing that all problems are solved by throwing our money at them so maybe they are casting envious eyes back to the days of the 17% tax hikes that they were proud to impose when they last ruled the roost locally. But no; they say that they will freeze council tax. Heaven knows; the Tories in Bexley have been a massive disappointment with their incompetence, corruption and disregard for justice and the law but do we really want to swap that for the same sort of Mickey Mouse economics with which their boss in Downing Street brought this country to its knees?