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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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17 April (Part 1) - Under the Jackboot again

Yesterday’s blog on this subject was dashed off in a hurry to bring news of these most horrendous proposals by Bexley council at the earliest possible opportunity, but it is possible it makes little sense to residents unfamiliar with council procedures. At the moment the council allows a resident to ask a question and if it is approved that resident can stand in the council chamber, not to ask the question as you might expect, but to have his question answered. The audience in the public gallery may not know what the question is and cannot tell if the answer has any relevancy to the question. Very often it doesn’t; sometimes it is blatantly untruthful. Under the current procedure the resident, if he is quick witted enough, can ask a secondary question which may go some way towards getting an answer or exposing the original answer’s untruthfulness.

Under the new proposals the resident will have to stand mute before the council while a cabinet member can filibuster or lie to him. At the end he will have to walk silently away even if provided with a blatant untruth. e.g. “There is no £4m. contact with Parsons Brinckerhoff” or “We spend less on parking enforcement than we spend on answering Freedom of Information requests”. If the resident doesn’t remain silent he can be labelled disrespectful and banned from asking questions ever again. “The Mayor may rule as out of order any question which (is) … submitted by someone who has been the subject of a warning from the London Borough of Bexley regarding their behaviour.” The mayor not so long ago selected a resident for a warning for “parsimonious appreciation”. Not clapping often enough in the council chamber. If adopted these proposals will spell the end of all questioning of the council as everything apart from questions of the David Leaf variety can be ruled against Standing Orders. It’s a proposal worthy of The Third Reich.


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