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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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20 April - Bexley council’s complaints procedure. Another sham

You may be wondering, having read of Bexley council’s involvement with criminals and its atrocious record with ‘transparency’, not to mention its self-serving nature, why more people don’t take their complaints beyond the newspapers’ letter columns and the borough’s watering holes. Maybe it’s the way the council deals with complaints. From the Standards Board for England website…


“The Government should introduce, as a matter of urgency, secondary legislation to require a majority of independent members and an independent chair for Standards Committees and sub-committees in England. This is a critical element of our proposals to improve the existing system and to lay the ground for the subsequent introduction of the locally based system.”


Obviously they must know the existing system isn’t working properly, it certainly isn’t in Bexley where the rules are outrageously exploited and to my mind even the proposed amendments would not be enough to defeat the anti-democratic forces that are present in Bexley council.

When the standards legislation was introduced the intention was to have independent people on the boards and assessment sub-committees to ensure there were no political fixes. I know a few people who applied for the position in Bexley; they were told they would have to be interviewed by the council leader but inevitably they didn’t get to that stage; far too dangerous to have someone with no party loyalties in a position of power. Far more sensible to hire in one of their own to ensure the Bexley Standards Board is nothing for Bexley council to worry about. I once put in a complaint about councillor Craske. The assessment sub-committee came back with a nonsense excuse discredited by the council’s own meeting minutes. An appeal against that decision came back with an entirely different unbelievable excuse. They can make up any excuse they like and with the Standards Board for England being wound up there is nothing that can be done about it.

My only other complaint was against the mayor reducing residents’ question time six weeks ago and the council knows that there is video evidence to support it. Their response is simple; don’t meet to discuss the complaint. They can play almost any game they like.

My complaint against Craske was heard at a meeting of two Conservative councillors and chaired by the ‘independent’ Mrs. Sue Threader. The assessment sub-committee is not always made up of two Conservative councillors, every sixth meeting has one Conservative and one Labour. A one to eleven ratio between the parties doesn’t reflect the council’s political make-up. Goodness knows where the numbers came from.

Obviously two Conservative councillors hearing a complaint about another Conservative councillor is far from being an unbiased ‘jury’ and the chairman, independent or not is unlikely to have any influence on the result. But just to make sure, Bexley have selected not a local resident, a solicitor, clergyman or someone of similar standing, but one of their own. Mrs. Threader was formerly deputy chief executive of Conservative controlled Mole Valley District Council (Surrey).

The chairmen and their deputies don’t do this very occasional job out of the goodness of their hearts of course, the chairman’s job attracts a nice little allowance of £2,133 a year.

The Government keeps saying it is handing power back to local people when in practice they are doing no such thing. They are handing power back to the political classes to abuse in any way they think fit. A standards board filled with political appointees ensures that complaints about misbehaviour of councillors can be dismissed on any pretext and as developments earlier this week have shown, they are free to change their Standing Orders and Constitution to choke off any attempt to expose them. Finally they are free to falsely accuse me of threatening physical violence against them. I am “a threat to individual safety” were the words conveyed to me from the police by an intermediary. Bexley’s disreputable council is hell-bent on taking every legal step to restrict freedom and transparency in the borough and a few which may step beyond those boundaries.

 

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