It may have crossed your mind that councils could be comprised of bunches of crooks;
which is possibly what was in Mick Barnbrook’s when he composed a Freedom
of Information request on 11th October 2011. It said “What checks does Bexley
council make to ensure that no serving councillor has a criminal record and
therefore a fit and proper person to serve the community”. One might have
expected a quick response to the effect that a check was made with the Criminal
Records Bureau or possibly that no check was made at all; either way it wasn't a
very difficult question to answer. But nothing is simple where Bexley council is concerned.
Two months and one reminder later Bexley council had made no response leading once again to suspicions that something shameful was going on. Then late yesterday all that changed, a reply came out of the blue.
According to the response “the Council’s Standards Committee agreed unanimously that Councillors voluntarily undergo a criminal record check”. That probably answers Mr. Barnbrook’s question. Bexley council does not make any check on councillors (except for members of the ‘Corporate Parenting Forum’). The crime free may voluntarily put themselves forward for a CRB check and anyone else will probably choose not to. In both cases Bexley council will keep the results “strictly confidential”. It may be the case that every single councillor has had a CRB check and come from it clean. Or it may be that Bexley council is stuffed full of rogues. An indication that all the CRB checks were perfection itself might have provoked favourable conclusions. Bexley’s response leaves you free to put any interpretation on their silence that you wish.
Correspondence with the Information Commissioner has recently revealed that all Mr. Barnbrook’s questions to Bexley council are sent to the Chief Executive Will Tuckley which may explain why his answers are invariably long delayed. Answering within 20 working days is a Statutory requirement. Regularly breaking that law is something the Chief Executive chooses to do. I doubt that will surprise anyone.
Mr. Barnbrook played the leading role in bringing down local politicians Derek Conway (former Conservative MP for Old Bexley) and Ian Clement (former Conservative leader of Bexley council) and a significant part in the jailing of several Labour and Conservative politicians. Complaints against Labour and BNP politicians are still with the authorities.