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Bonkers Blog February 2011

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21 February - Vali Baba and the 40 62 thieves stage another pantomime

On the evening of 2nd March at 19:30 in the Crook Lodge Civic Centre there will be a full council meeting, the previous one being on the 17th November since when the councillors present have ripped off the taxpayer to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds, more than enough to pay councillor Tandy’s phone bill. It’s an important occasion because it affords a rare opportunity to see just how talentless most of these people are and marvel at the total ineffectiveness of the chairman and mayor, Val Clark. However far more important than that is the opportunity it gives for the public to ask questions. The parasites don’t like it; every other form of probing question delivered through alternative channels can be fobbed off with silence, non-answers or lies. Even James Brokenshire MP has been meted out with the same treatment. When he sent in a load of statistics on parking charges which he said he couldn’t understand and asked for an explanation he was told by the parking manager, Tina Brooks, that she didn’t recognise his figures. She may have had a point as they came from the council’s website and the liar Craske. But written questions sent to the council in advance of the meeting do get an answer. (I understand there is a complaint outstanding about the parking manager being “unclear about the sources of the [her own department’s] data”.)

Councillors are vulnerable to probing questions and have set up a few defensive obstacles. Any one person is only allowed two questions. It has recently been established there is nothing in the council’s standing orders that can justify a limit but they impose it nevertheless and I imagine that now they know they haven’t a legal leg to stand on the orders will be amended lest democracy is allowed to get the upper hand. I sent in a fairly simple question last week and followed it with a slightly trickier one. It was rejected on the grounds that I had asked three questions even though no rule exists that I couldn’t. I hadn’t asked two questions within the second one; it was one question but clumsily worded with a full stop in the middle. I swapped a couple of words around and replaced the full stop with a comma and the question was accepted. Staff must be instructed to use every trick in the book to avoid residents probing into councillors’ shady dealings. A question that would require a councillor to give an opinion rather than a yes/no answer or provide data is also a no-go area. Forget transparency, this is Bexley council at work.

Once the question has been accepted it and its answer will eventually finish up in published council records and on the web which is a lot better than having it filed in the bin as too many seem to be. Even FOIs are ignored, Several are currently unanswered long after the legally imposed timetable has expired. At the meeting itself only 15 minutes are allocated to answering questions which is another good illustration of Bexley’s contempt for democracy. The actual procedure is laughable. The questioner is allowed to stand up - you think I am going to say “and ask his question” don’t you? Don’t be silly, that would mean the audience would be left in no doubt as to what the question is. No, the questioner is only allowed to stand up and listen to the answer. On past form that may mean a filibuster incorporating a deception or two and a failure to answer the question. (Craske again!) The beauty of the system is that members of the public in attendance don’t know it’s not been answered because they haven’t heard the question. It’s another aspect of Bexley council’s corrupt operation. You’d think the chairman would step in and insist the question was answered but she presides over this pantomime dressed up like Widow Twanky and kidding herself that she is a competent chairman. If only she knew.

It has been brought to my attention that my blog of 2nd February implied that MP James Brokenshire had meekly accepted Tina Brooks’ evasion of his questions and gone away. This is not the case, I am told he agreed to his constituent’s suggestion that he hold fire until the constituent had sought more information from the council. That is still on-going and currently yet another example of Bexley council’s inability to answer awkward questions.

 

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