At every council meeting I have been to in the past you walk in with brief case, shopping bag or whatever and sit down more or less where you like. Last night was different; Will Tuckley (CEO) had sprung into action for maybe the first time in his career, probably at the behest of Fat Controller ONeill and her Monitoring Officer. Someone had let it be known that they planned to exercise their government encouraged right to video a council meeting and suddenly young mums with disabled children in tow and harmless elderly gentlemen of Indian descent together with their ladies are transformed into would-be terrorists.
In the space of three days bent Bexley’s bureaucrats had also gone into over-drive and hired the services of a security company (I asked two who employed them) and convinced a gullible police commander that they were under threat from a video camera wielding maniac - in fact a local resident with a passion for open government. It wasnt even an HD model so wrinkly Twankey was under no threat at all - unless perhaps she planned on being stupid again. Perhaps someone should tell Commander Glyn Jones (see blog part 4 above) that his writ extends to protecting citizens rights and that government policy should take precedence over the wishes of a motley crew intent on hiding their failures from an inquisitive public - but then we know from correspondence with the Crown Prosecution Service that shielding Bexley councillors from the consequences of their sins is something Bexleys police happily do.
As well as hiring in a couple of dozen bouncers to intimidate the public, Tuckley and his merry men had produced flyers to stick on windows telling residents what they could and could not do at a public meeting. Never before have protestors been banned from carrying placards and apart from the No Smoking instruction everything on the list of banned activities was specifically encouraged by central government. ONeill and her band of guidance ignorers went further, they spent your money on a little leaflet to reinforce their anti-democratic views. The leaflet is dated March 2011 and quite likely all council activity stopped in an effort to get it produced in time. The council officer forced to do this was Chris Loynes, it says so on the leaflet. Someone pointed him out to me standing alongside a couple of tattooed thugs. My unkind colleague said his name was “Liar Loynes” and I at first assumed Id misheard Lyle or some such name. But it is none of these things, he is Chris Loynes and he has deliberately disregarded the Ministers letter.
Before the doors were unlocked we were treated to a council lackey with a megaphone telling us under what conditions we were going to be allowed in, specifically no photography which I assumed meant no photography. In fact he meant no cameras which should have excluded almost everyone with a mobile phone. When I went through the door with my large camera in its case deep inside an old shopping bag I was herded to one side by one of the heavy mob to be searched by another member of the heavy mob. I was told I couldnt come in despite the camera being so obvious compared to a mobile theres no way it could be used without someone noticing. Id taken the camera equipped with one non-zooming lens capable of getting a picture of a banner from a couple of feet away (see below); it was not the right gear for snapping away at a chain wearing dominatrix 100 feet away. My account of my exchanges with the grossly over-weight bouncer is contained in my complaint to my MP so I wont repeat it here except to say that councillor Ball quickly realised how stupid Loynes instructions were and saved me from the threat of arrest that had been made. He graciously took me to his private office when the meeting ended and returned my camera after I had been initially shoved away from him by a council heavy.
Incidentally, one of my associates asked one of Loynes men where the bouncers had come from and was told they were council staff helping out on a busy evening. So its not only Loynes who should be nick-named liar, they are all at it. Everyone could see what these large men and women were and me asking them where they were from and getting the real answer wasnt really necessary.