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Bonkers Blog March 2011

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24 March (Part 1) - Democracy Bexley style

Definitely not a good month so far…

• The mayor’s reaction to a government that wants to make council meetings more accessible to “citizen journalists” was to ban entry to the Civic Centre to anyone with such ambitions and enforce it with bag searches and the threat of arrest by (at one meeting) more police than residents (average age 68 years) attending.
• An invitation to seek individual permissions for photography met with rejection for everyone who sought that permission.
• The mayor further restricted the already limited opportunity for the public to question the council in contravention of her own Standing Orders.
• The mayor singled out three members of the public sitting in the back row of an awards ceremony for “parsimonious appreciation” or in simple language, not clapping enough.
• The mayor singled out one resident for a lecture on chairmanship skills and in doing so highlighted her own failures.
• The mayor refused to correct minutes of a meeting which on her own admission had insufficient time for checking. When it was brought to her attention that this contravened council Standing Orders the reply said“ the ruling of the mayor as to the application of any of Bexley’s Standing Orders, or any proceedings of the council shall not be challenged”.

The common factor as always is an aversion to exposure of council mismanagement and dishonesty coupled with unbelievable arrogance. Fat Controller O’Neill in reply to a questioner at the council meeting on 2nd March reminded members of the public that she had been elected and the questioner had not. True; but she was elected to serve, not to refuse to properly respond to questions and line her own pocket where she can. Yesterday I read a letter from a councillor to a resident who was on the committee of a local organisation with connections to the council and who had written to a local paper criticising the council. The letter said the councillor would ensure that the resident would be removed from his committee position if he did not retract his comments published in the paper. He refused to do so and had to stand down from the committee because of the threat to the committee as a whole. I am not revealing the councillor’s name because it would almost certainly identify the ex-committee member. But I held that letter in my hand last night. Bexley council is riven with malpractice and dishonesty at the highest levels. Who could deny it given the Ian Clement affair and the subsequent attempt to cover it up? The £1,931.95 he claimed has never been recovered.


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