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Bonkers Blog May 2011

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8 May (Part 2) - The door slams shut

The various tricks Bexley council uses to shield itself from questions have been listed before. In the past they have lost questions, delayed them so they miss the cut-off time, reject them because they don’t like them, curtail the time given for answers and plant fake questions from their Tory party friends. Because some questioners overcame the obstacles they now propose to publish questioners’ address details on the web under the blatantly irrelevant pretext that it is the only way to ensure the questioner is a Bexley resident, and ban any questioner the mayor doesn’t like from ever asking questions. The News Shopper has twice suggested I will be on that list but I had always assumed that the ban would apply to those who had had warning letters from the mayor for "parsimonious appreciation" and the like. I thought we might soon find out at the forthcoming council meeting but I underestimated the council’s deviousness.

The extra restrictions placed on questions were approved by the Constitutional Review Panel on 27th April but they have yet to go before the full council for rubber-stamping on 18th May. There is the remotest possibility that the changes won’t be approved but the original proposals have always included implementing them immediately. i.e. on the 18th. So now we don’t know under which set of rules questions can be submitted for the 18th so the council has taken the easy way out. Refuse all questions for the next council meeting. “Thank you for your questions. However, the agenda for the Annual Meeting of the Council does not include an item on Questions. The next opportunity for questions to be put would be at the meeting in July.”

Thanks to Mr. Peaple, Bexley council is currently splurged across the net; blog of the week at Big Brother Watch, and because of that, widely repeated with the nice descriptive phrase “Bexley Council, well known for their controversial methods”. We can all see how that reputation was earned and it feels good to have played a small part in getting that message widely known.

Among the questions that Bexley council has side-stepped with its shameful manoeuvring are these…

What new evidence has surfaced to suggest that members of the public need to be assured that questions submitted to the full council meeting are genuine by including the name and address of the person submitting the question?

Does Bexley Council not assure themselves that the questions are genuine and that the person submitting the question is on the electoral register before it prints the question in the agenda?

Is Bexley Council insured against any claim by a member of the public for damage to their person or property as a result of having their address published?

What are the implications to the council with regard to the Data Protection Act?

Will it be a breach of an individuals right to freedom of speech under the Human Rights Act if a member of the public wishes to submit a question but does not want their address published, as a result of which the council refuse to print the question?

Is the threat to publish an individual’s address no more than an attempt to intimidate members of the public not to submit questions to the full council meeting?


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