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Bonkers Blog May 2011

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12 May (Part 1) - Teresa O’Neill. Guilty as charged

News Shopper headlineThere was a brilliant letter in yesterday’s News Shopper, I urge you to get a copy if you can. Peter Shering, the writer has certainly got the measure of council leader Teresa O’Neill, so much so that there were accusations of someone writing under a pseudonym at last night’s meeting of the Bonkers team.

Mr. Shering is concerned about the dictatorial aspects of Bexley council, its quest for absolute control exhibited by “the lengths Cllr O’Neill and her colleagues are going to cut people out of decisions” and its rigging of its Constitution to stifle questions and to make questioners “suffer further sanctions”. (Link to News Shopper letter added 18th May 2011.)

There are other ways in which Bexley council is circumventing its responsibilities to democracy and that is not observing the law on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. They are supposed to reply within 20 working days. My colleagues have unanswered FOIs going back as far as last October. Sometimes Bexley council doesn’t answer questions accurately, or gives a totally naive answer as it did over staff parking privileges. At other times they dodge giving an answer by saying it would be too expensive to provide it. Their decision and no appeal process. This is the FOI equivalent of telling a complainer he is “vexatious” and refusing to talk to him any more or getting a warning about behaviour from the mayor and suffering one of Mr. Shering’s “further sanctions”. All are devices employed by Bexley council to shield itself from scrutiny. Sending in the police to intimidate residents is another.

I think we have got to the stage where an FOI request on the date of submission of all currently outstanding FOI requests would be a good move.

Copy of the News Shopper’s Star Letter added 26th May 2011.


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