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Bonkers Blog December 2012

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6 December (Part 2) - Readers to the rescue

Register of Members’ Interests
Eagle eyed readers have directed me to the Bexley council website links to the Register of Members’ Interests. You have to go to each individual councillor’s page and I had expected a single link and a list for ease of access, instead it takes four clicks to get to a single entry and back to the place where you can choose another. That's 250 clicks to see the lot.

It isn’t only councillor Peter Craske who sees a need to hide himself away from the public gaze by invoking Section 32 of the Localism Act, which says…


“A member or co-opted member of a relevant authority has an interest (whether or not a disclosable pecuniary interest), and the nature of the interest is such that the member or co-opted member, and the authority's monitoring officer, consider that disclosure of the details of the interest could lead to the member or co-opted member, or a person connected with the member or co-opted member, being subject to violence or intimidation.”

Do they all believe they have done such a thoroughly bad job as a councillor that residents are out to get them?

Those who don’t really like being in the public eye are Cheryl and Gareth Bacon, Colin Campbell, Sybil Camsey, Val Clark, Peter Craske, James Spencer and Chris Taylor. All Conservatives.

A council insider once said that if councillors were compelled to put their details on the web “they would lie even more”. That person was wrong; they prefer to say nothing.


How many councillors have had their collar felt?
The Freedom of Information request dated 20th July 2012 asking if Bexley council is “aware of any councillor being the subject of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police in the last 18 months. If so, how many?” is still not answered.

For the record only one was arrested in connection with the obscene blog and he remains the only suspect. And to those anonymous tipsters who say he wasn’t alone I can only suggest you report your concerns to the police. Crime number 3906909/11.

Outsourced to Capita
“You really need to do some digging into Bexley Council and how they outsource the collection of Council Tax.” So said an anonymous message earlier this week and I have little doubt that the contractor, Capita, should be looked into. Alas, Capita is not a ‘Public Body’ so the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to them.

On the one occasion Capita decided to take issue with me over my single occupier council tax discount I told them my contract for services was with Bexley council and that I wouldn’t deal with them directly. Bexley council seemed to agree as I corresponded only with them and they resolved the problem efficiently enough - long before this website existed.

I have studied a file relating to services provided to Bexley council by Capita which was intriguing to say the least. It related to a rather complex benefit fraud where it could be argued that the principal offender got away with it and the minor one who had been sucked in was set up. A claim form had certainly undergone suspicious looking alterations which allowed it to be used against him.

Below is an extract from Capita’s files which may not make a lot of sense by itself; however the reason why the landlord didn’t have a rent book is that she wasn’t the landlord at all, she was the ‘tenant’s’ live in girlfriend and she was on the fiddle.

Capita knew that, there is a whole load of contemporaneous documentary evidence to prove it, but they didn’t want to know. I’m still not sure if they were in on the fiddle or were supremely incompetent. The overpaid benefit was never recovered. A five figure sum.
Capita letter

 

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