Bexley council’s stance on publishing the address of any resident who wishes
to fully participate in democracy via question time at council meetings is
getting ever more confusing.
For almost two years, the Data Protection Act has been ignored at the insistence of Bexley’s Constitutional Review Panel chaired by council leader Teresa O’Neill. No great surprise there, she has become well known for assuming that laws do not apply to her. The revised Constitution was approved at a Full Council meeting in May 2011 and the Appendix A of its Agenda is reproduced below left - or top if your viewing screen isn’t wide enough.
This year the Information Commissioner eventually cottoned on to Teresa O’Neill’s crime while at the same time her senior officers, Nick Hollier, Paul Moore and Will Tuckley were still defending her decision in writing. Then the council accepted questions for next Wednesday’s meeting without any address attribution. Had they caved in? It looked like it.
Another of Bexley council’s illegal acts was to operate for a couple of months without a Constitution. That too has been recently put right. It is now available on the council’s website though if you can download Volume 2 (Complete) you have a better internet connection than me.
Volume 1 is however quite enough to be going on with and Appendix B (below right - or bottom) to the section on public questions is interesting. We seem to be back to square one and address publication is back on the agenda - no pun intended.
Maybe it is all a big mistake. That particular Appendix B doesn’t appear in the Contents List. If that is so it will be another Fox foul up.
How come Bexley council is in such a muddle? What is the Monitoring Officer for?
Under section 5(2) of the Local Government Act 1989, it is the duty of the Monitoring Officer, if at any time it appears to him that any proposal, decision or omission by the authority gives rise to a contravention of the law or a relevant code of practice, or to maladministration or injustice under Part III of the Local Government Act 1974, to prepare a report to the authority with respect to that proposal, decision or omission. It would appear that Mr. Akin Alabi, by failing to prepare such a report in the face of clear evidence of breach of data protection law and guidance, is himself in breach of his statutory duty as a Monitoring Officer.
I think Mr. Dowling is on to that one.
Note: Click either image for complete document.