There was a good feature in last week’s Bexley Times, it devoted a page to Nicholas Dowling’s attempt to record a council meeting and his thoughts on the matter, and another page for deputy council leader Colin Campbell to tell us why he wasn’t allowed to do so.
Actually that is a gross simplification and maybe not entirely true. Campbell says “The council is not against filming at its meetings. It allows filming, and as such does not represent a ‘no to filming’s stance for this debate”.
This statement is not a world away from what Campbell said on BBC television in June. “We allow cameras already. If you want to film you simply call us on the day to say you would want to film, you don’t even have to give a reason.”
I said at the time that that simply wasn’t true but me calling Campbell a liar is not particularly unusual. What is unusual is Bexley council itself confirming that a senior councillor is a liar.
On 8th July a Freedom of Information Request was sent to Bexley council…
…and a few days ago an answer was provided.
So there it is in black and white. Just as you thought, councillor Colin Campbell was lying through his teeth when he sat in front of the TV cameras and had not repented by the time he spoke to the Bexley Times reporter, Robin Cottle.
“If you want to film you simply call us on the day to say you want to film.” One enormous lie from a council built on lies. What sort of council has a leader and deputy who do nothing but lie? In Bexley apathy and ignorance ensures they are voted back in to keep the other lot out - and the lies will come thicker and faster.
I should perhaps be offering thanks to councillor Cheryl Bacon. When faced with Nicholas’s pathetic little recorder no bigger than a matchbox which hadn’t a hope in hell of recording voices thirty feet away she called the police, ran around like a headless chicken, eventually taking her meeting into an illegal secret session. If she had an ounce of sense she should have said “Yes, get on with it” and called his bluff. The council’s own expensive microphone system doesn’t work unless the speaker is within 18 inches of it and speaks directly to it; what hope did Nicholas have? Instead she plays straight into his hands and further enhances Bexley council’s reputation for being among the most stupid.
Incidentally, the council has yet to come up with an explanation for holding an illegal secret meeting. My guess is that they might claim it was all a misunderstanding and anyone could have followed them into their tiny meeting room despite me clearly hearing chairman Cheryl refusing Mick Barnbrook access. But a problem with that excuse is that it would require all the Labour councillors to lie as well and that might be a house of cards that would fall down in the approaching electoral breeze.
Note: FOI request by Mick Barnbrook.