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Bonkers Blog January 2013

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12 January (Part 2) - Something to hide

Keep OutThis business of eleven out of 51 Conservative Bexley councillors being so scared of the electorate, so ashamed of their record in office that they need to be almost anonymous seems very strange to me. I wondered how common the practice is across London.

‘Not very’ seems to be the answer. I have trawled through the Register of Members’ Interests of five more London boroughs, choosing first those that web comments suggest are the least popular, and so far I have found only one councillor outside Bexley who claims a Section 32 exemption under the Localism Bill to hide his address.

On reflection I do not think it is strange at all. Quite obviously genuine justification of the use of Section 32 is going to be extremely rare otherwise we might be seeing policemen permanently stationed outside the average councillor’s house. Section 32 exemption is much more likely to be claimed by dishonest self-servers and petty crooks with a shameful history. In Bexley it is surprising that there are not more recluses.

While trawling the web for information I noted that 31 of the 32 London boroughs had their Register of Interests on line and as it is only a matter of weeks since Bexley began to toe the line one might reasonably assume that Bexley was the second to last London borough to bend to modern democracy. The remaining exception is Croydon whose website announces their Register is withdrawn due to being outdated by the Localism Bill and they will put a replacement back on line within 28 days of the Act becoming law. Another super efficient council. Obviously Will Tuckley left them in good shape.

The Section 32 exemptions checked so far have been tabulated. One day the table will be completed but it’s a tedious job.

Westminster would be well advised to overhaul its Councillors and Democracy pages, I found at least five broken links.
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