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Bonkers Blog December 2014

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3 December - Fresh news in short supply again

With only one more council meeting of note before 2015 and nothing much happening apart from the drawing of large salaries, there may be little council news to report until the results of the financial consultation are rubber stamped next March. There are likely to be some blank days on BiB during December.

A couple of items to just about keep things ticking over…

Cheryl Bacon’s lies
Greenwich police updated the complainants on the present situation yesterday. The members of the public present at councillor Cheryl Bacon’s Closed Session meeting have all been interviewed and the only course from there is either to abandon the enquiry or interview the alleged liars. It would probably be unwise to go into detail but you might note I am not here in complaining mood.

Goodness knows what those who went on the record several times to say they would not interview any independent witness to the events will be able to say in their defence. They were so keen to avoid facing the truth that they said that if they were asked any more questions Mick Barnbrook and I would be labelled vexatious and banned from corresponding with any but a single named council officer.

I have every confidence that the investigating officer fully understands the situation; whether his bosses and advisers will prove to be immune to outside influences is another question altogether.

On line services
TweetOne of Bexley council’s money savings ideas is to move more services on line. Not sure what they have in mind as most things are already.

The web is unavoidable but can cause massive inconvenience to some people as I know from my aunt’s experience in Newham. She is constantly having to hand out parking permits to visitors and tradesmen but unless she is adept with a computer there is no way she can ask for them to be issued, and being nearly 95 years old that is not something she can cope with any more. Newham’s mayor Sir Robin Wales doesn’t care.

You don’t have to be old and decrepit to be adversely affected by ill-thought out on line services, it can happen to anyone. Nicholas Dowling failed to find his way through the residents’ parking maze when he tried to buy a permit and things occasionally go wrong.


I have a problem with Bexley’s council tax sign-in website. Ever since they asked me to change my password three months ago I’ve been unable to access the site and can no longer view my account or pay. I’ve tried to speak to someone about it but no one can help and it’s like hitting your head against a brick wall. It worked pretty well before they made me change my password.


I suggested to that correspondent that he tried to access his account from a council computer in the Contact Centre or a library and when it failed call for help and ask them to get on to someone who gives a damn, if such a person exists.

Another example of over reliance on the web came in yesterday. A Freedom of Information request was refused on the grounds that the answer could be found by listening to a debate at a council meeting available on the webcast archive.

FOI
Is that a reasonable response? Not all computers include sound systems, mine didn't until quite recently and the sound quality on my Chromebook is abysmal. Twice I have been asked for a copy or extract of my own recordings of council meetings because the webcast sound was just not good enough - and from a councillor too!

Putting council business on line requires a common sense approach and we don’t always see a lot of that.

Crossrail
I hope to give more info tomorrow. Going to a discussion at their offices this evening.

 

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