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Sadiq Khan

Bonkers Blog January 2016

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6 January - Honour among thieves?

This blog is one of several relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and linked from the relevant Index page. Together they cover five different subjects all related in some way to Ms. Fothergill.

• Some cover her Code of Conduct Committee hearing which resulted in sanctions against Councillor Fothergill. It was alleged that she used her position as Councillor to obtain a financial advantage. viz. that she bought a bungalow from a vulnerable Bexley resident at an advantageous price.
No evidence that Ms. Fothergill paid less than the market price ever came to light and the alleged victim did not make the written complaint necessary to cause a Code of Conduct hearing. When Bexley Council was pressed to provide evidence it could only point to a document written by a Member of its own Code of Conduct Committee, Judge and Jury.
The probability is that the Leader of Bexley Council was unwilling to forgive the fact that Maxine Fothergill had brought down the Leader’s preferred election candidate by reporting him to the police for more than one theft. The sanctions appeared to be nothing but retribution. The Leader of Bexley Council is renowned for her ruthless retribution.
The police issued a caution.
• Others show how she was alleged to have conducted her business affairs in a way that some of her associates considered ethically dubious and have almost no link to Bexley Council.
• Councillor Maxine Fothergill fought Sevenoaks Council over an unauthorised house extension and lost. There is again no Bexley Council link apart from it becoming clear that her main residence is not in the borough
• When a resident requested a Judicial Review of Bexley Council’s refusal to state that it would always comply with the law they managed to convince a barrister that he was taking issue with them over the entirely unconnected issue of the verdict given by the Code of Conduct Committee Committee in the Maxine Fothergill case.
Nothing could be further from the truth and there is documentary evidence to that effect that Bexley Council lied to their barrister.
Nevertheless the barrister persuaded a judge to refuse to hear the Judical Review and Bexley Council, dishonest to the last, billed the resident the cost of hiring their tame barrister.
• Councillor Fothergill was sued for libel and lost.

Yesterday’s Twitter message asked “who is Maxine Fothergill anyway?” and went on to imply it was a silly name. As I was at school with a John Fothergill the name never struck me as odd but maybe the main question is worth a bit more consideration.

Councillor Fothergill’s Register of Interests is the obvious place to begin any research and it reveals a business in Gravesend, two Erith addresses, a husband and two children. Maxine is Maxine Patricia and the husband of 30 years is Robert Charles Fothergill, another businessman with property interests.

You will be unlikely to be a regular reader of Members’ Interests but if you were you might spot how it changes. For Maxine sometimes no local addresses have been listed and at other times there is a third not on the current list. What is picked out for public consumption appears to be whatever suits the circumstances at the time.

One address was there in 2011 but disappeared the following year. It came back in 2014 and now it has gone again. Does one really move away and have no further interest in a house and then move back to the same address? It’s not illegal but it is strange.

Together Mr. & Mrs. Fothergill have or have had an interest in the following companies…


• Amax Estates & Property Service Ltd.
• Amax Estate Management Ltd.
• Amax Homes & Maintenance Ltd.
• Amax Maintenance Ltd.
• Maritime Gate (Northfleet) Management Co. Ltd.
• Mariners Walk Management Co. Ltd.
• NFRL Professional Training Ltd.
• Sim Plock Ltd.
• Thames Gateway (Kent) Chamber of Commerce.
• Thames Gateway Investments Ltd.
• The Association of Residential Managing Agents Ltd.
• The Maltings TRTM Co. Ltd.
• The Robert Fothergill Hartley Sipp Ltd.


A couple of those appear to be no more than a group of residents who have come together to manage their own block of flats but most are companies in the normal sense of the word. Some no longer exist.

Why several Bexley councillors have a history of slipping into and out of directorships has always puzzled me. It’s almost as if Bexley Council is a club for failed businessmen.

They close companies down and then open another. If the first was a flop why restart one doing much the same thing? It doesn’t seem to be something decent upright citizens would do.

One of the things not included in the report on what Councillor Fothergill was supposed to have done to a vulnerable old lady was how much money she may have lost. Stupidly I didn’t take notes during a face to face meeting and afterwards (and nearly two weeks later) wasn’t sure I had heard the figure correctly.

Erith & Thamesmead UKIP’s Facebook page has not been so reticent…


Many hold out little hope on getting a just resolution to the numerous corrupt acts in Bexley (most recently a fraud disciplinary process which in fact should have been referred to the police of one of our councillors/estate agent and Gravesend resident who defrauded an elderly person out of hundreds of thousands of pounds).


My recollection is that the offer price was £250,000 although it should be remembered that my informants and perhaps UKIP’s too were not present during the Code of Conduct Sub-Committee meeting. It’s second hand information.

How it is that such a ‘crime’ results in no meaningful penalties is a question much easier to answer than any of the foregoing.

It’s because they all know where the skeletons are. All the bad councillors have something on the other bad councillors. There is Honour Among Thieves and “If I go down I’ll be taking you with me”.

 

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