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Bonkers Blog January 2016

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6 January - Business interests

The blog below is one of around 40 relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee. It took that many blogs to at first factually report what the Code of Conduct Committee had decided and then unravel the truth.

More than a dozen Freedom of Information requests eventually led to the conclusion that Councillor Fothergill had been the victim of a plot by senior Bexley Councillors to discredit her and the fact that she spotted a business opportunity while canvassing for the Tories was just a convenient hook on which to hang her out to dry.

It took two months of enquiries for Councillor Fothergill’s innocence (link) to become virtually certain and for the suspicions based on Bexley Council’s assertions to evaporate. Eventually innocence was proved (link) beyond reasonable doubt.

This note aims to make it clear that the events reported between December 2015 and the Summer of 2016 whilst accurate reflections of various events, disciplinary hearings and sanctions brought against Councillor Fothergill they are individually insufficient to explain the whole story.

The most convincing explanation for the vendetta against Councillor Fothergill is that the Tory High Command in Bexley had taken their revenge because Councillor Fothergill embarrassed them by reporting one of their associates to the police for theft and as a result his candidacy at a local election had to be withdrawn.

It was imperative that Councillor Fothergill was taught a lesson.

For reasons that are hard to fathom, in December 2017 Councillor Fothergill decided that the defence of her position which unfolded on this blog over several months was criminal harassment in spite of the fact that without it everyone who read the report on Bexley Council’s website would continue to believe she had been genuinely guilty of breaching their Code of Conduct.

Councillor Fothergill reported the blogs to the police and Sergeant 11901 Robbie Cooke at Swanley Police Station failed to conduct any investigation whatsoever and ludicrously decided that there was a case to be answered in the Magistrates’ Court. Fortunately the Crown Prosecution Service had more sense.

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.

A web search reveals that 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 regular 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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