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Bonkers Blog January 2016

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There is no criticism of Councillor Maxine Fothergill in this blog.

11 January - A transparency request. Naive or not? Time will tell

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reporting one of their associates to the police for theft and as a result his candidacy at a local election had to be withdrawn.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.

As you may have guessed, I have been away. If I had not been there might still have been no blog because apart from the Maxine Fothergill business there is nothing much going on. It would be possible to bring a new Freedom of Information request to your notice every day into the middle of next week but that may become monotonous. I suspect that one or two will be enough.

To me the interesting thing will be how Bexley Council chooses to refuse to answer every enquiry. Every refusal will further emphasise their reputation for being the most secretive and dishonest council in London. No other has a record like theirs.

One of the things I pondered last week was how Bexley Council could have been brought into disrepute by an event the public knew nothing about. A bit like the old conundrum, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it still make a sound?’

Bexley village resident Mr. Elwyn Bryant decided to test it out with a simple letter…

Dear Mr. Akin Alabi,
Having read the minutes of the Members’ Code of Conduct Sub-Committee meeting held on 10th December 2015, I find myself somewhat confused by Paragraphs 3(1) and 3(8) which states that I, as a member of the public, could have certain perceptions about actions taken by Councillor Fothergill.

I must put this question to you Mr. Alabi. How can I have perceptions on actions that I know nothing about?

Will you please forward to me by email full details of the actions that Councillor Fothergill took that caused her to be accused of Misconduct and found guilty of breaching the Code of Conduct.

I wish to emphasize that I am not requesting names of any other individuals that may have been involved in the allegation and actions of Councillor Fothergill in this particular case. In granting my request I am sure you will agree it will make the situation much more transparent.

Yours sincerely,

Transparency? I think that is the last thing that Bexley Council will want and probably Mr. Alabi (Head of Legal Services) will have to do what the Committee Chairman Councillor Cheryl Bacon tells him to do, just as former Chief Executive Will Tuckley was forced to support her fantasies the last time she made a big mess as a chairman. And look where that took him? (A criminal investigation - for those who may have been away enjoying Life on Mars.)

Without transparency the rumours will spread. One that reached me says that the old lady who wanted to finance sheltered accommodation from the proceeds of a house sale is having part of the bill paid by Bexley council. The other says the complainant was bunged a large sum of money to keep his mouth shut. I very much doubt the former but gagging clauses are a tactic which Bexley insiders claim has been used before.


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