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Sadiq Khan

Bonkers Blog January 2016

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28 January (Part 4) - I’m reviewing the situation

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.

What Councillor Maxine Fothergill may or may not have done in times gone by is interesting but it wasn’t where the trail started or was meant to go.

I’m beginning to realise the local investigation may not be going anywhere. Bexley Council is in massive lock down mode to protect one of their own.

Using detective skills learned from New Tricks I’ve gone back to review all the evidence such as it is. It didn't make particularly good reading.

On 22nd January I was pretty sure I knew the old lady’s address. Three people had mentioned Beechcroft Avenue, but subsequent investigations drew a blank there. Maybe all three reports had the same source and it could have been a set up.

Perhaps even the names suggested for possible buyers are wrong too.

Mick Barnbrook retains some hope that his FOIs will prove to be the Council’s undoing, but with respect to Mick, anything that could prove to be the Council’s undoing will be vigorously suppressed or maybe shredded. FOIs are worth a try because blanket refusals help the case that says there is a cover up going on, but to rely on FOI responses would be mistake, in any case it all takes too long.

Actually I am a bit wrong on the FOI issue too. His question about the appointment of an Independent Person to the Code of Conduct Committee has been answered. Rebecca Sandhu was appointed in the middle of 2013 for two years expiring in May 2015. The FOI asked when that was extended.

Bexley Council has referred Mr. Barnbrook to a supplement to last May’s Full Council Agenda. In 2013 the Council advertised for an Independent Person. They rejected applications from Mick Barnbrook and Elwyn Bryant and Rebecca got the job for two years.

Her reappointment was announced in that May 2015 supplement to the Agenda. No advert, no debate, just her name. The supplement simply lists the Committee members including Rebecca Sandhu. The Council appointed her without an advert, not a word of debate, not a hint of democracy. They just do what they like. Plus ça change.

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