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London Borough of Culture

Bonkers Blog March 2016

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Sidcup Place

8 March - Choose the simple option. Assume it’s a lie, it usually is

The following blog relates to unspecified allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill for which Bexley Council found her guilty of obtaining a perceived financial advantage for herself (not an actual one you will note) and bringing Bexley Council into disrepute.
Over time it became apparent, well beyond any reasonable doubt, that the case against Maxine Fothergill was in every respect a dishonest attempt to pervert the course of justice. A wholly fabricated allegation without any foundation whatsoever which circumstantial evidence suggests was instituted by Council Leader Teresa O’Neill in connivance with Councillor Cheryl Bacon, already on record with supporting documentation of being a serial liar. Bacon is Chairman of Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee and currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service for a charge of Misconduct in Public Office.
The motive was almost certainly revenge for Councillor Fothergill’s refusal to overlook criminal activity within the Conservative Party which the Leader had decided to cover up.
No one made a written complaint against Councillor Fothergill, it was manufactured by Bexley Council. There have been reports that the complaint was the work of a member of the Code of Conduct Committee which heard and judged the case against Councillor Fothergill.
Bexley Council has refused to reveal any information that would indicate that Maxine Fothergill committed any sort of ‘offence’ beyond conducting her property business in a perfectly normal manner. Those who have questioned the Council’s abuse of the law have been banned from making any further contact. The action of an organisation with dark secrets to hide.
All the circumstantial evidence points to Bexley’s corrupt Council continuing an unjustified vendetta against Councillor Fothergill.
The following blog has been retained because it contains none of the allegations against Councillor Fothergill which later proved to be entirely false. Other blogs which suggest otherwise have been withdrawn.

Mr. Barnbrook is still trying to get straight answers to his questions which followed Councillor Fothergill’s ‘conviction’ for obtaining a financial advantage for herself, the punishment for which was not being able to sit on the Appeals Committee to which she might be tempted to appeal.

Whilst a couple of people have alleged that Councillor Fothergill has been known to live dangerously, there is still no evidence to suggest that the case against her at the Code of Conduct Committee was other than flimsy, totally lacking evidence or just a fit up.

One question that has been answered, albeit not satisfactorily, concerns the appointment of the Independent Person. One is required under the Localism Act passed in 2012.

Rebecca Sandhu was chosen for Bexley in 2013 after the position was advertised and following a selection process. The position was for a period of two years expiring in May 2015.

In 2015 there was no advertisement, there was no new selection process and there was no discussion in Council. The Independent Person was merely listed like this (see below) in a 28 Page Supplement to the 66 Page Agenda to the Council meeting held on 20th May 2015.

CommitteeProbably nobody noticed. You can elect or reject a councillor every four years. Independent Persons can go on for ever, in Bexley anyway, maybe not in honest boroughs.

Possibly not so easily explained is the decision to exclude members of the public from the Code of Conduct Committee on 10th December.

The Procedural Rules clearly state that the Members of the Committee must be given an opportunity to say whether of not they think the hearing should be in public or behind closed doors.

Then a decision has to be taken. Entirely logical.

However it is not what those who were present on 10th December say happened and the Minutes of the meeting make no reference to any discussion or vote on exclusion. Twice recently I have seen that happen at other meetings where the public might be excluded.

The procedure is that the Chairman says that an exclusion has been recommended by Council officers and asks for a vote in favour. It’s simple enough and insofar that anything is democratic in Bexley, this is.

However the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Committee didn’t do that. She saw the recommendation and the allegation is that she took it upon herself to exclude the public without asking other members. I wasn’t present.

In response to a complaint, Bexley Council has said (sic) “It is clear from the published agenda for the item in relation to the Exclusion of Press and Public preceded the item of substantive business to which the Rules of Procedure to which you refer applies.”

No one is disputing that, the exclusion obviously preceded the substantive business, otherwise the members of the public would have heard the complaint and the need to keep secrets would have gone.

The issue remains that Chairman Cheryl Bacon made no attempt to follow procedures, something for which she has form.

The exclusion vote is not only absent from the Agenda Item, it’s not in the Minutes and three members of the public know they didn’t hear their exclusion either proposed or debated.

Mr. Barnbrook is planning to escalate his complaint and the ensuing obfuscation to the Information Commissioner. I think it is far simpler to assume that Bexley Council is lying again as they always do when caught breaking their own rules or statutes.

Rules of Procedure.


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