Bexley Conservatives are in full rear guard fighting mode as they try to deflect the blame for
their SEN transport fiasco on to Labour Councillors but two unassailable facts remain. The Local Government Ombudsman said very clearly
that Bexley Council had acted outside the law and Bexley Council has not yet seen fit to apologise to residents.
Instead they are swamping Social Media with their claim that Labour Leader Daniel Francis was forced to apologise for exposing their undoubted failure.
As with practically everything that emanates from the contorted minds of Tweedledum and Tweedledee it is a lie. Councillor Francis wasn’t forced to do anything.
I personally thought that Bexley’s Labour Group made a bit of a mess of presenting their case to Full Council on 17th July, which may just be me whose sympathies are rarely inclined towards the left. On the other hand one of their number was honest enough to agree with me that things could have been better. An admission that no leading Conservative Member could ever contemplate. Labour may have taken the long and sometimes boring route to their revelations but when they eventually reached their destination it was vital stuff that residents had every right to know.
Several Conservatives including the Leader tried their damnedest to strangle the discussion at birth by abusing procedural rules.
John Fuller the Cabinet Member for Education had said only two weeks earlier “the majority of the appeals we had last year regarding travel we won. The Council were correct. We had one parent who took us further than we wanted to go and they lost. They had to pay costs and everything. We were right in what we were doing and this year we had no complaints at all”.
I know he did because I was both watching and recording the webcast. There was no reason not to believe John Fuller. In my experience he is an honest man and far removed from Tweedledum territory. The likelihood was that no one, a staff member presumably, had bothered to tell him about the LGO. This was subsequently confirmed by the Chief Executive. Somebody should be for the high jump but Councillor Fuller is cleared from any suggestion of intentional misrepresentation.
However the fact remains that by hook or by crook Cabinet Member Fuller managed to mislead a Scrutiny Committee (and me via the webcast) and the Labour Group were quite rightly critical.
The Tories have nowhere to go except to lash out in all directions in the hope that the Great Bexley Public will be fooled into thinking that the Labour Group is the guilty party when there is no doubt whatsoever that it is them and the Council they control which is at fault. When it comes to spinning bad news they truly are the masters.
What did Councillor Francis actually say? Did he aim personal insults at Councillor Fuller? I’ve listened to his impassioned speech again and no he didn’t. The important bits are quoted below.
During his address to Full Council, Councillor Francis contrasted the LGO’s many adverse comments with the very different story that Councillor Fuller had delivered to the Scrutiny Committee and called for a special meeting to decide whether or not there had been “a serious attempt to mislead the Scrutiny Committee” and if so “he [the Cabinet Member] should resign”. He asked the Committee Chairman to call that meeting and as already reported Chairman Councillor Downing said it was all “twaddle”.
Being the decent man he is, Daniel Francis voluntarily apologised for any implication that John Fuller misled the Scrutiny Committee intentionally which was a generous gesture because what I understood at Full Council was that he didn’t quite say that - but close perhaps. Surely Councillor Francis has the right to expect a Cabinet Member to know what he is talking about and comment accordingly?
Councillor Francis has no need to apologise further because the fact remains that it was a Tory Bexley Council that incurred the wrath of the LGO not any Labour Councillor. No amount of Tweedledummery can change that fact.
Reply to Chief Executive. Cabinet Member is not briefed correctly and the Tory lying machine tries to make out that all the mistakes were Labour’s.
What is more there were not six referrals to LGO it is now apparent that there
were eight. Of the cases that went to Stage 2 of the Ombudsman’s process every
single one went against Bexley Council.
Yet it is all Labour’s fault.
If the Conservatives are so totally innocent why is it that their own Audit Committee is carrying out an investigation into what went wrong?
Note: It is widely believed that Bexley Conservatives’ social media accounts are run by Councillors Craske and Read, referred to here as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They have denied it but Councillors on both sides of the divide have been more forthcoming. In view of the persistent lying from that quarter I am sorely tempted to reinstate the catalogue of Craske lies I removed from Bonkers in the Spring. Watch this space