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News and Comment November 2011

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14 November (Part 1) - Some FOIs and their answers

A few Freedom of Information (FOI) answers have come my way recently. A question about shopping discounts for council staff was answered reasonably comprehensively and just within time. I’m surprised they answered at all as the response was identical to what anyone can read on the council’s webpage. The only difference was the page implies it is a teacher only benefit and the FOI made it clear that it is for all employees, from Chief Executive downwards. Big companies arranging discounts for their staff is of course not particularly noteworthy.

Rather more interesting is the long awaited reply to a question about the former Chief Executive’s massive pay rise in 2007. Inflation plus £31,269. As reported on 27th October the speculation has always been that this was the result of an underhand deal over a tax payer funded dinner between the beneficiary, Nick Johnson and the former Conservative council leader, Ian Clement. And so it seems it was. “The decision was made by the Former Leader of the Council. The decision was not taken at a meeting”.

That meeting ensured Nick Johnson an enhanced sick pay-off a matter of months later and left Bexley tax payers with a bill of £50,000 a year.

Another FOI reveals that 25 Bexley council employees have been off work sick for longer than 90 days. We wish them all well. 22 of them are in schools and education. One is in the department where one was able to book an appointment to inspect the Register of Members’ Interests - and get yourself blogged in obscene terms by breakfast time the very next day.

A rather more obscure FOI request asked for a copy of the Disclosure Log which was referred to on Bexley council’s website. The answer was that Bexley doesn’t maintain a Disclosure Log and the reference to the Disclosure Log was removed from the website. Some may question the truthfulness of that answer.


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