During the latter part of the 20th century while
neighbouring Greenwich was proclaiming itself a Nuclear Free Zone (goodness
knows how medical supplies were delivered to their hospitals), Bexley was
telling its long-suffering residents that it was Working to improve your
quality of life. It was a very annoying slogan because it was so blatantly
untrue and eventually I decided that whenever I saw something that didnt
seem to match the aims I would question it.
During 2000 and 2001 I wrote three letters covering seven subjects most of
which may now be found on this website. That letter count doesnt include the follow ups
caused by Bexley councils inability to answer difficult questions. At one point
I received a friendly phone call from a man who worked in the councils Sidcup
offices to tell me that the slogan was all hot air and that in local government
it was almost inevitable that all changes will be for the worse. Fortunately I
have long forgotten his name, if I ever knew it, and it wouldnt be something
Id ever repeat here anyway.
In October 2001 I received a veiled threat about my correspondence with Bexley
council in a letter headed Protracted correspondence. It was from Alan Twyman
in the Chief Executives office and he had copied it to my local councillor.
It said that he accepted that the public have a right to raise matters with the
council and you will appreciate that there is a cost involved in responding to
letters and emails and at some point it may be difficult to justify the use of
resources where, for example, correspondence becomes vexatious.
So three letters in two years raising a total of seven questions about Bexleys
bogus slogan may become vexatious correspondence? If they had bothered to answer
the questions honestly in the first place it would probably have brought the
matters to a swift end but when the replies reveal a catalogue of misinformation,
inconsistencies and a readiness to abuse the law it has to be questioned further.
A BBC journalist said on
his blog in 2009 that Under the Freedom of Information Act, a request can be refused if its
vexatious, but this has to be an issue about the request itself, not the person
making it. Just because you are a really annoying person is not sufficient
grounds for turning down your freedom of information applications. This
was his summary of a decision by the Information Commissioner. Once again Bexley
council sets its own rules with scant regard for the law.