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Bonkers Blog December 2011

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1 December - They are at it again

This evening those who have collected more than 2,000 signatories for their petition about excessive council salaries meet to discuss their next move. Meanwhile Bexley council continues with its strategy to lie about it. The petition asks the council to take “the appropriate steps to revise all Contracts of Employment of staff at Bexley Council to ensure that no individual’s salary package exceeds £100,000.00 as recommended by Eric Pickles”. Read the full text.

Bexley’s council initial response was to tell the press “The correct remuneration packages are published on the Council’s web site. The petition is inaccurate and misleading. It would not be appropriate or constitutional to discuss individual officer's pay at a public council meeting”. No one asked them to do that but it was the best excuse they could think of at the time.

Someone (not associated with Bonkers) made a Freedom of Information request (FOI) asking in what way the petition was “inaccurate and misleading”. The council replied that the example salaries are “not the amounts paid to the individuals concerned”. So presumably because the amounts shown on pay slips aren’t precisely the amounts the petitioners took from Bexley’s website the whole thing is invalidated? I think we know the figures don’t tally, the Chief Executive’s health, car, expenses packages and Returning Officer fees were all excluded to ensure the example figure wasn't exaggerated.

The other excuse Bexley council offers for condemning the petition is that it “misled residents because they had previously been informed that a petition would not be debated at a Council meeting because the Council’s Standing Orders require that the press and public be excluded for that part of the meeting in their press releases”. How’s that for rewriting history?

The petition was designed to comply with Bexley council’s stated policy on petitions. The proposal was mentioned here in June and reported to be in progress in July. Only when it was well on the way to completion and the press got hold of the story did Bexley council become involved. It said the petition asked for individual salaries to be discussed - lie one - and now - lie two - it is telling anyone who questions their press announcement that the petitioners were told it wouldn’t be accepted before they started. I know, because I was there and advocated something different, that the petitioners debated whether or not to advise Bexley council before starting but decided not to but act strictly in accordance with their published guidance notes. Bexley council is lying under FOI again.

 

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