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Bonkers Blog September 2011

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6 September (Part 1) - Eric Pickles. All talk, no bite

Eric Pickles - toothlessAfter the AV referendum last May I was able to get hold of the spreadsheet that detailed the election costs across London and listed Bexley’s expenses in the blog for 20th May. Chief Executive Will Tuckley was entitled to more than £8,000. A nice windfall on top of his £208,000 salary. The following exchange in Parliament yesterday caught my eye…

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire, Conservative) : “If the Prime Minister were to give the Secretary of State an additional role, I doubt he would ask for more money to do it, so does he agree that council chief executives who double as returning officers and already earn more than he does should not receive an additional fee for overseeing elections?”

Mr. Eric Pickles: “This is something very close to all our hearts in this Chamber. That, of course, is a matter for the Secretary of State for Justice, but to me this seems common sense. I have not come across many chief executives who do the count and organise the postal votes; that is often done by the deputy returning officer. I know that a number of returning officers ensure that the extra money is shared among staff. I think that that is the right course, but if chief executives are pocketing that money, they should feel ashamed.”


I wonder if a Freedom of Information Request would extract information on whether Mr. Tuckley is taking “the right course” or not. The problem with Pickles is that he comes out with bright ideas (such as councils should co-operate with “citizen journalists”) and then ignores councils that change their constitutions in order to make a monkey out of him. Bexley being the prime example.

Bexley council is currently trying to make a monkey of the Information Commissioner too. The Commissioner issues specific instructions to councils etc. which state that they must ensure that things do not come to a halt if the responsible officer is absent from work for any reason. Bexley council ignores that as it ignores most things and everything came to a halt between 16th August and yesterday because of annual leave. Partly as a result of that I know of six complaints about Bexley council currently with the Information Commissioner. Every one of them is an example of Bexley council breaking the law.

 

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