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Bonkers Blog December 2015

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There is no reference to Councillor Maxine Fothergill in this blog.

14 December - Bexley and Tower Hamlets. Contrast and compare

The blog below is one of several relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee. This note aims to make it clear that the events reported between December 2015 and the Summer of 2016 whilst accurate reflections of various events, disciplinary hearings and sanctions brought against Councillor Fothergill they are individually insufficient to explain the whole story.

Two members of the Bexley-is-Bonkers team met with Councillor Fothergill at a secret location on 16th September 2016 where she explained to us what had really happened. She was able to convince us that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

There were compelling reasons why Councillor Fothergill should be believed. It seemed likely that the Tory High Command in Bexley had taken revenge on her because Councillor Fothergill had reported one of their associates to the police for theft.

Councillor Fothergill requested that the explanatory note prefixed to relevant blogs (which first went on line a few days earlier) be further strengthened so that readers are fully aware that reported events, whilst accurate at the time, did not reflect her innocence and that Bexley Council’s charge of misconduct and “gaining a financial advantage for herself” was malicious.

This is a modified version of the note Councillor Fothergill asked to be placed here.

When the deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets council referred to a Vexatious Fascist Blogger, confirmed by two witnesses and a newspaper report, I emailed an objection. Mayor Rachael Saunders replied to the effect that she wasn’t talking about me , it was Michael Barnbrook who she had in mind. Her information had come from Bexley council.

If a councillor refers to a member of the public in particularly derogatory terms, especially when it is wrong, there is probably grounds for complaint.

Bexley council has already said it will not accept complaints from Michael Barnbrook, having labelled him vexatious, so there was not a lot of point in complaining to Bexley. They would have rejected the complaint as they have previously rejected far more serious complaints. Complaints that became police matters for example.

However there was no reason not to send one to Tower Hamlets and they referred it to their Monitoring Office for investigation and possible reference to their Code of Conduct Committee.

Can you imagine that happening In Bexley? And it’s Tower Hamlets which is supposed to be the corrupt council.

Bexley council is expert at getting around the law and not so long ago they came up with a new trick. When the Boundary Commission proposals were due to be discussed in public at a General Purposes Committee meeting and there were things they’d rather keep to themselves they came up with the idea of a Working Group and discussed the matter there. Working Groups have no legal status within the council so they are free to hold it in secret or the saloon bar of a public house, there’s nothing any resident can do about it.

Bexley council seems to have pulled a similar stunt with the Code of Conduct Committee. Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee was set up in 2012 under the Localism Act to replace the Standards Board. Its basic rules are to follow the recommendations of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life. There are seven principles. Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership. Anathema to Bexley council obviously.

What could be done about that?

There aren’t many complaints against councillors that get past the Monitoring Officer. As Labour leader Alan Deadman said when the Committee was set up, it puts the Monitoring Officer in “an invidious position” and sure enough most Code of Conduct meetings are cancelled for lack of work to do. But it’s potentially a problem. On 20th May this year a solution was proposed.

Run the Code of Conduct Committee under council rules rather national rules by establishing a Complaints Sub-Committee. Genius eh?
Sub-Committee
On 2nd December a meeting of the main Code of Conduct Committee referred a complaint to its Sub-Committee and sure enough it was ruled that the public must be excluded. A 203 page Agenda with all but eight of them blank. And what were those Nolan Principles again? Integrity, Openness and Honesty. Where did they go?

Three members of the public decided they would turn up anyway for the privilege of being unceremoniously flung out. Their preliminary report makes amusing reading and when Bexley responds to the formal complaints the subject will make a reappearance here.

 

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