Bexley Council is absolutely useless at crisis management isn’t it?
When the Arthur Pewty blog fired a critical metaphor across the bows of the council leadership and I gave the Maggot Sandwich my support, Bexley Council had no idea how to get on top of the situation.
Their brilliant idea was to grossly exaggerate what had been said and ask the police to get all criticism stopped under the threat of arresting two bloggers, me and Olly Cromwell (retired blogger). Olly had no connection to the criticism whatsoever.
To cut a long story short, the Independent Police Complaints Commission had to tell Bexleyheath police not to be so damned stupid but the Local Government Ombudsman refused to do anything about a council inventing obviously false allegations against residents.
Elwyn Bryant and I took a look at the Register of Members’ Interests in 2011 - before they were put on line - and next day someone with intimate knowledge of who had been in the Cinema Car Park and looked at the Register used the phone line registered to the Cabinet Member for Car Parks to post obscenities on line. It was a graphic and depraved description of what I was supposed to have done in the car park and while inspecting the Register.
As a result, Cabinet Member Peter Crake was arrested and two former Borough Police Commanders in Bexleyheath are supposedly still under investigation nearly five years later. Another brief act of stupidity that blew up in Bexley Council’s ugly face.
When the aforesaid blogger Olly Cromwell used the C word on Twitter, Bexley councillors lied about it and supplied false evidence that I, who knew nothing of Twitter at the time, was somehow linked to Olly Cromwell. Two prosecutions and two acts of perjury resulted in a £10,000 legal bill before Olly was found not guilty.
One silly little mistake by Councillor Cheryl Bacon resulted in false statements to the press and a tissue of lies designed to cover her embarrassment. A police investigation stretched from July 2014 until the present day and it is still possible that Councilor Bacon could end up in the dock, political interference permitting.
Bexley Council has no idea how to handle their mistakes and criminal enterprises in an age when they will be exposed to public examination.
It’s the same with this Maxine Fothergill business. Because Bexley Council was determined to keep it all secret, everyone suspects the worst and wants to know what it is all about.
As reported previously, it could be that Councillor Fothergill was found guilty of Misconduct by Bexley Council but in reality did very little wrong. Maybe she is being fitted up.
This is what I think is known as of now to Bexley‘s Sherlocks.
Councillor Fothergill met an old lady during the 2014 election campaign who wanted to sell her bungalow in Edendale Road to enable her to pay for sheltered accommodation.
A couple of days before Christmas 2014 the bungalow was for sale at £230,000, sold according to Rightmove . Six months later it was sold to a Bexley Council employee for £250,000. There is nothing obviously wrong with that.
While searching for the information that Bexley council refuses to give - thereby rousing everyone’s suspicions - it was discovered that Maxine Fothergill has done massive amounts of business in Erith and as part of that appears to shift a cool quarter of million from the Erith account to hers. It may perhaps be morally wrong that Councillor Fothergill was in a position to be able to shift such sums to herself but it must have been the Erith management company that appointed her to that position.
Those managers have made certain claims as to the honesty of the financial transactions and reported it to the police. Since first reporting that I have discovered another man who has, if I didn’t lose count, made seven similar complaints to the police. All of them ignored. But that is not the basis of the complaint to Bexley Council and interesting though it is, arguably none of my business. From the local and recent perspective, Councillor Fothergill has done nothing wrong. Maybe it is the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Committee who should be in the spotlight for a perverse decision.
The Bexley Council staff who were pressing for the name of the June 2015 bungalow purchaser to be released were a bit slow on the uptake, I thought I had left them more than enough clues but it wasn’t until I left a pair of initials on this website overnight that they finally cottoned on. The initials have since been removed.
The inquisitive staff got in a tizzy over the Mayor’s chauffeur driving an old lady around town. “It’s a misuse of his position” they said. Not if Councillor Fothergill or Mayor Howard Marriner (2014/15) instructed him to do it it’s not.
Apart from what you now know, I know only the elderly lady’s new address. Nothing else and I still can’t “perceive”, to use the council’s favoured word, that anything much has been done wrong.
A property manager seems to have made a fast buck and I do not know what a realistic sale price might be, but probably a 94 year old’s home would not be in pristine decorative condition. I know mine isn’t and she is 20 years older than me.
This latest Bexley mystery has become a scandal not because Councillor Fothergill has brought it into disrepute as the official verdict maintains, but because the council mismanaged their enquiry, didn’t follow their own rules and used an Independent Person who’s official and properly constituted term of office had expired six months previously.
Nothing is known that can be pinned on Councillor Fothergill at present that is damning except perhaps being a sharp and ruthless operator. But that is a lot less shameful than having ten witnesses convinced there is a liar in charge of the Code of Conduct Committee.
I reserve the right to be hopelessly wrong if the complainant comes forward and explains his gripe but meanwhile I can’t see much else that can be worthy of reporting here.
Incidentally, the copy of the large cheque was emailed to me by the Director of the Erith Management Company for use on the blog. I didn’t steal it from the box of goodies.