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Bonkers Blog October 2011

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3 October - Mayor Sams scores another own goal

Mayor Ray SamsFilibusters and lies. Curtailing question time. Planting friendly questions to waste time. Restricting questions to matters of policy. Publishing the names and addresses of questioners on their website to act as a deterrent. Changing their constitution so that anyone Bexley council dislikes can be barred from asking questions. Banning questions that have been asked before, even if they weren’t answered. Stretching the interval between meetings to sixteen weeks. Bexley council is ingenious with its attempts to block democracy wherever it can.

A school of thought is that it is not worth asking Bexley council questions at meetings because it is rare to get a straight answer. In practice all it gives is an opportunity for a cabinet member to try to be clever or flippant in front of a tiny audience few of whom will believe a word he is saying. Asking questions via Freedom of Information (FOI) request should be more effective. If Bexley council lies or otherwise refuses to respond the questioner has recourse to the Information Commissioner and when appropriate, cases can be given coverage here with an audience of several thousands rather than the handful in the council chamber.

But not everyone agrees and some believe that open democracy should not be so easily given up and not all questions can be shaped into an FOI. One such individual attempted to put forward such a question for the next council meeting on 2nd November. “Will the Leader of the Council please state what steps have been taken by her or Bexley’s Cabinet in order to comply with the recommendation from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, that no employee of the Council should receive a salary package in excess of £100.000.00. And, if no such steps have been taken, would the Leader explain in as much detail as possible, why not?”

The question was immediately thrown out by the grinning clown pictured above. The question does not fall foul of any of the obstacles put in the way by the cretins in charge of Bexley council, the similar question posed in the petition doesn’t count because the petition has yet to be presented. The grinning buffoon says the question is “vexatious”. Bexley council has no definition of the word vexatious, a recent FOI proved that, but the dictionary says that it is something that would cause annoyance. All questioning annoys Bexley council so as a ‘catch-all, kick out every question’ routine it is hard to fault.

But Sam’s intransigence and refusal to accept a question confers a few advantages over answering it. An answer would almost certainly have provided proof that Bexley council is intent on raising two fingers in Eric Pickles’ direction just as not answering it does, but by rejecting it he provides proof positive that Bexley council’s fatuous slogan “Listening to you’ is a public relations fraud just like the ‘Saving £3 million’ advert for recycling. It certainly proves that mayor Sams and the ne’re do wells who cling to his skirt are not going to take any notice of either government or the local population, and sooner or later that will prove to be a lethal combination.

In his inaugural speech, Sams claimed to be a keen Charlton FC supporter but on the football club’s forum it says he treats supporters the same as he does Bexley residents. Typical Sams’ quote… “go away I don't want to talk to you". Nice man.


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