not sure whether Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is a very clever man or an idiot. He
often appears to come out with all the right words, pushing an apparently
democratic agenda, spouting sound bites about transparency and accountability
but every time he does so local democracy takes a turn for the worse. If I were
to be generous I would say Pickles has no idea just how crooked some councillors can
be. The alternative is that people suppression is part of a great big government plot.
The Localism Bill is a prime example. The Standards Board went out the window to be replaced by a council apparatchik whose job it is to rule on councillor malpractice but whose job depends on the whim of councillors. Is he truly independent?
Pickles has several times given guidance on how council meetings should be conducted and Bexley council rejects everything and takes big steps in the opposite direction. Pickles says there is nothing he can do about it and however unreasonable the new rules are the Local Government Ombudsman says that as long as the council doesn’t break those rules they aren’t interested.
Councils are literally a law unto themselves. They make up their own and in an emergency Kevin Fox is always there ready to misapply Standing Orders and Protocols to ban petitions and cameras.
Take the question of Bexley council and addresses. Those of residents and those of councillors. Under their protocol they say they are free to publish residents’ addresses on their website but under the Localism Bill councillors may choose to hide theirs.
Chief Executive Will Tuckley when asked why could only say ‘it’s the rules' but offered no explanation.
When asked exactly why eight councillors hide their address and felt able to claim to be at risk if they didn’t, Bexley council refused to elaborate. They claim to know what the risk is but refuse to give any clue as to what it might be.
Perhaps someone should remind the cretins in charge at Bexley council that publishing residents’ addresses on their website for absolutely no reason breaks down “the relationship of trust and confidence” between the electorate and the people who are supposed to be representing their best interests.
In protest I shall now apply the address carousel which currently adorns the top of the blog pages to every page on Bonkers. All 465 of them. If there is a genuine reason that addresses should be secret maybe someone will react.