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My prediction that
the public would be thrown out
of last Thursday’s Code of Conduct Committee meeting proved to be
totally wrong. I had a conflicting appointment and despite it being cancelled
at the very last minute I still didn’t think it was worth turning out,
especially when John Watson said he would attend and let me know what I had missed.
Not a great deal it would seem. This is a slightly shortened version of his report.
Bexley’s Code of Conduct Meeting was to be held in the smallish Public Gallery West and I was hopeful the sound system would be working because all too often Councillors and staff are inaudible.
On entering the room I was pleased to see that microphones had been provided but the deafest complainants were absent, I was the only member of the public present.
As usual the public seating area was arranged to be as far away from the speakers as possible, separated from the action by an entirely unnecessary black ribbon. Bexley Council really does like to create division whenever possible.
No copies of the Agenda had been provided for Press or Public.
Regrettably the sound system failed almost from the start and my recorder flashed up a “No audible speech is detected” message.
Chairman Councillor Cheryl Bacon referred to items 5 and 7 of the Agenda which gave Notice that the Public and Press were to be excluded but if Committee Members were not planning to refer to the restricted Green Papers she proposed that the Press and Public be allowed to remain.
There was no desire to refer to the Green Papers so both Press and Public (me!) were allowed to stay. This was a first for Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee.
Lynn Tyler is Deputy Monitoring Officer and decides whether or not there has been a breach of Bexley’s Code of Conduct. She said that there had been six complaints against Councillors since the last meeting of the Committee. One was from a member of the public, three had been made by the same Councillor against another and there were two other complaints from Councillors.
The Committee had made one finding but no details would be disclosed to the meeting.
Chairman Cheryl Bacon thanked Lynn Tyler for the work she had done for the Code of Conduct Committee, explaining it was her last attendance at a Committee meeting. Lynn Tyler was moving on to new pastures.
The Chairman informed the Committee that five applicants for the position of Independent Person had been interviewed by the Appointment Panel and two ladies chosen.
The appointment quango consists entirely of Bexley Councillor Members of the Code of Conduct Committee. This is a management technique commonly known as ‘Keeping things in the family’.
At this point the sound system was on its last very wobbly legs so it was unsurprising that the Committee decided it should be abandoned entirely.
Mr. Akin Alabi, employed by Bexley Council as their Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, explained to the Committee that the Council was required to appoint at least one independent person under Section 27 of The Localism Act 2011. The two ladies who had been selected were to be recommended by the Code of Conduct Committee to Full Council for formal appointment. It’s a rubber stamping operation which does not comply with the requirements and spirit of Section 27 of The Localism Act 2011.
Lynn Tyler is probably pleased to be getting away from Bexley Council. When Councillor Cheryl Bacon lied about what happened at one of her meetings, Lynn Tyler who wasn’t present was called upon to write a set of excuse notes which blamed members of the public for what happened. The truth could not be allowed out so her notes could only be untruthful. She carefully avoided getting any of the people she was compelled to defend with her largely false statements to put their name to what she had written on their behalf. The lies were so extreme that the police didn’t require much persuasion to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for alleged Misconduct in a Public Office.
One of the people who Lynn Tyler ‘impersonated’ was disturbed in the middle of an expletive ridden tirade about the dishonesty of making up false statements in employees’ names. It’s not what one expects of someone from the legal profession but it is what a Bexley employee has to do to defend the indefensible. It is to be hoped that Ms. Tyler finds a happier working environment.
The appointment of the Independent Persons will come before tomorrow’s Council meeting.