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News and Comment April 2011

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16 April (Part 1) - Under the Jackboot

Your listening council has tried giving false answers to questions, it has tried not answering questions, it has tried losing questions, it has tried rejecting questions, it has tried cutting question time and it has tried planting fake questions. This week they tried forcing closure of this website.

They have tried hiring bouncers at council meetings, they have surrounded themselves with their military wing, Bexley’s police, they have rejected advice from the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government (Bob Neill, MP) to open up meetings to “Citizen Journalists” and now they are going to attempt a near total clamp down on questioning. Anything to prevent scrutiny.

On 27th April 2011 this thoroughly disreputable council is meeting to discuss amendments to the questioning procedures. Among their recommendations and proposals are…

• To disallow filming of meetings because the result may be edited. Presumably Bob Neill was entirely unaware that videos could be edited when he made his recommendations.
• To recommend web casting once the new Civic Centre is ready. i.e. kick the idea into the long grass.
• That the mayor may disallow questions from anyone he/she may have taken a dislike to.
• That questions which are in any way similar to another asked within the last six months will not be permitted.
• Residents whose questions are accepted will have their personal details, name and address etc. published.
• Questions relating to staffing levels and salaries will not be permitted.
• The mayor will be given permission to throw out any questioner who she deems disrespectful, the judgment being entirely his/hers.
• If the questioner fails to attend the meeting his/her question will be rejected.
• If any question is accepted but rewarded with a non-answer or falsehood the questioner will not be allowed to raise a secondary question.

They really are worried that too much information on their dishonest practices is leaking out into the big wide world aren’t they? They appear to be prepared to stoop to the lowest levels in their rush to put as many obstacles as possible in the way of democracy and accountability. Can there be any more proof that Bexley council has something that it is desperate to hide?

Can you imagine the result of these changes? Nick Dowling’s questions all rejected because the mayor says he doesn’t applaud loudly enough at meetings. Mr. Bryant’s questions all rejected because he got up councillors’ noses by standing as an independent councillor. Mr. Barnbrook is definitely persona non grata because councillors already refer to him as a Nazi to his face. My questions ruled out because it is pretty obvious I am no friend of the council.

All contentious issues can be ruled out by getting Ms. Priti Patel MP’s research assistant and ex-Bexley councillor David Leaf to sell himself out again with a series of fake and innocuous questions on as many subjects as possible. Result? No other Bexley resident is able to enquire about the same subject for six months. Repeat ad-infinitum. It’s not Mick Barnbrook who is the Nazi is it?

This is a quick summary of the council’s proposals to stamp on local democracy hard. The full document is on line.


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