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News and Comment June 2011

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24 June (Part 3) - The Old Bailey next?

Councillor Linda BaileyYesterday’s meeting wasn’t as event free as the earlier blog may suggest, far from it in fact. Notomob’s presence was a protest against the money driven war against motorists which is not legal. There really is no excuse for councillor Craske to have announced last year that he plans to “commence enforcement of moving traffic contraventions using Mobile In-car Camera Enforcement and fixed CCTV. Also use fixed CCTV for no stopping parking contraventions” because it will provide good “value for money” from the investment in CCTV. Craske wants to get you by every means possible even though his motivation is illegal. The law says the object of enforcement is to drive down offences to the point that no penalties are issued where possible. I am amazed that someone as slippery as Craske let that fact get into the Strategy 2014 (The Financial Cuts) document. On the other hand he would have written it before Bexley council came under daily scrutiny.

Although Notomob’s intention to attend the Public Realm meeting had been known to some for a long time, no advance publicity was given in case it tempted Bexley council to waste £1,320 on bouncers again as they did last March. Taking the Notomob photos took us perilously close to the meeting start time and my closest colleagues and I took our place in the council chamber. What we didn’t know at the time was that the Notomob’s entry behind us prompted someone to dial 999. Fortunately the police remembered their job was to uphold the law and not to jump at the end of Bexley council‘s string and Notomob’s members filed into the chamber.

About half way through the meeting, the Chairman halted proceedings saying "there is a disturbance outside". From what I could see and have been told today someone was filming councillor Bailey from the lobby area beyond the chamber through the partially opened door. Councillor Bailey objected to being filmed, giving the lie to the council’s official excuse that they ban filming and photography to protect members of the public. Everyone in the public gallery was in some way connected to Notomob who have previously made their agreement to being filmed very clear.

Councillor Bailey was not content with mere objection, she decided to take the law into her own hands by trying to restrain the cameraman and when asked to desist responded with the words “I can do what I like”. I confess to not clearly hearing that for myself but as Bailey made the basic mistake of not checking if the camera was still running when making her assault on the owner you can be pretty sure that the actual words will soon make their way on to the net.

The councillor later made it plain that she did not want the cameraman to remain on council premises and summoned the doorman, a pleasant individual who probably has more sense than Linda Bailey. He deemed it unwise to lay hands on a member of the public and possibly because the police were not exactly helpful to the council earlier in the evening, they do not appear to have been called in. With the film maker safely back in the chamber the meeting continued on its course, chairman Cheryl Bacon apparently unfazed by it all.

A claim of assault by councillor Linda Bailey was placed before Bexley police today with the camera tape as supporting evidence.


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