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News and Comment August 2012

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23 August (Part 3) - The arrogant and dismissive Alan Downing

Councillor Alan DowningMr. Bryant was not the only complainant in the Alan Downing pen jabbing saga, Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group was not to be outdone by his friend Elwyn. From Bexley council’s response to him I learned that pen jabbing to bring emphasis to a bad tempered display could be “construed as gesticulation” and once again that the words “I don’t want to interrupt the meeting but I cannot hear what councillor Craske is saying” were “disrespectful”, “hostile” and “inflamed the situation”. Pure fantasy. “There were a number of young people and other visitors in attendance but despite this [the interruption] was less than polite” according to Bexley council. But pen jabbing isn’t. Refusing to activate the Hearing Loop isn’t and telling the disabled to go away isn’t.

To have notified councillor Alan Downing at the end of the meeting of the intention to make a formal complaint was “threatening” and Alan Downing’s response was at all times “measured”. Measured would have been “Sorry about that, turn your microphone on please Peter”. Refusing to abide by the Equalities Act and jabbing a pen in someone’s face shows a total lack of thought on Downing’s part bearing in mind the likely consequences. No way is it “measured”. Even after all its abortive complaints to the police Bexley council is yet to grasp that belligerence, dishonesty and criminality does not best serve a public authority.

Bexley council seems to think that installing a Hearing Loop system is all it needs to do but if the microphones aren’t activated the Loop may as well not be there.
Council response
It also says that “It was not incumbent on councillor Downing to make any adjustments for a potential issue of which he was unaware”. Nonsense again. The council is obliged to provide a Hearing Loop and if Downing chooses to have it inoperative, and he did, without good reason he breaks the law. The deaf are not required to give notice of their intention to attend a council meeting. Even for those with good hearing the microphones cannot compete with a motorcycle exhaust or a police siren from outside. The deaf stand no chance without active microphones.

The council seems to be congratulating itself on the Equalities Commission not rapping some knuckles over this…
Council response
…and I feel I should explain to them why that is so. The Commission said that Bexley council should be given the opportunity to respond but they would be happy to maintain a watching brief and take a formal view on the situation if Bexley council tried to dodge the issue. The Commission accepted a fat file a week ago.

Believe it or not, there are still some more and entirely different council excuses to report. Councillor Val Clark is nothing but inventive when she has a colleague to defend. Inventive but not necessarily intelligent. No one would ever expect anything else of her.


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