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News and Comment January 2012

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4 January (Part 2) - No contest. No accountability

The Top 20 Bonkers searches of 2011 put Toni Ainge in position 15. Antonia Ainge is Bexley council’s Deputy Director (Culture) and as revealed last October is married to her boss, the Director of Environment, Peter Ellershaw. It’s a very unusual arrangement and probably you have not heard of anything like it before because it could cause all sorts of conflicts of interest and moral dilemmas that more reputable employers would wish to avoid. You may be interested in how the situation may have come about. Here are some questions and answers obtained under FOI…

• How many applicants were interviewed for the post? One.
• Who sat on the interview panel? Councillors Linda Bailey, Colin Campbell, Peter Catterall, David Hurt, Gill MacDonald and Teresa O’Neill.
• What professional qualifications does Antonia Ainge have that qualify her to hold her position? Members were wholly satisfied that she had the qualifications and experience to meet the requirements of the post.

An enquiry about what those qualifications actually were was refused. “It is not appropriate to share personal information relating to an individual.” Is that not a very odd reply? Are taxpayers not allowed to know if their money is being spent by suitably qualified people? Maybe we have stumbled across the reason why Bexley council is constantly in trouble. Nepotism triumphs over ability.


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