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News and Comment January 2012

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26 January (Part 2) - Bexley council - Uniquely bad

It’s a rare month that goes by without me being contacted by someone from the national media amazed at the antics of Bexley council and saying they would like to submit an article to their editor. I used to get quite excited by the prospect of bringing Bexley’s cheating ways to national attention but I don’t any more. The routine always takes much the same course; they are interested in the harassment letter issued for nothing other than “criticism” and even more so when told that Olly Cromwell was charged and spent three days in court for the same thing, but then they baulk at linking their feature to the rude words on Olly’s blog. So they switch attention to Bexley council’s criminal blogging and find to their dismay that that leads to a lot of rude words too. Bexley council is being protected from exposure by the fact that their activities are too extreme for publication in the proverbial ‘family newspaper’.

This month brought a variation on the theme. A couple of weeks ago a journalist asked questions about how councils might be defying Eric Pickles’ ideas for Armchair Auditors in The Big Society. I provided a few blog links to show how Bexley council had clamped down on democratic involvement and away that one went to the editor too. It failed because the editor wanted his feature to be nationally based and they can’t find any other council that gets anywhere near Bexley’s level of skulduggery. I mentioned Barnet which reported a blogger to the Information Commissioner for keeping a note of his contacts’ email addresses without being registered under the Data Protection Act and Carmarthen who threatened to have a blogger charged for filming a council meeting. But apparently no other council is so supremely vindictive as Bexley and until their brand of Conservatism spreads wider it doesn’t make a national story. Perverse or what?


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