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News and Comment January 2012

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26 January (Part 3) - Petition against excessive salaries

Bexley council Standing Order Section 84You may remember that Bexley council said they had told Elwyn Bryant, the petition organiser, “on a number of occasions that the Council’s Constitution and rules would not allow your petition to be debated”. On the left you may read what they said more than once and why it allegedly invalidates the petition.

Bexley council says it cannot debate “the circumstances of individual officers at a public meeting” which is not a very sensible response given that the petition doesn’t call for anyone’s salary to be discussed, but Bexley’s excuse for sticking its fingers in its ears is more obviously ridiculous than that. The Standing Order 84 they quote in their defence only says that if the subject arises at a public meeting the public may be excluded. It doesn’t say that anything that could just possibly stray into that area must be strangled at birth and not discussed at all.

The Scrutiny Committee is due to meet to debate the rejection of the petition next Tuesday at 19:30. If it endorses the council’s decision the use of Standing Order 84 will be one of the things presented to the Local Government Ombudsman. Statutory bodies such as Bexley council are not allowed to operate outside their own rules or the law, Bexley council frequently fails to recognise that fact but the LGO may have a view on that.


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