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News and Comment June 2012

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8 June - Justice knocked into a cocked hat

Alan DowningThe little matter of mayor Alan Downing being disrespectful to the disabled rumbles on. The Deputy Director of Human Resources, Nick Hollier, wrote what appeared to be a reasonable letter in April about the steps the council needed to take to meet its obligations under the Equalities Act of which one was to circulate a briefing note to all councillors.

The Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) asked under Freedom of Information legislation to have sight of it, presumably so that they could monitor councillors’ conformity with the guidance at future meetings. You won’t be surprised to hear that Bexley council responded with a ‘Public Interest Refusal Notice’. Maybe that is because they never actually issued the guidance or perhaps they realise that keeping ‘rules’ out of the public domain allows councillors to get away with a greater number of misdemeanours.

The BCMG also made official complaints about mayor Downing and he was found to have acted disrespectfully but apparently not dismissively or arrogantly (†). Considering that I heard Downing tell the deaf man to “sit down and be quiet” and face him down with jabbing pen and “didn’t you hear what I said, the meeting is over” I would have thought the question of dismissiveness was an open and shut case.

When told that his behaviour would inevitably result in an official complaint, mayor Downing indicated his contempt for and expected immunity from anything so clearly beneath him. He said “Good, I will look forward to that. Did you hear what I said; I will look forward to that?” If that isn’t arrogance I’m not sure what is. I understand an appeal against the Standards Committee’s decision is in preparation right now.

Another missive that will be landing on a desk about now is a complaint about Bexley police’s failed 12 months old today investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog. How can anything excuse their taking a whole year to achieve nothing? Commissioner Hogan-Howe has been given chapter and verse. The content of the letter cannot be made available at this stage for reasons that will be come apparent later this month or next.

† The conflicting information contained in the two separate replies to BCMG members would appear to be due to a ‘cut and paste’ error made while the author cobbled together one letter from another. Downing was definitely found to be disrespectful.


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