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News and Comment June 2012

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25 June - Filibuster? No, just a comprehensive reply

Teresa O'NeillBexley council’s Standards Sub-Committee has responded to a complaint about council leader Teresa O’Neill talking non-stop through public question time at a council meeting on the evening of 18th April. By doing so she was able to avoid publicly answering Danny Hackett’s question which sought her opinion on the suggestion by the three councillors for Lesnes Abbey ward that council director level salaries were excessive for the little work they do. She also prevented Danny and two other people asking their supplementary questions.

The excuses run to four pages of A4 paper though much of it is quoting the relevant legislation, a restating of the complaint, explaining most of it is irrelevant and won’t be answered, and a short history of Teresa O’Neill’s political career. What is left is just a couple of paragraphs of the best quality white-wash.

Apparently “there was no evidence to suggest that councillor O’Neill had deliberately talked the session out”. So it must have been an accident; in which case why did she not simply apologise for her misjudgment? There was ample opportunity.

The excuse sheet went on to say that Mr. Hackett “was not adversely affected by his unanswered question as he would receive a written response”. This completely bypasses the issue of the supplementary questions and totally ignores the part of the complaint referring to a young lady from Erith who was “visibly distressed” by O’Neill’s dishonest tactics.

The council’s excuse sheet includes a reference to the ban imposed, contrary to government guidance, on recording meetings. Apparently this is not to spare their embarrassment as everyone has supposed nor is it to protect the public as announced at every meeting, it is “because the council does not currently have the technology to record such meetings”. Last month the council told John Watson of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group that he could not ask a question about the council’s proposal to install the necessary technology in their new HQ because his supposition that they were to do so was “factually incorrect”. The fact they said they would install the kit more than a year ago and passed the ‘good news’ to the local newspapers was conveniently forgotten.

When Olly Cromwell kindly provided the necessary technology Bexley council’s response was to ban him from meetings and ultimately prosecute him and although they now claim that anyone is at liberty to seek permission to record meetings, permission is always refused. There is a simple explanation for Bexley council’s inconsistency on the subject. They are all liars.

Val Clark Alex SawyerIt’s a mystery why Bexley’s councillors go to such lengths to make asses of themselves. It must have taken a few hours for someone to write O’Neill’s filibustering diatribe and another hour or two to write the excuse note. And for what? It will have provided a giggle for the idiots with whom she surrounds herself but for the public who witnessed the event and the thousands who will read about Teresa and her silliness it will most likely lower their opinions of her yet again. It’s not in the same league of silliness as Bexley’s obscene blog - that was simply crass - and you can’t get arrested for filibustering, but it’s the same mindset at work. Juvenile.

The councillors asked to provide the justification for O’Neill’s 15 minute filibuster were Conservatives Val Clark and Alex Sawyer, himself a master of the art. What sort of council appoints Conservative ‘yes men’ to judge their own leader? A corrupt one presumably.


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