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News and Comment March 2012

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18 March (Part 2) - Cheats and liars

John WatsonThe man you see here is John Watson. He is proud to have been a pain in Bexley council’s backside for more years than I have lived in the borough. Like me he caught Bexley council up to no good once, it aroused his curiosity, and found everywhere he looked it was the same old story.

I meet up with him most weeks to swap information and every time I seek his thoughts on the latest revelation, John always has an explanation for it. “They are all cheats and liars”, he will tell me and as often as not there is no other rational explanation.

Maintaining ‘pain in the backside status’ for 30 odd years takes dogged determination and perseverance and you may therefore be unsurprised that John is the only member of his small band of agitators who thinks it is worthwhile asking a question at a council meeting. Bexley council has, as you know, changed its constitution, to effectively ban questioning by anyone but its own Conservative sycophants. Nevertheless it is occasionally possible to formulate a topical question that in theory at least will pass all of Bexley council’s criteria. When that happens Bexley council has to dream up a new obstacle. They can be quite inventive.

John sometimes refers to the small gang of which he is nominally leader by the name Bexley Council Monitoring Group. He occasionally writes as Chairman of the BCMG. His letterhead bears his home address in Sidcup and he signs any letter with the name he was born with. He’s done it for years, it is nothing new, Bexley council knows that BCMG is John by another name. On 16th February he submitted a question to the council on his notepaper and sent it as an email attachment from his regular email address. An edited version appears below.

John Watson’s letterAmong the many anti-democrats employed by Bexley council is one called Kevin Fox. It is Kevin Fox who came up with the brilliant wheeze that Standing Order 84 which lays down what should be done in the event of certain things occurring at a meeting should be used to prevent a meeting being held and councillors lapped up his inventiveness to ensure that 2,219 Bexley residents were not heard.

Faced with Mr. Watson’s question and keen to repeat his success at stifling democracy, Mr. Fox put on his thinking cap and came up with this act of sheer genius. He emailed Mr. Watson the enquiry, “Dear Mr. Watson, could you please let me know the name and address of the person asking the question”.

John’s email address is beneath his name and alongside his address in Maidstone Road. Is Kevin Fox stupid or was he just having an off day?

Fox’s first email to John Watson merely advised him that his question must be deferred to a later council meeting. He had in effect accepted that John was John and he has the misfortune to live in Bexley. It was only when John accepted the deferral that Fox went into fully fledged idiot mode and pretended he did not know who he was. His email was dated 29th February. On 16th March he was still repeating the same trick. This may well make him a first rate defender of the evil empire but I think you may agree it also makes him a jobsworth par excellence.

John’s question looks like missing the cut off date for questions so in a sense Fox has won. But Bexley taxpayers have lost. John has chosen to make a Freedom of Information request seeking to discover what silly game Fox is playing, and as we know from the ramblings of Mrs. Holkham the other day, Bexley council claims that costs us £53 an hour.


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