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News and Comment March 2012

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19 March (Part 1) - Wanton waste

Deputy Director Toni Ainge Director Peter EllershawEver since the discovery that Bexley council is content to allow directors and their deputies to be husband and wife teams they have done everything in their power to block any further information leaking out. Come to think of it that may be a non-sequitur, it’s what they do in all circumstances, the marriage probably has no relevance to the refusal to answer a Freedom of Information request.

One of the things that we weren’t allowed to know is whether or not Mrs. Ellershaw had any qualifications that marked her out as being suitable for the position she fills. Bexley council at first said go away, and then told the Information Commissioner to go away too but after the IC rapped their knuckles they relented. The lady has a B.A. Honours in History from the University of York and a Masters Degree in Business from Kingston University.

So what was that all about then? Why is being so well qualified a dirty secret and not something to shout from the rooftops? One can only assume that Bexley council’s default position of “Say nothing, they may catch us out” took precedence over common sense. Replying to an FOI in an honest and straight forward manner would have taken two minutes and cost fourpence; but no, they have to waste money by arguing with the questioner, handling the inevitable appeal, behaving like idiots before the IC, then bowing to the inevitable. At Mrs. Holkham’s guess of £53 an hour that will add up to quite a lot. And as the questioner was Mick Barnbrook and another FOI revealed that all of his questions are handled by the Chief Executive it must have cost more than double that at Tuckley’s hourly rate. Maybe that is the explanation for the whole silly situation; Tuckley was responsible.


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