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News and Comment September 2012

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3 September (Part 1) - Lost in the post

A little over two months ago, just after certain rumours began to circulate about councillor Peter Craske, I attended a meeting of the Standards Committee. Several members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (BCMG) were there too.

As the meeting drew to a close BCMG member Mick Barnbrook, asked Mr. Akin Alabi, Head of legal Services, about the new guidance on Standards issued by the Department for Communities and in particular what the council would be able to do should a councillor be found guilty of a criminal offence. Both Mick and I were left with a clear impression that Mr. Alabi had asked the responsible government department about exactly that and he was awaiting a response.

Letter from Communities DepartmentThe correspondence was unlikely to be sent to Mr. Barnbrook without a formal request, so Mick made one. “During a conversation with me after the above committee meeting had ended, and in the presence of witnesses, Mr. Alabi informed me that he had written to Government seeking advice on what action could be taken under the new code of conduct to deal with councillors charged with or convicted of a criminal offence. Please provide a copy of that letter.”

Bexley council responded on 7th August but it didn’t answer the question. Bexley’s answer was to provide only a link to the Under Secretary of State’s letter to all local authorities which was already in the public domain. They made no comment on the letter the head of Legal Services was supposed to have sent. As Bexley council seemed to be playing hard to get again, Mick asked the Communities Department if they could supply a copy of Mr. Alabi’s letter. They replied 12 days later.

This is what they said…

Letter from Communities Department
Maybe the Department for Communities and Local Government has a very poor filing system, or maybe there is another explanation. Where Bexley council is concerned it is usually advisable to think the worst.


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