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News and Comment November 2023

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10 November - Judge, Jury and Executioner

Dimitri ShvorobMr. Shvorob is the new Elwyn Bryant; on a mission to ask a question at every Council meeting. Another common interest is petitions. Elwyn famously trudged the streets of Bexley along with two fellow travellers to collect 2,219 real signatures to present a petition to Bexley Council. They refused to accept it for debate. Why? Because they could.

Dimitri hopes to present a petition on road safety and has been seeking an assurance that it won’t be summarily thrown out on some hastily made up pretext. He has got nowhere so far.

His question to the Council Leader was “What steps did you take in response to complaints addressed to you about the unfair and effectively unusable Bexley Petition Scheme?”

Her reply is summarised below…

The question had already been answered and residents of the borough should know that answers cost money. She said the Petition Scheme was in accordance with statutory requirements and it has been in use since May 2012 and she is satisfied that Bexley’s scheme is lawful.

Mr. Shvorob had asked questions about “hypothetical petitions” and a total of seven Freedom of Information Requests had repeated the same question. One FOI went to the Information Commissioner and another enquiry went to the Constitutional Review Committee “and the same answer was provided every time”.

“Staff would be better employed helping residents” and the Leader asked Mr. Shvorob if he thought answering his FOIs was the best use of taxpayers’ money.

When allowed to respond he made the same point that Elwyn and his friends did more than ten years ago. “If you answered the first question properly the follow ups would not be necessary” and he asked once more that if he obtained the requisite number of signatures would his petition be guaranteed to be debated. He requested a Yes or No answer.

The Leader repeated, for the 15th time she claimed, that procedures would be followed but as those procedures have not changed significantly since 2012 and they allowed the earlier petition to be rejected, Dimitri was not impressed; nor should he be.

I thought that overall Councillor Teresa O’Neill spoke pretty well at Wednesday’s meeting but the response to Dimitri’s question reminded me that she is still the same Teresa who reported me to the police for “criticising Councillors”. Ultimately, like almost all politicians, she will do whatever she likes to escape criticism and if that involves dodging petitions then that is what she will do. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


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