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A Peek Into The Future!

As a 'one-man band' I simply cannot keep up to date with everything that goes on within the Castle, particularly as so much is now carried on behind closed doors.

Long-time readers will be well aware of the fact that I have in the past drawn  attention to the illegitimate and unjustifiable use of closed door 'workshops' to hide away any 'dirty linen,' or activity that our erstwhile Mayor had decided should not be in the public arena.

His relationship with all main-stream media means that this is normally easily achievable. A phone call to his mate Warren Mayle could certainly ensure that adverse comment on Coro FM in all its forms was banned - to the point of threats being issued to any staff who defied orders in this direction.

Fairfax has withdrawn into its shell to the point where the it simply publishes the odd press release and leaves it at that. Threre appears no appetite to become involved in any controversy that reflects badly on our Council or community boards. I am sure that its editor John Brown would love to be able to provide better coverage, but that is the way that community newspapers have been constrained by their proprietors for purely fiscal reasons. Meeting representation is simply unaffordable.

The net result is that the entire slate of members have had a free run from public oversight for two entire terms, and this looks likely to continue. Meanwhile, mainstream media continue to espress disdain for bloggers such as myself because we are not subject to journalistic standards. Well boo-hoo to that!  I have been an  associate member of the Press Council for two years, and have not had a single complaint laid in regard to my blog.

If you want a specific recent example of the 'workshop effect,' look no further than the presentation of the Chief Executive's Report to last weeks meeting. Not one question emerged, even relating to his meeting with the Managing Director of Stanley Construction to discuss "matters of financial security and project risk." Full marks to Hammond for disclosing this meeting in his report., but not one question relating to the outcome was asked, even through it would appear on the surface to be a legitimate enquiry following my disclosure of the financial difficultys that the company had been through just prior to being awarded the Design/build contract for the Thames Dry-Court.

Why you may well ask! The answer is that our Council has taken to having 'workshops' immediately prior to it public meetings in order to get any controversy off the table. If it wasn't for my presence, and the total prohibition on any member talking to me that has been imposed by Leach, this would not be necessary, but they all know that I will be present, and I accept no limitation on what I report. I have no boss who Leach can 'lean on' to secure secrecy, and I am treated like something the cat brought in - not that it affects me in the slightest - I do have a thick skin if nothing else.

Hence the lack of interest in this or any other matter raised by Hammond in his Report. Everything had been safely tucked away the day before, and once again the truth was suppressed. If I had the time I could frame inquirys under the Official Information Act, but to honest, I simply do not have the energy to follow through on every issue that arises. I allocate time to deal with the important issues as I determine them, and I am sure that I miss a great deal of what goes on, but Leach has everyone in the Castle under such sanction that little escapes its walls. The few hundred 'pledge' dollars that comes into my account every three month hardly encourages or warrants any greater allocation of time and resources - I simply don't have it.

What does the Act have to say on this issue? From long experience, I can assure you that it is totally ineffective in controlling this practice. It lays out and defines the issues which may be deferred to "public excluded,' but for years Mayors and others have been able to use the 'workshop' device to keep controversial matters out of the public eye, and our Mayor took no time at all to devise the processes that would be applied in this regard in our Council. The proceedings are virtually inaccessible in any form, and woe betide any member who breaks the code of silence.

Leach has been been a visionary Mayor in many respects, but a disaster for this District in terms of public accountability, though he certainly is not alone in deserving blame for this state of affairs. If I had any confidence that French was capable of effecting change, I would support him, but he has shown no inclination in that direction, and Leach is busily getting himself entrenched on various boards and trusts by which he can continue his domination of District affairs. 

That is democratic process as it has developed under our eyes, designed to protect the status quo at all costs. I just hope to hell that we get a Mayor who is willing to knock this nonsense on the head, but I am not holding my breath!





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Reader Comments (2)

Thank you Anon, but I don't accept anonymous criticism where you simply lay out complaints of this nature and fail to back it up with reasoned argument. If you don't like it don't read it - simple. If you feel you can do better do it. If you simply wish to bellyache - do it elsewhere - I am not interested, and nor are the other 1,400 readers of the blog I suspect.

March 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

This Council has rewritten the rule book [ LG Act ] and not one singe Councillor has stood up and demanded that Council should be 'open and transparent' as the Act requires. Amazing that not one elected member around the Council table was gifted with the leadership DNA.
The Male [More FM] influence has been signifcant over the past 6 years on this Council [ Leach and Male now share the same dwelling!] and as for the HH - they buckled early in the piece so as to retain the lucrative advertising revenue!
So no MSM, no Councillor with a backbone, weak Council staff at the top all means Leach has had a free run at Council.
Open and transparent--yeah right

March 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPipi

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