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On 17th August I had a moment of weakness, and posted a comment to the following website: http://seacombelabour.org/
Normally I wouldn’t associate myself with two bit party political setups, but on this occasion, curiosity got the better of me. I’d been a frustrated observer of local politics for some time and had watched in horror as a whole catalogue of serious, systematic abuse of learning disabled people (the plundering of 16 tenants’ bank accounts to the tune of well over £500,000), disability discrimination …and much more, appeared to be getting “managed” out of existence by a succession of party political manoeuvres – decisions that in my opinion have long been masquerading as “democratic” / publicly mandated ones! All of this aimed at “covering backsides” and flying in the face of the compelling and legitimate public interest. The public were understandably outraged, and this had been fuelled by witnessing years of abuse on their own doorstep. People were calling for councillors to act and for heads to roll.
However, incestuous and self-serving voting patterns sidelined the public interest and cemented the last leader of the council Steve Foulkes in position on top of a pyramid of power. The status quo continued by varying degrees to conceal, minimise, deny, obfuscate and do everything it could to avoid accountability for some of the most disgraceful, abusive conduct, until an admission was finally made by the Chief Executive Officer. Following this, Foulkes had to go.
See paragraph 7.1 of the following document, authored by Jim Wilkie, Chief Executive Officer at the time, which was prised out of the council by courageous whistleblower Martin Morton. After years of lies, proven bullying, empty assurances, bogus investigations and woefully inadequate reimbursements, the public finally got something we could all hang our hats on – a professional, comprehensive, independent (although sadly not perfect) investigation by AKA associates, which revealed the whole sordid picture of malpractice and abuse of disabled people, perpetrated for years by unelected senior officers of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (although an “inner ring” of power still keeps openness and transparency on a tight leash, and prevents the public from fully accessing the so-called “full” report, in order to observe and identify exactly who did what). Quite apart from the ongoing lack of accountability, questions continue to pile up. Who knows the extent to which any abusive officers may have been protected by elected representatives – our councillors?
That’s the scene set and ‘the prologue’ out of the way. Now to the nitty-gritty. Here’s the comment I posted, perhaps a little naively, but all done in good faith to the Seacombe Labour website on 17th August:
This comment wasn’t published immediately. In fact it wasn’t published at all – at least not ALL of it. The message “Your comment is awaiting moderation” was there for the next three days. Eventually my PC crashed, as it tends to do, and being a busy person, I naturally forgot all about it.
Imagine my surprise when I was browsing Twitter earlier today and came across this link:
I clicked and followed, turning up at the Seacombe Labour website. “Hmmm, something familiar about that bearded gentleman. Wasn’t I here the other week for something or other?” Soon, it all came flooding back, as I was greeted by an eerie set of what can only be described as abnormal machinations. Here, laid out before me was the kind of thing Anna Klonowski had described so precisely within her excellent 250 pager.
This was a prime and extremely cynical example of how to take a local Seacombe resident / voter’s words and mangle their context in a way that promotes your own twisted agenda. I felt cheated because I’d posted the thing in good faith, hoping to see the webmaster bravely publishing and going with an opposite viewpoint – but this was the tacky and sordid outcome… It’s the kind of cowardly thing you might expect in a war – but not from the enemy – from the colleague who shoots you in the back, then rifles through your pockets before defecting to the other side.
I’ve taken the precaution of screen-capping this article for readers’ consumption (just in case the webmaster does a Councillor Blakeley i.e. has a sudden attack of self doubt and deletes it all). So here it is, protected for posterity:
My contribution detailing how proven abuse was inflicted on some of Wirral’s most vulnerable residents, and how the perpetrators of that abuse were protected and gagged has been meddled with, then served back up by an elected councillor who describes it as “propaganda” and a “rant” (probably more accurate). This is irresponsible. Especially when the Wirral public have been expecting acknowledgment and accountability.
Should you see a disabled person being abused in the street, or a hate crime taking place, there’s a local body that has been entrusted with acting upon that abuse. Who is that body?
Step forward Wirral Council. Sadly, the party currently in power boast a serving councillor who appears to regard the reporting of historical and proven abuse of disabled people, currently being acknowledged and reimbursed to a higher value, as “propaganda”. We can only conclude that lessons have not been learned (well, we all knew that didn’t we?) We now need to know whether the party leader endorses his colleague’s strange, muddled and miserable take on events.
It looks like the contents of the offending website mark another sad milestone on this ‘journey’ – not just for the people of Seacombe, but for all down-trodden and long-suffering people throughout Wirral and beyond.
UPDATE 4th October 2012
The same councillor has once again been criticising me on his website. This may have been a late response to the following, which was a comment (again, not published) posted on 9th September 2012 to his website, Seacombelabour.org:
The councillor responded as follows on 25th September 2012, possibly in reaction to the above offering. I don’t frequent sites like these, but today, a very helpful and public-spirited person pointed me in the direction of the latest comments, for which I’m extremely thankful. In reproducing this, I’ve been forced to remove an important piece of information you’ll notice. The councillor, if he takes his role seriously, will be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a data controller. I certainly hope he is:
You may have spotted the error he’s made in posting an email address as a “link” to a website. Well, I’ll forgive him for this. It’s a common error for inexperienced IT users to mix up email addresses with hypertext transfer protocols. I used to do it all the time.
But…. error or not…. I’m afraid I can’t forgive the councillor for publishing my email address on the internet without my permission. This appears to be bordering on a malicious action, and may lead to problems for me because it could open the floodgates to spam or hate mail. I am now considering whether to approach the Information Commissioner’s Office in order to advise them that a data controller (Hmm. that was wishful thinking: Ed), an elected councillor resident on Wirral, has breached my privacy.
I do hope that this councillor is registered with the Information Commissioner as a data controller.
In order to indicate some ‘previous’ by the Council itself, I may also advise the Information Commissioner of Wirral Council’s recent publishing of a whistleblower’s name – within a document which was also “inadvertently” published on the internet – but which will have served as a timely “shot across the bows” for any existing employee considering blowing the whistle:
… it seems Anna Klonowski’s abnormal machinations are still very much alive, being nourished and churning away like there’s no tomorrow.
UPDATE 5th October 2012
Councillor, if you’re reading this, please check whether you are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a data controller. I think you’ll find it’s a requirement when dealing with large numbers of residents’ personal details. It’s relatively cheap, costing only £35 per year to subscribe. When you’re a paid up subscriber, and “showing willing”, you’re also liable to a more favourable ear from the ICO if found to be playing fast and loose with privacy laws again.
I’ve looked for your details here: http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/register_of_data_controllers.aspx but can’t find any person registered under your name at your Seacombe address. I would suggest that you make this commitment forthwith, and tell any of your colleagues who may also be breaching procedure as soon as possible before any concerned citizen reports the matter.
I won’t comment on “phone etiquette” for now, but thank you for removing my email address from public view on your website, which people can now link to safely:
UPDATE 9th October 2012
Emailed enquiry to Head of Information Governance at Wirral Council:
9th October 2012
Dear FoI Lead Person [name redacted],
Please confirm whether Wirral Councillors are required to register individually with the ICO as data controllers, and therefore need to subscribe with a £35 annual fee; or are their responsibilities covered by Wirral’s own corporate subscription as a data controller?