Monday, August 20, 2007

Today's Daily Mirror!

I was shocked when I turned to page 22 of the Daily Mirror today, as it posed the question "Is this the baddest Council in Britain?". Here is the full article -

"Is this the baddest council in Britain?
EXCLUSIVE Child porn, dodgy websites, drink driving, junketing..

By Rosa Prince Political Correspondent 20/08/2007

A lib Dem-run council hit by a string of scandals has been branded the baddest in Britain.

A candidate was jailed for child porn, one councillor runs an adults-only website, and a former deputy mayor was accused of aiding terrorists - a claim she denies.

Another member of Southwark council is a convicted drink-driver.

And the local authority was also slammed for spending £300,000 a year on food and drink at meetings.

Former candidate Karl Lindon, 26, was jailed for three years in May for having 2,500 indecent images of children on his PC.

He canvassed for the party but pulled out of the 2006 local elections at the last minute.

Councillor Paul Baichoo is a glamour photographer who runs featuring pictures of scantily-clad women.

He said on another site: "I've been a male escort." Baichoo did not comment last night.

Eliza Mann, an ex-Lib Dem mayor, was accused by Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence of having links to a group that raises funds for the Tamil Tigers. She denied the accusation, and said: "I campaign for the independence of the Tamil people in a peaceful way." Police confirmed she was not being investigated.

Denise Capstick, the South London council's head of health services, was recently fined £500 for drink driving and given an 18-month ban. But Lib Dem council leader Nick Stanton said she did not need to resign as "she didn't crash".

One resident said: "This lot are a complete shower."

The national Liberal Democrat Party said: "We have no comment about any of this."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Could it be Kirsty?

Interesting prediction on the electoral calculus predictor today which suggests that if a General Election were held tomorrow Simon Hughes would lose and Bermondsey and Old Southwark would have a new Labour MP in my colleague Cllr Kirsty McNeill.

The figures are LibDem 34.94%; Labour 36.8% and Tories 15.14%. The predictions are based on recent opinion polls up to the 22nd of July and take account of boundary changes which come into effect for the next General Election.

Although opinion polls can be notoriously unreliable, it really does seem that we are in for an interesting battle for Bermondsey whenever the next General Election comes.

LibDems Weasel Words on Drink Driving

The LibDem group on Southwark Council seem to have battened down the hatches in the hope that the criminal drink drive conviction of Executive Member Cllr Denise Capstick will be forgotten. I still think that this is an absolutely unbelieveable response and sets the worst possible example across the borough.

Since suggesting that the Labour Group would report Cllr Capstick to the Standards Board for England I have received and seen comments from the LibDems which suggest that the Standards Board are bound to dismiss any complaint that is made against Denise as a result of the judgment of Mr Justice Collins in the Ken Livingstone v The Evening Standard case, in which the Judge ruled that anything which the Mayor did in his private life could not be regarded as bringing his public office into disrepute.

But this ignores the fact that on the 23rd of May this year Southwark Council Assembly voted to introduce a new Code of Conduct for members specifically as a consequence of Mr Justice Collins' judgment, and which specifically stated that members would bring the council into disrepute if they were guilty of criminal offences committed before the new Code took effect, but for which the member was not convicted until after the Code took effect.

So it seems to me that if all members signed up to the new Code of Conduct; as we all did - including Cllr Capstick; we should all be bound by it! It is nothing more than dishonourable and disreputable for LibDems to now say that the Code of Conduct has got nothing to do with them. This is exactly the sort of behaviour and weasel words which bring politics and politicians into disrepute.

So I repeat my plea from my last posting - Cllr Capstick should resign and resign now!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Drink Driving - Why Denise should Resign

Cllr Denise Capstick is the Health and Adult Social Care Executive member on Southwark Council. She is a former Mayor of Southwark and a Major in the Territorial Army. She has a good record of service to the public.

But last week she was convicted of drink driving, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay a £500 fine. Apparently she was caught by the Police when she was attempting to drive home after getting drunk at this year's Mayor Making party. She had called out the AA because of a gearbox problem, who then called the Police when they realised she was drunk.

The explanation which she has sent to all councillors in an e-mail is barely credible and involves a convoluted tale of losing contact with her friends at the party, being unable to get a taxi, and taking the decision to drive home rather than walk.

This was foolish and criminal behaviour by Denise. For years governments and the Police have worked to rightly stigmatise the act of drinking and driving - not just because it is the law, but because people still get killed and seriously injured by drunk drivers.

I am absolutely stunned that Denise has not yet chosen to act honourably and resign from both her Executive position and the Council. It is right that councillors are only human, and are subject to human frailties, but her conviction shows that she has fallen well below the standard to be expected of a person in elected political office. Politicians often complain about the cynicism with which the public treat us, but is it any wonder if the public see people like Denise just "getting away with it" following a criminal conviction and being allowed to hold on to her £42,000 salary and the perks that go with it.

The reaction of the Council Leader is even more amazing. Cllr Stanton has defended Denise on the basis that "..she didn't crash". Well that's alright then. A drunk driver can motor around Southwark with the Council Leader's approval providing they don't run anyone over or collide with anything. Cllr Stanton has said some foolish things in his time, but this must rank as his most stupid.

Drink driving is a crime; society should rightly condemn those who drive when drunk. Cllr Capstick should resign immediately.