This is for all of you old enough to have walked into an empty room and then forgotten what you went in there for in the first place. It is a tale of personal anxiety and deep inner questioning and also of incredible interference in the democratic process by person or persons unknown. A real shocker!
I begin by apologising to many people who for the last few months have had to put up with my erratic and at times rude behaviour, I now acknowledge that I was becoming a miserable old sod, but perhaps now in light of the truth being revealed it will be seen as all with good reason?. It all stems from my role as a County Councillor and opposition to all things Tory at County Hall. Opposition is never welcomed and I remember myself in Parliament castigating the Tory benches when first elected for seeming to oppose for oppositions sake. This was before I realised that a) they were simply doing their job and b) good opposition aslo makes good government.
So I therefore make no excuses for being a thorn in the side of my political opponents, however for the past few months I had detected a sense of disaffiliation with some officers on the Council and a growing impression that they had simply decided en-masse as a collective group to ignore me. To say "stuff Tony Clarke and his opinionated comments and requests he can go toot"
I found myself arguing more often with officers over them not carrying out the simplest of tasks requested, for repeatedly asking for my opinion on the same matters even if I had already passed judgement on them before. And for ringing me up at all hours of the day enquiring as to matters I had already dealt with. All this coupled with the discovery that at the age of 48 reading glasses were to be the order of the day, it led me to believe I was getting far too old far too quickly. Perhaps I hadn't sent that reply back to whoever it was, and maybe the comments on consultations and reviews which had pondered over stayed inside my own head and were not as I thought shared with others? Constituency case work was also getting harder to deal with, people never got back to me with any answers and I would then have to chase officers up over every emailed request with a phone call or personal visit to ensure that any action was taken.
So was I losing the plot? or had I overstepped the mark, burnt all my bridges and been ex communicated?
The very last straw came in the guise of a petty standards board complaint which had been made by a Tory Backbench Cllr who I have never spoken to in person and has in fact as far as I am aware never even spoken himself in the chamber since being elected. He had taken offence as to something written on this blog. I doubt it was even him behind the complaint, he was probably the Tories stool pigeon sent out to fire a warning shot across my bow for repeatedly upsetting the boss. The investigating officer kept asking me to attend for interview, and I kept replying saying I had better things to do with my time and if they really wanted to make a case then they should just go ahead and do it. I did however point them in the direction of precedent and high court rulings which made the complaint non enforceable. I also told them that I looked forward to defending my position in the public realm once concluded
To my anger I got a draft report sent to me a) saying I hadn't bothered to reply to any requests made by the officer and b) finding me in breach of something I couldn't possibly have done. So I fired off a pretty forceful response, which basically asked the investigator to remove the untruths and think again on the judgement in light of the clear evidence. The response? A final report unchanged and still full of holes and wrongful judgements and decisions. Perhaps it was time I called it a day I thought, after all do I really need all this hassle?
But in a final attempt to rescue my sanity I asked the Chief Executive why he hadn't even responded or intervened in the matter having been copied in to all the correspondence. "I never received them" he said? You must of done I replied and I showed him the "delivered" notes in my ipad version of the email sent box. Still no joy. So he sent me a test email, which I received and I sent him a reply back which he didn't receive! So I then forwarded the test email to my NTFC account and replied to him from that different inbox and account and Hey Presto it arrived, and with it the real reason why life has been so difficult for me as a County Councillor for the past 6 months or maybe even longer. You see some kind and thoughtful soul at County Hall had decided off of their own back or with others to blacklist all of my incoming email correspondence to the County Council. Not an IT blip you will understand as emails can only be blocked as either spam, or from a bad IP address or host, or with profanities within the text (This is called the Scunthorpe scenario, for all of you with filthy minds).
As my email account and its posts was being delivered to and sent from various IP addresses, all profanity free and sent to individuals or small groups (not spammed) then the block could only have be ordered and implemented by individual decision and input from within County Hall.
So for months, my requests on behalf of constituents have been totally ignored, leading to me being bad tempered with staff on the phone having wondered why they had failed to make any progress on my query, My considered comments on reviews and consultations over such important matters as the boundary review, future parking powers, changes to the councils constitution, changes to services including social care, have all gone undelivered, requests and forms sent in for empowerment fund monies all sat in a deleted box in the Council not processed. No wonder officers looked at me gone out when I got angry at having to repeat myself verbally when asked for my views on Council issues, and not once did anyone say, "we never received your email Councillor"
So just how am I supposed to feel now? Pleased to discover that I am not losing my marbles after all? No not really, in fact I feel angrier than ever before that an elected member of the Council and the constituents they represent could have been treated in such a fashion, that person or persons unknown have taken it upon themselves to interfere with the democratic process and deny myself and those I serve a voice. I feel embarrassed that my electorate have had to endure poor service and puzzlement as to why their Cllr couldn't get things done for them in the usual and expected fashion. I am furious that the relationship between myself and some officers of the council has been sullied, leading to a mistrust between us as to my opinion or lack of opinion being forthcoming or my insistence that they were not doing their job all because someone decided that Tony Clarke should be silenced.
I will of course deal with what is an insignificant standards board complaint by a Tory Cllr in a future blog posting, once the truth has outed, and the mistakes in the report corrected, but there is a certain irony that it was this complaint that would eventually be the matter on which a far more serious abuse of local government power has been revealed.
I doubt for one minute if any who know me would think I could ever be silenced, and it is in some ways complimentary to think that some will still try, but I believe that I am owed a full answer to how this could have happened who was responsible and what were the reasons behind the action. Whilst I await the outcome of the inquiry , I must take some solace in discovering that age has not truly caught up with me yet and that if I am still annoying someone to the point of them taking such crass actions then I must still be doing something right along the way.
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Thank you for visiting "tonyclarkegreenparty" The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are made by me personally in my own capacity as free citizen and not as representative of any outside body or council that I may serve on or be employed by. However if anyone is offended by any of these comments or feels that they should be corrected then please contact me in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to consider your comments and correct any errors.
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