Cllr Mike Baldock
Following a controversial council meeting on the borrowing of a further 30 million for future opportunities, where the council undemocratically and illegally bared members of the public from attending, Cllr Mike Baldock refused to hand back some confidential council papers.
Whilst Swale Borough Council were found to be in the wrong for excluding a large number of residents who were keen to listen to the debate, and have subsequently faced no comeback for those involved in making the decision, Cllr Baldock was as a result reported to the Standards Hearing Sub Committee.
Even though, Cllr Baldock was not found to have been in breach of confidentiality, he has since been banned from attending the next three scrutiny meetings as a result. A freedom of information request has disclosed that the hearing cost the tax payer some £5,700.
Cllr Andrew Bowles
However, in an going feud that is now getting personal council leader Andrew Bowles has accused Cllr Baldock of having a disregard for confidentially, saying “I’m not happy, because bluntly I do not feed that the committee were empowered to make the level of sentence that I think would have been realistic, and I don’t want to start a personal war here, but I will say, were I a resident of the area represented by the gentleman concerned, I would be very, very concerned because he has said quite blatantly in public and on social media that he doesn’t agree with the idea of confidentiality.”
“To actually have as my representative someone who says he will not represent confidence would not fill me with any enthusiasm at all.”
Unsurprisingly Cllr Baldock entirely refutes this accusation saying “It is simply not true of him to suggest that I have said that I do not respect confidentiality. Client confidentiality, resident confidentiality is something I hold very dear. What I do not agree with is things been kept confidential from us.”
“That was a disgraceful comment by the leader and I expect to see written evidence from him saying exactly where I have said that.”
“I held on to those papers because I believe that we as councillors have a right to that information and we have a right to expect trust.”
Labour leader Cllr Roger Truelove commented “I think this whole procedure was a disproportionate response to somebody not handing in some blue (confidential) papers, which is not provided for by the constitution and was merely a request from the chairman of scrutiny on that night.”
“If he wanted to abuse the use of these, like the rest of us, he could have photocopied it and kept the photocopy.”
“The only reason he kept them is because he is stroppy, he was very upset by a contretemps between himself, myself and the previous chief executive. Both of us were concerned that the public were not allowed in and so he took his blue papers home”
Cllr Ghlin Whelan protested that there was nothing confidential in the papers and said “It shouldn’t have been on blue paper in the first place. “
Cllr Angela Harrison says it was a “Sledgehammer to crack a nut, what the hell is going on.”
“I have been here when blue papers were virtually printed word for word on the front page of the Faversham Times, the East Kent Gazette and the Sheerness Times Guardian. Do you know what happened to those members who published the blue papers, we didn’t even investigate and we all knew who it was.”