STC Tory Censorship!

5 Live investigates Sunday 3rd April 11.00am Radio 5The Tories are demanding Swanley & District Labour Party takes down the following web pages:

Key Facts

  • It was a resident at a public meeting that raised the questions about financial competence of Swanley Town Council after he revealed the losses they had made.
  • It was a Tory, Cllr Ray Morris, Chair of the Swanley Banqueting Board who replied: “The bit which you actually picked up on -which is great-  because you studied the Account in GREAT DETAIL is that we are actually clearly accounting the situation…we are aware of the situation and that’s why we have the change as far as Banqueting was concerned.” He did not say then that it was an abusive, or offensive question.
  • It is Swanley Town Council who have paid out tens of thousands of pounds in out of court Industrial Tribunal settlements.
  • It is Tory led Swanley Town Council that was featured in a BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates radio documentary.
  • It was the presenter Adrian Goldberg who described the settlement agreement confidentiality clause Swanley Council wanted a worker to sign as “like something out of the TV series Spooks”.
  • It is a former member of the Council staff who stated: “I mean there are so many things that have happened over the past couple of years since the new council took over, probably over fifty staff now left within the space of under two years for various reasons. There’s been a lot of bullying, a lot of staff been harassed out of their jobs basically. And there is a lot of employees very unhappy, ex-employees very unhappy about it.”
  • It is former members of staff who have made critical comments about Tory led Swanley Town Council.

Stencil text of Swanley Council Clause 15 Settlement Agreement.The Tories have not addressed the questions raised by the local resident.

We wonder if the Tories have challenged Radio 5 Live Investigates and asked the BBC to remove it from their website too.  The program is still on the BBC website: Radio 5 Live Investigates Confidentiality Clauses

Instead, the Tories have tried to blame Swanley & District Labour Party. They want the web pages down because they want the excellent questions raised by a Swanley resident, and the critical reporting of BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates forgotten.

The Tories have published Minutes of a Meeting of the Swanley Banqueting Board held at the Civic Centre on Wednesday 18th May 2016. (Link to minutes here).

Here it is stated: “Comments written on the Labour Party website were discussed and read out regarding criticism of the staff of the council.”

No detail of what comments were deemed criticisms of staff is provided in the minutes. It seems the Tories are trying to substitute the words Senior Management with staff. At no time does Swanley & District Labour Party criticise the staff at Swanley Town Council. We do, however, reserve the right to scrutinise Senior Management and the Tory led Council. That is what the opposition is supposed to do!

The minutes go on to state: “Cllr Hogg was asked to go back remove offending comments from the website.”

It should be stressed at this point that Swanley & District Labour Party is a democratic organisation. Our website, Facebook Page & Twitter Account is managed by an elected Social Media Action Group.  Cllr Hogg cannot control or be held responsible for the content of the social media.

The minutes record: “Cllr Hogg admitted that there may be incorrect information online.” This comment is taken out of context. Cllr Hogg said “may” because he was not aware of all the content on the website and therefore felt he could not be certain. He did state, though, that he did not know of any incorrect information. This is not recorded in the minutes.

The minutes go on to record that “It was proposed that a zero tolerance approach is adopted towards any aggressive or abusive behavior against officers of the Council and any complaint made by a member of staff should be taken seriously and the persons responsible for the abuse will be refused entry from all Council venues.”

Swanley & District Labour Party & its elected Social Media Action Group are totally opposed to aggressive or abusive behavior towards Council officers, staff or anyone else. We believe in a new kind of politics which focuses on policies and avoids all forms of personal abuse. It is the policies we are criticising.

There is, and never has been, any form of personal abuse of staff on our website. We invite people to read the articles that seem to be the ones causing the Tories to panic.

It seems to us that the Tories are trying to close down all questioning and criticism of their management of Swanley Town Council by calling it abuse of staff. We would like to remind the Tories that it is the role of the opposition to scrutinise and hold the ruling party to account. Swanley & District Labour Party has and will continue to do that in the face of Tory intimidation with their threats of suspension and refusing entry from all Council venues.

Cllr Morris stated that the emails sent to the Town Clerk from the opposition party were “inappropriate”.

Again, the minutes provide no detail of what ways they are inappropriate. Here is a link to the email sent by the coordinator for the Social Media Action Group: Letter to Chief Executive Officer.

We invite the public to judge for themselves if it is in anyway inappropriate. Please let us know via the comments section below.

Residents who attend the Council public meetings can testify to who it is that is behaving in an abusive & aggressive manner. It is certainly not Swanley & District Labour Party members.

We are still living in a democracy. Swanley & District Labour refuses to take down webpages that report the facts, and defends the workers & residents of Swanley.

Our local branch has more than doubled in size and is continuing to grow. Join us and help defend our communities from Tory attacks, both nationally and locally.

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