1 July 2012

Somerton and accountability

Listening to the news about the LIBOR rate manipulation made me consider the widespread lack of accountability in public and private (commercial) life. RBS Chairman, Bob Diamond, isn't going to resign because either he knew what was going on and did nothing, making him complicit, or he didn't know about it and was incompetent. Either way, he should be accountable yet he simply decides that he isn't and goes about his business as if nothing has happened.

Compare that to Somerton and the External Auditor's Report. Taken as a whole, the Report is a damning indictment of that Council and the Clerk, yet no-one is held to account. Even worse, influential, not to say vicious members of Somerton's community stand up and support the law-breakers and, at the same time, denigrate the External Auditor. And South Somerset District Council isn't innocent in this process.

In order to shift attention from their own misdeeds, Somerton's 'Old Guard' instigated a vicious and malicious raft of complaints against Cllr Fraser-Hopewell and SSDC, quite properly, launched an investigation into those complaints. As yet, the outcome of that investigation is unknown but SSDC are going to extra-ordinary lengths to protect the identities of those involved in the serial complaining. Somerton has already seen how the 'Old Guard' seek anonymity with anonymous websites, anonymous leaflets and now SSDC encourages their behaviour by offering them anonymity in their malicious and probably groundless complaints.

Compare that position to the manner in which SSDC have sought to bury a long-standing complaint against Tony Canvin, a complaint which sat with Standards for England during both the police and the External Auditor's investigations. With the abolition of Standards for England, that complaint is now back with SSDC who are sitting on it, possibly in the hope that it will go away. Maybe SSDC's 'standards committee' fear that they might have to consider that complaint in the light of the External Auditor's comprehensive and factual assessment of Canvin's actions whilst Vice-Chair of Somerton and whilst a District Councillor.

Vince Cable has made a statement about the banks where he states that the only way to stamp out corruption in our banks is for shareholders to take control. In this he is admitting that the regulators are powerless or unwilling to act. Apply the same approach to our elected representatives and the clear message is that direct action on the part of the electorate is the only way that the electorate can hold their elected representatives to account.

How would our parliamentarians react to our own 'British Spring'?

Till next shock horror scandal, I'm still Niall Connolly