Library campaigners in Croydon are considering filing a maladministration complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman over Councillor Sara Bashford’s handling of the borough’s libraries.
They will claim that Bashford, Conservative councillor for Selsdon and Ballards, deliberately misled the council cabinet and the public over the outcome of a consultation conducted in 2010-2011, in order to justify the policy of outsourcing the management of the borough’s libraries to outside organisations.
Inside Croydon reported earlier this week that when Croydon Council announced that it was to conduct a privatisation process of the borough’s libraries, it made false statements that this was as a result of “demand” from the public. In truth, only one person among thousands of responders even mentioned outsourcing.
Library campaigners have sought legal advice on Croydon Council’s handling of its libraries, and this suggests that as well as defects in the consultation process, there may also have been serious errors made under the council’s own internal procurement rules or under EU law.
It all gives Inside Croydon its first opportunity to quote the late judge, Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls, the man who conducted the inquiry in to the Profumo Affair which ultimately brought down a Tory government, and who coined the phrase “the man on the Clapham omnibus” when seeking to find a commonsense solution to a legal issue.
Denning offered a legal definition of maladministration as including “bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, ineptitude, perversity, turpitude, arbitrariness and so on”. Library campaigners may use this to make a maladministration case over Croydon’s handling of its library consultation and outsourcing, as well as possible call for a judicial review.
Bashford, whose day job is working as a constituency assistant for Croydon Central’s Conservative MP Gavin Barwell – making it impossible for constituents to take their complaints over the handling of the borough’s libraries to their MP – had her council cabinet responsibility for the borough’s libraries taken away from her in April.
- “Inside Croydon is an attack site”: Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central
- There will be no library closures: Sara Bashford, Conservative councillor in charge of borough’s libraries, 2011
- “No incinerator in or near Croydon”: Waddon ward’s Conservative candidates, April 2010
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