A brief check-in with Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission on Monday. A sprawling meeting with lots of questions and very few answers.
In a lovely twist, many of the public’s questions were ignored and went unanswered on the basis that SEND management were “too busy” preparing for an OFSTED inspection next week. Because a load of tweedy school inspectors wanking over spreadsheets takes priority over elected councillors, abused SEND parents and the public, apparently.
The meeting generated a huge amount of content of variable quality so we’ll confine ourselves to a few things that grabbed our attention and leave the heavy lifting to the mainstream press who turned out in numbers for the meeting.
She rather nicely set the scene when she enquired of the council’s Deputy Head of Legal Services, Nancy “No Evil” Rollason, who cheerily admitted to authoring the daft SEND spying ‘fact-finding’ report along with an absent colleague, why she had described a public information meeting any member of the public could book on via the internet as ‘confidential’ when it wasn’t?
Cue much umming and aahing from a perplexed Ms Rollason before she eventually explained she may need to, er, “verify and correct information received from officers.”
First question complete and this much-vaunted ‘fact-finding’ report appeared to have been urgently downgraded to ‘draft’ and retitled ‘Wild claims from desperate council officers about our SEND surveillance mess’.
A further question from Chopsy enquired whether council officers had been using their personal accounts to access parents’ social media? A question that got a resounding no from Ms Rollason who was at pains to explain access to parents’ accounts was all above board and would have been carefully managed through official and accountable council channels.
An answer, unfortunately, on a direct collision course with the truth as Chopsy had already been sent information through an FoI that clearly showed a SEND manager accessing SEND parent social media accounts from their personal social media account. Here’s a screenshot:
If this was a court case, the case would have been thrown out at this point and Rollason bollocked by the judge as a clueless timewaster. However, as a meeting of city councillors, they simply shambled on as though one of their senior lawyers sitting in front of them spouting bare-faced lies was business-as-usual. Which, let’s face it, it probably is.
Some questioning from Easton’s Green Councillor Barry Parsons also caught our attention. Parsons queried Rollason’s claim that any surveillance was not ‘systematic’ because it only took place on two occasions for two specific investigations.
He reeled off a series of dates contained in the report, when monitoring of parents accounts took place. A claim rebuffed by Rollason who insisted, despite evidence, that there were only two ‘specific’ occasions only when parents’ social media was accessed.
A claim rendered unbelievable by more of Chopsy’s FoI material. This includes screenshots of Tweets collected just hours after they were made rather than as part of a, later, retrospective investigation:
What Parsons didn’t ask, which also may have been interesting, was, if there were two investigations, where were the investigation reports, who were the investigating officers and who commissioned the investigations? All requirements of Bristol City Council’s Investigation Policy that management and officers are obliged to follow.
There was lots and lots more at this meeting, including a brief reference to the Bristolian’s evil Twitter twin @bristol_citizen. We’ll return to this at some point as the chair of the meeting Lib Dem Tim “Little Ass Hat” Kent correctly described the account’s inclusion in an investigation document cobbled together by SEND management fuckwits as “ludicrous”.
What wasn’t included at this meeting was also instructive. No one mentioned the social media protocol produced by Rollason’s colleague Kate Burnham-Davies in May 2020, which completely contradicts Rollason’s conclusion that the surveillance undertaken of SEND parents was lawful.
Who at the council is going to tell the Emperor he’s wearing no clothes?