We’re told by the police, the courts and the newspapers that Northwich resident Robert Pickthall died on 30th July 2019 when he committed suicide at Acton Bridge Railway Station, Acton Bridge, near Northwich, Cheshire.
Some years ago – back in March 2014 – an email arrived here from Robert Pickthall…
4 Mar 2014, 08:40
The Wayback Machine provides (limited) access to Robert Pickthall’s now non-functioning website here:
Since around 2010, he’d been having trouble with Cheshire West & Chester Council, a relatively new local authority which had come into existence in 2008 following the splitting into two of the much larger Cheshire County Council.
As readers will be aware, we worked at Cheshire County Council for four years and Cheshire West & Chester Council for one year between 2004 and 2009, but left after lodging an internal complaint – a relatively minor one – which was never addressed properly by the council and remains unresolved to this day.
Our victory in this dispute and eventual departure in the autumn of 2009 allowed the misconduct of senior officers (and the complaint itself) to be forgotten in its entirety and swept under the carpet.
The Council was – and probably still remains – a corporate basket case, not capable of dealing with internal and external disputes in an open, transparent and even-handed manner, and has historically been seeking to scapegoat internal complainants, whistleblowers and members of the public rather than discharge its public function correctly.
This path of least resistance is always taken because to the forefront of the authority’s agenda is its reputation, which in councillors’ and senior officers’ eyes always needs to be publicly presented as dignified, professional and spotless, no matter what.
A telling similarity between Robert Pickthall’s case and our own is that we were both banned from exercising our statutory public querying and access rights. In our case, this covered Freedom of Information and Personal Data across all UK public authorities, completely and in perpetuity. We dealt with that here.
In Robert’s case, he was barred from accessing and querying Cheshire West’s planning archive.
In both cases, the question arises, “What on earth have they got to hide?”
…to be continued.