GEDLING Borough Council has issued a statement this afternoon denying any conspiracy over comments left on dumbles.co.uk.
As we reported yesterday, this website received a series of comments on a story about a proposed crematorium and cemetery at Catfoot Lane Lambley. Each used very similar language in support of the planning application, each was made from Gedling’s computer network, and all were received within a period of six minutes last Wednesday morning.
When clarification was sought, two of the three commenters issued similarly-worded responses, this time within four minutes of each other.
The timing, content, and provenance of these comments and responses all point towards a coordinated campaign. Gedling’s statement today acknowledges that its staff made the comments but says this does not amount to a conspiracy.
The statement, from Sam Whitworth, Service Manager Communications, is reproduced in full below:
“Three members of Gedling Borough Council staff recently commented on a dumbles.co.uk forum about the planning application for the proposed crematorium and cemetery in Lambley.
“None of the members of staff in question work in the planning department; nor do any of them have any involvement with the development proposals. However, all three are residents in the borough, and were commenting from a personal viewpoint about the proposals in the same way that many others have also.
“To suggest that these members of staff were part of a conspiracy is incorrect. Gedling Borough Council has a long history of complete transparency and accountability to the residents it serves, and takes any challenges to its reputation very seriously.”
UPDATE 14.30 Wednesday 8 May 2013: Gedling states above that none of the members of staff work in the planning department. One of those members of staff replied to us that they work in Gedling Direct Services, and another that they work in Parks and Street Care. Gedling’s own structure chart indicates that cemeteries fall within the remit of Parks and Street Care. In other words, at least one of these individuals may not be as disinterested in the outcome of the planning committee as the official statement would imply.
SECOND UPDATE: 16:30 Wednesday 8 May: Further investigations by dumbles.co.uk reveal that two of the commenters are directly involved in cemetery management at Gedling Borough Council. The council’s insistence that they were commenting ‘from a personal viewpoint’ may look less convincing in light of this latest revelation.