Lets make one thing very clear.
1. It is easy to get money to someone in an invisible manner. Thanks to John Redwood hard work in the late 70s and early 80s this is now an unlimited amount.
2. A 20% more expensive quote to someone with an arrangement with would be impossible to argue against with the 80% quality 20% price purchasing policy. One would only need to presume an established 'Friend' offers better quality.
There are a few things we can look out for though that would highlight the cronies from the contentious (who need not be in a majority, just trusting).
This could be:
Any obstruction to transparency, for example refusing to provide the information relating to price negotiations and large contracts.
Making contract documentation requirements impossible for normal trade that serve public to undertake (they can help their friends).
Blocking filming at mandatory public meetings so that minutes can be selective.
Refusing to hold candid discussions that are recorded.
Signing pre-planning agreements to reach a 'To Far to Stop' situation before residents can get involved.
Putting up wide angle idyllic imagery of an open space that has been landscaped in an area where the supermarket / hotel is going to be built.
Not putting up clear schematic of plans for an area so that public become active and involved early on.
Never talking about congestion or primary school spaces when building more houses in the regeneration.
Allowing the Town Centre (Evendons) Regeneration executive from Riseley to stand as the parish Councillor in Evendons miles from his home but where the regeneration opposition is thus introducing a vested interest in the person who is allowed to speak at council meetings on behalf of locals
Not sharing any contract financial information on the grounds of 'Commercial sensitivity' even though councils are required to share a break down of what they spend on what retrospectively.
Having contract's where the sums simply do not add up.
£2m to do less than build seven flats on land we own.
£180k average build cost / dwelling for 55 properties average 3 bed semi. On land we own.
£5m for a science block ha;f the size of a £2m office on Molly Millars, on land we own.
Appointing own scrutiny panel.
And now, in an added twist our councils democratic services are not enforcing constitutionally mandated transparency and eliminated related comments from the minutes on the grounds that 'it did not follow protocol'
A councillor is supposed to be a volunteer. You may know some real volunteers yourself. School governors, various local senior positions in charities such as the NCT. Would these volunteers act so? These people are often cagouled into helping
In our council have volunteers doing the leg work and hiding information, fighting tooth and nail for the right to do so.
The role is supposed to foremost a typical member of the public.
We need honest people willing to do less, get less involved in the paper work, and appoint paid people to break down the salient information.
I can only prey the majority of the hard working honest members of the council start to look carefully at what potentially worm tongued leaders are presenting as 'usual practice'.
It may only be 'ususal practice' because they have been at it for so long.
Whatever their motive, make sure cronies find it harder to sneak under the radar.
If you want to see how public records are not. Here is me telling the executive that they are in breach of the constitution for opposing transparency, them not addressing that issue, and evidence of democratic services removing my statement from the minutes.
Watch is on youtube for resource links and to make comments.