25 June 2012

Light the blue touch paper and retire

not the Golders Hill beacon

Mr Mustard likes to email all councillors now and then to give them his views as a resident and council tax payer. He did this last week and sent an email from his alter ego's email address. The content of the email about Freedom of Information needing more importance and more resource can be found in a previous blog post here.

There is sometimes a read receipt on the emails so that Mr Mustard can gauge how many councillors have at least opened the email. Mr Mustard did not need to know that Brian Coleman had opened the email as he received a reply from him after 3h & 33m and here it is (you might want to sit down before reading any further):


Mr Mustard (Mr Mustard's real name was used - the word "Dear" did not appear)

You have repeatedly and politely been told by me to remove me from your e mail lists and cease contacting me; this includes your many round robin e mails to Councillors . You are not a resident of my Ward and have no business contacting me

I have also made it clear to you that I do not wish to receive e mails nor letters to my home or the Town Hall from you on any matter whatsoever.

Any further communication will be treated as harassment and dealt with appropriately

Additionally it has been reported to me that you are the owner of a black transit type van which has been seen parked near Councillors houses on several occasions , I am sure you would agree we are now moving into the realms of stalking and if you are undertaking such activities and I stress if,then perhaps you would desist

I note you have dropped the practise of sending anonymous e mails and at least now write in your proper name no doubt as a result of the recent ruling on "Internet Trolls"

As I understand you have submitted hundreds of FOI requests at the cost to the Barnet taxpayer of ten of thousands of pounds perhaps you might mention that to Mr Pickles and indeed support my view that the rules should be tightened to prevent malicious and obsessive FOI requests

Now let Mr Mustard consider some of the points.

Without prejudice - isn't really relevant to Brian's email but is a more complicated subject than you might think. See the guide which you can find on this page.

Not for publication - in the absence of a legal agreement that a communication is confidential, or some law like the Official Secrets Act applying, publication cannot be prevented.

Mr Mustard has been told by Brian not to contact him. At that time Brian was a member of the Cabinet which makes decisions that affect the whole of the borough and so it seems perfectly reasonable to email him. Brian is still on a committee that overviews and scrutinises budget decisions that affect the whole borough and it still seems reasonable to email him even if he then decides to delete emails unread. Mr Mustard did have business emailing Brian recently because he sent him £10 and a Subject Access Request which is months overdue for a response. This was hand delivered to Hendon Town Hall and the cheque has not been claimed.( Incidentally the separate request & £10 cheque sent to the council has not been answered / claimed either). Both Brian and the council will have to be reported to the Information Commissioner.

Needless to say no other councillor has found the tone or frequency of Mr Mustard's missives to be bothersome and has asked to be excused PE emails. London Councils published a guide to the job of a councillor, you can find it on this blog as the immediately preceding post. They think differently to Brian so they must be wrong?

Mr Mustard now also notes that Brian is a substitute member of the Chipping Barnet area environment sub-committee where Mr Mustard's alter ego lives. If Brian is not going to listen to the views of a Chipping Barnet resident then he perhaps ought to take himself off the substitute list for that committee (do substitutes get paid for being on call?).

Brian is also a substitute for the East area planning sub-committee. Doesn't that cover Chipping Barnet? 

Mr Mustard thinks that the harassment charge won't stick unless all the other 62 councillors make the same complaint. It's not as if Brian has been singled out for special attention, except on the day he lost his GLA seat and of course he was the only possible recipient of advice that day, which was blogged about on Saturday. Mr Mustard is a bit hit and miss with his round robin emails. It is possible that he might have sent 2 in a week on different subjects but then he might go a month or two without sending anything.

Mr Mustard does have a black Renault Trafic. It is adorned with adverts for the Barnet Bloggers. It is also insured for anyone to drive. So far 2 neighbours have driven it and 3 others want to borrow it. One to collect his son and all his gear from university, one to move a sofa and the other to use on the allotment. Mr Mustard lives in a friendly street where this sort of behaviour is normal and he takes no money for the loan of the van. Mr Mustard does not ask people who borrow his van if they are going to be near a councillor's property.

As it happens Mr Mustard's co-director owns a flat in the same block as a councillor (not Brian, that would be just too awful) and Mr Mustard's van has been there several times recently because the flat is being emptied and decorated and the neighbour who is doing that work lives in the street and he was driving, not Mr Mustard who was busy debt collecting in his office. Mr Mustard has sent an email to that councillor to explain.

Mr Mustard has parked near Brian's Methodist flat twice. He parked in Ballards Lane. Why? It was because he had meetings at Café Buzz and Mr Mustard refuses to register for pay-by-phone parking so he heads south from Tally Ho out of the CPZ until there is a big enough space to park a van in easily. Sadly almost at Brian's but the 1km walk does Mr Mustard good. Mr Mustard was not hiding behind a tree with his binoculars.

Now let us think about Barnet. There are 63 councillors. There are 33 square miles of Barnet. It is probably the case that Mr Mustard is near to the house of a councillor all of the time as is every other resident in the borough. 2 of his 3 ward councillors live within a mile of him, one a mere 200m away. 

Mr Mustard is not stalking councillors (unless you count his regular appearances in the public gallery at Council meetings? - no, good) and has never said a single word to Brian Coleman (and does not intend to). It is interesting the different reactions one gets. When permitgate arose Mr Mustard sent a very stiff email to Hugh Rayner which, after a bit of bluff & bluster, he took on the chin (Mrs Angry tells Mr Mustard that Hugh is a military man so stiff upper lip and all that) and then introduced himself to Mr Mustard at a recent meeting. All very civil. Mr Mustard was a little surprised at the time and only remembered afterwards that he had expressed a forceful opinion as to the actions that Hugh should take and Hugh took them by handing back his permit and giving some money to the Mayor's charity. He did wrong and then he did right which is to his credit. Isn't there still a question hanging about concerning the use of Brain's permit during Boris's visit to Golders Green or has that become waterunderthebridge-gate?

Now as to the use of email addresses. There is little doubt that the council and councillors have known the identity of Mr Mustard almost since he started blogging. When the famous five Barnet bloggers send joint letters they use their real names. Mr Mustard did use his mrmustard@zoho.com address when he wrote to Brian on 4 May but now tends to use his alter ego's email address which contains his name as that one is linked to his Outlook account and it is possible to send to more than 50 recipients which isn't possible on Zoho. That is the explanation as to the change of email address.

Mr Mustard is not a troll (what's that Mrs Angry? - a bit of a trollop though at times) and as his identity is known and is put on the footer of emails in any case this remark is just bluster (someone must surely have told Brian about the Internet trolls case, is he really that up to date with what is going on with social media?)

Mr Mustard accepts that there are hundreds of requests he has made to Barnet Council and a few to other authorities. The law does not limit the number one can send. They were not all on the same subject. The reason is that there are thousands of things that the council hides and which need to be teased out. The One Barnet risk register for a start, of which half was crossed out.

Is Mr Mustard malicious? You will have to judge but he doesn't think so. He is doubtless a thorn in the side of the council but he will stop being so when they drop One Barnet, get rid of all the consultants, adopt sensible policies and become a boring and efficient council. Mr Mustard thinks he will be around for a while.

Is he obsessive? Maybe a little, but you could also say he has simply become very interested in the workings of the council which is a good thing for democracy. Given the choice last Tuesday between the committee that Brian chairs, the one where he objected to a lady filming when she had every right to, and an evening playing snooker, he chose the snooker so not that obsessive, just a man who likes to see things though.

If Brian wants the rules on FOI changing then he will have to lobby Parliament. Mr Mustard has done so on the subject of FOI, you can read it here.

A delicious irony is that the email last week to all councillors about his FOI request being one year old and so headed "Happy Birthday" (Mr Mustard worried it might not get through the spam filter) might just have been opened by Brian rather than deleted because it is in fact Brian Coleman's birthday today.

Happy Birthday Brian!

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. We worried, didn't, the Barnet bloggers, that Brian's fall from grace would leave us bereft? Clearly no need to be concerned.

    After a brief period of uncharacteristic quietness, in the last week he appears to have lost the plot again, and is back to his old ways. No doubt he is missing all the attention.

    Many Happy Returns, birthday boy. Time to grow up, maybe.


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