28 July 2011

Free speech & Freedom of Information - The computer says no.

Freedom of speech 

It seemed to Mr Mustard that today was a good day to write his piece about the charade that is now the Residents' Forums as it was today that Cllr Denial Daniel Thomas refused to allow a resident, Mr Gordon Kerr, to speak to the Cabinet Resources Committee on 28 July 2011. They are only words councillor, you really should listen to residents a little more. The story can be found here in the local Times newspaper.

Mr Mustard can only conclude Mr Kerr that the councillor has accidentally confused you with a troublemaker rather than an interested and concerned local resident.

Oh dear, Mr Mustard has just performed a google search of Mr Kerr and look what he found.

Good photograph Mr Kerr - you look just like an eloquent & decent law abiding citizen; I cannot imagine why you are being danieled your chance to speak. Mr Reasonable will be speaking. I think what you need Mr Kerr is a respectable nickname and that will fool the democratic services officer. You know in One Barnet speak that good is bad ( very childish really ) and so you should perhaps call yourself Mr Meekandmild and then you will get heard. Why they let Mrs Angry speak is because she is a lady and so you could try a blonde wig and call yourself Miss Goodtime?

Freedom of information

Mr Mustard loves the Freedom of Information Act. He gets the feeling that the Council are not quite so keen on it as they try every trick they can think of to reply late, partially or not at all. Mr Mustard has news for you Barnet Council, he was chasing debt when many of you were still in nappies ( what's that Mrs Angry - some of the older councillors are in nappies - you are so naughty ) and there probably aren't any tricks that you can pull that will fool Mr Mustard and don't forget he has Mr Pickles on his side - not a man to cross one would imagine.

Mr Mustard loves the Freedom of Information Act so much that he uses it every day. Now some Councils don't mind. Mr Mustard asked Hackney Council for a copy of their May Gurney contract and they just sent it to him straight away, no crossings out ( very poshly called redacting ) no drama ( we love drama in Barnet don't we readers, what with the actors, disc jockeys, comedians and disappearing acts - although not so much that the Council supports the ArtsDepot any longer ) and isn't the comparison with the Barnet Contract going to make an interesting blog readers, oh yes it is. The May Gurney contract had so many crossings out that it looked like a bad drawing by a 3 year old but after an appeal Barnet Council decided that they could tell Mr Mustard just about everything that he wanted to know as it is his money they are frittering away after all.

Now get back to the subject Mr Mustard. Oh yes democracy that was it. Mr Mustard sent an email to foi@barnet.gov.uk asking

Please send me a copy of the rules of public engagement that were handed out at the residents' Forums last week

Please send them in .doc format

As this is such a simple request I hope that it will not take 20 days for you to answer.

Here is the reply:-
click and click again for larger versions & use the back key to return
So there you have it, a list of what you can't raise and what actions might take place of which the first one is "nothing at all" being the most likely answer it is first.

Now Mr Mustard thought that the amount of information provided was a bit sparse and he was unfortunately tired and emotional on the evening of the first new lack-of-style Residents' Forums, Barnet One Speak for we have to have these meetings but I'll be buggered if any resident is going to get anything out of them.

So he asked a more conscientious and sober blogger to provide him with the papers handed out that evening and here they are:-

you can ask little questions on issues that your Councillor should already have dealt with

is "doing nothing" a course of action? Debate - 300 words please

if we only let you raise matters one every 6 months they will fade away

comments are reported to the decision maker who then ignores them completely

ooh, do nothing, again. Aren't we busy doing nothing

does anyone understand anything on this page ?

loads of tosh about powerless Partnerships

tosh, drivel, baloney, hogwash, One Barnet speak
Now isn't that funny readers; the guff handed out at the meeting is different to the guff sent in response to an FOI request. All perfectly innocent of course.

Now what are the questions that any resident is likely to want to ask about:-

Pinkham Way
One Barnet
Staff redundancies
Icelandic banks
Church Farmhouse Museum
Hendon FC
Sandbanks Hotel
Councillor allowances

Mr Mustard thinks you will find that the computer says no to all of these major issues. If you want to ask why a single paving slab is broken in the High St then you will be welcomed with open arms.

Democracy - One Barnet style.

For a very funny ( except it's serious when democracy dies ) you need to read this guest blog on Mr Reasonable's site.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Hmmmm, so according to that document Chipping Barnet Area Environmental Sub Committee is composed of councillors from Hale, Edgware, Burnt Oak, West Hendon, Colindale, Hendon and Mill Hill wards. Shame that councillors representing the 7 wards in Chipping Barnet are not involved!

  2. Well spotted Lucy Furr. Mr Mustard usually spots glaring financial errors but you trump him this time with a democratic error. Mr Mustard thinks that "cut and paste" is the culprit. A pity that no Barnet Councillor or Officer noticed. No-one does sanity checks at Barnet Council. Mr Mustard feels another non-job coming on.

    The list should have been East Barnet, High Barnet, Oakleigh, Brunswick Park, Coppetts, Totteridge & Underhill. The Chair is chosen by Council and any ward councillor can, but is not obliged, to attend and it seems that most urgently need to be doing something else.

    If you read the excellent report that is linked to in the last line of my blog ( link only added this morning ) you will find that although Kate Slinger of Coppetts is the Chair Cllr Longstaff was the stand-up, sorry stand-in, and he is one of Mr Mustard's biggest "fans" ( see earlier post "Was it something I said" ) and for the all-round appraisal of Cllr Longstaff see Mrs Angry's blog.

    Also present were Cllr Coakley-Webb ( she stood up for Mr Mustard in a meeting once - thank you cllr ) and Cllr Evangeli of East Barnet.

    Barnet Council will doubtless send you a thank you note in the form of a voucher for a one-night all expenses paid trip to the Sandbanks Hotel.

    Mr Mustard feels sure that the thank you notes for his two previous error spots of 1,000,000 phone calls and sub-totals that were several £m out are on their way. Have you had your thank you note yet Mr Reasonable for the £1.25m error that you found? No! shockingly bad manners Barnet Council.

  3. Sorry wrong committee, too many of the ruddy things. The same comment applies to the Chipping Barnet Area Environmental sub-committee

    Chair : Longstaff ( sub Perry )
    Vice : Evangeli ( sub J Tambourides )

    A Cornelius
    B Salinger
    A Tambourides

    A Strongolou

    all from local wards.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.