26 July 2011

One Barnet - One Voice - The Style Council

The Style Council

Lyrics of You're the best thing that ever happened to me.

You're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, so don't go away

and then of course there is Barnet Council ! 

Mr Mustard came across another interesting item in the disclosure log. It is the Text style standards of Barnet Council. Here it is:

click & click again to enlarge then back to return
So Mr Mustard's naughty co-director said it must therefore be OK to write to a resident and tell them to 'Eff orf as long as it is correctly styled !

What makes Mr Mustard think this document has not been updated for a while? Perhaps its the references to Leo Boland, Mike Freer, Tony Blair, the Labour Government, Nick Walkley as Director of Resources? and the € not being used.

I am sure quite a few readers will have something to say about the guidance; Mr Mustard does not like the guidance under Numbers - "Nine and 10 year old horses" just looks all wrong to him. Please add your own comments at the bottom about any of the style advice.

Mr Mustard found this to be the most useful piece of advice: 

"Plain English - Try to write in Plain English at all times. Imagine you are writing for an audience of 12-year-olds and only include words they would understand". 

Why does Mr Mustard think that no-one at Barnet Council has read this document? If you are a new employee at Barnet Council, did this document feature in your induction programme? Do tell. Not a single report to committee that Mr Mustard has read nor any delegated powers report has ever been written in language that a 12 year old could understand. Let us take the example that Mr Mustard's fellow blogger vickim57 has recently written about, Church Farmhouse Museum. This is what the report to committee says:-

The Corporate Plan 2010-2013 commits the Council to delivering ‘Better services with less money’. A key principle of the medium term financial strategy is to continually review the use of Council assets so as to reduce the cost of accommodation year on year and to obtain best consideration for any surplus assets to maximise funds for capital investment and/or the repayment of capital debt. The sale of the Church Farmhouse would provide a capital receipt which would support the Council’s priorities and bring this currently unused area of land back into use.

In Plain English that is "We are flogging off the family silver"

And from the Barnet Bugle website this epic sentence from Kate Kennally ( paid £145,000 p.a. and doubtless worth every penny if not every word ) 

"Throughout this process we have been in contact with services users advising them in advance of any changes to their contribution, requesting further information where appropriate and undertaking reviews of service users contributions and care packages when requested or queries have been raised. 

221 home visits have been undertaken by our visiting officers who provide support to individuals in the completion of the financial assessment form and ensure that a person’s benefits are maximised."

So that is a 43 word sentence, hardly what one would call short. Can you find a longer one from Barnet Council? Mr Mustard feels sure that you can. Will the longest sentence have 100 or more words in it? 

Mr Mustard also notices that Ms Kennally started the second sentence with a number thus breaching the advice to "Never begin a sentence with a number".

Mr Mustard also observes that in her email Ms Kennally refers to the subject group of her emails as : "People" "Service Users" "Individual" and "Person". How confusing is that when they are all the same?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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