1 April 2012

Another £100k up the swanny river

The Suwannee River

Mr Mustard despairs. He has discovered that another £100,000 has been wasted on consultants (the name of the consultants was, would you believe it, redacted and Mr Mustard is waiting for the results of a review), this time to investigate alternative black marker pens for Freedom of Information officers. It turns out that back in February one of the FOI officers passed out and had to be taken to hospital as a precaution after spending 3 hours locked in a small conference room redacting the secret details in a 300 page One Barnet report which Mr Mustard had requested. The council then spent all of this money on a report into alternative water based marker pens. The council thought that using water based pens would be safer for the FOI officers as they do not give off noxious fumes and less would be stolen out of the stationery cupboard by junior juvenile staff who were trying to get high on them. One person got caught who had been doing this in the toilets because they left a telltale black mark on their nostrils. 

This being Barnet Council they couldn't of course just decide to use the water based markers, or to use scissors and cut out the offending passages (it would take too long apparently and could lead to claims for RSI) no, they had to send a number of redacted documents off to a laboratory for testing to see if the person getting the document might be able to wash the marking off and reveal the text underneath. Should any other council want to follow Barnet Council's very sensible idea to use water based pens which are better for the planet and are made locally in Hertfordshire by the family company U. R. Green they should send Mr Mustard an email for the contact details (mrmustard@zoho.com)

Mr Mustard contacted Barnet Council Press Office for a response and their Miss Avril Duper said:

"The council takes the health of its employees very seriously and thus the new marker pens are essential to staff wellbeing. In addition, the new pens are odourless and silent in operation and can be applied more quickly and accurately than the old ones. The cost was well within the One Barnet budget"

Mr Mustard hopes that it will be another year before another similar scandal sees the light of day.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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