31 July 2012

August public service meetings

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services, who are trying to keep jobs within Barnet rather than outsourced to the rest of the country, usually meet on a Wednesday evening at 6pm at the Greek Cypriot Centre.

During August the centre is closed and so the meetings will take place nearby at:

The Safari Bar
975 High Rd
N12 8QR

on Wednesdays at 6.30pm until 8.30pm (Note, later start time)

Residents who want to find out what is actually happening at the town hall would be well advised to pop along to a meeting to find out what is happening at the sharp end rather than listening to the spin that pours out of the town hall.

I am sure you would be welcomed by the Safari Bar to stop and buy some curry afterwards.

You are just inside a CPZ so drive north to the edge and then park for free (or use your blue badge inside the CPZ if you have one). Also, in some side roads there are yellow lines which only operate for an hour at lunchtime e.g. in Derwent Crescent which is almost opposite the Safari Bar (access via Britannia Rd ). Woodside Park and Totteridge & Whetstone tube stations are a 20 minute walk away and plenty of buses go past.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

30 July 2012

We know where you live


Introducing iCasework - the Freedom of Information Case Management System
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 15:08 Schroder, Johnathan

In April 2012 the council began using a new system for managing Freedom of Information (FOI) and Subject Access (SAR) requests. iCasework, the new system, allows for better case management, more consistent responses and greater analysis of statistics. What it wasn't meant to do was to publish the home address of Mr Mustard, cue panic, and the turning off of the publication scheme. You can try it here (click "disclosure log"), is it still unobtainable? Information wasn't meant to be so free.

In conjunction with the new system we have also recently published an FOI Policy, Redaction Policy and FOI Staff Guidance, all available in the Information Governance section of the intranet. Mr Mustard hasn't seen the redaction policy but can paraphrase it for you "Cross out anything useful to the requestor".

FOI Link Officers in each directorate manage the requests but all staff are required to assist with providing appropriate responses. We ask you to read through the policies and make sure you understand your responsibilities. Poor old FOI officers suffer because staff in services often don't give a fig about those pesky blogger requests.

As well as being a statutory requirement, responding to FOI requests is a corporate performance indicator which is reported on quarterly. Link Officers and Assistant Directors meet regularly to analyse the response times and look at ways of improving our responses to customers. Barnet Council frequently fail to meet statutory requirements.

If you receive a request for information that is not just 'business as usual' refer to the policies, speak to your Link Officer or contact the Standards and Information Rights Team for further guidance. What is Business as Usual exactly?

Improvements to the council's information governance mentioned in this newsletter, such as data quality and records management will all help the council to provide better responses to FOI requests more quickly. You can't send a better response to a FOI request. You should simply answer it exactly; there is no room for spin in FOI. The format of the response could be improved. Stop the nonsense of putting the answer in a Word document and instead put it directly into the email.

By the end of this month, the council will also be in a position to publish FOI responses on service-specific sections of the website. Somehow this might now be late.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Now just remind me...

those were the days
FOI question ( 27 January 2012 )

From 1 January 2011 please advise the date on which the reminders were posted to residents in possession of a permit allowing them to park within the CPZ for each month since then up to February 2012 (which is presumably the most recent month for which reminders were issued).

Please make clear if there were any months in which reminders were not sent and give the reason/s.

Are the reminders posted first class or second?

Response ( 24 July 2012 - only 6 months! )

From January 2011 to March 2012 Permit reminder letters were being issued approximately 1 month before the expiry of the resident permit. In April 2012 we became aware that reminder letters had not been issued. This was raised with members of the management team in the Customer Service Organisation and the facility was switched on towards the middle of May 2012.

I cannot provide you with precise dates when reminder letters were issued because these are system generated letters based upon the account information. To clarify, there are no fixed dates when reminder letters are printed each month. It is dependent upon the date when the renewal period starts. The renewal period starts 1 month before the expiry of the permit. This varies on a case by case basis.

Reminders are posted second class.

Mr Mustard was aware that the system went wrong in April 2012 because that is when his own permit was due for renewal and fortunately he had his own record and applied in time.

If your permit was due for renewal between the end of March and mid-May 2012 and you received a parking ticket and paid it, this would be a good time to ask for your money back as your failure to renew was not your fault. Quite why it took from April to mid May to put right such a simple reminder system is indicative of the administrative complexity and lack of control caused by separating the service from customer service.

If you have failed to receive a reminder at any other time, and the council admit that they have no idea when they have sent out reminders, which is a truly shocking lack of record keeping, then you can ask Mr Mustard for a copy of his FOI response in support of your argument that you were not reminded.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

29 July 2012

Long contracts are not flexible said Cllr Rajput (oh dear)

From: First Team
Sent: 20 July 2012 14:27
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

Tuesday's Cabinet meeting took some significant decisions.

Cabinet (oh dear Nick, a schoolboy error!. The Grahame Park matter was discussed at the entirely separate Cabinet Resources Committee) agreed a report proposing a range of measures to support progress on the Grahame Park regeneration scheme. This includes up to £5million for shared ownership schemes and a further £5million to improve the streetscene and infrastructure between Grahame Park and Colindale Tube Station. So £53m has to be cut from the service budget over 3 years and yet we can find £5m to get people onto the home ownership ladder and another £5m for roads and pavements in one tiny corner of the borough. Odd priorities.

Cabinet (oops, I mean CRC, Nick) also authorised further work to re-locate Barnet College from its current Grahame Park location to a new purpose-built building at the heart of the regeneration, a mark of our enhanced partnership with the College. I have written before about the need to maintain momentum on our regen schemes and this report marks an important step on that journey, supported by our robust financial position. As with any property deal in Barnet the overpowering smell is a fishy one. Here is that section of the report:

It is the shared ambition of the Barnet and Southgate College and the London Borough of Barnet to facilitate a relocation of the College’s Grahame Park campus within Grahame Park. The existing facility on Grahame Park Way is no longer fit for purpose.

9.1.24 The proposal is to relocate the College within the proposed Phase 1b, of the Grahame Park Regeneration scheme, the area known as Plot A8 (at the southern end of the site, adjoining the existing roundabout), which currently has planning permission for 57 homes for private sale, retail space, a new library, and the option for additional space for a Centre for Independent Living (CIL), which would replace the existing specialist service provided at Flightways Centre in the Concourse.

9.1.25 To facilitate the relocation, it is proposed that the Council seek consent from the Secretary of State to transfer Plot A8 to Choices for Grahame Park at nil value but explaining that the variation to the PDA enables CFGP to sell the land directly to Barnet and Southgate College at market value for the express purposes of designing and constructing a new college. The proceeds from the sale will be recycled into the Business Plan, in line with purposes of the current Principal Development Agreement.

9.1.26 This proposal ensures the retention of the College within Colindale, and particularly at the heart of the regeneration of Grahame Park, bringing additional vitality and economic activity to the area. In addition, it provides for a new college facility and releases the existing college site for residential development and, essentially, a new primary school. It is further proposed that the new college incorporates the new library and, potentially, the CIL and provision of a youth centre (currently provided on the existing College site), providing opportunities for synergies and efficiencies in provision of these services to the wider community.

9.1.27 Facilitating the relocation of the College on site 1b will necessitate a change in the Principal Development Agreement. Consultation on the proposal with local residents will commence prior to presentation to Cabinet Resources Committee.

9.1.28 All three parties to the relocation – the College, the Council and Genesis – are working actively towards achieving the relocation. It is anticipated that a Heads of Terms will be in place between the parties to effect the relocation by the end of June.

9.1.29 Locating the new college facility on Plot A8 is dependent upon the sale of the existing college site at Grahame Park Way for funding. the redevelopment of the Grahame Park Way site is therefore to be considered as enabling development. The Council has land
interests on the Grahame Park Way site which it seeks to exchange for a parcel of land within the Grahame Park Way site on which the Council would build a primary school in the future as per the Colindale Area Action Plan strategy. The commercial details of the proposal are tabled in the Exempt Report.

Why isn't the council simply selling the college the land they need, and buying back what they will have finished with, at open market value? Whoever had the idea to do the above complex swap is making money somewhere.
Cabinet (correct) agreed proposals following consultation on services for older people. The public gallery was filled with day centre users concerned (worried sick) about the future of their centre. The new neighbourhood model will mean changes but the Cabinet Member Councillor Rajput was at pains to emphasise that the council wants to now (now that the gallery is watching his every word) work with local providers on the new model.

Cabinet (right again, you are starting to get the hang of this CEO business Nick) also agreed a report setting out the finance and business planning process for 2013 and beyond (up to 2016). I'd suggest everyone takes a little time to read the report (no-one will have read this report) as it's a concise summary of the challenges we face over the coming four to five years. I shall set out more detail on the process and how we respond in future emails. (Please don't)
Cabinet also endorsed the Local Development Framework Core Strategy and our Annual Safeguarding Report. None of these reports were "easy" or uncontroversial but, stepping back, an agenda that deals with how we fund public service, safeguard the vulnerable, plan for future development, regenerate our most deprived areas and reform service provision seems to be a strong statement of the breadth and depth of the work of all parts of the council. Not "easy" as in not easyCouncil or One Barnet?


Now what has Nick missed out. Ah yes, any mention of this off message (or it is a cry for help?) answer to a tricky question set by Cllr Longstaff (he must have been hours formulating this question) as to why Fremantle Homes day centre places were not all taken up.

Now this isn't verbatim but fairly close to what Cllr Sachin Rajput said (Mr Mustard reaches his limit very quickly listening to Rajput; you can listen all day if you want, in fact this should probably be on in the background at all meetings at which One Barnet is discussed):

Cllr Rawlins asked that earlier.. just in relation to tying up of contracts for a long time. I am going to leave party politics out of it (liar) because it is more important: it is about the voluntary sector, but quite rightly if the members of a party were to tie into a long contract, as of course this administration inherited in relation to Fremantle, you will find it is not flexible and you are in a position where you can't address some of these concerns.............

The Fremantle contract (if only there had just been the usual rather vague arrangement Mrs Angry, the council could have walked away?) started in about 2002.

Now Rajput is a cabinet member and the Cabinet are nodding through every service they can into the big One Barnet outsourcing of DRS (Development & Regulatory Services) and NSCSO (New Support & Customer Service Organisation) and these contracts are for an initial term of 10 years with an optional extension.

So what can we conclude from the above:

Labour signed a deal for 10 years+ plus. Rajput thinks it was a bad idea.

Rajput won't let any more 10 year One Barnet contracts proceed. (?)

Rajput is about to defect to Labour (would they take him?)

Rajput was talking out of his @@@@ (why, hat, of course)

The Cabinet meeting was quite a short one, why would you need more than 41 minutes to dispense with 592 pages of reports? It was very enlightening though.

10 year+ contracts are a bad idea, because 
they are inflexible,
you can't address some of the concerns
(official, a Cabinet member says so).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Wave goodbye to service

Customer Services Transformation moves up a gear
Monday, 23 July 2012 14:20 Schroder, Johnathan 
Over the past couple of months, our Customer Service Transformation (CST) project team has been busy planning the transfer of a number of services into the Customer Service Organisation (CSO). The services are transferring over three waves running through till October 2012 and the majority of the services included in the first wave have been successfully implemented this week.Are they now waving or drowning?

The planning has been made more complex by the requirement that business as usual should not be negatively affected during the transfer. Really? but it has been. Call handling in CSO for Revs & Bens has gone from awesome to abysmal according to anonymous, from 85% answered to 15% of calls answered.

As a result, the CSO has successfully transferred call and email contact handling for Registrars, Youth Services and most recently the Revenues and Benefits service. The final stages of transferring Education Welfare contacts are currently underway and this is imminent. This equates to approximately 26 staff and team leaders joining the CSO. Poor sods.

This is a significant achievement, and the single biggest critical success factor has been the professional, enthusiastic and collaborative working between the CSO and the services themselves. Both groups of stakeholders are passionate about their service and wanted this transfer to work and have pulled out the stops. What a pity we couldn't press the stop button instead.

The ‘go live’ was planned around taking small pragmatic steps, using tried and tested methods, diligent review of the existing services, recruiting customer-focused staff, testing and training and the development of various systems and processes. The majority of the services transferred did not include staff transfers so it was even more important to get this part of the planning right. So now we have left all that knowledge behind in the services. Presumably, the services themselves are now over-staffed and will make loads of redundancies and knowledge will waft out of the front gate.

From an IS perspective, complex call and email routing rules had to be designed and put in place to effect the seamless migration of contacts from existing sites and teams into the CSO at NLBP. IS = Information Systems? Oh no, complexity. That leads to cock-ups. Systems so complicated that once the person who designed them leaves no-one knows how to change them. If the services had been left to handle their own customer service enquiries none of these complex routines would be needed.

During the actual ‘go live’, the CSO was able to call on colleagues from within the services themselves to help support the launch by providing floor walkers and subject experts ‘on the floor’ to provide assurance, feedback and knowledge over the early days of the transfer. Staff had been recruited with enough time to allow them to receive comprehensive training which was jointly designed and delivered. A safety net had to be employed as the new people didn't, of course, know enough or have enough experience. Comprehensive training won't replace 10 years experience.

The innovative training programme also included sending CSO staff to the services’ place of work to allow them to experience, first hand, a typical ‘day in the life of’ the services. CSO staff could therefore empathise with both the customers of the service, the nature of their queries and the service itself. CSO managers also presented to the services their vision of how the service would work at team meetings and during consultation.

To support the successful launch and to provide a sustainable service, the team also developed a new knowledge management system that provides prompting and scripting for staff. This knowledge base is so comprehensive that much of the content within it is to be utilised by the services on Barnet’s re-launched website. The CSO staff are also providing feedback to the webmasters on appropriateness of content and encouraging customers to visit the new website to support their information and service needs. Oh no. A computer system which tells you what to say. Scripts are just awful. Many callers don't know the script and so don't get the answer. Square peg / round hole. Also trying to make the customer do the work themselves. Hang on, you are customer service, service, service, service, service (do you get it?)

For Revenues and Benefits, the complexity of the transfer was compounded by the fact that staff were transferred into the CSO after a statutory consultation period. The professional staff that joined the CSO received comprehensive training in customer service skills and during a period of unprecedented change successfully went live on 11 July. Again, a Herculean effort involving staff from the retained services, IS and the CSO project team meant that ‘go live’ happened with very little incident. Why does Mr Mustard think that professional staff already had customer service skills? Perhaps Bill would like to share with us on the intranet the number of pieces of work in arrears on 11 July 2011 last year and the number now. Mr Mustard already knows that the recent number is much greater than the one for last year. Facts never seem to make it into these messages.

Historical note: Hercules had the help of Hermes and Athena, sympathetic deities who showed up when he really needed help. Who is going to help CSO later?

A big thank you goes out to all the teams both within the services affected as well as the project teams from within the CSO and IS that worked tirelessly to make the 'Wave 1' launches a resounding success. Wave service goodbye.

Bill Murphy, the Assistant Director for Customer Services, said: "This is a really significant milestone. I feel proud that we have achieved this and things are going so well." Oh, no.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

NSCSO - BT & Capita

Cartoon by Tim Sanders
How committed are the bidders to Barnet Council staff? Here are their recent A4 flyers.

What do staff really want to know?

Will I have a job?
Will my job be moved out of Barnet?
Will my pay & pension be the same.

In BT's case there will be no compulsory redundancy for 2 years. There could be voluntary redundancy though. If you have 25 years of working life & mortgage left to go having 2 years guaranteed work isn't a great comfort. 

In the case of IT that is definitely going to South Tyneside so if you currently work on the helpdesk; goodbye to your current job! No mention of where everyone else's job is going. 

EC Harris offices are in the following locations. Who knows which one you will get sent to.
  • Basildon
  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Exeter
  • Glasgow
  • Hull
  • Inverness
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • London (N1)
  • Manchester
  • Marlow
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Sutton
  • Teeside
  • York
If you take a new post within BT your terms and conditions can change.

It is quite plausible that after 2 or 3 years as many services as possible will move off the NLBP site.

Do Capita offer any more comfort? 

Bid process update: We looked at sending jobs off-shore but it wouldn't save enough money so we won't do that. There is no guarantee that all the jobs won't be moved to anywhere else in the UK.

Expanding on our People Approach: Capita uphold TUPE - well, it is the law so no big deal and no great comfort either. There is nothing to stop you being made redundant after TUPE as the parking back office staff can tell you.

Confirmation of Commitments: This won't contain much.

Addressing Effective Delivery: Mr Mustard has already written about awards, they mean very little. Just because West Sussex have decided to sign a 10 year deal doesn't make it the best choice for Barnet.

These two leaflets are masterpieces in printing a lot of words and saying sod all.

(Feel free to email mrmustard@zoho.com with any information whatsoever about Barnet Council using a disposable email address to protect your identity if you wish.)

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

28 July 2012

Design flaw

Tax is complicated and thus far people have been allowed to get away with saying that the tax take for the exchequer is not much different between employing someone directly on the payroll under PAYE and employing them through a personal service company. Mr Mustard is going to show how different the tax take can be.

You might like first to watch the Public Accounts Committee of 16 July 2012 (see video at the bottom of this post - well worth an afternoon's watching)

If you prefer you can look at the as yet uncorrected transcript here

To save your time Mr Mustard would just like to repeat two parts of the evidence:

By Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive of the Local Government Association

I have to say that we do not agree about the tax avoidance issue

and by Ms Zarin Patel, Chief Financial Officer of the BBC 

In my judgment, the IR35 anti-avoidance legislation is very strongly crafted, so that if you work through a service company, on an employment-type contract or quasi-employed, you will pay the same amount of tax

Mr Mustard has found a perfect (imperfect?) example in the shape of Mr Andrew Barrow who used to work at Barnet Council. What do we know about Mr Barrow? He worked at Barnet Council from October 2010 to June 11 as a "Finance Interim/Consultant". On 9 September 2009 he subscribed for the 1 share in the newly incorporated Cobalt PFM Ltd.

This incorporation coincides with the start of a 4 month stint working as Head of Finance & Commercial for Serco (Mr Mustard wonders if they suggested he form a personal service company?) from Sept to Dec 09.

It looks to Mr Mustard, from these invoice extracts obtained under Freedom of Information, that Mr Barrow was employed through Penna Plc (notwithstanding the redaction, as the dates agree):

Now we need to ask ourselves if Penna Plc were the employer of Mr Barrow, did he pay PAYE there? Well if he did, there would be nothing going through Cobalt PFM Ltd and there is.

What is interesting is that Cobalt PFM Ltd only had one issued £1 share when it was incorporated and that changed on 1 November 10 when a second £1 share was issued to Tracy Barrow. Mr Mustard doesn't think she has worked at Barnet Council and so anything paid to her out of Cobalt as a dividend, because it hasn't gone through the council payroll, leads to a tax advantage. What we don't know is whether Cobalt PFM are being treated within the IR35 legislation or not, and tax in this area is a bit complicated.

Here is the balance sheet of Cobalt PFM at 30 September 2011

and here is the note about the issue of the extra share. There must have been a good reason to do that paperwork (tax reduction?)

Now, we can't see any more financial information than that about Cobalt but what we can do is a comparison of tax paid under PAYE between all the income being earned by one person under PAYE and the same income spread across 2 people (they don't have to be husband and wife, they just happen to have equal shareholdings in a company) for a fictitious company/people. To make this simpler, National Insurance and Dividends have been been ignored although using dividends is likely to be even more advantageous. For this example, income has been assumed to be 200 working days in a year at £600 = £120,000

Tax year 2011/12
paid to 1
paid to 2 people total for 2

Band £ % £
£ £

60,000 60,000 120,000
Tax allowance

7,475 7,475 14,950

52,525 52,525 105,050
Lower rate 2,560 20 512
512 512 1,024
Standard rate 32,440 20 6,488
6,488 6,488 12,976
Higher rate balance 40 31,010
7,010 7,010 14,020
Total tax

14,010 14,010 28,020
Net income

45,990 45,990 91,980
Net income

Tax saving



Using a personal service company may not be designed to save tax but that could just be one of the pleasant side effects. Mr Mustard has to stop there and look to see how many of the other town hall tax dodging service companies happen to have a second shareholder.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

27 July 2012

Study of fine print required

Even my optician has got in on the act. She suggested that councillors at Barnet need their eyes testing because they couldn't see that the Copthall Stadium they gave away for almost nought is suddenly worth £millions with a new name. She has produced a new eye test chart especially for councillors. She has cast doubt though on whether they can even see the nose on their own face and so this chart may be too difficult for them.

26 July 2012

The £1bn costermongers


Mr Mustard hasn't written about Cllr Thomas recently but this week he became vaguely interesting for 5 minutes.

You can read the whole thing in the local Barnet Times newspaper here but he has been rattled by the appearance of the Better Barnet website (how could anyone object to the desire for a Better Barnet?) and the supposed scaremongering of the local Labour party. That is a bit rich coming from the cabinet costermonger himself who is busy helping to sell off services for 10 years worth about £1bn across the decade. Mr Mustard is pleased to see that Labour are starting to vocalise. It is the job of opposition to shout the roof down about anything they object to.

Copied from the local paper we have the following text which is the second half only of the article. Do please read the whole article on their website and then come back to see what comments Mr Mustard has added with his red pen.

He (Cllr Thomas) said: I’m confused about their stance. (I am easily confused) The amendments they made to our budget in March were so small they were clearly accepting the One Barnet programme (Labour are so heavily outvoted at Council that it is pointless trying to make wholesale changes to budgets as they will be voted down. Small adjustments might just be allowed through.) We’re still in competitive dialogue with two organisations so it is a bit rich for them to oppose something without knowing the final details. (How odd, the article talks about NSCSO and DRS and that means 3 organisations are still in the running, BT, Capita and EC Harris. Has one been binned off without us knowing? We don't need the final details; the choice is between equally huge corporations whose raison d'etre is profit)

On the new web page, Labour says it is campaigning to stop the authority “selling off critical council services” but Councillor Thomas has criticised the site for being misleading. If the best defence that Cllr Thomas has got is a semantic one then we are all in trouble. Does he tell us why BT or Crapita are the best choice and why an in-house bid has not been allowed? No.

I think there is an element of scaremongering from Labour on this - they are not being open minded. They keep using the term ‘selling off’ but that is not the case. The companies will be delivering services for us but we will retain overall control and that will be scrutinised. The wording is quite misleading. Well done Labour. To scaremonger is to spread frightening reports. One Barnet frightens the hell out of Mr Mustard because it is being promulgated by a collection of incompetents.

When I knock on doors, people are not against the One Barnet programme. People want services to be well run – they’re not that bothered who runs it. When I knock on doors no-one has heard of One Barnet because we have kept it very quiet and I don't mention it see so they don't either. If your next door neighbour was an escaped axe murderer would he mention it? Cllr Thomas is not, as far as I am aware, an escaped axe murderer but he is the Cabinet member for Resources and Performance and will butcher the workforce (i.e. transfer it out of the council to another employer to do with as they please)

We already outsource services in waste, leisure and social care and we have very few complaints about those. Should Mr Mustard send you all of his complaints about bin and recycling collections Cllr Thomas? You haven't been looking closely at the statistics have you. Leisure - there can't be many complaints because there aren't many leisure facilities. Mr Mustard has a complaint - you have given Copthall Stadium away for a song. Mr Mustard has a friend who uses social care. Often her carers simply do not show but she doesn't like to make a fuss as she is dependent on the council and doesn't trust them when Mr Mustard is not about.

Labour group leader Councillor Alison Moore defended her party’s stance on One Barnet. Go Alison!

She said: We have been critical of the programme right down the line. I think Councillor Thomas is being disingenuous and a bit daft to suggest we have not been against it from the start. A long word. Disingenuous means "insincere"; no question about that. Daft? too generous.

People have seen the way the current administration has dealt with issues like parking and they are concerned about the way they will deal with this. Too right Alison. Parking is in meltdown. Take a look at the Miss Feezance website to see how final appeals are going. You also can't even send an email to make an appeal.

This is the most fundamental change in this council’s history and it is important people understand that. This change will last for a minimum of 10 years and if it goes wrong will cost millions to put right. Get your wallet ready. It also undermines democracy as the councillors appointed in 2014, 2018 and 2022 will have almost nothing to decide upon.

We have a responsibility to up the ante on this and represent the people who voted for us.
Once these services have been outsourced it will be almost impossible to bring them back in-house. We have a number of months in which to make a final case against this. The most important thing is to stop this juggernaut before Barnet’s services are changed forever. To the barricades my friends, well attending council meetings would be a good start. Times and dates can be found here

You could also go to a meeting of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services who meet each Wednesday evening at 6pm at the Greek Cypriot Community Centre, 2 Britannia Road, London N12 9RU

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Black hole at the seaside

glumcouncillors.tumblr.com/fun in e sussex

When Mr Mustard heard that Andrew Travers, the Deputy Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer and statutory S151 officer of Barnet Council also "affectionately" known as "Black Hole" by Mrs Angry of Broken Barnet fame and to bloggers generally as a "Town Hall Tax Dodger" using the wonderful phrase coined by the Rt. Hon Eric Pickles MP, had gone part-time in Barnet and was also to be found in East Sussex, he did his usual and sent in an FOI request.
Never in his wildest dreams did Mr Mustard think that any other council, especially one outside of London, would pay the same £1,000 a day as Barnet Council rather over-generously have done for the last 2+ years and so Mr Mustard thought that black holes were for ever. Now before we get to the answer you need to get a long cool glass of something because this is going to be a long read. The facts were easy to establish but the fight to put them on the blog took a little longer.
Barnet Council's approach to information is to hide it. East Sussex give it to you and then tell you that you can't tell anyone, not even your best friend.
So what did Mr Mustard ask? (numbers have been added afterwards for ease of reference)

10 May 2012

Dear Sir or Madam

my ref #1286 Andrew Travers - interim Director of Corporate Resources

I note that you now employ an Andrew Travers in the above position.
This series of questions is only required to be answered if the Andrew Travers you are employing is the one who has been working at Barnet Council. His home address is in London N10 and his date of birth is 17/02/19**.
Please tell me where and when the vacancy was advertised and which employment agency was employed, if any, or how the availability of Mr Travers came to the attention of the council.
1. Please tell me the date on which Mr Travers started.
2. Please tell me the expected duration of the employment.
3. Please tell me the standard number of days worked each work/month.
4. Please tell me the annual pay rate in £ or the £daily amount paid to any agency and which one.
5. Please tell me if invoices are to be rendered in respect of the work of Mr Travers by Halliford Associates Ltd.
6. Please tell me if Mr Travers is paid on the payroll under PAYE.
7. If Mr Travers is not paid under deduction of PAYE please provide a copy of the contract under which his services are used.
8. Please confirm if Mr Travers fills any statutory posts and if so which.

11 May 2012

FOI Request ref 1234 / Information about interim Director of Corporate Resources - Andrew Travers (note the council allocate their own reference number and ignore mine - this is unhelpful behaviour)

Thank you for your request for information about the above. Your request was received on 11/5/2012 and I am dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We always aim to respond as quickly as possible, and certainly no later than 11/6/2012, which is the 20 working day deadline. The deadline is counted from the first working day we receive it, not the date a letter is written / posted or an email sent.
In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay before we proceed in dealing with your request.
Please quote the above reference number in any communication regarding this request.
Yours sincerely

Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer
Governance & Community Services

13 June 2012 (East Sussex said no later than 11 June, maybe the question became politically sensitive along the way)

Mr Mustard has not reprinted the answers in the exact format provided for reasons which will become clear later on.

1. Wednesday, 28 March 2012
2. 3 months to start with (ooh, nearly over already)
3. April 10 days, May 11 days.
4. Comensura Ltd are paid £1,140.45 a day (knock Mr Mustard down with a feather,more than a £grand a day & what is the 45p all about?) (by one of life's curious coincidences Comensura will replace Hays HR on 1 October 2012 as the supplier to Barnet Council of temps and interims and one reason was that they were much better able than the competition to accommodate interim appointments "In addition, it is intended to procure Interim Managers and Consultants via this route." is what the report to Cabinet Resources Committee of 20 June 12 said)
5. Payment to Comesura Ltd
6. Not on PAYE with the council. (what do you call a double town hall tax dodger then Eric? we have double tax treaties with other countries so that people don't overpay but this is the opposite; the cost of travel to East Sussex and possibly accommodation will be claimable by Halliford before tax is calculated - this will make a big difference to the sum paid to the exchequer)
7. No contract between the council and Travers/Halliford.
8. None.

So Mr Mustard had his answers but that was only the start of the story. Look at the main footer that the answer came with (there was a second footer about viruses and other stuff)

Copyright and Re-Use of information
1. This information is supplied for your personal use only. Providing you with documents under the Freedom of Information Act does not give you an automatic right to re-use those documents in a way that would infringe copyright – for example by making multiple copies, or by publishing / issuing copies to the public.
2. Copyright in the information is owned by East Sussex County Council and/or its contractor(s) unless otherwise stated. Brief extracts of the material can be reproduced under the “fair dealing” provisions of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988 (S.29 and S.30) for the purposes of research for non-commercial purposes, private study, criticism, review and news reporting.
3. We do not give permission for this information to be used for the purposes of direct marketing.
4. If you wish to use this information for commercial purposes then, in accordance with the Regulations on the Re-use of Public Sector Information 2005, you must first ask our permission. Such re-use may or may not involve the granting of a licence and the application of a Fee.

Now Mr Mustard doesn't stand for being told what to do except when he should be i.e. he is a law abiding character. So he emailed back straightaway and there were some other points to raise so that East Sussex could provide a better service.

13 June 2012 (14:00)
Dear Mr Coleman
I refer to your below email of today. I have deleted the Request as you have repeated it all in the response which seemed to me to be pointless duplication.
Firstly, the way in which you have set out the answer means that the entire text does not print out properly from Outlook (the left margin covers some of the text) even if I make the margins as small as I possibly can. Please review the layout of your method of answering to make printing your response easier for the public in general.
Secondly, you did not quote my reference number #1286 in your reply which would have been polite and helpful.
Thirdly, I have some questions about your copyright warning, (using your numbered paragraphs):
1. On what legal basis do your restrict the answer to "your personal use only".
It is unclear if you regard the email reply as a "document" or not.
If you do, then rather than making a general statement I need to know if you would regard the re-issue of the document to the public as infringing your claimed copyright or not? (although I don't think you have any copyright). (I also note that you make replies through the whatdotheyknow website which automatically makes them available to the public).
If you do not, why do you attach a statement to your response that you do not wish to stand by?
2. The Copyright ... Act 1988 to which you refer starts as follows:-

(1) Copyright is a property right which subsists in accordance with this Part in the following descriptions of work—
(a) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,
(b) sound recordings, films [F1 or broadcasts], and
(c) the typographical arrangement of published editions.
Please tell me which description of work your email falls into. Are you seriously going to claim that your email is a literary work?
3 &4. Irrelevant to the situation.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard

13 June (14:23)

Dear Mr Mustard,

Thank you for your email,

I am sorry that you are not happy with the format of our response. We have used the current system for some time and have not yet received any expression of dissatisfaction with the way our responses are set out. I cannot readily give you a figure regarding how many responses we have sent out in total but I can say that since April 2011 there have been 1322. (all this means is that Mr Mustard can be bothered to complain and other people can't)

I note your comment about your reference. (which I will still not use in the future)

You have mentioned having difficulty printing from Outlook. You may have more success if you cut and paste into Word and try printing from that program. (Why not simply send out emails that can be printed without cutting and pasting?)

Regarding your questions on copyright. The general position is that disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act is made to the public at large, rather than just to the individual who has requested the information. However, this does not displace the law relating to copyright. For example, if a request was made for a County Council’s personnel training policy, the County Council may have the copyright to this document and would therefore want to restrict it's re-use. The County Council has the power to do this under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005. This means that applicants do not have a right to re-use information in a way that would infringe copyright, and therefore must seek permission to re-use copyrighted information.

A key consideration for the County Council with regard to requests to publish information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act is the meaning applied to 're-use' in part one of the copyright clause. Looking at the example above, seeking a copy of East Sussex County Council’s training policy, re-producing it and circulating it as part of training that the requester is operating would be a re-use, and the requester would have to seek permission for this.

To be able to make a decision on whether or not to permit publication of material provided by the County Council we would need to know what use you intend to make of it.

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

13 June (14:42)
Dear Mr Coleman
Now that was speedy.
Just because no-one has bothered to complain (I can be bothered!) does not mean that others have not wondered why you put the questions in two places. What is the advantage of your method might be a good starting point for thinking about whether to do this in the future or not.
If everyone at East Sussex CC had to copy all their emails into Word in order to print them out properly the council would grind to a halt. Have you printed out the first email you sent me in your own email programme to see if it is all there? If it isn't then perhaps you need to look further at layout.
You have omitted to tell me why you have copyright in the actual email that you sent me. If you don't have any then the question of re-use is surely academic unless it is a "document"?
You also have not answered my question about your email and is it a "document" or not. It doesn't look to me like it is for the purposes of the Re-use regs (I have come across those once before and am grateful for the reminder of their existence) but I am just a lay person.
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard 

13 June (15:08)

Dear Mr Mustard,
I again note your comments.
I believe that I have answered your questions. The “information” that we have provided is subject to copyright for the reasons I have outlined. If you wish to seek permission to publish, please advise us of what use you intend to make of the information. Once you have done this, I will write to you once our legal department have looked at your request and made a decision. I will aim to do this within 10 working days of your clarification.
Yours sincerely
Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

13 June (15:23)

Dear Mr Coleman
Where have I said I wish to publish?
You have not answered the simple questions I have asked about which sort of work your email is for the purposes of the Copyright ...Act 1988 nor if you think the email is a "document" for the purposes of the Re-use...regs

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

13 June (15:46)

Dear Mr Mustard,
I am sorry if I appear to have made an assumption about your intentions. It would seem that I mistakenly thought that your interest in copyright was for the reason I have indicated. I could think of no other reason and was merely trying to be helpful by explaining our position with the minimum of delay. If you would like further in depth clarification of the simple clause attached to our emails I would be happy to ask our legal depart to draft something for you.
Yours sincerely

Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

13 June (15:50)
Dear Mr Coleman
You have responded quickly but not to what I want to know the answer to.
I do not want anything other than a straightforward answer to the simple questions that I have posed.
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard

13 June (16:02)

Dear Mr Mustard,
I am not a lawyer and not qualified or authorised to comment on your question in any greater depth than I already have. I can only reiterate that if you would like me to ask our Legal Department to provide a response I will be happy to do so.
Yours sincerely
Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

13 June (16:08)

Dear Mr Coleman
Thank you. Yes, please ask your legal department to answer the specific questions I have raised.
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard

13 June (16:25)

Dear Mr Mustard,
I have passed your query to our Legal Department and I aim to respond to you within 10 working days.
Yours sincerely
Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

25 June (09:32)

Dear Mr Mustard
Further to my email of 13 June, as requested I have asked the legal department to provide comments on the questions that you have raised. I have set out their response below.
"Firstly, I think it would be helpful to point out that the clause relating to copyright is added at the end of all Freedom of Information requests. This does not necessarily mean that all information disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will be subject to copyright; only that the County Council reserves its rights in relation to those items which would be subject to copyright. As suggested in previous emails to Mr Mustard, the County Council holds information which, although disclosable under the FOIA, will remain subject to copyright (e.g. Personnel Training Policy).
Information made available under FOIA does not give an automatic right for it to be re-used and to infringe copyright. This may include making multiple copies of the information provided, re-distributing or publishing it. Research (for non-commercial purposes), private study, criticism, review and news reporting is not a breach of copyright in the limited circumstances set out in sections 28 to 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (‘CDPA 1988’). In all other circumstances a licence will be required.
In terms of the information that was disclosed to Mr Mustard about the Interim Director of Corporate Resources, provided his intended use of the documentation falls within ss.28 – 30 of the CDPA 1988 (as above), he will not be in breach of copyright. Any other use will require him to request a licence from the County Council.
Under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations, the definition of 'document' is "any content, including any part of such content whether in writing or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audio-visual recording, other than a computer program".
I trust this response is of assistance
Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

26 June (15:48)

Dear Mr Coleman
Thank you for your email of yesterday.
I am still not clear.
Is the council claiming that it has copyright in its email of 13 June 2012 (09.29) or not? A simple yes or no would be really helpful.
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard

26 June (15:58)

Dear Mr Mustard,
The answer is not a simple yes or no but dependent upon the intended use.
My advising lawyer has described permitted use as:
Research (for non-commercial purposes), private study, criticism, review and news reporting”
She then goes on to say:
“provided his intended use of the documentation falls within ss.28 – 30 of the CDPA 1988 (as above), he will not be in breach of copyright”
Yours sincerely

Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

26 June (16:11)

Dear Mr Coleman
Thank you once again for responding so quickly.
SS 28-30 (Acts permitted in relation to copyright works), can only apply to something over which the council has copyright in the first place.
Is the council really claiming that it has copyright over its email of 13 June 2012 (09.29). Yes or No? (come on, you can do it)
Yours sincerely
Mr Mustard

26 June (16:27)

Dear Mr Mustard,

I have given you my response based on the advice I have received. My advising lawyer anticipated that you may want further clarification, as did I.

I will therefore pass your request to her. I aim to respond within 10 working days
Yours sincerely
Jeremy Coleman
Freedom of Information Officer

20 July (09:14)

Dear Mr Coleman
I note that 10 days have zoomed by without any missive from you troubling my inbox.

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

23 July (11:25)

Dear Mr Mustard
I must apologise for the lack of response. Mr Coleman is on leave, and it is an oversight on my part that has meant I have failed to respond to you. I can confirm that whilst we do not consider the document copyright protected, it does fall under the RPSI Regulations, so if you are planning to publish the information we have provided, there would be a charge for you to reuse it.
Once again, I am sorry for the delay, but hope the information is of use.
Kind regards
Daniel Ellis
Freedom of Information Officer

25 July (17:32)

Dear Mr Ellis
Why then did the council claim copyright in its email of 13 June 2012?
2. Copyright in the information is owned by East Sussex County Council and/or its contractor(s) unless otherwise stated.

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

26 July (08:55)

Dear Mr Ellis
In the council's email of 13 June (09.30) it was stated in the footer that RPSI Regulations only applied to proposed commercial use.
In your below email you now say if I intend to publish the information and make no mention of commercial motive. You seem to have tightened up the RPSI Regulations on me. Why are you claiming more rights than you have?
Taking a look now at the guidance as to what constitutes a document within the Regulations we have the following from OPSI:
The Regulations define “document” by relating it to “content” which is information recorded in any form. In the UK, public sector information covers a diverse range of information. It includes:
Primary and secondary legislation.
Official records of the Proceedings of the UK and Scottish Parliaments, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales.
Departmental circulars.
Codes of practice.
Mapping data produced by organisations such as the Ordnance Survey and the UK Hydrographic Office.
Meteorological data produced by the Met Office.
Consultation and policy documents.
Statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics.
Annual reports published by government departments, agencies and local authorities.
Company information made available through Companies House.
Statutory registers such as those for birth, death and marriage and land titles.
Patent information collected and produced by the Patent Office.
Health and safety guidance and reports published by the Health and Safety Executive.
Forms issued by local and central government such as tax forms.
Press notices.
Public Records.
Technical reports.
Local planning information.
Regional economic strategies
and there is no mention of your FOI email answer being a type of document that qualifies.
The council has been extremely difficult during this exchange of correspondence and has sought to put chilling obstacles in the way of any re-use of the information when it has no legal right to do so.
I look forward to receiving confirmation that the FOI email answer is not covered by RPSI, the apology of the council for its obstructive behaviour and confirmation that in future the council will only use standard email footers that accurately represent the situation as to the re-use of the particular material being released. To do anything else is to try and browbeat the public into silence by claiming rights that the council does not have.
Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

Now what you can gather from this is that East Sussex have got money to burn if they can afford to pay an agency more for black hole than he gets in London. Mr Mustard used to be paid London weighting when he was a tax officer 30 years ago but he hasn't heard of East Sussex weighting, quite the reverse in fact.

You can also gather that East Sussex claim copyright on everything they issue even when it is blindingly obvious that there isn't any. This is a dishonest and misleading practice and hopefully they will now change their email footers and only claim copyright when  they have the genuine right to do so.

They throw the RPSI regulations at everything and yet they respond to requests through the whatdotheyknow website which means that they are automatically put on the Internet for the whole world to read and so they undermine their own position.

Mr Mustard is not easily put off by having to engage in long correspondence and is not diverted from the real question by side-issues.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard