Nov 2011 16

A non-job of the week with a twist today. Barnet Council do not like criticism, and it seems the council will go to any lengths to make sure it silences its critics.

A local blogger, writing under the pseudonym Mr Mustard, criticised Barnet Council for hiring a Change and Innovation Manager in 2010 on a salary of £47,550 -£50,913.  It sounds very much like the sort of non-job I highlight on here every week. He quoted from the job description, which has to be said is written in perfect gobbledegook, and also quoted from the personal website of the man who got the job – Jonathan Tunde-Wright.

Non-Job of the WeekAlthough I have joked in the past about receiving a letter from Oxford City Council’s solicitor for harassment after all the non-jobs I have highlighted in the past, I have of course never received one. Nor should I. Freedom of speech is something we hold dear in this country, unless you are from Barnet Borough Council.

The council went to the extraordinary lengths of contacting the Information Commissioner claiming Mr Mustard had committed a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act by not registering as a data controller  because he had made critical comments about whether some of its officials have real jobs! The commissioner rightly disagreed, but that didn’t stop the council. It then came up with what can only be described as the most ludicrous description of what he could write about. The One Barnet blog has the full details of the correspondence between the ICO and the Council.

The council said all that bloggers (and that includes us on this website) can write about is their own personal data, their own family defined as people related by blood or marriage and their own household, which is anyone living in their house or flat. Barnet Council claims everything else requires registration and can be subject to a legal challenge.

The Information Commissioner disagreed again, saying this would have a hugely disproportionate impact on freedom of expression.

Because Mr Mustard (real name Derek Dishman) regularly holds his council to account on his blog, and sends in freedom of information requests to find out how our money is spent, he is regarded as an inconvenience. This may be so, but as he is not writing anything defamatory, he is within his rights to write about anything he likes – inconvenient or not.

So not only do we have a job with a more than dubious title offering £50K a year, we also have the council employing its staff to actively prevent anyone of us criticising them. If Barnet Council had its way, none of us would be able to speak out against waste and hold councils to account.

Hat-tip: David Hencke 

Andrew was the TPA's National Grassroots Coordinator

  • Anonymous

    It shouldn’t rest at this. A judge needs to rule on whether Barnet is a troublesome litigant.

  • Ronald Combo

    I have just read Mr Tunde-Wright’s bio. He manages to get empowerment in twice in the first five lines, although I was surprised to see that he doesn’t seem to be passionate about anything. Can’t have everything I suppose.
    God help us. Really. What do these people do all day?

  • RoyBoy!!!

    Having just read his own “Bio” page, i had to recheck i had the right web site as i thought it must be from some liberal christian eco group???

    I think he missed a line off his Bio, “I make and give no offence and believe everyone is right, even those who we know are wrong”  I am sure the Taxpayers of Barnet will be well served as Mr JTW tells £100,000 a year Taxpaid execs how to “motivate and innovate staff”
                        Who needs 2 nurses a year when you can have innovatied council execs!! 

  • Mr Mustard

    Mr Mustard has written a blog in accordance with the guidelines that Barnet Council would have us believe are appropriate. Its deadly dull and wouldn’t last. Out at 8am

  • Anonymous

    Having just had a look at Jonathon’s website, I feel rather unwell… in fact pass the bucket quickly!!!

    It is sickening to think that so much of our hard earned money is wasted paying such lame brains to do such useless and futile jobs.

  • Mycal3

    Perhaps there are more dark horses in this council than usual.
    Dark horses and dark forces. See commonpurpose exposed

  • malcolm

    Fully agree with Ronald Combo and RoyBoy. It is no surprise to me that jobs like this are filled by pseudo hippie lib/left idealists so self important that they need their own website. I particularly enjoyed the patronising comment about Warwick University. As the economy crumbles and our national debt rises, it is encouraging to know we can still afford to indulge in this sort of nonsense

  • Graham Jones

    North Devon Council are proposing a £25 charge for FOI requests. This follows the exposure in the local press of Councillors who had not paid their council tax whilst claiming their expenses. The usual platitudes from the council as to cost savings were made but the truth is they want to stifle FOI requests which can in many cases be embarassing to them.