we have seen the local bloggers whipping themselves into a frenzy of excitement. over the news that barnet council sought to contact the ICO. barnet attempted to stop one of its employees being harrassed. where is the voice of reason. the poor man was just trying to do his job. the bloggers may not agree that barnet council need someone in that role, but is it necessary to question his faith and draw attention to his personal website. the so called bloggers have recently criticised barnet for its attitude to its employees. isnt it a bit rich to then criticise the council for sticking up for one of them. by all means knock the council if you feel you must. just lay off the staff.---------------------------------------
When I saw that I thought to myself "that is an intriguing attempt to try and turn the argument around." Although Barnet Council only attempted to report one blogger to the ICO for simply stating information that Barnet Council and the employee in question had published on the internet, the blog post rather cleverly implies that all Barnet bloggers are harrassing all manner of Barnet employees. Anyone who has read this blog regularly will know that the ordinary employees of Barnet Council are among the biggest supporters of Barnet bloggers. I did however detect the tones of someone well versed in dark political arts. Anyway imagine my surprise when I saw the Guardian Society section yesterday. In the middle of this piece - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/nov/15/society-daily-email?INTCMP=SRCH - was this statement from Barnet Council.
Am I the only person in the world to note the similarity between the two responses? Do you believe that this was a coincidence? It is pretty clear that a party line has been agreed. Clearly Barnet Council has to use different words for a different audience, but yet again the whole tone and the way the information is being managed is ominous.
The council was concerned that an individual had used information gathered by the FOI process and linked this with other information to ridicule and abuse individual members of staff. The council consulted with the ICO as to whether this constituted a possible breach of the Data Protection Act. The ICO asked the council to make a formal submission, stating this was a currently a grey area. It should be stressed that the individuals about which the council were concerned were not part of the council's senior management team. The council does not tolerate the abuse or bullying of any of its staff.
As to the statement that Barnet Council does not tolerate the abuse or bullying of its staff, does anyone recall what happened when staff announced they were going on strike. What about the huge billboard posters and the docking of 1 days pay for staff who went on strike for half a day?
I have three questions for Council Leader Richard Cornelius and CEO Nick Walkley.
a) If you do not tolerate the abuse and intimidation of staff, will you commit to stopping all intimdatory actions aimed at preventing strike action by staff in future. Will you release all complaints (and other related paperwork) by members of staff against councillors and senior officers and the findings of enquiries (with names redacted as necessary) for complaints about bullying and intimidation for publication.
b) Do you have the same attitude about the bullying and intimidation of local residents by Barnet Council? If so will you allow The Barnet Eye unrestricted access to all council papers concerning the Barnet Eye and the other Barnet blogs. Will you release all internal papers concerning the Metpro scandal for publication and will you release all information about survellance of blogs held by Barnet Council.
c) If Barnet Council is making press releases to the Guardian, why don't they appear in the press release section of the media section of the Guardian - http://www.barnet.gov.uk/press_releases.htm - how many more "secret" and "unattributable" press releases were issued in this way. Who is the author of this response and who received it? Who authorised them to contact the Guardian?
And finally there is one question I think we all need to know the answer to. As there clearly is some sort of concerted attempt to manage the response to the Barnet ICOGATE scandal, across official and unofficial sources, can Barnet Council explain how we can ever trust them again?