Monday, 3 January 2011

Year of the Pig?

Happy New Year to you – let’s hope it is not as bad as many fear.

By ‘eck! I take an opportunity to remove myself from my comfy armchair for a five minutes and what happens? Uncle Eric starts appearing all over the media. And no I do not mean the adverts for the upcoming documentary on Channel  4 (, though I nearly spat out my chicken drumstick when I the saw poor unfortunate chap wriggling about naked on his bed in the trailer. For an awful moment I though Uncle Eric has gone on a crash diet.

I am though referring to is his recent campaigns. Firstly, Uncle Eric is after those ‘slow-coach’ councils who are dragging their feet in publishing their service expenditure over £500.  I am sure that even slowest ‘slow-coaches’ would be no danger of Uncle Eric keeping up with them in a gentle jog without him huffing and puffing like randy wart-hog on heat.

I am sure most of us are keen on transparency, until it comes to items such as Uncle Eric’s bathing costume - encouraging public bodies to publish expenditure is probably a good thing. 

This information on its own is useless though.  Simply knowing that a local authority paid £750 last month to supplier Acme Ltd does not tell us anything. We need to know what was purchased, why it was purchased. Did it provide value for money?  It is part of a larger order? What guarantees of quality are provided and a million other answers to questions.

Uncle Eric has called upon the Army of Armchair Auditors to review this information but quite frankly there are few sensible questions that can be asked. (And to be honest it is rather dull – that is why it was left to the Audit Commission).

So if there are no sensible questions then ask simple and frivolous ones. If you get five minutes in your busy lives then may wish to submit a request to you least favourite council or possibly even to the Department of Communities and Local Government.  For example your could ask what was purchased for item X on date y.

Here is DCLGs latest data:

And if you want you can submit a Freedom of Information request using the quite wonderful website:

It takes one minute to register with your email address and your email address remains anonymous; only the username you create appears in any requests.

So sign up and join the every growing army of armchair auditors. Please let me know how you get on.

Finally, I was going rant on about Uncle Eric’s great purge on the 'war against motorists' but I do not have the energy and I really want/ need a sausage sandwich. Hence, I am sorry, that rant will have to wait, after all I aint getting paid for the armchair auditing but I almost feel part of the Big Society.

Toodle Pip,



  1. You're still a timewasting cunt

  2. And you are Nick "Sheridan" Westlake, and I claim my £5...