As you probably are aware DCLG have tried to gag me from asking pertinent questions by declaring me as vexatious. For some reason they think I poke fun at Uncle Eric, well he is a big, slow moving target and does say some blooming stupid things, how could one resist having a pop at him. It could have been worse, instead of being called vexatious they could have sent the heavies round to have a word in my shell like. Just imagine how you would feel if Uncle Eric turned up at your gaff late one evening, on a Boris Bike wearing a fetching pair of rubber knickers with his two trusted SpAds on their BMXs? I think that would put the fear of God into any hard working Christian family. I am sure Eric would see himself in his pin-strip suit as modern day Don Vito Corleone but to be frank he would more like Uncle Monty from Withnail and I.
But all is not lost. I am pleased to see that there is a growing army of armchair auditors out there holding Uncle Eric and company to account via http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
body/dclg . On a daily basis wonderful and insightful freedom of information requests are put to DCLG. It is interesting to see that DCLG have at times taken a bizarre and often combative approach in dealing with requestors legal right for information. This has led to an increase in requests for costly internal reviews as well as last week a referral to the Information Commissioners Office. I suspect the ICO are busy with another big media story at the moment but I am sure will get round to slapping Uncle Eric across his large backside at some point in the future.
It is worth taking a few moments to read the request from Steve Elibank that led to a referral to the ICO (see: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
DCLG turned down his request and even had the cheek to accuse him of being a fan of yours truly and this they said was part of the reason for turning down his request. You have all been warned – I will have become your guilty pleasure.
There are numerous excellent requests that have been submitted to DCLG over the last couple of weeks. Here are a selection that caught my eye. Some of these people have been active a while and really getting stuck into the armchair and enjoying their auditing work:
Arjo Auditor - http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
Travis Pickles - http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
Tony Maycock - http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
Uncle Eric has been keen to preach to local councils and talk down to them. He has insulted hard working staff. He has made decisions without evidence and in some instances relied on the most crass research. He has shown considerable ignorance and the ‘reasoning of a 10 year old’ - see Ben Goldacre’s recent piece http://www.guardian.co.uk/
commentisfree/2011/jun/24/bad- science-local-goverment- savings-ben-goldacre.
Dr Goldacre’s wonderful demolition of a poorly piece of research by Opera Solutions was subsequently used in a DCLG press release. This shows either a wilful disregard of facts or the brain power of a very stupid rat with hangover – you decide which. Whilst I am sure Opera Solutions had their reasons for writing up their ’research’, it is Uncle Eric who should be vilified for his using it.
I am sure this is not the last we will hear of this. After all, as they say it is not over until the fat lady sings although in this case there is fat gent that should be singing an apology.
Finally, if there are Uncle Eric and co related issues you want raised feel free to contact me via twitter @DerekTickles or email derek.tickles.help [@] gmail.com. I am here to help.