Thursday, 28 April 2011

Return of the Saint

As you may remember one of Uncle Eric's key achievement is flying county flags above the offices of DCLG. Uncle Eric has been rightly proud of his joint flag flying venture with fellow cuddly bundle of fun Russell Grant, but I fear he has committed a sin over his celebration of St George's day.   I assume he will display an act of penance such as self-flagellation in Victoria Street next week once he is made aware of his error.

Here is my latest FoI request to DCLG: 

Dear Chums

As an avid follower of Uncle Eric, I look forward to his informative updates to the House of Commons. (

This week Uncle Eric said:

"With Easter, St George's day and the impending royal wedding, there are great opportunities for communities across the nation to come together and celebrate. [...] The Department flew the flag of St George above its headquarters and I encouraged public bodies to fly the English flag as a unifying symbol for the English nation, to be followed by flying the Union flag come the royal wedding."

Normally when reading such pomp as this I would feel my chest swell, a tear form in my eye and my heart quicken. As a patriot I have for many years flown a St George Cross from the aerial of my Rover 25 and a JD sports flag has been hung out the bathroom window since Euro 96 at Tickles Towers. I have often contemplated a tattoo to display my patriotic fervor but have not gone through as I am scared of pricks, especially blunt ones.

But on reading this I was quite simply outraged, my blood quite literally boiled. I have rarely read such blasphemy from someone who I thought respected the church and the Lord. As every hard working Christian family knows Holy week takes precedence over Saints days. Hence, us real hard working Christian families will not be celebrating St George’s day until 2nd May. I really find DCLGs ignorance of this fact quite stunning. So please can I request:

1. Which Senior Civil Servant, Minister or Special Adviser was responsible for the flying of the St George Cross on the incorrect day?
2. What action will be taken against the member of staff who made this critical error?
3. And can you assure me that the St George Cross will be hoisted up to proudly fly above Eland House on 2nd May and an apology to the nation made?

Secondly, I was joyful that Uncle Eric has been encouraging all public bodies to fly the English flag as unifying symbol of the English nation. Can you provide information on:

1) As DCLG has responsibilities in Wales, such as fire authorities, can you tell me how many Welsh public bodies have followed the request from the Secretary of State and proudly flown the English flag?

I am very upset about all of this mix up over St George’s Day and I fear it may spoil my royal wedding. Time to go and dig out the bunting.

Yours un-saintly


Monday, 25 April 2011

Super-Duper Injunction

It has been a busy weekend at Tickles Towers. I have spent many hours working with my team of solicitors preparing to submit an application for a super-duper injunction at the High Court. I cannot go into exact details but this ensures that my identity and others working with me are protected and can not be disclosed.

I am also trying to include a clause that will restrain a well known SpAd from drinking in the Cask and Glass Public House. For years, many fellow hard working pen pushing bureaucrats, have wasted (office) hours moaning about their lot in this fine establishment. What we do not need is a certain SpAd turning up and turning the beer sour. I am unsure why he can not sup at the The Stag instead.

In other news. In a recent post I mentioned that Cllr Nick Sheridan-Westlake was not standing in the forthcoming council elections in Guildford. There has been much chatter about the possible reasons behind this decision. Was it to do with the ticking off that he got from Uncle Eric? Was it to free up time so that he could spent more time speaking to tabloid hacks or was it so that he could focus on commissioning a sculpture of him and great Uncle Eric to adorn Eland House to replace the dying Tree of Celebration? - I am thinking of something tasteful in the style of Augustine Rodin.

Well it appears one possible reason for NSW not standing as a councillor is he has been accused of being a naughty boy. A charge was bought against him that he acted in a way to bring his position into disrepute. For more details you can read it all here:

So what direction will NSW head next? I am sure we will find out very very soon.... until it is may public why not enjoy this classic Go West?


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Would the real Derek Tickles please stand up?

As I type, DCLG senior officials are conducting a witch hunt to try and identify the person or persons behind the phenomenon that is Derek Tickles. I understand Nick Sheridan-Westlake is developing a J.Edgar Hoover persona. He is currently embarked on McCarthy style assault to smoke out the leader of the radical Army of Armchair Auditors from Eland House. Surely NSW is acting ultra vires?! Can Mr. T evade the pursuit?

A source, named Deepthroat, has warned me that a forensic search is being conducted of computer temporary files, IP addresses, email traffic; images are being closed inspected for reflection and steganography. NSW is believed to be keen to start some deep packet sniffing, but no one is sure what he really means by this. All these efforts are in the hope to identify which DCLG employee is causing so much embarrassment to Uncle Eric and is merry men through non-vexatious FoI requests.

I know that many colleagues have been accused of being Derek Tickles over the past few months. I too have been shocked to have been asked whether I am the brains behind The Tickler. I personally point the finger of suspicion at NSW himself, I think perhaps he is DT and has created this alter ego to try and garner support and sympathy. I could be wrong though - after all I am just a simple fool and he is not.

I need to be careful not to slip up and let my guard down. I cannot let Uncle Eric or NSW to smoke me out. The dreams and welfare of many DCLG staff depend upon it. I need your help to protect my identity by creating distractions and diversions where possible. I need extra material to include in the blog to ensure that myself and others sources are not isolated. So if you any anecdotes or information that you wish to share please direct message me on twitter or email me ( ). If you wish to send me something and protect your identity then you can through the wonderful anonymous emailer ( Also the more people that view the blog the less likely are individual viewers will stick out – so please feel free to share the blog ( - I know, I know this is a thinly veiled attempt to increase traffic!).

I do have a vision though..... I recall the scene when the leader of the rebel Roman army, Spartacus, played by Kirk Douglas, is captured with the remnants of his amateur army. The captured troops are promised they will not be punished if they will identify Spartacus. The heroic Spartacus and his deputy stand up, but before Spartacus can speak, his friend and deputy shouts "I'm Spartacus!" One by one, each surviving slave stands, shouting out "I'm Spartacus!”

Perhaps one day we will be forced to re-enact this scene in foyer of Eland House, with a cry of 'I'm Derek Tickles'.

Keep the faith comrades


Friday, 15 April 2011

How very dare you!

Those cheeky monkeys at Department of Communities and Local Government seem to have lost their sense of humour as well as thier way. For a Department that is keen on transparency and openness they do seem to be eager to put barriers in the way to answering legitimate questions.

They have decided to try and declare all my current and future requests as vexatious, partly as they doubt my name is no Derek Tickles and because they do not have a sense of humour (or at least Nick S-W doesn't). So I have had to turn all grumpy and request an Internal Review and then the next step will be a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office. It would be far simpler and cheaper if they just lightened up and answered the questions - or do they have something to hide???

I am sure if ultimately  they ban me from asking questions then a few soldiers from the growing army of armchair auditors will spring up to submit requests on my behalf.

Here is the text:

Use of pseudonym – I will openly admit that Derek Tickles is not my legal name, though many people call me by the nom de plume. Hence I feel it is acceptable to make requests using this name.

Further, I am using this pseudonym to protect my identity. I am currently an employee of the Department of Communities and Local Government and feel it may affect my position if I was to request information using my real name. In recent months I feel there is a feeling of menace and intimidation towards staff some of this is has been instigated by the Special Advisors. They are keen to review and influence many pieces of work and staff feel powerless to challenge them. Morale within the department is at an all time low and I have decided that the Freedom of Information Act is an important vehicle to expose goings on with the Department. I have a privileged position plus many contacts that provide me with a wealth of interesting information. To protect myself and my sources, I request for this information to be released using the FoI act.

I do not see myself as a whistle blower, I see myself as vanguard of the transparency agenda and active participant in the army of armchair auditors. Is this not the wish of the Secretary of State? To quote Grant Shapps – “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”. DCLG need to ensure they are the seen to be open and not opaque if they wish to change the mentality in other public sector bodies.

For example the request about the ‘Tree of Celebration’. It is no big secret that the tree exists, let us just tell everyone we have been celebrating the good work of the Government Office of West Midlands months after they have been abolished, it may be embarrassing, but so be it. Let us be clear about how much time and money has been spent on system changes to allow spend over £500 to be put on the website. The public deserve the right to know and in turn this may lead to our leaders being more reasonable in requesting actions from councils.

May I also point out that guidance relating to the use section 8 and section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act provided by the ICO does encourage the release of information where possible when any name is provided. I also feel that DCLG state that they wish to be as helpful as possible. The name Derek Tickles may be seen by some as pun on the name of the Secretary of State but it not offensive, hence I do not see this as an issue. Has Eric Pickles complained? I suspect he has thicker skin than to find any offence.

I also take issue that my requests have been declared as vexatious under section 14(1). Whilst I have on occasion introduced humour, irony and on occasion poorly scripted slapstick, I have tried to avoid offence. In a separate request by Tony Maycock ( the Department was unable to provide any evidence that my requests had caused distress or irritation to staff. I would go further and say that many staff are pleased they have found a voice through my requests. I have received much support via twitter, email or through my blog ( - have a look round!). Some of my requests have come from issues directly raised by colleagues.

In the requests that you found vexatious you have normally conceded that the request does have serious purpose. I feel that you should focus your attention of providing the requested information rather than finding excuses not to be transparent. You may not like the rhetoric, you may not like the tone, you may not like the insinuations but I am sure many colleagues in local authorities feel the same way about speeches made by DCLG ministers and press releases sanctioned by the Special Advisors. Perhaps you either need to toughen up or stop insulting everyone else.

In future, I will continue to submit requests for information, I will attempt to confine any contentious issues to my blog but will provide context in the requests. Some of this context may be humorous and I doubt there is a law against this (yet) – happy to see what the ICO say. If my requests are rejected I am sure the growing disenfranchised army of armchair auditors will take up the Colours and proudly march into battle by resubmitting requests.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Who you gonna call?

Uncle Eric has adopted his unique brand of localism and seems to be instructing councils on how the can save money left right and centre, but when it comes to being thrifty with his own Department he could do better. Recently DCLG launched a barrier busting website that is already gathering dust. This would not be a problem if, as many of us internally know, it cost a wedge to develop. So here is my latest FoI request.

Dear Chums

A few months ago I was busily replacing the toner cartridge of a well used and loved laserjet printer when I heard some singing coming from a meeting room deep within Eland House. At first  I was slightly confused and could only faintly make out the familiar tune. I hunted down the room and managed to peak a look into at the meeting. I am fairly certain I saw Nick Sheridan-Westlake dancing badly as he belted out the following...
If there's something strange
in your neighborhood
Who you gonna call? - Ghostbusters!
If there's something weird
and it don't look good
Who you gonna call? - Ghostbusters!

His audience sat impassive, slightly embarrassed and bored but Nick continued with his best Ray Parker Jr impression. He then insisted that everyone joined him another rendition and he cunningly substituted the word 'Ghostbusters' to 'Barrierbusters'. The man is a genius - No wonder the LGC recently awarded him 15th place in his list of 50 local government movers and shakers. Though from Nicks dance moves I think he is more a shaker. Actually, I am expecting to make the top 50 next year after the lovely Emma Maier tweeter an apology for the "huge oversight"of my exclusion.

So this meeting was the start of the venture which now is known to the millions (or possibly handful) of users who routinely use the DCLG's Barrier Busting website (
Can I request the following information in these difficult economic times?
1) How much has be spent on developing the website and how much is being spent on maintaining, updating, moderating website.
2) Who built the website and how many person days were involved in the development and project management,
3) Number of pageviews and unique visitors by month since launch.

I know there are rumours within DCLG that a shed load of cash has been wasted on this website and it is attract as much traffic as the fresh fruit aisle during Uncle Eric's weekly shop.

Yours here to save the world,



Thursday, 7 April 2011

Your Nicked!

Intriguing to see that Cllr Nick Sheridan-Westlake's name does not appear on the list of Guildford Conservative Party's list of candidates for the upcoming council elections.

Perhaps his hobby was leaving him too tired to be fully focussed on servicing Uncle Eric and poor Mr Shapps. I know there are rumours that he is intending to stand as independent under the banner 'My name is not Nick - even though it is - Party'

I wonder what will he be doing with all his spare time soon .....!?!

Shap-eau Mr Shapps

Dear Chums

I have been away for a few days with Mrs T. We left the kids with the in-laws and headed down to Hastings for a romantic few days by the sea to celebrate my birthday. Thank you for the birthday best wishes. Very touching indeed.

With money being tighter than this year’s LG settlement, Mrs T had to be creative in her choice of gift for me. She spent less than 15p this year and it was the best pressie ever. She presented me with DVD with two features on. The first she called 'Beauty and Beast' and the second she had titled 'Tales of the Mad Hatter'.

So on Wednesday evening we settled down with a tube of Pringles and a bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut to watch the DVD. And what joy we had. The first feature, Beauty and Beast, starred Uncle Eric Pickles and Caroline Flint. Set in the House of Common it was like a Kramer vs Kramer type tense drama. Instead of custody of a snotty nosed child they are fighting over the future of local government. Uncle Eric seems to be constantly out of breath and struggling with his lines. Ms Flint looks lovely but exhibits the emotion of dead fish. Alas she could be forgiven having to stare intently at her co-star. Gowd forbid how she would have coped if there was the love scene Uncle Eric was trying to get added.

The seconding billing was 'Tales of the Mad Hatter'. This was pure comedy. I have not laughed so much since Graham in IT-support formatted a senior manager’s hard drive instead of backing it up (names have been changed to protect idiots).

The star of 'Tales of the Mad Hatter' was poor Grant Shapps. He was appearing at the CLG select committee on the future of local audit. A dry subject I am sure you will agree but Mr Shapps was wonderful….. wonderfully unconvincing. His best line was that he would 'eat his hat' if the planned abolition of the Audit Commission does not save £50 million quid, a figure that he had earlier admitted was a guess and based on nowt.

So what type of hat would we like to see Grant Shapps eat? I know that many people visualise him in a dunces cap but I think he would enjoy that too much. Perhaps a big felt jesters hat with bells on as he is often playing the fool? Or an old leather Biggles aviator hat that he uses when flying his private-we-all-in-this-
together plane. Whichever hat he is wearing when the Audit Commission is finally terminated (rumours are he is to become party Chairman soon as Warsi is not man enough for the job), I hope the hat eating is televised as it will be pure TV gold. As they say in France shap-eau Mr Shapps!!!

Finally, I will also like to make my own foolhardy statement like poor Grant Shapps: If Uncle Eric Pickles is still Secretary of State at DCLG when the Audit Commission finally closes it double entry bookkeeping ledger for the last time I will eat Eric Pickles. There you go I have said and please keep me to it.
Yours with indigestion