Steve Beynon’s The Vine: Coming To VentnorBlog Soon (Updated)

Despite the efforts of the council, excerpts of The Vine will be coming to VentnorBlog

The lucky, lucky people that work at the Isle of Wight council receive a weekly email newsletter that includes a message from the council’s Chief Executive. It’s called The Vine.

The Vine - 1 April 2010Thinking that it wasn’t right for just the council workers have the delight of this, VentnorBlog wrote to the Isle of Wight council over a year ago, asking for copies of the last two years’ worth of The Vine.

Not “appropriate”
The initial response from the council’s press office was …

The Vine is an internal email concerning staff issues and regularly containing references to individual staff members.

As such, I do not think it is appropriate to circulate past editions outside of the distribution network for which it is intended.

However, as I am not minded to forward these details as matter of routine business, I am passing your request to my colleague who is the relevant person to treat your question as a formal FOI request.

Paid for by public funds
We’re sure you’ve worked this one out already, but let’s recap – The Vine ‘message’ is written by the Chief Exec (paid for by public funds), distributed to all IWC staff (paid for by public funds) through the council’s email system (paid for by … you get the idea).

What was offered to us by the council’s Information Guardian who got in touch, was to print out all of The Vines on paper (remember that stuff?) and post them to us – while asking us to lighten our pockets by £24.80.

Electronically please
It being the 20th 21st Century, we imagined that as they were created and held electronically, we could get all modern and suggested that they email them to us – not wasting the paper, or incurring costs.

No joy.

IWC told us they were too large to email (let’s not forget how IWC staff receive them weekly) – although they didn’t respond when we asked how large. We suggested other ways of electronically getting the documents to us, but these were verboten due to ‘security’.

The last official offer was that the council put them on a CD claiming that it would “take up to a day of one officer’s time to retrieve the files.”

We wondered if, just perhaps, the council didn’t want us to have them.

Update 10.Mar.11 (If it wasn’t already clear): In the end we didn’t take them up on their CD offer.

Thank you anonymous source!
No matter – earlier this week, an anonymous package was delivered to us containing many examples of The Vine.

Hurrah for VB tipsters!

We’ll be bringing you excerpts over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 10th March, 2011 1:01pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. The mushroom syndrome again!!

  2. montana sliver

    10.Mar.2011 1:15pm

    Great stuff bring ’em on.

    How about podcasts of Mr Caulkhead reading them?

  3. Do they think we are all idiots and computer illiterate? These excuses are pathetic and make it look like they have something to hide. I’m beginning to wonder whether Pugh and other council members have the ability to use a computer.

    • Dave David

      11.Apr.2011 11:04am

      The Vine includes personal information about internal council staff. It includes confidential information and talks about internal matters which the public wouldn’t even understand.

      It’s not meant for the public, why must you be so nosey?

  4. Don’t wait too long then. They’re probably trying to work out some way of preventing you publishing them as I type this.
    Keep up the good work though!!

  5. Holy Moley!

    10.Mar.2011 1:31pm

    It’s generally not that interesting and winds the majority of employees up with the blinkered out of touch views, so many don’t bother reading it. A fair proportion of the ‘news’ it contains has already been covered by the island media, including the CP, which shows how out of date it can be.

    It’s on the council intranet so would be relatively easy to set up a web link but it would probably also bore most people external to the council.

  6. Diamond Hell

    10.Mar.2011 1:37pm

    To follow up Loopy Loo’s comment, it does indeed seem that the council officers do genuinely think that all members of the public are all sub-89 and that they can get away with doing whatever they want, with no regard to the law, or normal guidelines.

    This has to be symptomatic of working with morons…. who we can only assume are the councillors.

    This seems to be resulting in bullish, lawless officers who are going to get themselves (and already are getting themselves) into a heap of trouble.

    At a meeting last night I kept bumping into terms like ‘that won’t be possible because X doesn’t like me’ – one local authority employee talking about another. It seems most forms of professionalism at the Council are long gone, replaced with personal fiefdoms, gangs and vendettas.

    The best comment last night was ‘he thinks you should consider yourselves lucky to have what you’ve got’.

    If this sort of beligerent attitude really is as endemic as it appears to be, the redundancies at the council aren’t enough – there needs to be a re-election of councillors with all new candidates, the whole body of the officers need to have their contracts terminated and the first job of the councillors should be to interview these callous b*stards (and any other applicants) to see whether they have any actual interest in delivering public services.

  7. Lowtherville Lout

    10.Mar.2011 1:38pm

    For my sins, I have made a living over the years writing this kind of communication for various organisations. (Although not the IWC).

    The first lesson you learn is that although your audience is essentially ‘internal’ to the organisation you have to assume that everything you write will somehow find its way into the big wide world outside.

    With this in mind I’d be very surprised if these emails contained anything that wasn’t already in the public domain. If they do, then VB’s friends in the IWC comms department are going to have some very red faces.

    However, given how far back this archive goes there is every chance that some of the content will look a little embarrassing with the benefit of hindsight.

    I will be begrudging in giving the benefit of the doubt to IWC that something taken out of context always seems worse than it is… either that or I’m coming out in solidarity with people who have to write this nonsense for a living…!

  8. In the eyes of many politicians including leading councillors, we are just statistics that can be patronised and fed a diet of lies and spin. Power goes to their heads, they feel superior to most other people and begin to act like school bullies in the classroom. I would’nt be surprised to discover they take special training courses in the art of lying, spinning and double speak.

  9. Meursault

    10.Mar.2011 2:14pm

    I agree that the content will be pretty harmless, full of jargon and patronising/nauseating to say the least – as with all internal corporate coms.

    What is more amusing is the way they are trying to make it hard for VB to get hold of them. It doesn’t take much to work out that whatever they say will be published by VB.

  10. No matter how small or revealing the content, the continuous drip drip exposure of this Council’s incompetance, lies and decsions over the next 2 years, could go a long way to seeing them defeated in the next local election.

  11. We are having a similar problem in Toytown. PC Plod is responsible for posting the public town report each month on the public noticeboard in the town square. The trouble is, he is in the habit of only letting people he likes see the notice. He stands next to the board with his truncheon in his hand scaring away anybody that he doesn’t like the look of.

    We have told him that he is breaking several codes of conducts and statutary obligations, but he won’t have it. Rumours of the contents of his public notices get around Toytown anyway. He doesn’t seem to realise that all he is achieving is that the whole of Toytown thinks he is a bit of an a***. Noddy has tried to warn him that pretty soon, the good townsfolk will give him the unmerciful bashing that is due. He will then be too unpopular to stay in office and be treated with any respect.

    Hope your Mr Bynon is not as stuborn as PC Plod, because otherwise there is an inevitable sequence of events coming his way.


  12. L Pinkerton

    10.Mar.2011 2:45pm

    It’s not worth reading. I imagine they are worried about compromising their intranet security again.

    • But it is worth reading just for the humour.Many council’s will win awards for’the best campaign for blah blah’ but Stevey B makes a virtue out of the mediocre or the failing.

      On a week when so many council workers finally lost their jobs after weeks of waiting to hear,it might have been polite to acknowledge their despair-instead we’re treated to more ‘achievements’ from The Vine’and handy hints from the Transformation Team on saving paperclips and how this fits in with their ‘Eco Island’ objectives.

      Would it be wise to travel 20 miles by car and return to pick up a discarded folder from those vacated desks if you happen not to work at County Hall?

      Think energy-but being as we’re all half wits,it’s good to have a reminder to ‘turn out the lights when you go’.

      Do any of you remember the council blog in the time of Joe Duckworth? He was the second most highly paid Chief Exec in the country who imported all his failed colleagues as interim directors on massive salaries.

      The blog was closed down after a few months because the council staff asked ‘negative’ questions and complained about council decisions.

      We all pay our taxes too.

      • Oh yes, we remember ‘Vera’ and his mates from Westminster. We were known as Westminster-by-Sea then and made just about every issue of Private Eye. And don’t let’s forget the retired Chief Exec from London Borough of Newham who’s seat Vera slid into – our very own Dave Burbage Ltd. Also of interest to Private Eye. The rot really set in when Vera arrived here. There are some really bizarre decisions being made now, departments being split up and scattered but still expected to provide the same service. Folk who find they are still in County Hall but all their files have been relocated to Ryde; similarly those ‘banished’ to Westridge but the records they use remain in County Hall. All in the name of what? Efficiency and cost savings! I don’t think so. Empire building by cliques. Anyone who questions all this nonsense is labelled ‘resistant to change’ and ‘negative’; all it will get you is high on the list for compulsory redundancy. Yes, we all pay taxes; yes, we care about the service we provide; yes, we continue to try to keep it all going under horrendous circumstances but in the end all that will remain are the ‘yes men/women’ and most of the best will be gone. There will be a few good people left but they will have no voice. Forgive the rant but honest to God County Hall is a nightmare.

        • Mosey, the rot didn’t start with Vera, but is indigenous in the IW local govt setup. Remember Quorell ? He was the Chief Executive that was the first one to top £100k, to general outrage (it was the LibDems wot did it in that case) – he never lived on the Island but commuted back and forth to the mainland in his Porsche at our expense.

          • Heavens yes! I’d wiped him from my memory. Now you’ve reminded me I do remember him coming to one of our team meetings and wasting half-an-hour at least of our time talking about himself and his amazing achievements elsewhere. Still can’t remember any achievements here though.

  13. Glad VB has its own source (like wikileaks – just hope the powers that be on the Island don’t torture him/her like poor Bradley Manning.

  14. I believe the idiots running the Island Council and many other Councils in England are being instructed and told what to do by central Government.

    Local government and democracy is gradually being eroded in favour of a form of direct power from Westminster which is increasingly becomming a system of Liberal Fascism.

    Unlike the Fasicst and Communist theories of years ago when people were controlled by the end of a gun, Liberal Fascism is the new type of politics that includes political correctness, the nanny state, mind control and fear to keep the population under control.

    • I think the idea is that local authorities provide no direct services at all but are merely commissioning agents meeting occasionally to allocate contracts to private contractors. Local government will comprise just contract monitoring units. We saw the beginning of this with the out-sourcing of waste management contracts by Margaret Thatcher, her husband being on the board of Biffa/Severn Trent. Jobs for the boys.

      • Yes but what will the manager’s do when they have no one left to manage?-we’re already in danger of toppling overbecause we’re so top heavy.

        Some departmental heads are desperately re-organising yet again so they have enough people to ‘manage’ to justify the salaries they’ve awarded themselves.

        And what of the voluntary sector which Stevey B was purporting to be such a friend of in ‘The Vine’?Week after week about partnership building, supporting the voluntary sector..
        The volunteers can only work if they are adequately supervised and I’m afraid many of the people who actually do the work on the ground with the volunteers have lost their jobs.

        You can bet that the likes of Astrid Davies or John Metcalf aren’t going to be out there with the great unwashed-no,too busy trying to increase their power base in order to award themselves pay awards for ‘additional duties’.

      • L Pinkerton

        11.Mar.2011 9:28am

        Absolutely correct.

    • L Pinkerton

      11.Mar.2011 9:26am

      We are part of a Tory experimental area.

  15. Perhaps Council staff and VB readers could put a ‘saving money’ suggestion in to Council – (they did say they wanted this I recall), and ‘suggest’ we get rid of ‘the vine’ to ‘save’ money. After all we must keep in line with ConDem double speak and call it ‘savings’ rather than ‘cuts’ now. In fact what did happen to all those suggestions, are David & Steve sitting on them still? Along with Matt Baker (one show) I wonder how they sleep at night.

  16. As the Vine is just an email and therefore shouldn’t cost the council money, apart from someone’s time to write it, I vote to get rid of One Island magazine instead.

  17. adrian nicholas

    11.Mar.2011 10:11am

    …heard a rumour that Benyon dismissed a prospective job applicant on grounds that he put his hands together on the interview table.
    Seems like a ‘progressive’judgemental use of assessment criteria…

Add comment