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

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29 Comments on "Steve Beynon’s The Vine: Coming To VentnorBlog Soon (Updated)"

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The mushroom syndrome again!!

montana sliver

Great stuff bring ’em on.

How about podcasts of Mr Caulkhead reading them?


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

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?


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!!

Holy Moley!
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… Read more »
Diamond Hell
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… Read more »
Lowtherville Lout
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… Read more »

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.


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.


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.

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.… Read more »

PS. I am not inferring in any way that harm should come to Mr Beynon. This is of course an allegorical tale.

L Pinkerton

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

The Tree
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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.


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.

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… Read more »

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.

The Tree
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… Read more »
L Pinkerton

Absolutely correct.

L Pinkerton

We are part of a Tory experimental area.

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… Read more »

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.


Good idea Trevor – how about both? They should be renamed ‘blowing our own trumpet’ & ‘two fingers up to the rest of you’.

adrian nicholas

…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…

The Tree

… wonder he didn’t get a job-hands gripped round Stevey B’s neck like that…….