Take Note: The IW Council Doesn’t Like Brown Envelopes

The council appears to be very sensitive about the subject of Brown Envelopes

Dear fab VentnorBlog commentors, among the 45,000+ comments that you’ve put on VB, 6.66 one-hundred-thousandths of a percent of them (that’s 0.0000666%) have contained the phrases ‘brown envelopes’ and council or councillors.

Brown Envelope ExchangeNow, it wouldn’t surprise us if every council – the length and breadth of the country, or even worldwide – frequently had those phrases used in the same sentence, normally without any grounds whatsoever. It’s just something people say occasionally.

Legal department
The Isle of Wight council obviously feel very sensitive about these words – so much so, that each of the three times it’s happened, they’ve used the not-cheap resources of the council’s legal department to write legal threats to VentnorBlog about it.

In the glass-half-full way, we guess it’s flattering to all VB commentors to know that the council finds your comments so fascinating that they’re reading all of them.

Unlike others, who take issue with the occasionally VB comment that is near the knuckle, the council legal department don’t just use the ‘Report this comment’ that sits next to every comment on VB, but go to the extra time/expense of instructing the legal team to compose and write a letter.

Press accreditation threats
They’ve also taken the opportunity to threaten VentnorBlog that they might remove our ‘press accreditation’, if we don’t read and moderate each and every comment that appears on the site.

As we’ve told them – VB isn’t going to do that, for a couple of reasons.

Not enough hours in the day
Firstly, frankly there aren’t enough hours in the day to continue to provide the Island news service that we do currently, never mind read each and every comment.

Second, a little bit of research into the online publishing world will also give them the clear guidance that post-moderation (ie comments go up without passing through and editorial filter and are may be removed only if there’s a problem with them) is the industry-wide standard approach.

Please refrain
Having to deal with the ‘you naughty things’ letters from the council’s legal department is a dreadful drag, as well as throwing yours and our taxes down the drain, so please do us a favour and refrain. If you have proof of a claim of corruption, that’s quite a different matter, so please get in touch with us.

Image: neilward under CC BY 2.0

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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68 Comments on "Take Note: The IW Council Doesn’t Like Brown Envelopes"

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Sandown Sally

Wow! They really don’t like you do they? More importantly, they really don’t like free speech or fair comment. You really would think they had better things to do..

Janet Scott
Yes Sandown Sally I agree with you. Also, had the ‘Council’ answered questions put to them in an honest and straightforward manner, there would be no need for any conspiracy. (i.e.brown envelopes). To me, this seems like yet another arrogant statement from David Pugh. Re;Simon Perry’s last paragraph ‘Please refain’. I think it is important we VB’ers adhere to this as we don’t want to lose our… Read more »
Don Smith

It’s not the colour of the envelope that is important,it is what the envelope contains.


Councils have spent tens of millions of pounds on taxpayer-funded credit cards with local authority executives and councillors treating themselves to first-class travel to foreign destinations and stays in five-star hotels, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

I think we need to know how the IoW council uses credit crds


Anybody would think they were scared! Are they waiting for the truth to come out or something… do they not realise we have already twigged on to them and now read what they do for entertainment value!!

Polka Dot
Good on you VB, Freedom of speech and Freedom of the right to air your opininions is worth fighting for. Just who do they think they are ? If they read all the articles, then maybe they see you as a bit of a threat, naughty council, it may do you good to remind you who elects you and who you are accountable to…. Keep up the… Read more »
Kitten Curry

What colour envelopes do they prefer?


You are best known by who your enemies are…yours do you great credit

Alan Mansell

Is manilla OK?

Loo Loo

How about light blue and pink spots?


I’ve only got brown envelopes left so any future correspondence with the council will have be conveyed in that colour. Perhaps we should campaign to ensure everyone on the island only uses brown envelopes to communicate with them.


How petty and pathetic! By using threats of legal action these Tory councillors are acting like a bunch of school bullies by using this as a way to cover up their own incompetance and failures.

Brown envelopes could be open to interpretation so I would like to know what the chances were of them winning such action.


virtually zero!

Senior Service

Careful you said “councillors” and “brown envelopes” in your reply.

Oh no, now I’ve said it as well………

Loo Loo

The police are on their way.

So far the Police on the Island appear apolitical,but I feel some of our more power mad Councillors are quite capable of trying to influence the police,which would be an illegal act for them and our Police.That would be corruption on another scale to the alleged brown envelopes going under the table!All the more reason for Police Officers to not be in the Masons!(apart from the weird… Read more »
Senior Service
Look I’m really sorry that I said councillor and brown envelope. I was just trying to point out that somebody else had said councillor and brown envelope, I know that you will understand that the phrase councillor and brown envelope is not something that I would say if I knew that councillor and brown envelope or even council and brown envelope should be something that I should… Read more »
It sounds like the powers that be in the Isle of Wight Council are using Council Services to protect themselves from scrutiny, a bit like super injunctions – perhaps they could be billed for this waste of Council tax payers money, along with deductions to their pay for time wasted on the internet looking at VBs comment section (unless they do this out of normal working hours).… Read more »
Loo Loo

This is one for Private Eye.

retired hack
Making allegations of corruption without solid proof is, of course, neither clever nor funny and puts VB in an unnecessarily exposed position. But you can see how the theories gain credence. The Council’s behaviour on very many occasions, and in all sorts of departments, so uniformly runs counter to the interests of ordinary islanders that we’re left searching for an over-arching explanation. Pure incompetence? Bloody-mindedness? Institutional arrogance?… Read more »
Loo Loo

I wonder whether the idea threatining legal action came from Cllr George B..wn.


I had a personal threat of legal action from one of the “bunch” but I was assured by a legal eagle that he was just blowwing hot air!(As usual)

If I’m correct then one of the councils legal team members is Judy Mason. She was THE best solicitor on the Isle of Wight and wipes the floor with all the big firms. If she represented you then she got results, she would do everything possible, It wasn’t about the money like many others I was devastated when FLP in Cowes went into administration, I have never… Read more »

To take a negative view of envelopes just because they are brown suggests an unacceptable and unjustified degree of prejudice meriting participation on the part of Council lawyers on a colour awareness course.


I think ony pink envelopes should be used,then they will not offend anyone and who is going to send an alleged bung in a pink envelope!?

Methinks Ventnor Blog may have hit a sore nerve with IWC. Equally the ‘legal eagles’ may take the view that if they do NOT challenge or complain then the mud may stick and it is guilt or truth by acquiesence. Maybe your bloggers who harbour thoughts of financial imprudence would be advised to read ‘Private Eye’ more often to learn the boundaries of teasing the legal eagles.… Read more »
Media watcher

This council is developing a bit of a habit with its frequent threats of ‘legal action’ every time they hear or see something they dislike. Hard to remember them actually taking any.

Bullies do this sort of thing.

out of touch theconmag

This Council is a joke a bad one.No wonder boy wonder is looking a bit seedy and I’ve noticed the shoulders are beginning to slump must be a heavy burden he’s carrying.The fissures are starting to show.


Sorry but I don’t understand what the phrase means, unless it has something to do with council shutting half the public lavatories and how to reuse the brown envelopes!

Paul Miller

But I’ve never used the phrase “brown envelope…” …Oops!

Don Smith

I have always found cash the best – There is no come back; unless the camera clicks:-)


Send them a brown envelope,it tends to keep them quite for while!!!!They could use the money to buy an up date copy of the Stones Justice Manual and not rely on the 1952 copy they have.


There are usually three possible explanations for the Council’s questionable actions: incompetence, stupidity or corruption. We will just have to assume it is one of the other two.


and how much is this legal case going to cost us? Surely the IWC could find a better way to spend our money………………


I prefer imaginary games of cricket…


Some councils are called loony left. Here on the Island we have a council that are loony right and showing themselves up to be a total laughing stock.

Senior Service

I think just “loony” would suffice!

mark francis

Methinks the Council doth protest to much. I look forward to receiving my next council tax reminder in a delicate shade of cerise…

Councillor Brown-Envelope

Isn’t 666 the number of, well, you know…

The IOWC can send as many horrible letters to VB as they want.The fact is the commentators have made the statements you have to sue them not VB.This has been highlighted in many facebook cases. In a court room what halfwit of a lawyer would support any allegation made by a council that has a leader who shouts “**** off and leave us alone”in a High Street.The… Read more »

I’m so naiive, I thought that in the last para VB were asking us not to write any criticism of IWC unless it was about corruption & we had evidence for it! I hope that others don’t think the same & “refrain” unnecessarily! I didn’t realise ‘brown envelopes’ referred to bribes, I thought it just meant correspondence with the Council…..


Over reaction by council but also I fear by one or two on here.

The English Language is wonderful because it enables us to debate issues without resorting to coarse insults.

Criticising the Council for decisions it has taken is fine but name calling and inferences of improper behaviour without any backing evidence is something else.

Steve Goodman
I was reminded of how much our (rated 2 star only, barely adequate) council take from us for this sort of nonsense; here’s a recent pointer from VB – Davina Fiore: £100,000 For A Four Day Week From IW Council Friday, 18th March, 2011 VentnorBlog had heard that Davina Fiore, Director of Corporate Services and Monitoring Officer at the Isle of Wight council was only working a… Read more »
Don Smith
Plenty of information, but how do we put a stop to this fleecing of the tax payers? I doubt if many Binstead & Fishbourne residents will read VB (Their misfortune). Would it not be better if your ‘Post’ was sent to ‘Letters’ at the CP? Personally I think these salaries are bordering on criminal and it is high time islanders did something about it. At this time… Read more »
Steve Goodman
Don – We can start by talking to everyone we know. The few people currently causing the damage may not react sensibly to what’s being said, but that’s all the more reason to spread the word. Nationally, Private Eye contains a lot of material that politicians, businesses, & even footballers & other celebrities would rather we didn’t talk about. Here VB has become the best source of… Read more »
Media watcher

Now that an English (Tyneside) council has forced Twitter to identify some of its posters, I think it might only be a matter of time before our council attempts the same against VB.

It does seem a dark day for fair comment, but if you are going to comment on anyone at IWC, you had better make sure you can back up any allegations you make.


The Big Brother, Nanny State type of society visualised by George Orwell is sadly becoming a reality.

Steve Goodman

MW – our council provides the ammunition; in this case, by threatening VB they managed to shoot themselves in the foot.

really….or using technology to avoid laws meant to protect people from liers and pugerors. Freedom comes with caviots, that our words are true, not spread hatred and cause harm. Remeber accusations made about others could just as well (anonymously) be made about you that could ruin you life,business and relationship. Is that freedom of speech or is it it just freedom to spread gossip. The comments about… Read more »
Don Smith
Try getting a letter in the CP which makes any criticism of this Tory Council or our Tory MP published. You have more chance of winning the lottery. It’s easy to understand why; they are so chummy. Just look at the advertisements the council places in the CP – Many of which could be made more concise, thus saving money. The best examples are Ads. recruiting employees.… Read more »

She is a lovely, sensible, level headed lady.It was only a year or two ago that she tried to organise a pop festival on an active runway.


If they want a say in how you should run your blog and censor your content then maybe they should send a few thousand pounds your way! Like they do to county press and the “not registered on the” isle of wight radio

witchfinder general
There will be quite a few brown envelopes buzzing around soon, but not the beneficial kind of brown envelopes. They will contain a note asking the receiver to reapply for the job they have been doing for years. But only if they meet the 80% criteria needed to do the job, otherwise its down the road. Now does the chief exec. meet this criteria, I doubt it.… Read more »
Steve Goodman

Coincidentally, I’ve heard that our expensive treasurer (Dave Garbage Ltd.?) has recently been contracted for another year or two; anybody able to confirm/correct?


Since the revelation of MP’s expenses and corrupt bankers, the politicians, councillors, greedy
big businessmen, celebs and super rich use the courts because they’re afraid of getting exposed with their own noses in the trough.

Don Smith

And not just their noses in the trough:-)

I’m not sure of what details the legal threats contain but as far as I know a local authority cannot sue for libel, it is down to the cllrs to undertake proceedings in their own names at their own expense. So if IWC resources were being used to monitor and issue legal threats to do with libelous claims against cllrs then surely that would be a misuse… Read more »

Here is some interesting background to the legal side of things.

‘The House of Lords in Derbyshire CC v Times Newspapers Ltd ([1993] AC 534), decided that a local authority should not be able to sue in defamation. It was a democratically elected government body, and it was very important that it ‘should be open to uninhibited public criticism’.

See the full article here: http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/should-public-bodies-be-allowed-to-sue-in-defamation-part-1-england-and-echr-raymond-youngs/

Alan Mansell

This link is pertinent. Right at the end it confirms that local authorities cannot claim for libel. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-13588284

Local authorities cannot sue for defamation but individual councillors and officers certainly can. Councillors accepting brown envelopes is a phrase which would probably be interpreted as bribery by a jury and while it may be passed off as a joke in the pub it is not so easily done when repeated on here or in print. You may be the only motorist in a stream of cars… Read more »
Mr Justice

So, as long as you say the council is bent, not councillor’s or officers, you can’t be sued?

Surely no sensible person would think OUR wonderful council bent, or a receiver of brown envelopes? Except the legitimate kind of course.


There is nothing wrong with brown envelopes,it is all we can afford after the rise in the cost of living and frozen wages due to the current economic depression.Unfortunately,if you ask most Island people,the impression is that our Council does have a certain degree of corruption.I have no evidence to support this impression,but that is the impression I get.


It’s just plain bullying. Since Thathcher, councils, Governments and many businesses have become much more aggressive and dictatorial and use an iron fist to get their own way.

Don Smith

What’s the difference between the CP, the Council and IoW Radio? Not a lot.

Tune in to Vectis Radio and have your say on the Phone-in. No brown envelopes I promise.


No wonder the Island council are getting paranoid. Lots of news coming out today about exctravagant spending by councillors throughout the UK.

The Isle of Wight Council sound paranoid and rather Big Brother(1984)like in these threats and monitoring of comments.Not to mention the cost to the tac payer the legal for every letter they draught and send.Solicitors do not come cheap,especially on the Isle of Wight. The question is,what are they afraid of? Is it democracy and maybe the truth too?If they take such an interest in terrorsing us… Read more »
Don Smith
If I remember correctly, all MPs who were implicated…Received their questionnaires on their expenses in brown envelopes. And that was a lot of brown envelopes; yet less than half a dozen were prosecuted. This present council is good at using consultants from outside; I feel it high time that tax payers demanded a private consultant to investigate the and scrutinised the councils accounts. And please lets put… Read more »
Calder Jon

Big Brother is watching you and envelope manufacturers around the globe are behind this dastardly plan…..