A Berkshire council chief devised a strategy to deal with a regular complainer, before accidently emailing it to him, writes Brian Radford.
Hugh Peacocke, chief executive of Newbury Town Council, sent his plan direct to retired architect Stan Green, when it should have gone to three colleagues.
Mr Peacocke also advised two of the colleagues not to respond to Mr Green by email.
On council-headed notepaper, Mr Peacocke addressed his letter to Granville, Dave, and David.
He wrote: “I don’t wish to take up too much of Granville’s time dealing with Mr Green’s daily inspections and numerous FoI (Freedom of Information) requests.
“Dave and David – Mr Green has cc’d you both, but it is acceptable per email etiquette that you don’t respond. And, with respect, I suggest you leave it to us. The email is addressed to Granville and me.
“The more people who correspond with him, the more correspondence it generates.”
When asked about the blunder, Mr Peacocke said: “It was a busy day and I made a mistake. It should not have happened and I hope it will never happen again.
“The policy will apply in particular to the nature of a complaint and not necessarily to the number of times a person keeps making the same complaint.”
Mr Green said he would not be deterred and would continue to ask questions and register complaints whenever he thought it necessary.
He said: “The chief executive’s email showed clearly how they plot and scheme to avoid answering difficult questions.
“Of course, we won’t know whether they’ll be gagging people who ask only one question because it’s too difficult or embarrassing.
“They’re giving themselves the opportunity to pick and choose. If they don’t like what they’re being asked they can dismiss it as a ‘persistent complainer’.
“What has happened to the so-called democratic right of the public to query and complain to the people who are supposed to be there to help us?
“I shall continue to ask questions, or complain, whenever I believe it is justified. I won’t be fobbed off.”