Monday, 20 May 2019
Friday, 15 June 2018

Arvato rejects Slough Council emails

Labour pays £10.1/2 million yearly for failures

Report and photographs: Paul Janik
Slough Council's top management and top councillors
let the public's emails be randomly rejected.

Slough Council's history is littered with the debris from occasional explosions of sheer genius that astonished many.

One of many memorial Council achievements was to deliberately block emails from any domain name not ending with .uk

This marvellously intellectually clever idea, delivered by Slough Council's overpaid computer experts, blocked emails from:-

  1. .net : including emails from janik.net – although emails from virgin.net were accepted
  2. .org
  3. .com : including emails from britwell.com and pauljanik.com
  4. .pl : including emails from many newly arriving Polish people registering to pay Council Tax
  5. .nl : including emails from a Dutch association enquiring about Slough
  6. .eu : including emails from the European Commission in Brussels – hope it wasn't anything to improve Slough
  7. .fr : including emails from a French owned Slough company
  8. and many unknown others.

Keen to demonstrate their impeccable abilities, Slough Unitary Authority's computer boffins never ever, not once, monitored the operation of their impressive and sensational email rejection campaign.

When the Slough Times asked the dazzling stars of the council's home-made computer fiasco, what on earth were they doing, the damning details emerged. However the council refused to change their email blocking scheme. It took much effort from multiple sources before the council reluctantly reverted to normal service.

Domains .com .org and .net are USA domain names. They existed before the UK introduced .uk

The USA later added .us – the UK originally had .gb

Council computer achievements

When the public had dial-up home Internet connections and personal email addresses, Slough Council's only email address was 106616.1742@compuserve.com which personally belonged to the chief executive's secretary Lesley Cummins.

Keen to impress the public, the council wasted tens of thousands of pounds putting Internet aerials on the roofs of people's homes and council buildings.

A few years later, the council removed the roof aerials. That cost money too.

The next major event happened when the council's computer systems developed an avoidable fault. The council had no resilience plan so everything collapsed.

For a week and several days the council had no working computer system. Staff, with nothing to do, were sent home on a free paid holiday.

With a message on 01753-475111 saying the council was closed and the public should call back in a few days time, the public were not deceived by the council's propaganda office desperately and dishonestly pretending nothing was wrong.

Slough's declining Tories have not run the council for more than 20 years. With no alternatives to Labour, realistic council improvements are unlikely.

The latest email disaster

Arvato took over the Council's computer systems because it thought it could make a good profit.

Labour, so delighted at privatising more council jobs, generously kept pouring public cash into Arvato's bulging bank account.

Meanwhile Arvato started randomly rejecting the public's emails. Neither Arvato nor the remaining council computer boffin noticed anything wrong.

When complaints arrived, neither had a clue what to do, so they ignored the problem.

The Slough Times diagnosed the fault in 4 minutes and instantly knew the solution. A competent Arvato or Slough Council person can fix it in less than 5 minutes – and that includes coffee drinking time.

The problem, first identified by Slough Times on Friday 2 September 2016, still exists 1 year 9 months later.

Twice Slough's two most important councillors, His Excellency the council leader and his charming Madam Deputy Leader, supported by their infighting, squabbling and back-stabbing Labour bunch, were told of the problem in writing – not in double-Dutch or Cantonese but in simple ordinary English. So were all the opposition councillors. All 42 councillors ignored the problem.

On 1 June 2018, His Excellency Cllr James Swindlehurst robustly denied he had given the poisoned Arvato chalice to Madam Deputy Leader. His Excellency exclusively wrote to the Slough Times:-

One of the drivers behind the planned premises relocation for SBC is to use this as an opportunity to move forward IT improvements and the transformation of digital and other services, and this is not a poison chalice as you suggest but an important area of planned improvement, which I trust Cllr Hussain to lead.

Knowing Arvato's failures, compounded by poor quality staff and a forlorn aimlessness, the Slough Times has great sympathy for Madam Deputy Leader.

His Excellency was, at the time, the Deputy Leader that gave the privatisation contract to Arvato.

His Excellency and Madam Deputy Leader were invited to enlighten the public with their informative explanations. Sadly both unexpectedly became publicity-shy.

The error message

Example from 2 September 2016.

This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason:

Your message was not delivered because the destination computer refused to accept it (the error message is reproduced below). This type of error is usually due to a mis-configured account or mail delivery system on the destination computer; however, it could be caused by your message since some mail systems refuse messages with invalid header information, or if they are too large.

Your message was rejected by mail.slough.gov.uk for the following reason:

5.7.1 Rejected - SPF check failed

The following recipients did not receive this message:


Please reply to [Postmaster@slough.gov.uk]
if you feel this message to be in error.

Example from 1 June 2018.

This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason:

Each of the following recipients was rejected by a remote mail server.
The reasons given by the server are included to help you determine why each recipient was rejected.

Recipient: [finbar.mcsweeney@slough.gov.uk]
Reason: 5.7.1 Rejected - SPF check failed

Please reply to [Postmaster@slough.gov.uk]
if you feel this message to be in error.

Some of the rejections

  1. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 16:32 Freedom of Information
  2. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 16:42 Freedom of Information
  3. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 16:43 Freedom of Information
  4. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 17:03 IT Service Desk
  5. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 17:24 FOI
  6. 02-09-16 : SPF error: 17:29 Freedom of Information
  7. 03-09-16 : SPF error: 21:24 Cllr Sohail Munawar
  8. 03-09-16 : SPF error: 21:24 Cllr Sabia Hussain
  9. 03-09-16 : SPF Error: 21:27 (withheld)
  10. 03-09-16 : SPF error: 21:28 (withheld)
  11. 10-09-16 : SPF error: 14:59 Cllr Sohail Munawar
  12. 10-09-16 : SPF error: 14:59 Cllr Sabia Hussain
  13. 19-09-16 : SPF error: 17:51 Cllr Joginder Bal
  14. 19-09-16 : SPF error: 17:51 Cllr Fiza Matloob
  15. 19-09-16 : SPF error: 17:51 Cllr Sohail Munawar
  16. 19-09-16 : SPF error: 17:51 Cllr Sabia Hussain
  17. 19-09-16 : SPF error: 17:51 Roger Parkin
  18. 24-11-16 : SPF error: 19:48 Cllr Fiza Matloob
  19. 10-12-16 : SPF error: 03:20 Roger Parkin
  20. 13-12-16 : SPF error: 15:51 Parking
  21. 10-01-17 : SPF error: 14:16 Cllr Fiza Matloob
  22. 25-01-17 : SPF error: 13:18 Catherine Meek
  23. 10-03-17 : SPF error: 12:10 Fiona Geldard
  24. 10-05-17 : SPF error: 19:54 Andrew Larkinson
  25. 05-06-17 : SPF error: 19:01 Lee-Marie Grant
  26. 23-06-17 : SPF error: 10:00 Sushil Thobhani
  27. 09-08-17 : SPF error: 16:58 Cllr Shabnum Sadiq
  28. 09-08-17 : SPF error: 19:52 Cllr Raymond Bains
  29. 29-11-17 : SPF error: 10:30 John Griffiths
  30. 30-11-17 : SPF error: 14:58 Trevor Langworth
  31. 06-03-18 : SPF error: 03:49 Council Tax
  32. 23-04-18 : SPF error: 19:54 Nigel Pallace
  33. 23-04-18 : SPF error: 19:54 Cllr Diana Coad
  34. 31-05-18 : SPF error: 21:18 Trevor Langworth
  35. 01-06-18 : SPF error: 05:21 Finbar McSweeney

Some of the complaints to Slough Council

02-09-16 : 17:23 : alerting itservicedesk@slough.gov.uk = no response

02-09-16 : 19:40 : asking itservicedesk@slough.gov.uk for help = no response

17-01-17 : 19:58 : Complaint to Cllr Mohammed Sharif

18-01-17 : 17:26 : To Cllr Mohammed Sharif

18-01-17 : 17:44 : From Cllr Mohammed Sharif I have asked it to be investigated.

25-01-17 : 14:32 : Cllr Mohammed Sharif to Simon Pallett Could you please get this urgently sorted as it could be rejecting residents e-mails unnecessarily.

29-01-17 : 19:26 : Simon Pallett to Cllr Mohammed Sharif Arvato are investigating and liaising with Clearswift (provider of Councils mail gateways)

02-02-17 : 14:57 : From Simon Pallett – Clearswift made changes

03-02-17 : 11:04 : To Simon Pallett

03-02-17 : 16:26 : From Simon Pallett Arvato believe the issue to be resolved

10-03-17 : 15:32 : To Corporate Complaints, Cllr Mohammed Sharif, Cllr Fiza Matloob, Cllr Sabia Hussain, Simon Pallett = no response

11-05-17 : 04:12 : To Cllrs Mohammed Sharif, Sohail Munawar & Sabia Hussain = no response

29-11-17 : 12:02 : To all councillors = no response

05-12-17 : 01:13 : To all councillors = no response

Does anyone need more evidence Slough Council does not care and is unfit to continue as a statutory local authority ?

Temporary chief executive Nigel Pallace does not care.

Responsible council director Neil Wilcox does not care.

Chief councillor His Excellency Cllr James Swindlehurst does not care.

All of them enthusiastically take the public's money. Are any providing genuine value for that money ?