"and there's the big problem.... council workers and basic competence are mutually exclusive !!"
Not always.. In municipal-related projects I've had to distribute many a pivot table, and the first thing you do is LOCK THE DAMNED THING. It's also why you learn Access if you got to work with Office. Same queries, less embarrassment.
However Manglement doesn't like that, as it locks them out of....reviewing.. your work for answers they do not like. So Safe Practice gets beaten out of subordinates and below. Your average slob may have provided the table, but you can be sure it was not locked or otherwise sanitised until Manglement and Public Embarassment got through with it and sent it out as-is.