BATTLE OF THE BEARPIT

As the dust settles on the Reverend’s underwhelming and overpriced ‘BATTLE OF THE BEARPIT’ eviction assault on the city’s street homeless, People’s Republic of Stokes Croft and Bearpit Improvement Group stalwart, Chris “The Pot” Chalkley should allow himself a wry smile at the council’s thinking behind this latest turn of events. The Reverend Rees unleashed his PRIVATE STORMTROOPERS to clear the Bearpit of squatters and the homeless on 19 June after what he called “escalating public fears” following a low-key statement from the police that a man had suffered a minor facial injury in the Bearpit.

The Reverend’s assault led by ineffective community worker turned ‘Street Czar’ Kurt “Wendy” James appeared to be devised as a HIGH PROFILE MEDIA EVENT and troops were piled in ready for a headline-grabbing scrap with the squatters of the Bearpit. Although things didn’t go quite to plan when just one man was arrested for a non-violent offence while the rest just drifted away from the Bearpit with a “fuck you” to the Reverend’s para-military bailiff team. Within a few hours bailiffs were stood around with the press in the middle of, possibly, THE MOST EXPENSIVELY SECURED ROUNDABOUT IN HISTORY.

The Battle of the Bearpit took place after an eviction hearing at Bristol’s Court of Justice where the city council arrived with a swanky barrister on top-dollar who proceeded to fail to prove the council owned the Bearpit. The court, instead, had to make do with a statement from ‘Street Czar’ Wendy claiming the council did own it but just couldn’t prove it at the moment. The barrister also blustered to the court that there was “AN URGENT NEED FOR “REDEVELOPMENT AND REGENERATION” at the Bearpit.

Really? An urgent need to expensively redevelop and regenerate a concrete underpass beneath a roundabout? This is why Chris The Pot should be pissing himself laughing. When he announced ten years ago that he intended to turn this ABANDONED, UNLOVED and UNDERUSED underpass popular only with the street homeless into an important cultural quarter, vibrant public space and open-air art gallery there were gales of laughter. Followed by a shrug of the shoulders from anyone in authority who had spent years pursuing a policy of “TARGET HARDENING” and “DISSUASION OF USE” in what studies had discovered was THE MOST FEARED SPACE IN CENTRAL BRISTOL. Certainly, no mention then from snooty bastards about “an urgent need for redevelopment and regeneration”.

So what’s changed? When did the Bearpit become valuable real estate? Who changed it and how? And who gets to cash in?

WHISTLEBLOWER TAKES A GAMBLE ON ‘CORRUPT’ COUNCIL BOSS

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Why did every Bristol City Councillor receive an email in early June announcing that Bristol City Council’s latest Monitoring Officer, “L’il” Tim O’Gara, responsible for preventing corruption at our council is, er, CORRUPT? The tale begins with Tim’s old boss, Sheena Ramsey, at Worcester County Council. She arrived at Worcester in 2015 from Knowsley, Merseyside soon after SILENCING A WHISTLEBLOWER by bullying them into early retirement.

This whistleblower, Mike Fagan, had revealed that Knowsley’s Labour council leader, Ron “A” Round’s grandson had been appointed as a trainee at the council without going through any formal recruitment procedure. Mr Fagan was promptly offered EARLY RETIREMENT that came, he says, with “veiled threats of DIRE CONSEQUENCES should I refuse to accept it.”

When Mr Fagan discovered Sheena Ramsey had been APPOINTED as “Managing Director” at Worcester, he contacted councillors, “naively, expecting councillors at Worcester would insist that Sheena respond to my allegations with a denial and even threaten to take action against me for libel.”  

However, things didn’t go to plan as O’Gara moved into full EMERGENCY EXECUTIVE ARSE-COVERING MODE for Ramsey, taking the lead on the issue and refusing to engage with Mr Fagan, despite realising early on that the allegations against Ramsay were ENTIRELY TRUE. L’il Tim, we’re told, was obstructive over FOI requests on the matter and publicly smeared Mr Fagan as “VEXATIOUS”.

L’il Tim also made these claims regarding Mr Fagan to the Information Commissioner (ICO) and wasn’t clear about the source of misinformation he provided to them. Although he WITHDREW ANY CLAIMS and denied having any information about Mr Fagan when confronted at an ICO tribunal. L’il Tim got away with all this as the ICO decided he had not committed a criminal offence in the way he handled the case. Although we’re told, “his actions would be adjudged corrupt on any ‘BALANCE OF PROBABILITY’ assessment”.

It’s therefore unlikely L’il Tim will be providing any explanation to Bristol’s councillors in a hurry. Instead the Reverend’s Head of Paid Service, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson has dealt with the matter by forwarding to councillors a letter from Worcester smearing Mr Fagan as – wait for it – “VEXATIOUS” and announcing, “Bristol City Council now considers this matter to be closed”.

However, the pair of self-serving Bristol executives are in a bit of an awkward bind here. Should L’il Tim threaten to sue, as he should do to clear his name, he runs the enormous risk of being caught LYING. If he simply denies the claims, he runs the risk of getting SUED by the complainant. Hence we find Billie Jean trying to brush the matter aside with a crude NON-DENIAL DENIAL DEVICE obtained from Worcester. Although this letter is already attracting robust legal threats from Mr Fagan who has evidence from the ICO that states he is not “vexatious”.

Mr Fagan has now written again to councillors saying, “I am so confident that Mr O’Gara will refuse to deny his corruption that I can make the following offer. If the matter is investigated properly by the Council and in the event of my allegations not being upheld by such an investigation; I SHALL MAKE A DONATION OF £50,000 TO THE MAYOR’S FUND FOR BRISTOL“!

This sounds like easy money for a charity. A simple investigation into L’il Tim clearing him of the allegations against him and the charity banks £50k. That is unless our Monitoring Officer, responsible for tackling corruption at the council, is UNABLE TO DENY ON THE RECORD that he’s corrupt?

Happy days.

MARKET FORCES

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This month’s Bristol City Council entry for ‘BRITAIN’S WORST LOCAL AUTHORITY CONSULTANTS’ REPORT’ comes courtesy of Nabma Market Place’s (NMP) report into St Nicholas Market. Accuracy, it seems, is not NMP’s strong point while making proposals that could WRECK LIVELIHOODS. “Within St. Nicholas market,” we’re told authoritatively, “there are three individual segments. Each area has 50 trading units.”


Er, except, later in the report, every stall in every segment is identified “in chronological [sic] order”, with each business and its rental charge identified with NO REGARD FOR PRIVACY, and the total is 49 stalls. Is the market two-thirds unoccupied? No  – “STALL OCCUPANCY RATES ARE NEAR 100%” – we’re told. This is an error of some magnitude then. An error that gets repeated. “The Glass Arcade offers 50 UNITS principally for the sale of fast food,” we’re unreliably informed, making any attempt to excuse the inability of these consultants to count as a typo or a transcription error tricky.

NMP are similarly CONFUSED ABOUT FINANCES. “Annual income generated from the markets and docks estate services through market and concession licence fees, event, promotional and filming site fees is £750,000,” we’re told. Then we’re assured, “the Council currently generates a surplus of approximately £315,000 pa.”

However, finance information in the report suggests that this claim is BOLLOCKS. Gross yearly rent recorded for St Nicks is £115k. While, even, if we accept that every street market stall on Corn Street is occupied on every market day for the maximum charge of £37 then that would earn around £200k. Making turnover about £325K A YEAR. A figure suspiciously close to £315k. Do the council and their consultants know the difference between TURNOVER and SURPLUS? And where did they find their £750k turnover figure?

The problem here is that this flawed report proposes MAJOR CHANGES. One proposal is to RAISE RENTS. We’re told, “there are many inconsistencies in the rental structure. Such anomalies are historic and are a result of several years rent negotiations with individual traders.”

Swiftly glossing over these odd “negotiations” between council bosses and individuals over lawful charges, NMP propose to “resolve inconsistencies in the rental structure” with, er, an INCONSISTENT RENTAL STRUCTURE! They propose: Exchange and Covered market rents remain UNCHANGED; café rents remain UNCHANGED; Glass Arcade rents increase to “A REALISTIC COMMERCIAL VALUE“; a SEPARATE RATE is introduced for fast food traders; rents at Market Gate remain UNCHANGED; trader Spice Up Your Life’s rent is INCREASED.

What’s consistent about this? Especially when the report says, “in reviewing the Exchange and Covered market rents there is no consistency in the fees and charges”. An INCONSISTENCY that, apparently, can remain.

NMP’s second proposal is the real BOMBSHELL for traders, however: “Without doubt the popularity of food and Bristol City would greatly benefit from having a really high quality food hall. Such a facility, located in the Exchange, would provide a unique facility to the City, enhance the market area and complement market activity in St. Nicholas Market. A food hall … would be a fabulous asset to the City. The market would become the central hub for high end food.”

Look out! They’re gonna gentrify our market using a hookie report.

ST MARVIN’S-UP-THE-CREEK NEWSLETTER #22

Could confused parishioners with low performing children who lack leadership qualities please note that, while I may be Chair of the St Snoot’s Academy, the parish’s OFSTED ‘outstanding’ high performing religious secondary school, I can in no way be held responsible for any of the entirely unforeseen consequences of the budgetary transformation of SEND resources there. This has been confirmed by Mr Stubbersfield from Bath who was recently appointed at great expense by the school’s executive leadership team on a consultancy basis to develop a convincing alternative narrative for the disaster.

This means blame for the closure of the specialist SEND unit at the school as part of a drive toward improved outcomes efficiency is not something that can be laid at my door. Neither am I in any way responsible for placing SEND children in inappropriate mainstream school settings without support. Nor should I be reproached for any alleged upgrading in so-called ‘off-rolling’ at the school as a result of unavoidable errors. All of this has been confirmed by Mr Stubbersfield deploying various insightful statistics at a variety of illuminating meetings whose minutes are not available for very complicated children’s safeguarding reasons that need not concern us here.

I therefore suggest that Ms Townsend and the ragbag of troublemakers, terrorists and rumour mongers from the parish’s OFSTED ‘Needs Improvement’ Dave Spart Academy who continue to encourage confused parishioners with low performing children at St Snoot’s to blame me for the decline in SEND provision now desist from this nonsense. Instead parishioners need to accept our Parish Committee member for Children’s Worship, Jacqui Jensen from Devon’s vivid explanation, devised with the help of Mr Stubbersfield, that a kind of mix between paralysis and panic has taken hold at St Snoot’s for entirely unforeseen reasons that will never be explained but are clearly not in any way the fault of anyone responsible.

Sometimes strong leadership means accepting that events are not of our making but are part of God’s larger plan. As my mentor, the Texan psychotic preacher and notorious anti-communist homophobe, the Pastor Righteous Loon says, “If God’s Kingdom you are creating on Earth is looking a bit schlonky then blame the good lord using a vaguely relevant biblical quote”.

Going forward, let me assure unfortunate parishioners with low performing children at St Snoot’s that we will be creating an exciting new SEND strategy to replace our last strategy very soon. The ‘quick wins’ we are urgently developing to placate any especially sharp elbowed parents with access to solicitors may even be implemented as soon as next year. In the meantime any of our children’s suffering needs to be understood in context. Namely that God has created a kind of mix between paralysis and panic at St Snoot’s and for such mysterious work the lord can only be praised and celebrated.

Amen.

GREEN SHEEP’S DR EVIL INVITE DENIAL

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The self-styled anti-war leftie party for the cycling obsessed middle classes – the Greens – continue to march to a centre ground of free markets and hopelessly compromised values.

Just days after a good set of Euro election results, where they grabbed AN IMPRESSIVE 35 PER CENT OF THE VOTE in Bristol, their re-elected MEP Molly “The Sheep” Cato-Scott decided to wade into the middle of the Labour Party’s woes following the expulsion of their spin doctor, Alistair “Dr Evil” Campbell, an architect of the Iraq War.

“Is @campbellclaret looking for new political home?” tweeted the Green nincompoop, seemingly inviting one of the country’s most notorious war criminals to join a party that was one of the most implacable opponents of not just the Iraq War but wars in general. Not least because THE SINGLE MOST POLLUTING AND CLIMATE CHANGING ACTIVITY ON EARTH by some distance is, er, warfare.

Molly The Sheep is yet to correct or apologise for this ‘ERROR‘. Instead she sent out supporters to explain to critics of her daft tweet that they didn’t understand the SEMANTICS of her outburst and that she was not inviting Campbell to join the Greens at all and how could anyone interpret her comments as such?

This example of good old-fashioned dissembling politics at its worst doesn’t bode well for Bristolians should the Greens strike it lucky next year.






HEAD BOY’S GENDER SHAME

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The council’s recent announcement of a four per cent average ‘GENDER PAY GAP’ between men and women’s pay at the council disguised some DISTURBING ANOMALIES. Please step forward Colin “Head Boy” Molton, the man who no one appointed as head of the council’s Growth & Regeneration department on a pro rata rate of £350k a year.

News reaches The BRISTOLIAN that Head Boy’s department, which GIFTS PUBLIC LAND AND ASSETS TO CORPORATE DEVELOPERS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, has the largest gender pay gap of any department at the council with the boys trousering 22 PER CENT MORE for performing secret favours for corporate high rollers than the little ladies back in the office doing the work. The days of men in suits with dubious morals earning big money for seeing each other all right are not behind us then.

We’re also informed that the pay gap in Head Boy’s department would be CONSIDERABLY WORSE if his own pay packet was actually taken into account. However, as an “interim”, his £1,500 day rate isn’t included in any pay stats collected by the council for some obscure reason that no one understands. Rumours from councillors also suggest that there’s been some “GENDER BEHAVIOUR ISSUES” in Molton’s department that aren’t being addressed by this wealthy male boss.

Why the hell are we still paying unapologetic sexist twats a fortune to run things at the council?

DIVERSITY JOY

WHISTLING IN THE WIND

Just months after four black whistleblowers stepped up to expose A CULTURE OF ENDEMIC RACIST BULLYING AT BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL that was being swept under the carpet by senior bosses and the HR department, Bristol City Council has won a diversity award for HR!

It says here that “The Public Services People Management Association (PPMA) awards are the highest-profile celebration of Human Resources and Organisational Development workers across the public sector,” and they AWARDED Bristol City Council their ‘Best Diversity Programme Award’ for their ‘Stepping Up Programme’ for managers.

Who says institutional racism doesn’t pay?

“Useless and Underperforming” Comrades: A Weaponised Human Resources Team

By the Dwarf

I really feel I am getting somewhere now; I am enjoying my work and I feel valued by my employer. But not everyone is so lucky in the council because I’ve received a constant stream of leaks and complaints about the treatment dished out at the hands of HR and management. Over the last couple of years a trickle of shit has turned into a torrent.

I must admit, I’ve had to rewrite this article several times because a number of things I was gleefully writing up have been suddenly resolved, to the obvious relief of the staff affected. This is annoying. There are still a number of nasty problems in the pipeline, though, but I like to offer the other side an opportunity to really stick their necks out before writing them up. So, I’m going to take an overview of what’s going on (rather than a detailed expose) and hope to get across to you the experience of our staff, generally.

Anyway, I couldn’t at first understand what has been going on. Equalities used to be a high priority for management. It has recently stopped being so. My impression was that managers would find themselves with a tightened budget and would wonder to themselves whether or not staff really needed those visits to physio, modified duties, lighter duties, small breaks, time off to recover from operations, Dragon software, ramps over steps; that sort of thing. They, of course, took advice from HR.

HR used to give the advice that reasonable adjustments were a legal right, because the culture of equal opportunities used to be strong. Now they are replying that if it is a ‘need of the business’ they can justify taking it away (or not allow it) and HR will back the manager up. This is one of the reasons why it has been suggested that HR has become weaponised by someone ruthless at a medium to high level. This wrong advice is so widespread that it can only be a conscious strategy.

A new bit of advice from HR is that ‘you don’t have to change the job’ when designing reasonable adjustments and this is also incorrect. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (who are in charge of this) have a list of examples and several of them ‘change the job’. Total bollocks.

But another reason I know it is a conscious strategy is that they have been open about stopping certain things named as reasonable adjustments by the EHRC. And there is an element of incompetence in this in the sense that they were only so candid about what they were doing because they were so poorly informed.

One of these is medical redeployment. A person with a new disability (or a worsened one) and who is having trouble being productive even with reasonable adjustments (should they be able to get them at all), should be redeployed into a job where he can be productive, as an alternative to dismissal. Reasonable adjustments come first, obviously. HR have been open that they don’t intend to do this anymore and so have Occupational Health who have told us that they were told not to offer it. He who pays the piper calls the tune. But unfortunately that approach is illegal, and there is plenty of case law showing this.

The only time medical redeployment can be arranged (in HR’s view) is when there is a stage three sickness meeting, which means either the worker struggles on in a workplace that has been made artificially dangerous to them or they go off sick for a year. Hardly a sensible situation is it? Some just leave and join better employers.

Social Care is the worst culprit. They have had the nerve to tell us they have no temporary light duties even for people returning from life-saving operations. Of course they have light duties; do they think we are fucking stupid? If someone with the “eye of Sauron” needs to look anywhere, it needs to look there.

Anyway, this series of articles is not about HR; its long running theme is about how compromised public sector unions can become because of their relationships with politics. Well the good news is I’m upgrading them from ‘fucking corrupt” to “useless and underperforming” after a much improved couple of months. Pats on backs all round. There is still incredible timidity from some of our most senior union leaders but there have been the odd micro victory. All of which we have failed to communicate to our members.

One of the most entertaining events of the last week has been watching Unison refuse to be the Labour party’s bitch any longer. Somehow someone from Unison was allowed to oppose the Labour party (publicly) on its decision to amend a motion that called on the divestment of fossil fuels from the company pension. This was at full council. Their amendment, apparently, amended the words ‘divest’ to ‘look into divesting’, or so I was told. A Unison rep allegedly wasn’t happy at all and said so. Quite right!

THE MAYOR’S CULT, EPISODE 3: RACHEL MOLANO

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in previous issues, The BRISTOLIAN has been exposing how an EXTREMIST WEIRDO Californian Christian cult known as BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY (BSSM) wields UNDUE and DISTURBING influence over Our Reverend Mayor, challenging the secular nature of his office.

Readers are now encouraged to visit a very good report by independent journalist Joanna Booth on BSSM “graduate”/cultist Rachel Molano who wormed her way into The Mayor’s confidence, found at https://medium.com/@jo.stillawake/who-is-marvin-rees-faith-adviser-and-what-effect-does-she-have-on-him-3fd67c3737d2

Despite claims that Ms Molano no longer works for the council, it seems she still has an ACTIVE BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL EMAIL ACCOUNT. Why? And what else can she access at the council?

This story has become a CAN OF WORMS. The BRISTOLIAN continues its investigations.

A REBELLION YEARNING FOR EXTINCTION

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Council blocking Bristol Bridge on Monday morning to facilitate week long protest.

By The Fly On The Wall

Buzzing around Bristol Bridge on Monday, THE FLY was able to savour the delicious aroma of GREENWASH BULLSHIT served up by MIDDLE CLASS TWATS. Yes, it was the start of a week long ‘protest’ in Bristol city centre organised by our favourite WELL HEELED, CORPORATE-BACKED ‘environmental emergency social movement’, Extinction Rebellion.

The surreal sight that assaulted The Fly’s compound eyes from all directions included flags and banners, a few stalls, gazebos and tents, a bright pink yacht in the middle of Bristol Bridge, a DJ sound-system, meditation groups, signs that said ‘Get In The Boat’, or ‘Get On Your Bike’ (a sore point maybe for those of us from the bug world with long memories), a samba parade blanketed in the COPYRIGHTED XR logo with one or two active ‘callers’ and a mass of passive ‘responders’, and hippie stoners chatting away to the cops, some of them openly skinning up only feet away from the ever-smiling filth.

There were legal observers too, in case anyone got arrested (for lighting up a joint just a bit too close to a cop maybe?), but obviously with not much to do. Bristol City Council and their cheerful cop friends were so obliging that BCC even PROVIDED CONCRETE BOLLARDS later on to give the ‘protest’/love-in an air of permanence, all paid for through one of their contractors.

Taking shelter from the sun and the overt Glasto-hippie atmosphere under the ‘information’ gazebo, The Fly overheard one Bristol punter ask questions as to how XR was organised and how its decisions were made. The punter was told that all XR decisions were made by ‘those people with influence and qualification in the movement’, in what was described as a ‘post-democratic structure’(?). Feedback from the plebs however was possible, through the (remember Occupy, anyone?) format of pass-the-mike-and-idea-with-biggest-cheers-gets-accepted ‘peoples assemblies’, a few of which the decision-makers and their wow-celebrity friends might deign to consider at some point in the future.

Later on, the samba parade shuffled off through the city centre, blocking off streets and trailing round the Bear Pit – not once but twice, and perched by a bus stop as multi-colour ragged hippies leafleted the queues of traffic drivers and patiently waiting bus queues, The Fly listened in to the reactions of some more Bristol punters. The overall response was one of bemusement, sighs, weary laughs, and in some cases frustration and anger.

The punters were by and large FULLY AWARE of the issues and how SERIOUS they are, but DIDN’T CONNECT in any way to the XR protestors or their activities. Questions were raised like What’s the point of such tactics? What’s the message here, beyond sound bites? ARE THEY ALL HIPPIES? Why stop our public transport to make a point about private cars on the road? Why don’t they instead OCCUPY the head offices of the offending FOSSIL FUEL corporations and their COLLABORATOR government agencies? Might support them then… Listening to these authentic Bristol voices, The Fly rubbed its legs together in contemplation. Clearly, such voices were NOT going to get the biggest cheers at the ‘peoples assembly’ of yogi-flyers levitating above Bristol Bridge.

So what exactly have XR achieved in their first year or so of existence, beyond some empty ‘declaration’ by government bodies of a ‘climate emergency’, followed as always by business as usual? XR don’t get that a changing-of-the-guard that ‘works within’ an alleged ‘green’ capitalism is going to do fuck all – this way we get at the most a few years respite from disaster, plus a whole bucket-load of bullshit betrayals that in addition may discredit the entire environmental movement. Are XR ever going to realise that the ONE AND ONLY POSSIBLE chance of saving our world from the onrushing Four Horsemen is to DESTROY CAPITALISM UTTERLY, to dig it out root and branch once and for all through A GLOBAL SOCIAL REVOLUTION?

That will sure as hell mean you lose your happy, obliging cops, the fair weather friends, the nice friendly politicians and media coverage, but you GET THE PEOPLE, and can instead authentically call up the MASS MOBILISATION necessary to bring in the total-system-changing measures that are required to get our planet through the mother-of-all-shit-storms that’s coming.

Without such an understanding, XR is itself yearning for extinction. As for THE FLY, it and its scorned, despised, ignored fellow bugs prepare to pad over the soon-to-be decomposing corpse, seeking the orifices in which to lay their eggs and start anew.