Monthly Archives: May 2013


So the votes have been counted, and despite thousands of pounds spent on promoting the middle class vanity project ‘Independents for Bristol’ – the ‘party that’s not a party’ set up by a bunch of Mayor George Ferguson’s rich chums on the grounds that the City Council isn’t stuffed with enough self-regarding toffs or laptoperati  – IfB only managed to win a single seat. And that was Kingsweston, won by the all-but-in-name Lib Dem Jason Budd!

Now that Labour is the biggest party in Shitty Hall with 28 councillors, George has been making overtures to them to get them inside his fast-sinking administration. Indeed, it is of note that instead of palling up with the single successful Indy Redpants candidate and offering Budd a place in his Cabinet, George has now turned his head to attracting in some Labour faces, having pointedly said:

I very much hope we can achieve a four-party cabinet, because I think it’s in Bristol’s interests and I also think it’s in the parties’ interests.

Seeing as he already has the Lib Dems, Tories and Green Party represented in his fake ‘rainbow coalition’ Cabinet of cuts-makers, it’s a rather harsh snub for the hard-working finance directors, self-facilitating media nodes and political anoraks who so tirelessly canvassed as proxies on his behalf.

The failure of the Indy Redpants to fire the imagination of Bristolians might have something to do with their insufferably middle class smugness, and their barely credible claims to be representing a change in city politics.

Cast your mind back ten years to the only-half-serious Bristolian Party – born of an earlier version of this very scandal sheet. It put up twelve candidates across Bristol, including a couple – for comedy value – in Clifton and Clifton East, on a ticket of “reclaiming our city back from the corporate developers”.

In the four wards contested by both the Bristolian Party in 2003 and IfB in 2013, the Bristolian candidate placed higher than the IfB in all but one (Clifton, unsurprisingly). The Bristolian candidate beat the IfB candidate in votes and vote share in two wards – trouncing IfB in both Ashley and Easton. In Lawrence Hill the Bristolian candidate polled just twelve votes fewer than IfB. And in all the jointly-contested wards, the Bristolian Party faced a higher proportion of voter turn-out than the IfB.

So what does that say about the ‘success’ of Fergo’s ‘independent’ outriders of the Indy Redpants, their ability to inspire voters, or their willingness to address issues on the doorstep?

That they were roundly outperformed by a bunch of chancers united by contempt for the well-heeled political classes in Bristol that the IfB so clearly seeks to represent?


A young mum in Easton has thanked your super, soaraway BRISTOLIAN for its help in getting a £500 nursery fee overpayment refunded by the council – after more than a month of being FOBBED OFF WITH EXCUSES. She is thought to be one of hundreds across Bristol overcharged and awaiting a refund by the cash-strapped city council following its disastrous installation of a new computer system and countless job cuts.

“I spent weeks chasing this up on my own, being told there was nothing that could be done,” she said. “Yet having asked The BRISTOLIAN who in the council to contact, it TOOK ONLY HOURS TO SORT OUT.”

After getting in touch with the city’s premier scandal sheet for advice, the mother-of-one then emailed senior managers across Bristol City Council as well as her local councillors, using the magic words “misfeasance in public office” and threatening to go to the papers.

She quickly received the personal assurance of Finance Director Peter Robinson that the money she was owed would be returned to her straight away – and MIRACULOUSLY it was.

“It really made life difficult as I have to stick to a tight budget just to make ends meet,” the Eastonian told us. “I just wonder HOW MANY OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE ARE IN THE SAME BOAT as I was, and why this mess happened in the first place.”


Council holds onto cash thanks to major problems with new ‘cost cutting’ system

‘Balancing the books’ in the realm of King George - robbing from the poor to pay the rich?

‘Balancing the books’ in the realm of King George – robbing from the poor to pay the rich?

When is a theft not a theft? As many people across the city are discovering, in Bristol it’s when the council takes more money than it should from overstretched families, and doesn’t give it back.

The BRISTOLIAN has uncovered a massive ongoing – and possibly unlawful – scandal in which Bristol City Council REFUSES TO REFUND overpayments of any kind in spite of its legal obligations, thanks to chaos caused by a new computer finance system. Attempts to obtain a refund for overcharged Council Tax, allotment fees, nursery charges or other services have been routinely rebuffed, leaving many unable to settle other essential bills, pay rent or even buy food.

Blaming a software changeover – for which most workers have received NO PROPER TRAINING and have only just been issued manuals – the council refuses to say how long people will have to wait until they get their wrongfully-withheld money back.

It is understood that the council is currently holding onto refunds owed to dozens if not HUNDREDS OF BRISTOLIANS.

Sources suggest that staff have been ordered to stonewall demands for immediate refunds, to refuse to give out names, telephone numbers or email addresses for supervisors or managers, and to offer misleading and contradictory information – anything to buy time and avoid the inevitable shitstorm of complaints and rolling heads.

With a cloak of secrecy descending over the council’s now seriously understaffed phone banks, and a CULTURE OF CONTEMPT for ordinary Bristolians trickling down from the upper reaches of Shitty Hall, it is not entirely clear why this is happening.

However, insiders have pointed The BRISTOLIAN towards a contract awarded by BCC to bring together its Finance, Human Resources and Asset Management into a single ‘integrated Back Office System’. The five year project was won by outsourcing specialists Agilisys (“one of the UK’s most innovative IT and business services providers”), who provided the lowest tender – a snip at a mere £40 million.

And the magical, problem-solving, cost-cutting, budget-saving gizmo in question that’s costing every man, woman and child in the city around £95 each? That would be the bells-and-whistles Agresso Business World Local Government Platform from Unit4. The impressive-sounding new toy – being rolled out by the council’s veteran Finance & Procurement Manager RUSSELL ‘OH MY’ DARLING under the supervision of Corporate Finance supremo GRAHAM ‘THANK FUCK IT’S’ FRIDAY – is meant to bring everything together into one easy-to-use package.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a somewhat sticky-fingered piece of software, if the experiences of the out-of-pocket Bristolians we have spoken to are anything to go by.

What lengths Shitty Hall will go to to silence whistleblowers amongst its hard-pressed frontline staff or unhappy members of the public remains to be seen.

What does seem certain is that no one upstream of a junior council manager will be to held to account – and definitely nothing will stand in the way of a juicy £40 million gravy train.


‘No institutional racism here’ says accused institution – case closed!

Definitely nothing to see here – so says head teacher Gill Kelly

Over in Redfield is City Academy, a secondary school for 1,100 youngsters and one of the largest employers in East Bristol. Like the ward in which it sits, Easton – where up to 40% of residents are from Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds – it’s a diverse environment, both across the student body and in its staff.

So you would think that when a black worker complained of INSTITUTIONAL RACISM, a full and proper investigation would ensue – to weed out any racists, to ensure a better environment for pupils and adults alike, and to reassure local people that such prejudice would not be tolerated in the community’s school.

Well, think again. A staff member directly affected by what they considered racism wrote to colleagues asking them to come forward if they had any similar experience at the Academy.

Within minutes an email came down from the office of Gill Kelly, the Executive Principal. The message was clear: ‘there is no institutional racism at City Academy’, END OF DISCUSSION. So concluded the fastest investigation in living memory – the (white) headteacher had spoken, and so no further action was needed.

Meanwhile, Kelly was also undertaking a major restructuring, making MANY STAFF REDUNDANT thanks to budget cuts so deep the school’s ability to teach is threatened. Some affected had served the school for twenty years, going back to when it was state funded in the days before the One World Learning Trust was given responsibility to run it in 2003.

So staff decided to have a send-off for their ‘downsized’ colleagues, with nibbles in the school canteen after students had departed for the day. ‘Not on your nelly,’ said Kelly, who cancelled the party, just in case anyone mentioned the topics of racism or speedy investigations. And then she phoned in sick. She may well have been sick, but not half as sick as the staff are of her.

The employees being made redundant were then individually ‘helped’ off the premises in an attempt to segregate them from other staff members. What a way to treat people after years of service! Needless to say, they all met down the boozer anyway for a good chinwag…

Of course, the way senior management at City treats staff is no surprise to many workers, not least to those from nearby Bannerman Road primary, which ‘federated’ with the Academy last year in what was meant to be a partnership of equals. However, once the signatures were dry, the original agreement was IGNORED, and Kelly installed herself as line manager of Bannerman Road’s Ofsted-commended headteacher Paula Shore. And guess what? Shore is, yes, black.

Just because you are an academy, and answerable to nobody but your own board of directors, does not mean you can ignore the issue of institutional racism, or concerns of BME workers in our community’s school.

So conduct a proper investigation, you bastards!


Rush to silence whistleblowers over ‘accidental death of a cyclist’ that could have been avoided

Counsel for the Council Liam ‘Malfoy’ Nevin uses dark arts to silence docks death whistleblowers?

Bristol City Council’s new legal boss Liam ‘Malfoy’ Nevin is trying to wave his magic wand and put an INVISIBILITY CLOAK OF SECRECY over events leading up to the death of cyclist Sean Phillips, who plunged into the city docks outside the M Shed museum in early March.

Last year the council’s Docks Office suggested putting railings up at this very site – only to be vociferously overruled by a gaggle of the city’s great and good. Among objectors to improved safety were (of course) His Royal Gorgeousness St George of Bristol; the director of the ss Great Britain Trust, Matthew Tanner; skipper of the Matthew, Rob Salvidge; and the local Tories’ terminal buffoon, Richard ‘Bunter’ Eddy, who called the proposal “EXCESSIVE NANNYING”.

Alas, they were all wrong – and it took the unfortunate death of Mr Phillips to prove it. Now council bosses and their chief solicitor Malfoy are working overtime to cover arse. Malfoy has already roundly rejected a Freedom of Information request asking for the documents that informed the decision to not put up railings on the site, claiming the release of this information might prejudice the forthcoming Coroner’s Inquest into the death. A claim described by one health and safety lawyer we spoke to as “BOLLOCKS”.

Meanwhile, just a few weeks back a senior council manager appeared at a staff meeting at the Docks Office and threatened staff. They were told to shut up and say absolutely nothing to anybody about the case or they may be dismissed. Because the best way to ensure the safety of the public is to gag and sack honest, competent public service workers, isn’t it?

Docks staff should be very wary, and should perhaps brush up on whistleblowing law. Malfoy and his management gang are clearly dabbling in the dark arts and creating a cover-up. The intention of which will be to push the blame as far down the line as they can and well away from this city’s illustrious ‘leaders’.

And who’s furthest down the line? Why, the gagged staff at the council’s Docks Office of course!


The latest edition of Bristol’s premier investigative scandal sheet is out now, packed with the stories that the other papers can’t be bothered to cover, including…


Rush to silence whistleblowers over ‘accidental death of a cyclist’ that could have been avoided


‘No institutional racism here’ says institution – case closed…


Council holds onto cash thanks to major problems with new ‘cost cutting’ system


Intervention by The Bristolian wins young mum refund!


Bridge row as transport scheme fiasco trundles on – George’s Stalingrad?


Rehoming centre heading for knacker’s yard?


Mayor’s expensive Euro jaunt habit exposed

Plus: May Gurney recycling contract blackmail; Bristol Pound celebrates Mayor’s salary; local councillor annoyed that expenses won’t cover his girlfriend; Council lies over number of gagging orders; and more from Gus Hoyty-Toyty’s Cabinet Diary.

All in your super, soaraway monthly muckraker The Bristolian!

See the Distribution page for where to get your copy…