Monthly Archives: June 2013


Within two days of George announcing the Labour Party had joined his ‘Rainbow Cabinet’ – that cheerily-named cross-party gang of rubber-stampers run for the benefit of Bristol’s business elite – the Mayor happily announced a further £70M OF CUTS at Bristol City Council.

“I expect this to include a full review of council staff terms and conditions,” blustered the wealthy, OUT-OF-TOUCH TWIT launching his latest attack on ordinary Bristolians who don’t happen to be part of his privileged millionaire milieu.

It’ll be interesting to see, then, how the supposed party of the workers responds to this announcement. Will they be signing up for George’s Tobacco Factory Bar model of low-status, low-wage and no-rights employment? Or will they be standing up for ordinary workers at the council and walking away from GEORGE’S VICTORIAN PLANS to do away with holidays, maternity rights, sick pay, pensions, redundancy, Health and Safety protection and any other benefit George is too tight to offer to his poor, downtrodden bar workers?

Don’t hold your breath.


As the dust settles on the May local elections, Bristol Labour has been crowing about its polls success, having picked up six new councillors at the expense of the Lib Dem collapse to now make it the biggest party in Shitty Hall. Indeed, so excited are they that they’ve put aside their differences with Mayor Gorgeous and now have two senior councillors, Mark ‘Bear’ Bradshaw and Brenda Massey, in his ‘rainbow coalition’ cuts cabinet. A victory for social democracy indeed!

One of their best results came in the hard-fought, seven candidate LAWRENCE HILL election. There former Easton Lib Dem councillor Abdul Malik was beaten into an embarrassing third place by UKIP, with the Greens’ Chloe Summers coming in second from bottom with barely two hundred votes, despite earlier boasts by her pal Rob Telford that the sandal-wearers would romp home.

And who did win? Well, congratulations to Hibaq Jama, who despite FREEWHEELING through most of the campaign scooped more than half the vote to hold Lawrence Hill for Labour after Brenda Hugill stepped down (or rather, had her legs done in by party bosses).

As the city’s first elected politician of Somali origin, Jama is already something of a Bristol Labour poster girl, and given George Fergo’s fondness for dynamic young women, it seems possible he could find a special role for her despite her inexperience. Whether he manages this whilst keeping his new best chum, the anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner Nimko Ali – whose antipathy towards Bristol Labour now approaches near-legendary status – onside remains to be seen. But if there is juggling of opinionated, politically ambitious women to be done, El Fergo is not a man to shirk his reponsibilities – such was the Mayoral Vow he swore.

In the meantime, The BRISTOLIAN hopes that being in the public eye will put an end to the rumours circulating about Jama’s management style whilst working at Lawrence Hill’s education hub, the Beacon Centre.

After all, when phrases like “blasé absenteeism”, “bullying” and “unprofessional personal relationships” are being bandied around, even the brightest star starts to fade.

  • Due to an oversight in the production process the original print version of this article wrongly stated that Jama replaced Margaret Hickman – who remains Labour’s other Lawrence Hill councillor – not Brenda Hugill. The idiot responsible has been taken out the back of the milking sheds and shot.


8 out of 10 Bristolians can't tell the difference - can you?

8 out of 10 Bristolians can’t tell the difference – can you?

News that Gorgeous George now has a dream team cabinet complete with Labour Party members has been met, on the whole, with barely stifled yawns across the city.

However, here at The BRISTOLIAN, we’re rather excited by the appointment of Labour Deputy Leader MARK ‘BEAR’ BRADSHAW as George’s transport supremo, as he has long had a penchant for crap ideas, political ineptitude and panicked u-turns as good as any in Bristol.

After all, this is the man who just a few years ago not only decided that BRT was the transport solution the city really needed, but then proposed to run the useless bus service up the Bristol and Bath Railway Path – the one genuine world-class cycling facility we have! This resulted in a world-class about-turn from Bradshaw when virtually the whole city, with the exception of FirstBus and Bradshaw’s own USELESS transport officers, told him where to stick his plan.

And now Bradshaw’s back – and guess what? He’ll be fronting the latest version of the BRT fiasco for George. And this promises to be very interesting as Bradshaw is now on record as saying that BRT is “A LAME DUCK PROJECT WITH VIRTUALLY NO SUPPORT”!

So that’s both the Mayor and his transport supremo against BRT. Now just sit back and watch the pair of them execute a perfect 180 degree u-turn and deliver the expensive and unwanted white elephant…


Whether it’s refuse collection contracts that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, or a white elephant kiosk shambles, Cllr ‘HEFTY’ HOPKINS is all about the quality…

March 2011

“Did someone mention free Danish pastries?” Castle Park kiosk opens, 2011

“Did someone mention free Danish pastries?” Castle Park kiosk opens

Having outsourced the running of cafes in Bristol parks to Diamond Catering and bought a load of pricey sheds from Italy on the say-so of a bloke with a financial interest and rumoured family connections to the vendor:

The installation of these kiosks will not only provide a range of high quality drinks and snacks but they will also bring people of all ages together to meet informally and socialise. The kiosks will also provide an important income for re-investment in parks.

May 2012

“Did someone mention free lattes?” Cafés brought in-house by council

“Did someone mention free lattes?” Cafés brought in-house by council

Having brought the parks cafés under direct council control following the collapse of Diamond Catering seven months previously:

By bringing the café and kiosk service in-house we know we can offer local people a consistently high quality service at a fair price. The catering service will not only offer a great service for visitors, it will also bring in additional revenue, which will of course be re-invested into the council’s park services.


July 2011

“You know some people throw away perfectly good cream cakes just because they're a bit over the Best Before date!” Yet more dedication to publicity photos from Gary Hopkins

“You know some people throw away perfectly good cream cakes just because they’re a bit past the Best Before date!”

On the announcement of the £96 million waste collection contract awarded to May Gurney:

[It] will bring a quality service.



Outsourced park café scheme meant to earn us money costs Bristolians in excess of £300k; redfaced councillors & officials brush it under the carpet

Castle Park kiosk – providing “an important income for re-investment” by costing £54,000 and being shuttered

As the cuts keep on coming, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the people making the ‘tough choices’ are invariably the idiots who caused the problems in the first place. A case in point: KIOSKGATE.

No one in the council wants to talk about it, yet this ill-thought out plan to increase revenue from Bristol’s parks actually ended up COSTING US MORE THAN £300,000.

The whole sorry saga begins in 2010, when the council decided to BOOT OUT small licensed food and drink concessions from a number of city-run parks, and replace them with custom-built new kiosks, to be operated by whoever offered the most money.

Licensees were not told about this. Christophe Moron, who had sold freshly-made pancakes from his ‘La Bonne Crêpe’ van in Castle Park for more than three years, only found out in early 2011 because local Parks Project Manager, ALBERTO PALMERIO, came round to measure up for a shiny new café kiosk.

The trader subsequently discovered that the lease for his pitch had been quietly re-advertised, and that he had only a few weeks to put in a new bid. Predictably, he was not able to meet the higher offer put in by the council’s preferred bidder, the Gloucester-based DIAMOND CATERING.

Diamond had applied to take on all four of the new kiosks – in Castle Park, St George Park, Oldbury Court Estate and Canford Park – and won them all in a five-year contract. It also took over the pre-existing café at Ashton Court Estate when a previous caterer pulled out, and was poised to run the snack bar at Blaise Estate as well.

The new deal, which was supposed to put the council quids-in, was heralded with a splash story in the Evening Post in March 2011. Councillor GARY ‘HEFTY’ HOPKINS – himself no stranger to a cheeky slice of cake and a four sugars coffee – gurned for the camera whilst declaiming that “these kiosks will provide a range of high-quality drinks and snacks [and] provide an important income for reinvestment in parks.”

One slight problem – Diamond Catering went bust in October of that year, and within a month had GONE INTO LIQUIDATION, leaving unpaid counter staff locked out of their workplaces, and creditors out of pocket – Bristol City Council to the tune of more than £92,000. The cafés then stayed empty for more than seven months until the following summer, when they were brought ‘in-house’ and operated directly by the council – though Castle Park kiosk remains shuttered.

So what went wrong? Well, a good person to ask is the Environment & Leisure Service Director ‘LAZY’ TRACEY MORGAN, for whom Alberto Palmerio worked. She appears to have authorised Palmerio to fly to Rome (on council expenses) in June 2009 to research the kiosks made by Asteco Industria Srl, “Italy’s leading designer and manufacturer of bespoke steel kiosks and modular buildings” – and coincidentally a company to which he had family connections.

Whether Lazy Morgan knew that Palmerio was RUMOURED TO BE RELATED TO KEY PEOPLE IN ASTECO is not clear, but either way – whether she knew about the conflict of interest and ignored it, or if she failed to find out about it and was negligent – it doesn’t say a lot for her abilities as a manager. In which case, she has a bright future in the upper echelons of Shitty Hall!

On Palmerio’s recommendation, four kiosks were purchased, at a cost of £54,000 each. Then came the deal with Diamond Catering – a company which boasted of working “on a global scale, having fed members of The British and Foreign Royal Families, provided banquets and intimate dinner parties in a multitude of settings, operating multi million pound budgets.” That is slightly at odds with the words of council spokesman James Easey, who in trying to manage the fallout from the Moron eviction in February 2011 claimed that Diamond was a “small business” in a bid to reverse the perception of BCC siding with Goliath against David.

Quite why Diamond collapsed so spectacularly and so soon after securing the sweetheart deal for running refreshment kiosks in Bristol’s parks isn’t clear – not least because, as the Legal Services department claims, “THERE IS NO WRITTEN RECORD”.

But whatever the reasons, Diamond’s directors were certainly more fortunate than the workers they put out of jobs. Both RAY CHISHOLM and JEFFREY BAYNE set up their own new catering companies (Chiz’s Catering and A&J Catering & Cleaning Solutions) in September 2011 – a whole month before Diamond went under.

Alberto Palmerio was similarly fortunate. Privately educated in Dorset, he joined Bristol City Council in 2002, and there he stayed until October 2011 – around the time Diamond went under. Like the Diamond directors, he too had planned ahead, and had just the previous month set up his own company, AP2 (2011) Ltd, a “consultancy and agency service” of which he is sole director.

Oh, and in November 2011 Palmerio became an authorised UK agent for Prestige Kiosks Limited, “the exclusive distributor in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for Asteco Industria Srl” …Now there’s a turn up for the books!

Naturally, with so many people implicated in the mess, including council managers, senior directors and elected councillors, all of whom signed off on Diamond’s tender bid and on the Asteco deal, no one is especially keen to revisit it in public. How fortunate for the then-ruling Lib Dems, on whose watch it happened, that their ever-reliable Councillor SIMON COOK caught the Leisure brief in Fergo’s ‘rainbow cabinet’.

Because it would be mighty embarrassing for this one to leak out…


Giovanni Lopresti (centre) - former council waste manager 'recycles' himself into lucrative private sector job?

Giovanni Lopresti (centre) – former council waste manager ‘recycles’ himself into lucrative private sector job?

At least one person in Bristol is pleased with how the city council’s waste contract with SERIAL BLUNDERERS May Gurney has turned out.

While household recycling might go uncollected, streets remain uncleaned and fly tipping is overlooked, the Shitty Hall’s former Waste Services Contracts Manager who personally negotiated and oversaw the flawed and expensive contract with the rubbish waste collectors, one GIOVANNI LOPRESTI, is unlikely to give a toss.

For Giovanni, younger brother of Filton’s low-profile Tory MP Giacomo ‘Jack’ Lopresti, was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and now has a well-paid job as Contract Manager with, er… May Gurney!


Senior figures at ailing waste management company May Gurney, which is soon to be absorbed into construction-and-services giant Kier Group, might not have time to enjoy any windfall payments from the merger deal – if how they ran the Bristol rubbish collection contract reaches the attention of the police.

It seems that soon after winning the seven-year ‘flagship’ contract in 2011, MG management realised that they couldn’t keep up with the pace of collecting rubbish and recycling throughout the whole of Bristol. So, instead of hiring more staff to spread the workload, the company’s bosses decided instead to MASSAGE THE FIGURES.

Whilst Bristol City Council set the time limits on how long ‘jobs’ should take on collection routes, it relied wholly on May Gurney to tell it whether everything that should be done had been done… Except MG routinely ‘closed’ active jobs, even if they had not actually been completed.

“Doing this saved MG hundreds of thousands of pounds in fines,” a well-placed source told The BRISTOLIAN, claiming also that “over 500 jobs” were dealt with in this way.

And the result? Rubbish piling up uncollected in hundreds of streets from Easton to Clifton and Filwood to Horfield.


Notorious blacklisters Kier poised to take over May Gurney, run waste collection contract

Sacked sparks warn MG workers about Kier Group

Sacked sparks warn MG workers about Kier Group

As troubled waste management company May Gurney teeters on the edge, one thing is for sure: no one in Bristol is going to benefit – least of all the binmen and women struggling to keep the city clean under ever-tougher working conditions and on dwindling pay packets.

As reported in the last BRISTOLIAN, May Gurney’s highly-paid executives have been HOLDING THE CITY TO RANSOM, blackmailing senior council officers into inaction despite MG’s repeated failure to meet contractual targets. ‘Fine us and we go bankrupt; and if we go bankrupt, no rubbish will be collected at all, our workers will end up on the dole, and the council won’t be able to claw any money back.’

So there are sighs of relief at Shitty Hall at the news of a white knight coming to the rescue with a bail-out offer. Step forward civil engineers Kier Group, who are offering May Gurney a juicy £221 million in a merger deal expected to be confirmed in mid-June. When the deal goes through, the joint KG/MG organisation will have contracts at one in five of all the local authorities in the UK – including Bristol – with an estimated annual turnover of £2.8 billion, and £5.7 billion-worth of orders on the books. The service giant will encompass not just rubbish and recycling work, but also roads and housing maintenance, general facilities management, and construction.

Of course, when making a corporate omelette like this, eggs get broken. Around 200 are expected to lose their jobs – though only May Gurney’s frontline staff, not the directors and certainly not the shareholders, who will own more than a quarter of the new organisation.

As anxious workers who picketed May Gurney’s Keynsham depot in early May over the proposed deal pointed out, the company’s new overlords are up to their necks in ILLEGAL BLACKLISTING ACTIVITY. Like other big construction firms such as Costain (which also bid to buy out MG), Kier has a long-held reputation for getting rid of employees who call for safer working conditions. Such workers then find themselves turned down from jobs at other companies, regardless of skills or experience – enforced joblessness that can last for years, thanks to a secret ‘do not employ’ database operated by building industry-bankrolled spying outfit The Consulting Association. An offshoot of an earlier blacklisting service, the Economic League, TCA was raided in 2009 by the Office of the Information Commissioner, which then closed it down permanently for its extensive data protection violations.

But whilst TCA has been shut down, the practice of blacklisting lives on, as 28 electricians on the London Crossrail project (undertaken by a consortium including, erm, Kier) discovered just last year when they were unexpectedly made redundant. Why? Their union reps had raised real concerns over life-threatening safety issues.

Since then, around thirty local authorities across the country now refuse to accept tenders for publicly-funded contracts from blacklisting companies like Kier – but not Bristol City Council… Yet.

The question is, will our own council place more value in the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Bristolians, over the interests of rich corporate bosses?

And will His Royal Redtrouserness George Ferguson refuse to do business with Kier – or will he meekly stand by and let it take over where May Gurney left off, fleecing the city, endangering lives and blacklisting at will?

  • For more info on how to protect yourselves against bosses who blacklist, check out the Blacklist Support Group, read its Hazards Magazine and visit the Blacklist Blog


The latest issue of Bristol’s premier investigative scandal sheet is out now!

As ever, it is stuffed full of EXCLUSIVE stories that the other papers can’t be bothered to cover, including…


Notorious blacklisters Kier to take over May Gurney, run Bristol’s waste collections


Outsourced park café scheme meant to earn money ends up costing us £300k+


New council boss displays worrying traits after just 1 month


Big fan of protest – except when he’s the subject of it


Why speak plainly when you can sound like an arse?

Plus: More May Gurney titbits including suggestions of contract-fiddling and MP’s brother; new Labour poster girl Hibaq Jama holds Lawrence Hill but for how long; Mayor Fergo & the baseless accusations; Gary Hopkins on his fondness for ‘quality’; more RPZ gossip; plus the latest 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, or download the PDF from the Archive


Welcome to the Hoyty-Toyty World of Bristol Politics!


Finally saw George for our 10 o’clock at 11.30am when he finally arrived for work, apologising as he’d been up late with Zoe list-ticking again. They seem to have so many lists and so much to tick!

But at last I finally got to lay out to George the Bristol Green Party’s ideas for the new arena. He appeared very excited by our proposals for an all-wooden structure with a THATCHED ROOF POWERED BY WIND. Although he did have some reservations, such as what would happen when there’s no wind to power the amplifiers.

The solution is simple but brilliant. Top bands from around the world would simply have to do acoustic sets. What better way to put Bristol on the map than as the international home of the impromptu acoustic gig? “Imagine,” I said to George, “Take That with just Gary on piano, Robbie playing a bit of acoustic guitar and Jason, Mark and Howard doing the harmonies. That’s not something you see every day.”

“I guess not,” said George, who then went very quiet, overwhelmed by the groundbreaking consequences. He brightened up considerably when I pointed out that there were also some interesting sustainable employment spin-offs from our plan such as the potential for the reintroduction of the artisan craft of thatching to Britain with Bristol as its epicentre.

Before I left I also put in a special request from the younger members of the Green Party who really want to see the exciting folk-rock act Mumford & Sons do the honours at the grand opening of the arena. George, who is a big fan, was thrilled at the suggestion.

I know this is going to come as a big upset to some our older Bristol Green Party members who had been holding out for a reformed Lindisfarne to appear, but hey fellas! You got to move with the times.

It’s forward not back at George’s City Hall!!


A fantastic day. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett visited Bristol today to support our local election campaign. She was superb. OK, as a former Guardian journalist she might be prone to making embarrassing spelling errors (but who isn’t?) and utterly clueless about foreign policy, but she’ll happily sympathise for hours with whingeing school teachers and moaning social workers.

Natalie was especially keen to get our “total opposition to the cuts” message across and she dealt with any challenges supremely well. When asked why if we were totally opposed to cuts did we vote for them in Bristol she gave the questioner a FUNNY LITTLE SMILE and then rushed off to find a school teacher to moan at her. What a professional.

We all know how to say one thing at election time and do another at George’s City Hall!


Attended a ‘Keep Sundays Special’ Project Meeting at City Hall.

Exciting times seeing George’s plan to create a traffic-free environment on Sundays come to fruition thanks to a crack council officer team. We’re now at the detail and delivery phase and it’s great to see a proper ‘one council’ approach in action. Mr Mann the traffic boss has agreed to shut three roads at a cost of just £190,000, which is a great deal. Mr Holt, Head of Press and Marketing, knows a face painter and someone who knows someone who knows a unicyclist. George’s friend in Southville will make 100 yards of cloth bunting for us, and Mr Morris, the Markets Manager, says he’s got EIGHT ARTISAN CAKE STALLS lined up already – and even promised to personally come in every Sunday to collect the stall fees (cash only please!) himself. What commitment.

We’re still on the lookout for jugglers and Morris Dancers so give us a shout if you can help.

We love dancing with bells on our toes at George’s City Hall!


Back at work after yesterday’s special social media course (George’s idea) after that minor thing the other day when I was accidentally racist. And it worked! No major diplomatic incidents, plus Mr Holt taught me how to write ‘BOOBLESS’ on a calculator.

It’s a digital wonderland, George’s City Hall!