Council wants local residents seeking help put on lockdown
It’s not just budget cuts that are starting to bite in Bristol – now it’s HANDCUFFS around the wrists as well.
The startling move to issue security guards at Phoenix Court ‘Customer Service Point’ with cop-style restraints – authorised by Strategic Property Director ROBERT ‘ORRIBLE’ ORRETT – comes as BCC continues to trim budgets across the whole city. This leads to fewer council workers working out of fewer buildings being told to cut assistance to hard-up Bristolians wherever possible. That means more people trekking to one of just five ‘Customer Service Points’ that have consolidated the functions of the much more numerous old Neighbourhood Offices – with limited waiting space and long queues before being seen.
As you can imagine, as a place where people at the end of their tether go – like those facing eviction due to the Bedroom Tax, or those made homeless with their families because they can’t afford their private landlord’s rent rises – Phoenix Court is a place with a sometimes tinderbox atmosphere. Therefore you would expect a bit of patience, and at least a friendly face.
Not at PHOENIX COURT, where the BCC customer services approach reigns supreme. Burly bouncers run the door like that of a dodgy nightclub, and only let so many people in. With the housing crisis in Bristol, this means many trying to access services are simply left out on the pavement – kids and elderly alike, rain or shine. Try to get some shelter, and you lose your place.
If you ask too many questions, you are now very likely to end up being ‘restrained’ in cuffs by one of the doormen.
Rumours of anti-Somali attitudes persist – not surprising when one Somali man trying to get in recently was forcibly ejected onto his head, requiring hospital treatment. Another was told, as he lay on the floor “if you want to live in this country, you better learn the rules”. Priceless – flee your wartorn country to avoid persecution, pass draconian asylum tests, only to get beaten up when you try to access housing services.
None of those working on the service desks want this level of security or violence. It has become so bad that residents in Easton are working on a petition about the OUT-OF-CONTROL security guards at Phoenix Court.
Staff shortages currently mean new housing applications routinely take six months to be processed. And in the meantime, you are more likely to be attacked if you are a punter than a staff member: recently, one homeless person was sat upon by an office manager shouting obscenities, until the police turned up. It was this incident that prompted Orrett – more used to covering up fraud than addressing employee welfare – to kit out his own little PRIVATE ARMY with cuffs, despite not having properly addressed the legal issues of using force in this way.
How long before some bright spark in Shitty Hall proposes that parking wardens be equipped with tasers, or park keepers with CS gas?
We are already checking on rumours that school dinner ladies are getting pepper spray to dissuade any young Oliver Twists. “Please Miss, can I have some mor-ARRRGGHH MY EYES!!!”.