Monthly Archives: October 2013


‘Bean Counter’

Councillor Geoff Gollop, ink and coloured pencils, 2013, Paul Saville

Councillor Geoff Gollop, ink and coloured pencils, 2013, Paul Saville

Another impressive email submission to the BRISTOLIAN Gallery from noted Mayor-bothering chalk-waver Paul Saville – this time getting to grips with the lithe physicality of Tory councillor and chartered accountant Geoff Gollop.

Today, I’ve been mostly drawing Geoff ‘Gollum’ Gallop. He’s Westbury-on-trym councillor and also serves on George redtrousers cabinet, with the very important job of BEAN COUNTER.

Anyway, have attached it. This is not to be entered for the ‘Bristolian meat draw’ but would be great to be added to the Bristolian Gallery. It’s pretty hi res photo of my drawing, taken with a friends SLR, so hope its ok for you (probably sent it massive)

Have a good weekend and keep up the good work as always.

Many thanks, Paul!

Any other aspiring arty types out there feel free to submit your masterpieces via the usual channels


When is a NIMBY not a NIMBY? When a Bristol City Councillor decides it’s politically useful – that’s when…

Residents in Horfield fighting to save WELLINGTON HILL PLAYING FIELDS from development are increasingly bemused by the conduct of the landowners, Bristol City Council, who seem prepared to throw any amount of money around to prevent the land becoming a TOWN GREEN and preserved forever as open green space for the community.

“Our experience to date,” locals tell us of the council’s tactics, “is that as soon as one argument is demonstrated to be invalid, an- other is constructed…”

Green spaces are perhaps the one issue where grass roots groups of citizens can successfully take on the council. It’s telling that the council responds by fighting expensively, aggressively and often unfairly against its own citizens rather than compromising with them or at least responding in a constructive and honest fashion.

But then TWO-FACED, lying councillors are happy to support Town Greens in their

own wards whilst simultaneously declaring those who support them elsewhere are not- in-my-back-yard ‘NIMBY’ types. They’re also happy to approve spending on existing Town Greens – while claiming dubiously that new Town Green registrations will cause such payments to dry up.

In the TOPSY-TURVY world of local government, councillors know their decisions are unlikely to be judicially reviewed when they make a wrong decision.

Even if they are, those same councillors are among the first to criticise anyone applying for judicial review as ‘NIMBYs’! And of course the councillors never have to pay for the cost to the taxpayer wasted by their DODGY politicking – while at the same time they will insist that those who dare to challenge them are ‘wasting taxpayers’ money’.

Because politicians are mostly a bunch of hypocrites, our council run on behalf of wealthy landowners rather than ordinary citizens.


We’ll be covering the ’Town Green‘ issue in the next issue of The BRISTOLIAN (#4.8) – out soon and available from all the usual stockists!


Web ExclusiveFollowing a tip-off last night The BRISTOLIAN can report that the ‘interestingly’ managed charity HorseWorld will not be seeing its planning applications for a massive housing development and new visitor centre go before the BANES Development Control Committee today – thanks to the sensational LAST MINUTE DUMPING of the matter from the agenda.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s DCC is still meeting this afternoon… Only without any discussion of the controversial concrete-in-the-greenbelt scheme that HorseWorld boss Mark ‘Am I In This Month’s BRISTOLIAN Again?’ Owen seems to think is the only way to reverse the financial rot that set in during his five year tenure as Managing Director.

A council source told The BRISTOLIAN:

The applications have been withdrawn – this was done by officers not the applicant. There is further information to be obtained, and issues to be clarified…

Just what could that “further information” be? What “issues” need to be “clarified”? Could it be that the recent revelations in your lovable ‘Smiter’ have been read down yonder..?

It’s expected that Owen’s DOOMED PLANS will be resubmitted to next month’s DCC meeting on 20 November.

In the meantime, questions continue to be asked about a number of aspects to Owen’s development proposals, not least the ‘SECTION 106 CONTRIBUTIONS’.

‘Section 106’ obligations are legally enforceable requirements on a piece of land that a local authority negotiates with an owner. When major development like what’s planned for the HorseWorld land is in the pipeline, it’s meant to ensure that the developer bears some of the financial strain on local services, such as education, roads and health facilities.

And as you can imagine, 125 new houses in a village of barely more than 1,300 people can definitely be seen as major.

So given the FINANCIAL STRAITS that HorseWorld is in, offering £1,008,254.52 in s106 money (‘HorseWorld Trust Financial Viability Statement’) seems pretty impressive (though as some have noted, s106 negotiations are often skewed in favour of the developer).

Certainly, as some of the submissions in support of HorseWorld’s plans suggest, more housing for local people – something of a hot local potato at the moment – would be a great idea.

As HorseWorld marketing assistant Amy Williams noted (whilst simultaneously forgetting to mention who she’s employed by):

Housing is very much needed in the area and will allow the existing listed buildings to be converted and preserved. The site for the housing fits inperfectly with the existing built up area surrounding it. Well done HorseWorld for a well thought out plan!

Well done indeed! And well done Amy for describing so well the need for affordable housing for Whitchurch locals whilst she herself lives in a £200,000+ house in, err, Staple Hill!

Amy’s boss, Communications Manager Samantha Greatbanks – an actual Whitchurch resident – echoes the sentiment:

I feel that for my generation these houses will provide a new place to live that is close to home.

Admirable sentiments from someone living in a half-a-million quid property!

Still, it will be great that with 125 new homes in Whitchurch young locals not born with a silver spoon in their mouth will be able to find homes in their own village and not be forced out by stupidly high house prices, isn’t it?

Erm… Well it seems that HorseWorld isn’t that keen on the idea. Its million pound s106 offer is only on the table if it’s allowed to provide just 10% affordable housing on the site – a mere dozen homes for ordinary Whitchurch people.

That’s contrasted with the not-much-less-meagre demand – carried unanimously – of the BANES Development Control Committee for 35%.

And when you consider that around 110 new dwellings would attract roughly 300 new residents with well over a hundred extra motor vehicles between them, and increase demand for school places by at least a hundred, just how far will that £1,008,254.52 stretch?

Does Mark Owen and the charity bosses who approved his perks and company car and salary hikes – whilst the horse-loving staff at the sharp end survive on little more than minimum wage – really think the people of Whitchurch are so witless?


Web ExclusiveFollowing on from our recent stories about how HorseWorld’s CRAP BOSS, Managing Director Mark Owen, has been CRACKING THE WHIP and forcing workers to send in letters in favour of the charity’s planning applications – due to be considered today – here’s the full list showing which of the 72 supporters who wrote to Bath & North East Somerset Council are linked to the award-winning Whitchurch equine centre…

Employees, volunteers etc who didn’t declare their interest:

  1. AMY WILLIAMS  (Marketing/Communications Assistant?)
  2. ANDREA MOUNTAIN  (Unknown role)
  3. DAWN PARKER-WATKINS  (Wife of Jerry Watkins?)
  4. EMILY MITCHARD (Community & Corporate Fundraiser)
  5. EMMA BURT  (Recent volunteer)
  6. IAN RICHLEY  (Partner at Smith & Williamson, where Trustee Mike Neale is also Partner)
  7. JERRY WATKINS  (Director of National Equine Welfare)
  8. JULIE SCARRETT  (Marketing Assistant)
  9. KAREN HARDWICK  (Visitor Centre Yard Manager)
  10. KAYLEIGH MACLEOD  (Training Groom)
  11. KIM POUNSBERRY  (Education Worker)
  12. KIRSTIE SMITH (Groom/Visitor Centre Assistant)
  13. MARG STENNER  (Trustee)
  14. MARCUS LEE KEARTON  (Equine Welfare Groom)
  15. NIKKI BRIDGES  (Director of Finance)
  16. REBECCA HOPKINS  (Director of Human Resources)
  17. SAMANTHA GREATBANKS  (Marketing & Communications Manager)
  18. SAMANTHA GROVER  (Stable Assistant)
  19. SHARON CREWE   (Visitor Centre Coordinator)

Employees, volunteers etc who did declare their interest:

  1. ALISON RAWLING (Worked at HW for 5 years)
  2. DEBBIE LINTON (Volunteers at HW)
  3. JANET PERRNS (Fundraising Manager until recently)
  4. MARK ROGERS (“Worked for HW for 26 years”)
  5. PAULINE REED (“Recently started working for the charity”)
  6. VICKY GREENSLADE (Visitor Centre Yard Assistant Manager)

Other supporters who did declare an indirect interest:

  1. ANNETTE LINTON (Daughter volunteers at HW)
  2. MICHAEL TOMS (Local supplier)
  3. N.J. ROBERTSON (Local vet)
  4. V CAMERON  (Former volunteer)

That’s heading towards HALF of the written support for HorseWorld’s half-baked development plans coming directly from, err… people involved in running HorseWorld! And that’s just who cropped up without any particularly deep digging!

Of course, no one should be prevented from putting across their opinion just because of where they work – but why hide your connection to an organisation that wants to undertake such a massive development? Unless the idea is to deliberately give the impression of being impartial local voices…

That’s certainly what the charity’s cash-burning senior management might like BANES to think its dealing with!


We have had word that the HorseWorld planning applications have been dropped from today’s Development Control Committee meeting, which was due to take place at 2pm.

We will try and confirm exactly what is going on and report back as soon as we hear something.


l-r: George Ferguson, Eric Pickles, David Cameron, Greg Clark and 'Lady Gaga' Yates (back to the picture)

Clockwise from redtrousered twat on left: Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, Communities & Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, Prime Minister David Cameron, Minister of State Greg Clark and Bristol City Director ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates (back to the picture)

Web ExclusiveMayor Fergo of Red Trousers accompanied by his Chief Exec, Nicola ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates met the PM and Cabinet oddbods Pickles and Greg Clark yesterday.

Amusing captions welcome!


Web ExclusiveOn the trail...A curious tale, is this HorseWorld planning application shenanigans

As we reported yesterday, the HOPELESS BOSS of the charity (which, it should go without saying, does great work rehoming and rehabilitating horses, donkeys and other equine beasts that have come upon hard times) – Mark ‘Large Sums’ Owen – has been leaning on his 60-odd employees and 150+ volunteers to send in letters of support to BANES Council.

We reported that – based on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s own figures – there had been 615 letters of objection and 110 letters of support. Having crunching through all the available information, we can reveal some STARTLING FACTS.

There have actually been 108 expressions of support, from a total of 72 people, split across two separate planning applications – both the ‘enabling’ application for a massive housing development, and the ‘enabled’ application for a new visitor centre.

Even more interesting is that of those 72 supporters, we have POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED* 23 of them as trustees, executive officers, managers, paid employees or current (or very recent) volunteers. A 24th is a partner in HorseWorld’s investment manager Smith & Williamson – alongside trustee Michael Neale. A 25th appears to be the wife of a director. Of these 25 with clear, proven interests in HorseWorld, just SIX have declared that interest.

Curiously, of the other 47 supporters, only FOUR mention any specific connection to HorseWorld: the mother of a volunteer, an ex-volunteer, and two businesses which trade with the charity – something of a statistical anomaly in the circumstances…

Is Large Sums getting so desperate that he thinks he can get away with such an amateurish attempt to ‘astroturf’ support for his ill-thought out master plan?

* Just to be clear, we have only counted clear evidence of close connection to HorseWorld – such as paid employment, current or very recent volunteering etc – and we haven’t sneakily included every person who has ‘Liked’ a post on the HorseWorld Facebook page, or described themselves somewhere as a ‘supporter’ of the charity.


More scandal from Whitchurch’s beleaguered equine charity HorseWorld…

HorseWorld M.D. Mark Owen: management skills of the back end of a panto horse

HorseWorld M.D. Mark Owen: management skills of the back end of a panto horse

Web ExclusiveFull-of-himself HorseWorld boss Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen has been serving up the Kool-Aid to his demoralised staff and forcing them to write to Bath & North Somerset Council…

Why? He wants them to support his INSANE PLANS to knock down the current visitor centre so that he can flog off the land to housing developers – and, err, build an ugly gurt shed of a new visitor centre!

The scheme – which would see 125 houses squashed into a village of only 460 dwellings – could be the last roll of the dice for Owen, who took hold of the reins in 2008. Desperate to justify a 2013 pay rise that many would call OBSCENE – even if it were for the MD of a well-performing charity, let alone one that’s lost over a million quid in just two years – Owen’s attention has been fixed on getting planning permission for his madcap plans. His vain hope? That this might improve the ‘Visitor Offer’ and thereby solve the BUDGETARY CRISIS he himself created during his flimsy tenure.

It’s not a view shared by locals – 615 letters objecting have already been received by BANES, along with representations against the development from both Whitchurch and Compton Dando Parish Councils, plus Bristol City Council and the Whitchurch Village Action Group.

Particular concerns have been the added strain on local schools, services and roads, Owen’s back-of-a-fag-packet estimates of increased visitor numbers and memberships, building into the greenbelt, and a lack of environmental features.

But ever the resourceful spiv, Owen hatched a cunning plan to win over the BANES Planning Development Committee, which meets this Wednesday (23 October) to consider his planning applicationDEMANDING staff must write to the council with letters of support for his plan! No ifs, no buts, that letter had to be penned. Only they mustn’t say they’re connected to HorseWorld, lest they undermine their case.

A swift look at the council’s planning website reveals a large proportion of those 110 letters ‘supporting’ Owen’s plans are, in fact, from the charity’s paid employees, volunteers and even trustees. They don’t reveal themselves as such, no doubt in the hope that the council will be hoodwinked into thinking they’re independent-minded people.

Those supporters deftly avoiding any mention of their connection to HorseWorld include finance supremo Nikki Bridges (remember her from The BRISTOLIAN #4.7?), Director of National Equine Welfare Jerry Watkins and his wife Dawn Parker-Watkins, human resources boss Becky Hopkins, trustee Marg Stenner, visitor centre coordinator Sharon Crewe, marketing and communications manager Samantha Greatbanks, education worker Kim Pounsberry, training groom Kayleigh Macleod

Meanwhile, those HorseWorld trustees who’ve supported Owen every step of his disastrous way – like Andrew Dowden, Ernie Hemmings and John Newman – remain desperately tight-lipped.

It couldn’t be that any of them work in the construction or financial investment industries with the chance of CASHING IN on Owen’s greenbelt concrete fantasy, could it..?


Web ExclusiveYet more DECKCHAIR REARRANGING on the Titanic that is Bristol City Council’s Strategic Leadership Team, with the announcement that current interim Health & Social Care Director Alison Comley is to take on a ‘super ministry’ for ‘Neighbourhoods’, with incoming John Readman handling ‘People’. Two further permanent directors – for ‘Place’ and ‘Change’ – have yet to be appointed.

In the fluffy language of PR, it’s being hailed as “management restructure” – but with the current six directorates being shrunk into four, it’s clear that this is Bristol’s new City Director Nicola Yates waving the cutlery around for her very own NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES

It comes as The BRISTOLIAN has been feverishly trying to confirm a number of rumours leaking out of Shitty Hall about senior managers getting VERY NERVOUS in these early days of the reign of LADY GAGA. Only last week we were told:

…Director of Public Health Janet Maxwell is joining the other rats leaving the sinking ship and is off less than a year after taking up the job. As you guys haven’t reported it yet I’m guessing there might be no truth in it…

It seems we were too cautious – responsible paper that we are – and that the hapless ex-GP (the only permanent Director currently serving) is for the chop after all, as her ‘Public Health’ portfolio gets swallowed up into Comley’s ‘Neighbourhoods’. Whilst she looks for a new job, she’d better hope that she doesn’t find herself under the care of ATOS

This all follows the bombshell last month that Gaga’s “organisation redesign and [re]alignment of services” had led to FIVE Strategic Directors begging for voluntary severance: as we reported at the time, Alun Owen, Peter Robinson and Peter Holt have all gone, with Claudia McConnell and Craig Bolt planning their escape for next year.

Meanwhile, the search continues to for a pair of fresh mugs to warm the ‘Place’ and ‘Change’ chairs for a few months before their inevitable departure. Seeing as the “very thorough selection process” for finding Directors of ‘Neighbourhoods’ and ‘People’ ended up giving us a current acting-up director (Comley) and one of Yates’ pals from her days mismanaging Hull City Council (Readman), it shouldn’t take too long – just long enough to ask “where did I leave my barrel scraper?”

If nothing else, it’s enough to make you wonder whether Lady Gaga is a bit, well, gaga.


Marvin: talked shit and lost to a red trousered arse

Marvin: talked shit and lost to a red trousered arse

Martin: preached peace and inspired millions

Martin: preached peace and inspired millions

Belly-flopping Labour Mayoral candidate MARVIN ‘ME, MYSELF, I’ REES appears to have held on to the same high opinions of himself that failed to get him elected ahead of a dodgy millionaire architect in red trousers.

Rees, whose grand election strategy was spouting management jargon whilst cruising around in a chauffeur-driven car and letting a tedious Labour goon in Swindon run his Twitter account, has lately been trying to reinvent himself as a kind of elder statesman of Bristolian politics.

Judging by a recent tweet – from an account he now appears to be updating himself – he’s not quite got the hang of it: “At City Rd Baptist Church service about to read “I Have A Dream” speech (the whole thing). No pressure!!”

Seems Marvin ‘Luther’ Rees has finally given up on the ‘Obama Strategy’ and opted instead for the ‘Dr King Plan’.

This can only end well…


The Equalities, Access and Inclusion team at Bristol City Council has been running various training courses for employees.

However, Mayor George Ferguson, his Cabinet and Deputy Mayor ‘Mutton’ Geoff Gollop have snootily said they “didn’t need this training” and have OPTED OUT of it.

An interesting attitude from an all- white, 70 per cent male Cabinet made up entirely of people from Bristol’s political establishment!

Presumably this is because they really do consider themselves torch-bearers for anti-racism, disabilities, anti-sexism etc – and think that BCC employees are the racists, sexists and the rest.

What will Hibaq Jama have to say about this after her recent ‘chat’ with Fergo?