Monthly Archives: November 2013


News is emerging that Green Cabinet member and Ashley Councillor, Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty, personally signed off a £62,000 payment for Bristol City Council to buy the “under threat” Lynmouth Road Allotments in his ward.

The allotments were put on sale by receivers Grant Thornton in September after Scout Enterprises, owners of the land, went bust. A brief campaign to save the land ensued – and then up popped Hoyty-Toyty to save the day!

He put in a sealed bid of £62k from Bristol City Council for the land on September 25 despite a reserve price of just £20k. The price Hoyty-Toyty was prepared to pay with our money is thought to be excessive as the land is protected by covenants and is of little value to developers.

Meanwhile Hoyty-Toyty, who wasn’t exactly shy about trumpeting how ‘he’ saved the day…

…has been rather more coy about exactly how much he spent to help voters in his own ward secure this land, admitting on Twitter only that the land “cost a ‘bit’ more than £20k.”

That ‘bit’ being three times more!


A right royal game of lawn-acy!

Park maintenance policy - Bristol City Council style...

Park maintenance policy – Bristol City Council style…

Despite being told by bosses to stop any lawnmowing as the council can’t afford fuel for lawnmowers any more, there was no shortage of gardeners or fancy kit at Easton’s FELIX ROAD ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND last week.

Up to twenty men and ten vans were seen there working all day. Indeed, so keen were parks bosses to get a quality job done, one worker was dispatched to collect the top-class mower normally reserved for use on Queen Square – and once finished the loose grass was carefully boxed up and taken away in a gas-guzzling van!

And the cause of this sudden flurry of attention and resources for this neglected corner of the inner-city? A visit from his ROYAL REDTROUSERNESS Mayor George Ferguson the next day, of course!

Alas, it was all in vain as George cancelled his visit at the last minute and never got the Royal-style tour of the playground. How the brown-nosing middle managers and Environment & Leisure Service Director Tracey Morgan (she of £300k-and-rising park kiosk fiasco fame) must have kicked themselves when they realised their feeble attempts to ingratiate themselves with the big boss had come to nothing, and that they’d wasted their efforts on mere kids and parents.

The only thing that could have added to the Alice In Wonderland feel of proceedings would have been for the Queen of Hearts herself to show up and announce she wanted all the flowers individually painted!



Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle competition winner @guriben presented with his prize and official certificate by BRISTOLIAN intern Jooohn Ag Jnr

The Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle 2013 competition winner @guriben presented with his pork prize and official certificate by The BRISTOLIAN’s spokespirate Jooohn Ag

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

It was with great pleasure that The BRISTOLIAN‘s spokespirate Jooohn Ag was today able to present the winner of the inaugural Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle competition, local internet personality @guriben, with his prize: a bag of meat to the value of £5, plus a certificate.

At a glittering ceremony hosted at the Bristol home of international piracy, the Llandoger Trow on King Street, @guriben received three tubes of what can only be described as rather grey-looking ‘sausage meat’ from one of south Bristol’s finest budget butcher’s.

Sadly the competition’s muse, Councillor Hopkins, was unable to attend himself due to a last-minute airport run.

Said the talented artist, whose exposure through The BRISTOLIAN has now brought him commissions:

I really wasn’t expected a real meat prize!

Well, the prize is definitely real, but we make no claims as to whether it is ‘meat’ or not…


Web ExclusiveNow joining The BRISTOLIAN and the sensible public at large in demanding the immediate rehousing of vulnerable domestic violence victim – Ms X – is the Avon & Somerset Constabulary.

We understand that police have this week spoken with Bristol City Council’s Housing Department and told them Ms X needs to be urgently relocated for her own safety.

It now seems like everybody, except those with the power to help, want Ms X rehoused as a matter of urgency. Indeed it’s beginning to look like Ms X is now being used as little more than a prop to shore up their fragile egos by Housing Department middle managers Paul Sylvester and Nick Hooper. They are refusing to admit, in the face of a barrage of evidence, that they have made errors and they are refusing to acknowledge the real danger Ms X is in.

Instead, in an effort to prove they are right at any cost, they have resorted to fluent bureaucratese insisting she is ‘Band 3’ and there’s no more they can do. This is bullshit. They could rehouse her tomorrow. They do it all the time. Why won’t they do it now?

The BRISTOLIAN continues to receive outraged emails from councillors on this matter, with some that are especially critical of Housing boss Hooper. The only people now actively supporting Sylvester and Hooper in their fool’s errand of refusing to rehouse Ms X is Zoe Sear, “right hand woman” of Mayor George Ferguson (Happy Anniversary!), and the mysterious, unnamed ‘Safer Bristol Domestic Violence Co-ordinator’ who apparently insists Sylvester and Hooper are acting correctly by doing absolutely nothing and leaving a vulnerable young woman in danger of her life.

Sylvester and Hooper have ignored a death threat; they’ve ignored a ‘substantial threat’; now will they ignore police advice too?


More cash disappearing from “of concern” authority – this time from cash-in-transit

We’ve already reported that Bristol City Council’s money management is “of concern” and that they’re unable to account for large sums of our money. Now The BRISTOLIAN can reveal that considerable sums of money have disappeared from their internal CASH-IN-TRANSIT service!

That’s the section that collects cash from across the authority and is supposed to ensure that it is safely banked: money that comes from stuff like car parking, council tax, rents and licence fees – hard-earned cash that we hand over to the council on a daily basis.

A council report – quietly released last month and exposed by The BRISTOLIAN – listed a huge number of major FINANCIAL CONCERNS. Topping the list of problems was a case of “material income misappropriation” – or ‘theft’ as it’s commonly known. Now it’s said been confirmed to us here at The BRISTOLIAN that this theft took place in the very council service trusted to collect and protect our cash!

Specific details of the scam are still sketchy. However, in circumstances similar to those that let £165k in the council’s MARKET SERVICE go walkabout without explanation, it appears that very basic cash management procedures and financial checks and balances have been systematically IGNORED by managers. Helpfully creating a culture where money can disappear with IMPUNITY and with little chance of discovery.

The council’s response to this latest scandal, so far, has been pathetic. Their internal audit team plan to develop an ‘action plan’ to deal with it! That’s right. No investigation, no cops called in and no blame dished out! This is said to be because, in another mirror of the MARKETS FIASCO, the accounts in the department have been so abused, degraded and generally screwed by managers that investigators can justifiably state that there’s “no evidence of wrongdoing”.

But then that’s because there’s no evidence of anything contained in their accounts at all – information on how much money they’ve actually bloody collected compared to how much they’ve put in the bank simply doesn’t exist!

And guess who’s overseeing this latest financial fiasco? Step forward Facilities Manager, TONY ‘THE TOERAG’ HARVEY – the very same man who oversaw the disappearance of £165k of our money in the Markets Service!

No doubt they’ll be giving him a pay rise soon.


Bristolian_4.8_coverWell, we have been so busy working on the ‘Ms X’ story these past few days that we have not had the chance to tell you that the latest issue of your favourite local Smiter of the High and Mighty has been on the streets for a week!

November’s edition of The BRISTOLIAN is another PACKED ISSUE, featuring…

More cash disappearing from ‘of concern’ authority – this time from cash-in-transit

A right royal game of lawn-acy as Fergo visit gets preferential grass-cutting treatment

Green Councillor coughs up three times reserve price for allotments that couldn’t be developed on

Farcical claptrap from council managers destroys open spaces, runs up massive bills

China and big business cashing in on city’s solar power bonanza

The lowdown on why this is one “billion dollar enterprise” you probably don’t want to work for…

How the ‘outsider’ who ran in council elections for IfB “shook things up” on audit committee by not turning up

A merry-go-round of useless managers squanders £100k on lethal play equipment while kids’ education suffers

How PFI deals with the private sector cost us masses more…


Tantalising titbits including…

  • THE NEW POLITICSLib Dem Stella Hender returns as anti-Green artist Stella Perrett
  • PICKUP PACKS UP! mystery of Labour councillor’s ouster at hands of own party
  • FERGO IN PITTSBURGH CONGRESSHis Redtrouserness continues to rack up those AirMiles
  • HUNGER GAMESstarving kids made to trudge halfway across city to pick up food arcels
  • GASTRO PUB RUN BY IDIOTShard to imagine, we know

…And all that for FREE!

See the Distribution page for your local stockist – and if there isn’t one near you, let us know!


Then you can DOWNLOAD a PDF version here:

» The BRISTOLIAN #4.8 – November 2013


Web Exclusive

Zoe Sear - really shit at blackmail

Zoe Sear – really shit at blackmail

The pressure of trying to hold together Bristol City Council’s creaking domestic violence policies whilst also backing oafish housing managers Nick Hooper and Paul Sylvester – who “take domestic violence seriously” by ignoring urgent correspondence on the subject in favour of putting their feet up for the weekend – seems to be taking its toll on the Mayor’s troubleshooting sidekick ZOE SEAR.

Yesterday when Sear spoke to ‘Ms X’ on the telephone, she decided that the domestic abuse-surviving working class young mum wasn’t playing ball by doing what she was told by her ‘superiors’. In frustration the former PR hackette HISSED DARKLY, “your name could be slipped to the mainstream press!”

Really, Zoe? And how might that happen? And what mainstream publication would possibly print the name of a vulnerable domestic violence victim?

Here in Bristol the only outlet possibly vile enough to do such a thing might be the Evening Bristol Post, and the only hack sleazy enough to be prepared to write such a piece would be Shitty Hall scribbler Ian ‘Copy Typist’ Onions.

Mind you, even as a special favour for his BFF Mayor Gorgeous the Post‘s editor, Führer Mike Norton would surely baulk at such a distasteful course of action…


If this wasn’t such a serious issue – the abject FAILURE of Bristol City Council’s senior ranks to obey the law and find an appropriate place of safety for a young mum who has been the victim of sickening domestic violence – then the inept way council officers have attempted to QUIETLY BRIEF against ‘Ms X’ to councillors and others would be funny.

Today, though, they’ve come out into the open with a statement attributed to “a Bristol City Council spokesman” explaining that, err, they think it’s all Ms X’s fault!

We dissect it line-by-line below…

We take very seriously people experiencing domestic violence or abuse. It is a high priority within our rehousing policy, and we have a number of protocols with Next Link and the police.

On her initial approach to the council, Ms X was offered a place in a refuge or safe house by both the council and Next Link…

…Which Ms X very clearly said from the outset she could not accept, for the very pertinent reasons she articulated then and now…

…was offered a lock-change service, and was also offered help to find a new private tenancy. She declined these offers…

…having noted that a private tenancy would give much less chance of security than a local authority or other social housing property, and be considerably more expensive!

She applied to Home Choice to go on the housing register. Unfortunately…

Now there’s an interesting word, “unfortunately”…

…there was then a delay in assessing her place on the housing register…

By “delay” they actually mean that managers within BCC repeatedly failed her – at a time when there were real dangers to her physical wellbeing from her abuser, who continued to contact her, and she most needed to be in a place of safety rather than wading through the quagmire of council red tape.

…which is not acceptable.

No, it’s not acceptable. It wasn’t acceptable three months ago when it happened, nor two months ago, one month ago or even one week ago.

We apologise wholeheartedly…

“Wholeheartedly” – a nice, cosy, emotional word to imply that ‘hey, we have hearts too!’ Except, of course, they’re sitting in their comfortable offices enjoying their management perks whilst making what in effect are life-and-death decisions about the likes of Ms X.

…for this and we are reviewing how this happened.

Note that they have only apologised NOW, after being embarrassed in public – is that really an apology worth having?

Ms X was placed on the register in Band 3, a priority band which includes other victims of domestic abuse, homelessness cases and others urgently needing to move…

Of course that begs the question, if people being threatened with serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse are not the most preeminent concern, then who is? Managers’ mates?

She has been bidding on properties, but unfortunately has been restricting her selection of property type and location…

Aha! There’s that word “unfortunately” again! Note that the statement uses the same word to describe something that the council did – the “delay” in properly processing the housing application – and something that Ms X did. That suggests that they are comparable: ‘we were a little wrong, you were a little wrong’.

Except what the council did was make an error that is in their own words “not acceptable”; what Ms X did was make a choice about what was most suitable for her and her child.

Let’s have another look at Bristol City Council’s own policy on Domestic Abuse: “[Don’t] Pressurise an individual into a specific course of action… [Don’t] Be judgmental of the individual’s choices and actions”. Seems pretty clear.

And yet this statement attempts to suggest that if the original banding was a mistake, then so if Ms X not wanting to be forced into unsuitable housing. It puts her exercise of free choice on a par with the potentially life-threatening mistakes of senior council officers – could there be anything more judgmental (or offensive) than that?

Had she bid on all suitable properties there are 11 that have been advertised,

Note that there is not even an attempt to actually discuss the quality or suitability of those properties – do you not wonder why?

…and since her application was placed in Band 3 she would have been the successful bidder.

And guess what: there’s no way anyone could verify this! In other words, they’re making stuff up as they go along.

Either that or they’ve got a really good crystal ball up at City Hall. Perhaps Mayor Fergo could use it to place a bet at Paddy Power on a rank outsider to win – then he won’t need to cut the budget for things like rehousing vulnerable people

Ms X has a support worker at Next Link, and the Safer Bristol…

In case you were unaware, the ‘Safer Bristol Partnership’ is a multi-agency quango managed by, erm, Bristol City Council!

…domestic abuse coordinator has reviewed the case.

And who is this mysterious, all-seeing, all-knowing wise person? Have they met with Ms X? Are they a Bristol City Council employee or from another agency? Name them!

Their conclusion is that all agencies have done what they should have.

Now that is a real surprise! But, um, by “all agencies” they can’t possibly mean to include Bristol City Council, can they?

Presumably not, seeing as BCC is an organisation which even by its own admission FAILED to properly band Ms X in the first place. It also WASTED three months, IGNORED Ms X’s wishes to not be dumped in a refuge, and has used THREATS – such as exposing her full identity to the mainstream media, withdrawing all possibility of housing support, and briefing inaccurate information to those who have shown an interest in the case.

…in order to help.

If that all counts as “help” then heaven help those you really don’t like!

We continue to offer on-going support and the case is a priority.

Hang on, did you say “the case is a priority”? If that’s true, why has the council never said that to Ms X, either verbally or in correspondence?

Overall, the whole statement reeks of desperation. This whole sorry affair began more than three months ago. The BRISTOLIAN has been reporting on it for five days.

Yet the best this motley crew of management mediocrities and self-styled ‘communications gurus’ could come up with were some half-baked half-truths, the odd smear, and a bunch of wildly inaccurate claims.

Shameful, pathetic, beneath contempt.


Web ExclusiveIf you have been following the saga of Bristol City Council’s FAILURE to rehouse ‘Ms X’, a young mum who has suffered horrific domestic abuse, then this is a must-read – it’s a statement from her, in her own words…

Three months ago with the aid of a friend I gained the strength to contact a domestic abuse organisation who have helped me to understand that I am a victim and this is not my fault.

I then made an application for Urgent Housing Needs to Bristol City Council, backed up by a referral from the domestic abuse organisation in support of my application. I hoped the process would be straight forward and that common sense would prevail – but this was not the case.

Firstly there was a delay in processing my application, and then the department lost the referral and I was placed in the lowest housing band, Band 5. The referral was resent by the domestic abuse organisation and I was eventually placed in Band 3.

During this disorganised chaos I was referred to the homeless section. This is the only part of the council where I feel that they have shown me any compassion for or understanding of my plight. I was offered a place in a women’s refuge, which I had to turn down. I am not willing to be forced into a refuge for the simple reason that I have a young child (who fortunately has never witnessed the abuse) who has regular contact with her father, who is not the abuser.

I should not have to disrupt my young child’s life or her father’s for my mistake in choosing the wrong partner – I just want to rebuild my life and provide stability for mine and my daughter’s future.

It seems people are telling me what is best for me. How do these people know what is best for me? Do I not have the freedom of choice? I am told there is nothing contained under Section 177 Housing Acts (1996) that states I must go in to a women’s refuge.

Since The Bristolian highlighted my campaign it has brought a great deal of support. The response of Mr Hooper & Mr Sylvester to this support is once again to offer me a refuge and deny me a property – so in over three months my housing application has made no further progress.

I now ask Mr Hooper and Mr Sylvester to do three things:

  1. Show me which part of the housing legislation states I must accept a place in a refuge;
  2. Show me one good reason why three months on that you are unable to provide me with proper accommodation;
  3. Show me any risk assessment you have carried out in reference to my situation.

To date I have had not one face-to-face meeting with a re-housing officer, although I have been informed by my advocate that a meeting is being organised to discuss my case. However, I would like to say that if the council intends only to offer me a refuge against my wishes yet again, please save the expense of travel as my decision is unchanged.

This process is affecting my mental health and well being, but I refuse to be a victim twice. I ask for nothing more than what the law of the land says I am entitled to, if I am not entitled to rehousing again I say show me the law you rely upon.

Ms X

As you can see, it clearly REFUTES many of the lies and misrepresentations that have mysteriously been swirling around City Hall since this shameful episode blew up in public (and particularly since we emailed every councillor in the city to let them know what was going on).

Just imagine that ‘Ms X’ was your friend, your sister, your mum or aunt or daughter: subjected to sickening violence, and then abused a second time by a bunch of clueless bureaucrats with not an ounce of compassion or common sense between them.

Ms X shouldn’t have to take this shit, and nor should any woman, child or man.


Some extracts from Bristol City Council’s very own Domestic Abuse Policy:


  • Listen positively and reassure the individual. Ensure that they know:
    • You believe them
    • It’s not their fault
    • There is support available


  • Pressurise an individual into a specific course of action
  • Be judgmental of the individual’s choices and actions
  • Stop supporting the individual once you have referred to another agency

Perhaps the overpaid idiots mishandling the ‘Ms X’ case should take the time to read it?

And then – heaven forbid – actually PUT IT INTO PRACTICE