Monthly Archives: December 2013


Your caring sharing BRISTOLIAN does it again! Bringing you all the news that matters right up to Christmas …

Our spies on the third floor sent us this earlier today. A copy of THE ACTUAL MENU that’s been prepared for Mayor Fergo and his really unlucky minions invited for Christmas Day.  Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas to all our readers. we’ll be back smiting in the New Year!


Cash gone missing, whistleblowers ‘disappeared’, finances ‘of concern’: council’s most useless department still in total chaos after 18 months…

The latest audit report reveals that Bristol City Council’s crisis-hit MARKETS SERVICE – where £165k disappeared last year without any coherent explanation – remains ‘of concern’. This is how it’s been for eighteen months now. Will it ever end?

The BRISTOLIAN can also reveal that, so far, the main action taken by Facilities boss Tony ‘THE TOERAG’ Harvey and his gormless gopher Markets boss Steve ‘God Botherer’ Morris to sort out their financial disaster area was to redeploy two whistleblowers out of the department under the guise of a departmental reorganisation!

One of the whistleblowers was even subsequently awarded thousands in an OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT after it turned out the recruitment process they used to get rid of them was er, bent!

Having disposed of their troublesome staff late last year, Harvey and Morris then immediately forked out on pricey agency staff because their new staff structure didn’t comply with the council’s financial regulations! And, we’re told, the idiots squandered a further £5k on a consultant to try and sort out their ongoing financial mess.

This obviously failed because here we are a year later with a department whose finances remain – and we quote – “of concern”. So just how much more money are council taxpayers expected to fork out so that these two can piss £165k of public money up the wall and cover it up?

It’s certainly mighty convenient for the two men in charge that whistleblowers have been ‘disappeared’; £165k remains totally unaccounted for and no one can get to the bottom of the financial circumstances in the Markets Service don’t you think?

Meanwhile, there’s no sign of the investigation promised by the service’s political boss Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty aftfter he revealed last summer that cash had been stolen from the Markets Office safe.

It’s obviously bent middle managers calling all the shots on Hoyty-Toyty’s watch then.


HorseWorld boss Mark Owen: full of pony

HorseWorld boss Mark Owen: full of pony

Web ExclusiveTrustees of troubled charity HorseWorld meet tomorrow (Wednesday 18 December) to consider what they do next after the SPECTACULAR FAILURE of MD Mark Owen to persuade local councillors to give him the green light to fill Whitchurch’s green belt with lots of unaffordable posh houses.

Faced with a CRISIS of Becher’s Brook proportions, the trustees have important decisions to make that will decide the futures of many staff and still more animals.

Under Owen’s watch in the last five years HorseWorld has shipped millions of pounds – but frittered away hundreds of thousands on consultants working on his ill-judged master plan. This came crashing to the ground at the first fence last month when BANES councillors showed that they could think for themselves and act in the best interests of local people who didn’t want posh houses and a big arena, thank you very much, by voting against Owen’s plans.

And when they voted against his harebrained scheme to knock down the visitor’s centre and sell off prime land to profiteering property developers, they didn’t do it by half-measures.

Comments from councillors considering the application included:

…10% affordable housing was not good enough…

…information about visitor figures was not clear…

…not convinced the proposal would solve HorseWorld’s problems…

…10% affordable housing was not enough, it should be 35%…

…not convinced there were very special circumstances outweighing the need to protect the Green Belt…

…information about transport issues was incomplete…

…worried about transport issues…

…HorseWorld, with 100,000 visitors a year, should already be successful…

…not convinced about the commercial viability of HorseWorld…

…concerned about the impact of a new housing development on the local primary school…

So that would be a resounding ‘no’, it would seem.

Since then Owen has FURIOUSLY STOMPED around the local press fuming that his failure to get the nod for the plan means the charity will close. ‘It’s unsustainable,’ he whines. Well, insiders retort, it’s certainly unsustainable to retain this INCOMPETENT TWAT on £80,000 per year (plus 28k company car).

Owen’s HorseWorld business model has long been seen to be redundant, and now he should be too.

So is this the moment when trustees finally ditch the hapless Owen so he can spend more time playing guitar in his pub covers band?

At the meeting Owen is expected to plead with his trustee bosses for CLEMENCY. His latest ruse will be to tell them they can overturn the BANES decision on appeal, and he has already started a petition. A bit late in the day for petitions, but you can expect some (non-local) people – including staff – to sign it. ‘Think of my mortgage… err, I mean, the horses!’

Alongside this petition strategy is the key part of his new vision – the immediate closure of the existing visitor centre, home to 24 horses, donkeys and ponies, and employer of several low-paid staff. Retain the rest of the charity land as a small scale sanctuary for animals, he’ll urge, but scale down the operation. ‘Oh, and keep me as MD, pretty please!’

There is of course another option for trustees. It’s not one which Owen will recommend to them, but maybe like the BANES councillors did, THEY’LL PROVE THEY HAVE MINDS OF THEIR OWN…

  1. Flog the Audi;
  2. Sack this expensive failure and his overpaid management cronies; and
  3. Move to a different model that puts long-suffering animals and hard working charity staff first.

It’s an option that would allow HorseWorld to continue working, but in creative co-operation with the local community, not against it.

Nobody in their right mind would believe councillors who overwhelmingly rejected an application by 10 to 2 votes would just overturn the decision on appeal. But are HorseWorld trustees in their right mind?

The acid test will come at this week’s meeting…

PS: For over a year Owen has been telling anyone who’ll listen that if HorseWorld failed to get planning permission he would RESIGN. He hasn’t.

What Mark Owen tells the Charity Commission - not quite what he tells BANES...

What Mark Owen tells the Charity Commission – not quite what he tells BANES…

I say 62, you say 43, let's call the whole thing off!

I say 62, you say 43, let’s call the whole thing off!

But then he’s been telling everyone he employees over sixty staff (most notably going with the figure 62, as shown on the HorseWorld website here and here, and in submissions to BANES Council – see page 92), when official figures submitted the Charity Commission claim the true figure is 43.

Pinocchiowen indeed.


HOLMWOODHOUSEWhen Kathleen Cole was removed from Holmwood House care home (see The BRISTOLIAN passim), the new home into which she was placed was so concerned about the state she was in that they took a series of photos to carefully record the clearly-visible injuries that she had suffered.

With the permission of Kathleen’s daughter, we publish here a selection of those photos.Web Exclusive

This is what abuse looks like:

Face only

Kathleen Cole

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the leg

Skin tear on the elbow

Skin tear on the elbow

Grade 3 bed sore

Grade 3 bed sore

» If you’re concerned by what you’ve seen and want some ACTION from Bristol City Council rather than reports, write to or phone the following and tell them “SHUT DOWN THE HORROR HOME NOW”!

Alison Comley
Director Health and Social Care
Tel: 0117 353 7860

Mike Hennessey
Director Neighbourhoods
Tel: 0117 903 7061 or 0117 352 1069

George Ferguson
Twitter: @georgefergusonx






HOLMWOODHOUSEThe BRISTOLIAN has learned that care home regulators, the Care Quality Commission, have had to be called urgently back in to HOLMWOOD HOUSE in the last month after an 84 year old woman fell from a hoist.

It seems the woman was being lifted by a single member of staff – contrary to all health and safety regulations and advice – when she had the accident. Apparently the wrong sling had been fixed to the hoist and the woman fell straight through it.Web Exclusive

“The CQC have been crawling all over the home,” we’re told. This comes despite another safeguarding investigation in to the horror home by Bristol City Council last March, which came about after a medical practitioner attending the home had expressed concerns about “the use of slings, hoists and air mattresses for Mrs [Kathleen] Cole”, the deceased woman at the centre of the Holmwood storm.

The practitioner told the investigation that there was “poor management, training, staff resources and facilities inadequate for the needs of the patients.”

And the council’s safeguarding investigation report tells us that investigating on behalf of Holmwood House was – wait for it…  the struck off nurse ISLA MEEK! Which was absolutely fine by council social care boss, DAVID TOOLE and his crackpot safeguarding team who described her work as “appropriate and thorough”… So thorough, in fact, that an accident has happened within six months.

Bristol City Council also said in their report “that if further evidence became apparent it would be acted on”.

This obviously hasn’t happened as the horror home remains open and Bristol City Council continue to commission the home and currently have around 40 people placed in the death trap at a minimum cost of £600 A WEEK each.

The BRISTOLIAN has also been told about another resident of Holmwood who when admitted to Frenchay Hospital was found to be suffering from dehydration and malnutrition. She subsequently died.

How much more of this cruelty is Bristol City Council prepared to endure before they act decisively?

» If you’re concerned about what you’re reading and want some ACTION from Bristol City Council rather than reports, write to or phone the following and tell them “SHUT DOWN THE HORROR HOME NOW”!

Alison Comley
Director Health and Social Care
Tel: 0117 353 7860

Mike Hennessey
Director Neighbourhoods
Tel: 0117 903 7061 or 0117 352 1069

George Ferguson
Twitter: @georgefergusonx


While we may have said farewell to Graham Skinner – the man behind the council’s move to 100 Temple Street – the lunatic levels of spending on the project continue to rise.

Skinner had been raising eyebrows for some time with his wild spending ways. Particularly when he started employing a series of EXPENSIVE PRIVATE SECTOR CONSULTANTS to sort out the move to the new offices.

We’re told the going rate for arranging the office furniture and ordering in the pot plants at Temple Street is £600 TO £1,000 A DAY!

Even more crazy when you consider council staff trained and qualified to do this work are sat right now twiddling their thumbs in the Counts Louse.

Is this an example of the private sector financial discipline Skinner’s boss Robert ‘Spunkface’ Orrett was brought in to implement?


It’s farewell then to Workplace Programme Manager, GRAHAM SKINNER, Bristol City Council’s man responsible for arranging the big move to the £18m 100 Temple Street building.

A move that will apparently save us millions and make all our services more efficient by ensuring that all council staff use the same branded coffee cups while not having a desk to sit at.

But why has Skinner cleared his desk – a privilege to have these days – in a such a hurry? Well, it seems some office furniture he ordered for council Chief Exec, Nicola ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates was late arriving and so she FIRED him!

They don’t have much luck with these buildings managers do they? Peter Walker, Skinner’s predecessor when the project was called ‘NEW WAYS OF WORKING’ was also fired. Although luckily (for him) he sued the council for a tasty six- figure sum.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!


Web ExclusiveDo you want the good news or the bad news first?

Today The BRISTOLIAN can exclusively reveal that domestic abuse survivor ‘Ms X’ – whose case we featured prominently through November – has finally been rehoused. Yet this excellent news is overshadowed by figures released by Bristol City Council that show others like her face an astonishing SIX MONTH WAIT.

We understand that Ms X received the keys to her new home yesterday, following a rush of activity in recent weeks by senior council officials whose sudden interest in her case mysteriously only took hold after The BRISTOLIAN took up the cudgels in support. She had up until that point been ignored by the Service Director, housing managers and the Mayor’s office, despite being at a very real risk of serious violence from her abuser.

Meanwhile, after a long wait for the data on how many others like Ms X there are out there in Bristol, the council today responded to a Freedom of Information request by a BRISTOLIAN reporter with statistics that are EVEN MORE HORRIFIC THAN FIRST FEARED.

For the year 2012-2013, Bristol City Council received 396 applications for rehousing due to domestic abuse. Just 228 were rehoused – that’s a success rate of under 58%*. Incredibly, domestic abuse victims had to wait on average more than 185 days to be found a place of safety. ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE DAYS at risk of violence, sexual assault, mental torture and much more besides.

Whilst budget cuts have clearly made the situation worse over the past year, the figures show that this scandal has not appeared out of thin air. In 2008-09, UNDER 40% OF 224 ABUSED APPLICANTS WERE REHOUSED, with an average wait of 120.5 days.

The following year, 2009-10, there were more applicants – 275 – but better performance from the council, with 61% rehoused and the wait down to just over 112 days. 82% of 307 people were found safe homes in 2010-11, with the wait cut to three months – though that means there were still MORE THAN FIFTY PEOPLE AT RISK OF ABUSE LEFT OUT IN THE COLD.

However, by 2011-12, fewer than three-quarters of the 347 people seeking help were rehoused, with the wait jumping up to 132.4 days. As the data clearly shows, there has been a steady rise in the need for rehousing – NEARLY DOUBLING in just five years.

This comes at the same time that researchers at the University of Bristol have released findings from a study of homeless women in the city which show that nearly 80% had suffered domestic abuse in the past, with almost a quarter of them facing it currently or recently.

So just how are Bristol’s overpaid, self-regarding political élite – whether arrogant Mayor Fergo and his City Hall hangers-on, or the top service bosses in their nice, warm offices – going to solve this sickening scandal? Is their plan to wait for vulnerable women, children and men to just die off, either through the violence of their abusers or the unforgiving harshness of being homeless?

That’s certainly one way to improve the statistics without actually doing anything.

* BCC supplied the data in slightly different forms for numbers of DV applications, which were given by year up to a given date in March; and both ‘successfully rehoused’ numbers and ‘waiting’ times, which were each supplied covering the financial year (April-March). This means that the precise percentages cited in this article may be slightly different to that recorded by BCC – but any variance will be miniscule. If you doubt our figures, check the data provided by BCC in the link above.




“YOU could hear him yelling with rage at the other end of the corridor,” says our man on the third floor at Shitty Hall. And the reason for the RED-TROUSERED LOTHARIO’s tantrum?

Well, it seems some wag put a copy of our last issue, The BRISTOLIAN #4.8, on the nightmayor’s desk with a friendly post-it note asking, “WOULD YOU LIKE A FRAMED COPY?”

The furious farce-meister was not amused – and had to be calmed by bag-carriers, who persuaded him that sending the note for HANDWRITING ANALYSIS would make him look like even more of an idiot!

Elsewhere at Shitty Hall, one worker put in some quality overtime. Carefully copying our last issue, placing them in envelopes with lovingly printed address labels and posting them to council managers via internal mail!

And a shout out to our distro team too who popped in to the latest Audit Committee meeting at Shitty Hall at 9.30am on Friday 8 November, just to hand a copy to every committee member so they were properly informed about the mess they’re overseeing!

Obviously panicking council officers called the police! On arriving, and learning what this ’emergency’ was, a police officer pointed out to the pant-wetting councillors and managers that going to a public meeting isn’t yet a crime.

And as for the newspaper? “You don’t have to read it,” they explained.


Microsoft Word - NO SECRETS IN BRISTOL 2010.docSo, how did the Holmwood House scandal come to be plastered over the pages of The BRISTOLIAN and featured in gruelling detail at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting?

Web ExclusiveAs usual, distant, arrogant council managers who refuse to be accountable to the public – even in the most extreme cases such as the unexplained death of an elderly woman in their care – are the authors of their own public humiliation and downfall.

Rest assured, the Holmwood case did not come out of a clear blue sky last Thursday: Kathleen Cole died in July and her daughter Annette Whiting has been asking questions ever since then and not getting any answers.

A key figure in the scandal is DAVID TOOLE, the Bristol City Council Health and Social Care Manager who oversaw the six safeguarding reports into Kathleen’s care. It was he who worked closely with the home’s struck-off nurse ‘consultant’, ISLA MEEK, to play down the dangerous quality of care at Holmwood House. By September, he simply stopped taking Annette Whiting’s concerned phone calls over the circumstances of her mother’s death.

So did he think she’d just go away? On the basis that when some middle manager plonker at the council stops taking your phone calls that’s the end of any matter? How wrong can he be?

It was at this point, Annette sought the only immediate help at hand, which was seasoned care campaigner Steve Norman and The BRISTOLIAN. She was immediately put in touch with firebrand lawyers Irwin Mitchell, specialists in public law, while Steve tackled the council privately and requested a meeting with the Social Care Strategic Director ALISON COMLEY.

Fat chance. Apparently Comley – herself an ex-social worker, but now a six-figure salaried City Hall boss – was far too busy at strategy meetings to worry about suspicious deaths on her watch. The actual  response from Comley’s PA was that her boss was “too busy” and that Annette would need to complete a ‘Fair Comment’ corporate complaint form!

Because obviously the best way to deal with a bereaved relative – with a series of highly compelling issues to raise regarding the care your organisation provided –  is to get them to fill in a form and force them through a useless  bureaucratic process!

It was at this stage that The BRISTOLIAN took the decision to go public with Holmwood House immediately. It was plainly apparent to us that none of these managers gave a toss about Annette or her mother and were behaving as if they were not accountable to the likes of us.

Just how stupid and arrogant are these council managers? What planet are they living on, which makes them think they can treat ordinary Bristolians with utter contempt and get away with it?

Well, things have changed a bit now haven’t they? Rest assured Comley, her sidekick MIKE HENNESSEY and that lamentable safeguarding manager arsehole DAVID ‘WATTA’ TOOLE are now running round like blue arse flies trying to explain their bizarre conduct and lunatic decisions. And this is just the start …

To steal their own soundbite – “There’s no secrets, no cover-ups, no hiding places in Bristol”.

» Be sure to keep an eye on The BRISTOLIAN: there will be further Holmwood House revelations this week…