Monthly Archives: February 2014


When Plimsoll Bridge on Cumberland Basin got stuck open in December, Mayor Fergo claimed that it would “MILLIONS” TO FIX –  and made ominous sounds about the need to lay off yet more workers to offset the bill.

As ever, the privately-educated berk was way off-beam in his predictions – thanks to the graft of the very workers he wants to ‘streamline’ into redundancy, the actual cost of repairs is now thought to be closer to £5-10,000.

Of course, whilst the millionaire Mayor is always keen to pay lip service to Bristol’s ‘maritime heritage’, and has made a pretty penny or two out of his business involvements in various COUNCIL-SUBSIDISED ferry companies, Fergo is a little less hands-on with the nitty-gritty.

That might explain why Fat Fingered Fergo is demanding a rise in mooring fees for boats in the docks – but the MISERLY MAYOR HASN’T COUGHED UP for the full licence for his own boat!

Pay your dues, George – or one day you’ll find your floating crib has been scuttled by disgruntled scurvy seadogs…




Web Exclusive On 6 December 2012, Tony Harvey’s then boss, Mike “Tax efficient” Watts responded to a query from a  markets service whistleblower.

The whistlebloThe Markets Filewer was concerned that the recently published audit report into markets, which left every one of their complaints “UNRESOLVED” after six months of supposed investigation, was being ignored and buried by Watts, a highly paid consultant Service Director, and his useful idiot, Harvey who he had designated as his hatchet man.

Watts – or Capability and Performance Improvement Ltd as perhaps he should be known – was pointedly and directly asked about the whistleblower taking their complaints outside of the city council. Watts’ brusque reply was, “you are fully entitled to take up with any other authority you see fit and have been all along.”


The tax efficient civil servant – “I don’t have to give a toss. Thanks for the cash and goodbye.”

So did Watts consider that the whistleblower might see the press as fit? And did this supposed human resources expert think through the potential implications of this for the staff he was responsible for and who would be in the direct line of fire?

But why would he give a toss? The greedy private sector consultant – who was not even an employee of Bristol City Council and who was paid by us council tax payers through a limited company to reduce his income tax bill – was off to take up another lucrative and unaccountable post waffling about HR for Southampton City Council!

So he wasn’t going to be around to pick up the pieces from his crap, macho man decisions was he? Talk about dropping other people in it …



The BRISTOLIAN has obtained a sensational letter from a Web ExclusiveMarkets Service whistleblower to the council’s former Monitoring Officer, Stephen McNamara sent in July 2012. The letter was also copied The Markets Fileto former strategic director Will Godfey and a handful of senior councillors responsible for financial oversight.

The letter is a formal complaint regarding suicide boss, Tony Harvey’s multiple failures in his treatment of a bona fide whistleblower and it particularly focuses on Harvey’s proposed ‘restructure’ of the markets service that he announced, in a remarkable coincidence, just days after the whistleblower came forward in 2012!

The letter explains that Harvey was undertaking this restructure of the department as a blatant means of getting the whistleblower out of their post while an investigation into serious financial irregularities in Harvey’s dodgy service had barely begun.

Remarkably, Harvey was refusing to suspend his dodgy restructure on the basis that “the [audit] investigation will not affect the review[/restructure]”. An absurd opinion. How could an investigation that would conclude with a considerable number of recommendations about the structure and practice of the department’s financial management not affect a review of the department’s structure and practice?

As The BRISTOLIAN has been told by a well-placed source, “Harvey’s restructure always looked like the act of some bent-as-hell management madman intent on sacking a whistleblower to cover up his own dodgy and incompetent management conduct rather than the cool-headed, well thought out professional restructure of a local authority department he was handsomely paid to produce.”

Stephen McNamara - another oafish decision someone else pays the price for?

Stephen McNamara – another oafish decision someone else pays the price for?

Indeed, the letter to McNamara highlights a number of major irregularities in Harvey’s restructure plan. Some proven accurate when the council later had to reach an out-of-court settlement with one of the whistleblowers due to the flaws in this very restructure.

The letter goes on to ask that Harvey’s restructure process be suspended until the financial investigation is complete and a proper, comprehensive restructure, including the recommendations from the investigation, could be produced. The whistleblower and his union even offered their wholesale help and support to such a process.

The conclusion of the letter is intriguing. Firstly it states:

You are entirely at liberty to continue on the course selected by Tony Harvey and I am at liberty to reach the conclusion that you’re not taking my complaints at all seriously and take them outside the organisation.

A clear indication that the whistleblower would make things public if necessary. They then go on to say,

My trade union representative and I are more than happy to discuss the issues raised in this letter with either yourself or Will [Godfrey] or another serious management representative that is not Tony Harvey.

A clear indication that the whistleblower was open to dialogue, discussion and negotiation. The letter concludes by saying,

I’m extremely persistent and deeply interested in the proper conduct of public affairs. I’m not going to go away and there’s certainly nobody in your authority capable of scaring me away. I’ve provided a number of reasonable ‘soft’ options worth pursuing in this letter. I would strongly encourage you to take one of them.

Alas, McNamara’s response was short, curt and dismissive. No discussion. No dialogue. No negotiation. Harvey’s dodgy process to remove a whistleblower from their job during a ‘live’ financial investigation would continue.

Unfortunately – for them – The BRISTOLIAN also does short, curt and dismissive. More effectively, many would say, than a jumped-up public sector lawyer like McNamara.

And so the die was cast. Senior council bosses proactively decided upon open conflict and a bruising public row rather than negotiation and compromise.

But did they bother to think through the implications of their decision? Did they consider the potential impact on their staff – such as Tony Harvey – on the frontline of any brutal and very public conflict? Did they consider their duty of care towards Tony Harvey?

Or was this another decision driven by sheer arrogance and the knowledge that someone else’s body could always be thrown in the way to deal with the consequences and to pay any price?



Parsons, Blundell, Ferguson & Cook: making the magic happen. But would you want them looking after your kids?

The CPS ‘Dream Team’: Parsons, Blundell, Ferguson & Cook – making the magic happen. But would you want them looking after your kids?

The SCANDAL over how vital space in Bristol’s publicly-owned and much-used Central Library has been given over to what until recently was a fee-paying private school continues, after Mayor George Ferguson’s Cabinet decision to rubber-stamp the move was confirmed in a ‘calling in’ council meeting in January. This followed Fergo ignoring a December scrutiny report which was highly critical of the deal on almost every count.

This means Cathedral Primary School (CPS), a new ‘free school’ set up by the formerly fee-paying Bristol Cathedral Choir School (BCCS), could take over two basement floors of the library from September 2015 if central government approves it. CPS  opened the doors to its first intake this past September, and currently occupies the Abbey House building alongside BCCS’s administrative block, the Deanery.

But exactly how did this behind-closed-doors deal get to be hammered out? And what can be done now?

The PRIMARY SCHOOL PLACES CRISIS in Bristol is real  – current estimates show that Bristol needs an additional 30% on top of current primary school places over the next five years – but the most acute shortages are in north and south Bristol, which this school will not address.

Since 2008 a state-funded but independently managed academy (thanks to severe financial problems forcing it to go cap-in-hand for government cash), BCCS has only been open to all children for 36 of its 873 years of continuous operation. In other words, it has been a BASTION OF PRIVILEGE and closed doors – and is judged to be in the bottom 1% nationally for social inclusion. Like its parent school, CPS will most directly benefit middle and upper class families in Clifton – whilst the school boasts of appealing to similarly affluent parents in South Gloucestershire and North Somerset!

Relocating the primary school into the library will mean two floors-worth of books – many in regular use – will now be shipped over to the B Bond warehouse on Cumberland Basin, where they will be MAROONED along with unwilling staff (minus convenient ‘wastage’ or ‘rationalisation’ – which will help Fergo trim down his wages bill). Bristolians wanting to access those books will likely have to wait days instead of minutes, and even face fees for the inconvenience.

So how did it all come to this?

George Ferguson has been careful to trying to appear neutral on the issue, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t hide the facts.

As a longtime member of that smug, self-satisfied band of local sub-Freemasons, the Society of Merchant Venturers, ex-private schoolboy Ferguson has been kept abreast of the plans from the outset. Ferguson resigned from the MVs in 2012 – only after announcing his candidancy for Mayor – much as he stopped paying dues to the Lib Dems: because it was politically expedient.

A fellow MV is Stephen Parsons. As well as being Chair of Trustees at both the Bristol Cathedral Trust and Cathedral Primary School, as well as Chair of Governors at BCCS and CPS, and Vice-Chair of Trustees at BCCS and an honorary Canon at  the Cathedral, Parsons also runs the Quartet Community Foundation. A way for RICH BASTARDS to feel good about themselves by doling out a few grants here and there, Quartet just so happens to administer Fergo’s own ‘Mayor’s Fund for Bristol’.

Parsons is also – alongside George Ferguson, of course – a board member at the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership quango. Perhaps he needs a hobby?

Fergo’s Cabinet chum, Lib Dem councillor Simon ‘Casualty’ Cook, has been another key driver behind the annexation of the library. Not himself a Merchant Venturer, Cook is however a member of the MV-linked ‘Antient Society of St Stephen’s Ringers’. He also went to school (in Norwich) with former BCCS head Kevin Riley. It is thought that this close friendship with Riley brought Cook into PARSONS’ INNER CIRCLE.

Grabber George’s own close connections to BCCS, and the cathedral to which it is linked, stretches back for years. His ex-wife Lavinia Ferguson was for the best part of a decade a director of Bristol Cathedral Concerts Ltd, seven years as its company secretary. In the 90s Fergo himself worked directly with the Cathedral’s Dean to block any harbourside development that didn’t put money in his RED TROUSERED POCKETS.

But not all the pressure has been from a clique within Shitty Hall. Considerable resources have been put at the disposal of BCCS Principal Neil Blundell – the man widely seen as driving the project from the Cathedral side – from ideologically-driven quarters.

Consider the Centre for Market Reform of Education (CMRE), a champion of ‘free schools’ which whilst nominally independent shares its premises and some personnel with the Institute for Economic Affairs. (Yes, that’s right, Margaret Thatcher’s very own BATSHIT CRAZY right-wing thinktank is also in the picture!) CMRE appears to have been used to channel funds into the marketing effort to ‘sell’ the CPS library snatch to Bristolians – not because it’s a good deal for the city, but because it fits a certain agenda.

Key to implementing this has been Wotton-based communications agency Edge Media, which has worked for the Cathedral and BCCS for a number of years, and is now additionally contracted to CPS. Certainly the amount of work Edge has put into the P.R. OFFENSIVE far outstrips the £6,961 that CPS itself directly spent on communications, or the £2,084 BCCS spends with them annually. But then it is unusual for Edge to represent what is nominally a state school: virtually all its clients are private schools or organisations connected to them.

These include the School Proprietors’ Association, for owners of private schools; the Tutors’ Association, for private tutors; the Society of Education Consultants; and iSBi, a search site for private schools. It’s almost as though Edge Media doesn’t really like mixing with us ordinary folk!

But it’s not all bad news. The push to relocate CPS into the library building is not unanimously popular within BCCS – either with staff or governors – or even with the
Cathedral. It seems that many consider it a vanity project of Parsons, Ferguson, Blundell and Cook. Sources say even Blundell was surprised that Cook managed to get Cabinet approval for the DODGY library deal.

Meanwhile, the murkiness of the whole sordid affair has attracted the interest of both the Department for Education and the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

So watch this space…


A regular contributor to the Bristol Rovers Fans Forum going by the name of ‘HENBURY GAS’ seems to be very well informed.

On January 15 s/he announced to the forum: “Had a chat with my good friend on the planning committee yesterday about the Jr [Judicial review into the proposed Sainsbury’s supermarket at the Mem] and he said ‘All is going well with the Judge’ and confirms that we should get good news in March. He also confirmed that south Glos was involved as well. Also keep up the good work on here as they do read this forum!”

Forum user ‘BIG DAVE’ then replied:

“Whilst i don’t want to doubt you or your friend, i can’t see why (either the prosecution or) the defence can be getting feedback from the judge ahead of the Jr hearing…”

To which the knowledgeable and well-connected ‘Henbury Gas’ responded: “Think they call it ‘Discovery’ and my friend is the chairman of the planning committee…”

Entirely coincidentally, the Chairman of Bristol City Council’s Development Control (North) Committee – the one responsible for the Sainsbury development at the Mem – is none other than CHRIS WINDOWS, the Tory councillor for, er … Henbury!

What a curious coincidence…


Web ExclusiveA sad day for HorseWorld today, with news coming in on what was meant to be the last day of a “consultation” into the options open to the Whitchurch equine charity to secure its financial future: it seems that the VISITOR CENTRE WILL DEFINITELY CLOSE this Friday 28th February.

Sources tell us that embattled managing director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen “didn’t even have the balls to do the deed himself”, preferring instead to send out a staff representative to spread the bad news to employees.

It is understood that today’s dark announcement confirms the decision to shutter the visitor centre made at a meeting last week of the charity’s trustees “in a SECRET LOCATION”. As one angry source told us:

[The trustees] usually meet at HorseWorld in the visitor centre cafe, but that’s a no-no for them now, of course, lest the staff actually get to meet the trustees who NEVER visit the place and, worse still, have a chance to influence their daft decision making…

As the GMB union’s Rowena Hayward – who has been acting for those facing redundancy – notes, staff “feel very pressurised, very stressed, very anxious…and VERY LET DOWN” about how the situation has been handled.

Meanwhile word reaches us that a wide variety of people connected with HorseWorld’s important animal welfare work – including staff, former volunteers and financial supporters – “have had SEVERE PRESSURE put on them, in various ways, to keep shtum and not whistle-blow these last couple of weeks.”

Taken together with recent efforts to prevent critical media coverage, it gives the impression of a coordinated effort to silence dissent in the lead up to today’s sad news – though ITV West was able to screen a news package on the threat to jobs, with papers including the Bristol Post and The Week In joining The BRISTOLIAN in shining a light on the running of the charity.

With the curious decision to close the visitor centre – and so lose a valuable point of contact with the public, and an important revenue stream – now rubber-stamped and announced, it seems likely that those who until now kept quiet will instead voice their concerns publicly.

One question remains:

Why are those at the sharp end of HorseWorld’s animal welfare work – both human and equine – the ones currently bearing the brunt of bad business decisions, and not those in senior management who actually made them?


Web ExclusiveAn interesting email popped into our inbox on Friday – from Burges Salmon, the solicitors acting on behalf of the ailing senior management regime at troubled equine charity HorseWorld.

BEOFPantoHorseGateWe’ll spare you too much commentary – but suffice to say that since their earlier attempts to silence The BRISTOLIAN behind our backs (by FALSELY CLAIMING to our web hosts that we were publishing inaccurate and malicious stories about HorseWorld’s troubles), Burges Salmon appear to have figured out that unlike some ‘The Smiter’ doesn’t roll over at the first hint of trouble.

Curiously there is no specific response to the detailed, point-by-point rebuttal we sent them (and summarised online) – which shot down every last specious, inflated or misleading claim which they put to our previous web hosts. It’s almost as though they weren’t expecting us to stand up for our reports, our writers or our sources.

Well, here at The BRISTOLIAN we may have a reputation for being rough-around-the-edges, spiky and uncouth – BUT WE NEVER FABRICATE STORIES. It’s a lesson that certain other parties would be wise to learn…

One Glass Wharf
Bristol BS2 0ZX
Tel: +44 (0) 117 939 2000
Fax: +44 (0) 117 939 4400
DX 7829 Bristol

“The Bristolian”
Box “Gurt Shush”
Hydra Bookshop
34 Old Market Street

By Email:

Our ref: 41135.1   Your ref:

21 February 2014


Dear Sirs

Our client: HorseWorld Trust (“HorseWorld”)

We act for HorseWorld. We refer to your email to Burges Salmon dated 17 February 2014.

HorseWorld is a small local charity that relies on public support in order to keep doing the good work that it does in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals that have been abandoned, neglected or ill-treated. HorseWorld also uses the horses in its care to work with children and young people who are disadvantaged and/or have special educational needs.

HorseWorld would rather not have instructed us in relation to your website “the Bristolian”. It did so as a last resort because many of the articles on the Bristolian concerning the charity go beyond what any individual or business (never mind a small local charity) should have to put up with. To date, over a period of many months, the charity has stood by and watched the Bristolian have a serious negative impact on its reputation.

If it is not your intention deliberately to damage the charity that has certainly been the effect. The purpose of this correspondence is to draw those effects to your attention and make you aware of the possible consequences.

Presumably in an effort to avoid the consequences of your actions, the Bristolian appears to operate on an anonymous basis, there is no individual or company that takes responsibility for it and it provides no right of reply before articles are published.

We were therefore instructed to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and alert them to the material it was hosting at the Bristolian. The ISP reviewed your website, chose not to be connected with the Bristolian anymore and the website was taken offline.

We note that the Bristolian has now found a new ISP seemingly willing to host your content, as is your right, and the website is back online. You will be aware that your new chosen ISP appears also to operate on an anonymous basis which is presumably another tactic you use to avoid the consequences of publishing material which may be defamatory or untrue.

Of course, it is easy for a website such as yours to draw attention to itself by publishing on an anonymous basis, defamatory and untrue materiaL. The truth about a small local charity trying to continue its good work for horses and disadvantaged people may be much less attractive.

However, if you are interested in the truth, senior management at HorseWorld are willing to meet you at HorseWorld’s premises and show you around so you can see the positive charitable work HorseWorld does in the local community.

If you wish to accept this offer, please contact us and we can arrange a suitable time and date.
If the Bristolian ignores this letter and offer and continues to publish defamatory content about HorseWorld, then it may be forced to protect its reputation again. However, HorseWorld wishes to avoid further action if possible.

HorseWorld hopes that you have taken on board its concerns and that you review what the Bristolian has written about it. It hopes that you take the opportunity to visit HorseWorld and see the great work HorseWorld does in the local community and that the Bristolian takes a more considered and responsible approach towards local charities in the future.

Yours faithfully


A few points:

  • In TEN MONTHS of reporting on HorseWorld, this is the FIRST TIME the charity’s management or legal representatives have contacted The BRISTOLIAN – and this was only because we foiled their attempt to sabotage us by making exaggerated and inaccurate claims to our web hosts behind our backs.
  • If, as claimed originally in the letters to the web hosts, the charity’s senior management thought they had a real claim of defamation against The BRISTOLIAN, then what does it say about their PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE that they “stood by and watched the Bristolian have a serious negative impact on its reputation” for nearly a year WITHOUT SO MUCH AS AN EMAIL, PHONECALL OR LETTER demanding corrections, retractions or apologies?
  • It’s simply not true to say that our “ISP reviewed [our] website [and] chose not to be connected with the Bristolian anymore and [so] the website was taken offline.” It was OUR suggestion to switch providers – to better enable us to defend against outrageous attempts at stifling a free press, and to spare a small community host from potential legal threats.
  • The failure to repeat any of the specific ERRONEOUS CLAIMS in the original letter to our previous web hosts – which we robustly rebutted – or to provide any of the supporting evidence we requested within the clear and unambiguous timeframe we indicated leads us to believe that Burges Salmon acknowledges that those claims of defamation were without proper foundation.
  • We reserve the right to pursue those who make defamatory, wildly inaccurate or outright untruthful claims without foundation about The BRISTOLIAN, its articles, authors or sources, whether directly to us, behind our backs to service or product providers, online, in print, verbally or telepathically.
  • Why would we want to take up the senior management team’s offer of a guided tour of HorseWorld? We already know about all “the positive charitable work HorseWorld does” – and a whole long more – from people there. As we keep saying, we are big supporters of the work done by HorseWorld, it’s underpaid staff and hard-working volunteers. Our articles have been QUESTIONING THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE, whom you now suggest we allow to schmooze us!
  • Whilst we remain happy to correct genuine errors, WE STAND BY OUR STORIES, OUR REPORTERS AND OUR SOURCES – and without evidence to the contrary, we will not surrender to what amounts to an attempt to censor a newspaper.


Angry workers at the Whitchurch equine charity HorseWorld are FIGHTING BACK against incompetent bosses, with large numbers joining unions to combat threatened job losses.

It comes in the wake of the COLLAPSE in December of the financial house of cards built by Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen in December, when his ludicrous plan to demolish the charity’s visitor centre and flog the land to developers was knocked back by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Since then managing director Owen – dubbed ‘PINOCCHIOWEN’ for his at times tenuous connection to the full truth – has been pursuing a grim ‘Plan B’: sacking up to 60% of HorseWorld staff (28 REDUNDANCY NOTICES went out in January) and closing the visitor centre at the end of February.

It is understood that amongst these was one sent to popular equine welfare officer Jerry Watkins, the most senior member of HorseWorld’s management team with any practi- cal experience of animal husbandry. In post since 1997, Watkins was sent his marching orders whilst he was in Egypt competing in an international Tent-Pegging competition as captain of the UK team. Thanks, Mark!

Meanwhile, despite having previously promised to resign if his development wheeze didn’t come off, Pinocchiowen brazenly continues to cling to control.

It should be no surprise to anyone following the saga in the pages of The BRISTOLIAN or on our website, where for months we have detailed the failures of Pinocchiowen and his SMALL CLIQUE OF LACKEYS.

In just six years Owen has presided over the financial meltdown of a previously healthy organisation.

Cash reserves have been frittered away, cushy consultancies have been doled out to chums, and tens of thousands wasted on a development scheme which would have seen 125 new luxury homes built in a green belt village of just 460 dwellings. Estimates of the scale of HorseWorld’s financial collapse under Pinocchiowen’s regime point towards £2m SQUANDERED in three years.

Yet it’s ordinary workers, both paid staff and unpaid volunteers – those who have tirelessly toiled to help neglected horses and donkeys throughout all this – who Owen thinks should foot the bill for his own sheer INCOMPETENCE.

True, it may have been down to him that bodged figures found their way into the submissions to BANES; him driving the development-or-nothing strategy; and him that the board of trustees was stuffed with construction professionals rather than people who care for and know about horses. But never let it be said that Mark Owen isn’t prepared to put the effort in when it comes to saving Mark Owen. After all, having started out in 2008 on a not-to-be- sniffed-at £60,000 salary, which since then has reputedly risen by one-third to £80k (plus a £28,000 Audi), he’s still getting paid – regardless of performance.

Perhaps that is why he hasn’t resigned. Perhaps that’s why instead of getting together with staff to come up with a practical plan for the survival of a venerable animal welfare charity he chose to go on an expensive skiing holiday and mail out redundancy notices. Perhaps that’s why he is refusing to recognise unions, even though more than half his workforce are now members. Perhaps he really is that SHAMELESS.

Shameless or not doesn’t change the facts, though. Today’s shambles is one of his making, and everyone at Staunton Manor Farm knows it. By working together with each other and with the support of union reps and people across Bristol and beyond, Horse- World’s staff can turn things around.

But not with a hobbled nag like Pinocchiowen in charge.


Already stinging us for £160,000 a year - and STILL second-choice City Director Nicola ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates thinks she ought to be costing us more!

Already stinging us for £160,000 a year – and STILL second-choice City Director Nicola ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates thinks she ought to be costing us more!

Web ExclusiveAs the dust now settles following Tuesday’s annual budget pantomime in Shitty Hall (short version: MASSIVE CUTS! HUGE JOB LOSSES! OUR CITY RUN BY MORONS!), it looks like fun times are ahead.

Meanwhile, as the party barons bicker amongst themselves over exactly who is responsible for precisely which pile of crap we are all going to be forced to bite down on over the coming year, it’s City Director NICOLA ‘LADY GAGA’ YATES – the city’s six-figure salaried second-choice chief executive – who has been selling the shit sandwich diet to staff.

The fact that it took her the best part of two days to dream up anything halfway optimistic does not bode well, but try she did, with a round-robin message to all staff that she sent out today.

Naturally, the grim news that she will be “reducing the number of people who work for the organisation by around 800 [full time positions]” is left till the end, along with what might be a contender for Least Convincing Promise Of The Year: “I want to say again that wherever possible my commitment absolutely remains to avoiding compulsory redundancies.”

As convincingly as any £160,000-a-year career sacker can try, she attempts to project optimism, claiming that “many” of the £83 million-worth of savings that have to be made “will come from doing things more efficiently including – redesigning services, refocusing resources for the areas that need them most, squeezing more from our contracts and raising income.”


Certainly if Gaga’s own approach to thrift is anything to go by, we’re all screwed. Look at her published expenses, which totalled around £3,800 for just ten months.

At first glance, nothing spectacularly bad – but when you get into the detail, you realise these are the expenses of the sort of overpaid idiot who thinks .

A Zones 1-2 Underground ticket for one of her trips to London cost us £11.80 – when in fact the TfL fares chart helpfully demonstrates that the cash fare for a single journey is just £4.70 (making it a £9.40 round trip), with electronic ‘Oyster’ fares capped at £8.40 for a whole day of journeys, and One Day Travelcards costing no more than £9.

Similarly, a return train trip to London to a scheduled event was charged to us at £72.50 – when according to the National Rail Enquiries website typically such a journey, booked a fortnight in advance, would cost from around £50-£60, with even bigger savings for earlier booking.

A 1.5 mile taxi journey from City Hall to Portland Square is charged at £7.90, when the Council’s own Final Agreed Tariff Card would have it at £5.30 (plus 20p per 40 seconds of waiting time). Perhaps Gaga got stuck in a ten minute traffic jam and was just TOO POSH TO WALK!

Neither could she be bothered to walk up (or down!) Park Street, so instead she had us fork out £13.60 on a return taxi journey to Bristol Uni for a meeting with well-dodgy Vice Chancellor (and notable Merchant Venturer) Eric Thomas. That’s right – £13.60 for a round trip of BARELY A MILE!

A return trip from Council House to the M-Shed is so obviously taking the piss that it even has its own excuse note: “Not enough time between important meetings to walk”. Well, by foot it’s a mere half-a-mile away – that’s a stroll of five-to-ten minutes. Driving, due to the traffic management around the Centre and the Harbourside, it’s most likely a car journey of approximately two miles, taking about, erm, ten minutes!

And so on, and so on.

And this is the person trusted to find £83 million in savings by “doing things more efficiently”!

What was that old saying? ‘Watch the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves’?

Well, not if Gaga’s in charge of the penny-surveillance!


BEOFPantoHorseGateWith HorseWorld’s senior management so concerned about public criticism of its decisions – decisions, it should be noted, that have cost the charity a lot of its money, and which currently threaten the livelihoods of dozens of hard-working staff – will it be widening its innovative ‘economic growth through legal threats’ strategy beyond The BRISTOLIAN and a student rag?

And if so, where does that leave Rowena Hayward, the GMB union official now representing around half of HorseWorld’s staff, whose letter published in the Western Daily Press on Saturday 15 February contains some stinging implied criticism of how the Pinocchiowen regime has managed the crisis at HorseWorld? Will she too be on the receiving end of a poorly drafted screed from Burges Salmon’s latest work experience? And how about Tim Dixon, the editor of the Bumpkinshire Post?

Will the threats ever end?

Union’s concerns over HorseWorld

The GMB is extremely concerned about the recent announcement from HorseWorld Trust with its intention to make 27* staff redundant out of a total of 56 workers. It does seem “odd” when it is closing its visitor centre, getting rid of two of its marketing, media staff and volunteer co-ordinator which actually enable the public to come along and help boost the trust’s coffers, to promote the work of the trust and ensure a proper volunteer structure is in place.

The trust has been running at a loss over the last five years or so leading to a net loss over that period of £2 million. Surely this can’t be down to bad management as, according to HorseWorld’s own website there are a number of very successful businessmen on the trust’s board.

The questions the GMB are asking include:

  • Why were HorseWorld accounts in deficit over the last five years?
  • What financial recovery plan is in place during the past five years?
  • How much is paid to the chief executive and the senior management team? Many of the 24 workers facing redundancy are on the minimum wage or just above
  • How much is the trust likely to save by making staff redundant, closing the visitor centre and leaving the buildings boarded up to go into disrepair?
  • The visitor accounts used to be kept separate. In 2012 this was changed and all areas of HorseWorld’s accounts were put together – why?
  • How does senior management and trustees propose to recoup income lost from the closures?
  • HorseWorld claims the only reason for the redundancy of just under 50 per cent of its staff is the rejection by Bath and North East Council of its plan to build houses on the existing visitor centre site and to seek planning permission to build a bigger visitor centre on green belt land. Yet as the charity has lost some £2 million in the last five years, the financial problems cannot be attributed solely to one decision by the local council.
  • If the board of trustees and the managing director are unable to run the trust with the current financial constraints, how will they be able to manage it in the future?
  • The GMB is unsure if some of the legacies left to the trust stipulate the land currently used by the visitor centred was bequeathed to the ‘horses’ rather than for domestic property usage.

The GMB is urging the public and supporters of HorseWorld to ask these questions and more to ascertain why 24 dedicated workers are being forced into redundancy.

The GMB is calling on the board of trustees to call a halt to this process until these questions are answered.

Rowena Hayward
Membership development officer, GMB

* We understand from contacting Ms Hayward that this first figure is a typo and that it should read ‘24’ – the most up-to-date number of jobs under threat.