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.

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