A scandal is emerging around Bristol Mayor, “Uncle” George Ferguson’s role in the failed BRISTOL FERRY BOAT COMPANY LTD. The company, which ran the blue and yellow ferries around the docks and received considerable council and government subsidies, crashed with £300K DEBTS, no paid-up basic insurance cover for passengers and owing Bristol City Council £11k in mooring fees at the time Ferguson was elected in November 2012.

Indeed, on his very first day at work at the Council House on November 18 2012, it seems super successful businessman Uncle George, who owned A 40% STAKE in the company, was busy planning to LAY OFF 30 STAFF at his failed company and calling in the administrators! Although he blustered to gullible Nazi Post reporters at the time, “I have never been involved in the day-today running of the company.”
Then things get murkier. By early January 2013 a new company, with a remarkably similar name, FERRYBOATS BRISTOL had appeared and was running the very same boats on the very same routes around the docks. This new company, operated by what was described as “a consortium of investors”, curiously, was managed by one of the directors of Ferguson’s failed ferry company, IAN ‘BUNGLE” BUNGARD.

However, Bristol Ferry Boats Ltd didn’t last long either. By May 2013 a third entity, this time a cooperative venture, with yet another similar name took over the boats and the operation, BRISTOL COMMUNITY FERRY BOAT COMPANY.

Again the director from Ferguson’s failed ferries, BUNGLE, was aboard along with his wife, PHILLIPA, and they were joined by Ferguson associates like his old WELLINGTON SCHOOL chum, Sustrans twit JOHN “REALLY” GRIMSHAW; local urbanist and architect twerp KEITH “TIMMY” HALLETT; Merchant Venturer JAY TIDMARSH and, our favourite, SUE LEARNER, described in the company prospectus as Phillipa Bungard’s midwife!

A lot of questions can be asked about what this gang of posh Bristol establishment insiders, random midwives and ‘FRIENDS OF GEORGE’ were up to.

Not least, how did they manage to obtain a series of PRIME FERRY ROUTES around the city docks without having to go through a city council tender process against the vastly better run NUMBER 7 FERRY company?

This tender process, coincidentally, is the direct responsibility of our old friend, the city council’s dribbling mentally ill loon of a docks boss, CAP’N TONY “AHAB” NICHOLS.

Legally, neither of these new ferry companies had any right whatsoever to routes that were awarded by open tender to a completely separate legal entity. Public procurement rules forbid this. So why didn’t Ahab RETENDER the routes as he’s LEGALLY OBLIGED to do rather than hand them quietly over to a local group of wealthy and influential individuals who just happened to be very friendly with the mayor?

Another unanswered question is what happened to all the PUBLIC MONEY that went in to the original basketcase ferry boat company, 40% owned by the mayor? Hundreds of thousands have been poured in by the city council since 2002 and the company even received a government development loan of £125k in 2009.

How were DEBTS OF £300K ever run up? How was the company able to obtain city council tenders while being FINANCIALLY UNVIABLE? Especially strange when you consider that rival firm, Number 7 Ferries, operates similar routes on the same waterway at a PROFIT.

The final question arises over the use of so-called “PHOENIX COMPANIES”. These are new companies set up to trade in the same activities as a former company so it looks like “business as usual” to customers. Phoenix companies can also use directors from a former failed company.

However, while this is legal in certain cases if investors have been properly notified of the circumstances, elsewhere companies that have carried out this DODGY PRACTICE have attracted criticism in the media and parliament as it allows companies to effectively dump their liabilities, walk away from debt and start all over again at an unfair advantage.
The formation of a Phoenix Company is subject to regulation by the DTI. So watch this space …

8 thoughts on “FERRY STRANGE

  1. Paul B

    If you haven’t already, it would be very useful if you could augment this report by asking for and publishing answers from BCC using Freedom of Information requests.

    1. thebristolblogger

      People are on it:








  2. equality matters

    Since when was it OK to be unnecessarily disablist by referring to someone as a “dribbling mentally ill loon” when you want to insult them?

    This “loon” takes GREAT offence at such ignorant and offensive rhetoric so, next time you want to insult someone be creative rather than predictably reactionary in your analogies!

  3. thebristolblogger

    Is disablist a real word?

    We don’t want to insult anyone. It’s a factual description of Capt Tony “Ahab” Nichols. We accurately report the news in Bristol. It’s not our fault if the city’s bosses are mentally ill.

  4. Farcical 1234

    “We don’t want to insult anyone it is a factual description”. Have you ever met “Ahab” or are you his doctor? If not then how do you know he is “a dribbling mentally ill loon”? Are you qualified to make this statement and back it up? Or are you just one of those trolls who enjoys anonymously making statements thinking you are being clever. How about somebody makes up spurious statements about you then others may mock fun. Oh or maybe persons may not wish to expose themselves as being a libellous individual….Mental health is neither funny or a joke grow up!

    1. thebristolblogger

      Er, I haven’t said it’s funny. You’re saying that. We think it’s deadly serious.

      Ahab’s bizarre mental state is common knowledge among his bullied and harassed workforce.

      Quite why people should have to go to work every day for a total nutter with untreated mental health problems and be subjected to their bullying, mood swings, aggression and anti-social behaviour and not be allowed to call this out is beyond me.

      And all because anonymous people on the internet have decided to turn an illness into a disability and then take offence at workers having a justified go at a right cunt of a boss.

  5. CraigN

    What a pack of lies. Bristol Ferry boats LTD which went into Liquidation shut down for a short period of time, around 6 months. Many people in community donated money to the company and they were able to buy 5 out of their 7 boats back. They are: Margret, Independence, Emily, Matilda and Brigantia. The Bungards were the original owners of the company from 1977 until they chose to go away in 2002. They saw the ferries struggling so they came back. Ferryboat Bristol never existed, that wasn’t a company. I hope this clears somethings up.
    (Volunteer for Bristol Community Ferryboat Company)


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