At 2.00pm this afternoon a series of THIRTEEN questions from a member of the public about the bankruptcy of the BRISTOL FERRYBOAT COMPANY were sent out to relevant councillors and managers at Bristol City Council in advance of tomorrow’s PLACE Scrutiny Committee where they should have been answered by council managers IN PUBLIC.
Mayor GEORGE FERGUSON‘s conduct as a 42 per cent shareholder in the bankrupt company and Bristol City Council’s role in awarding the basketcase business a series of tenders and grants over many years with no questions asked were the theme of the questions.
At 5.30pm today, council transport boss, PETER “STUPID” MANN, a close ally of the mayor, informed the chair of the scrutiny committee he was pulling the questions.
MANN’s excuse was that some of the questions were the subject of Freedom of Information requests. MANN was supported in this blatant ACT OF CENSORSHIP by council lawyers.
Of course, there is NO LAW against a member of the public asking a local authority questions that are also the subject of a Freedom of Information request. Neither is there anything in the authority’s constitution to prevent a member of the public asking such questions.
MANN and the – as yet – unnamed council solicitor are TALKING BOLLOCKS and CENSORING embarrassing information with potentially criminal implications.
The censored questions are here: http://issuu.com/bristolnews/docs/place_qs?e=0/9833673
The issues raised include:
1) The successor companies were Phoenix Companies (which means the evidence suggests that directors just walked away from debts to buy back assets at a heavy discount – with one of the directors from Ferguson’s company simply moving to the next one to run it)
2) SIP 16 infringement (a need to follow a strict code of practice laid down in law for providing information to creditors in order to resurrect a company from most if not all the same assets of the one just gone bust) – we believe this process was not followed
3) Section 216 Offence – all creditors must be consulted about the intention for a successor company to be named almost identically to the collapsed one. Not followed as far as we are aware. The Bristol Post stories where it called the new company by EXACTLY THE SAME NAME show this clearly
4) A failure to re-tender the routes of the Bristol Ferry Boat company – it is an asset belonging to the council that was handed from one dead company to its successors like sweets to a small child. No attempt to allow competitive tendering. No effort to maximize profitability for the benefit of council taxpayers.
5) A mysterious and glaring omission of who or how all the staff salaries were paid at the Bristol Ferry Boat Company (which would be paying an unsecured creditor and no one else which is illegal). How do all staff salaries appear to be paid in liquidators report in December 12 signed by Jane Salvidge? Can someone explain?
6) Possibly trading fraudulently in the summer of ’12 when the Bristol Ferry Boat Company submitted a bid for passenger routes across the Harbour (they were hundreds of thousands of pounds in the red) yet would have to have submitted a Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire answer to BCC saying they were actually solvent. BCC holds the PQQ completed by George Ferguson’s Bristol FerryBoat Company – but for some reason is reluctant to share it.