It hasn’t taken long for Marvin “The Reverend” Rees to turn into another nasty little Tory Boy RUINING THE LIVES of his low paid council staff so that he can FEATHER THE NESTS of the city’s wealthy elite has it?
Less than three months into his ‘REIGN OF ERROR‘ and Marvin has announced that he will need to make 1,000 staff at his council REDUNDANT to “balance the books”. Virtually all these staff will be low paid and will be working in ESSENTIAL public services like adult care, education, social services and housing.
These HORRIFYING CUTS have been spun by the Reverend’s new £63k a year trade union PR girl, Kevin “Slow Brain” Slocombe, as entirely the fault of Tory government austerity and Mayor-no-more George Ferguson. The dynamic business and corporate-friendly Labour duo claim that George left behind a £29m debt for 2016 – 17 of unachieved savings.
Really? So how come a report accepted by Marvin and his cabinet in July – just ONE MONTH before his cuts announcement – assured us, “This report shows that the Council has been able to deliver on its saving plans and balance its base budget in what continues to be a challenging fiscal environment.”
It then goes on to say, “The current financial strategy, consisting of the final year of the 2013-17 MTFS, will be sufficient to balance the Councils budget in 2016/17.”
So what happened in a month to create a £29m black hole in this balanced budget? WHO’S TELLING THE TRUTH? Marvin in July or Marvin in August?
Meanwhile, Slow Brain and the Reverend’s claim that they have no choice but to fire 1,000 staff on low pay fails to stand up to BASIC SCRUTINY when you start to look at the expenditure they’ve either already authorised or are intending authorise and for whom.
In late June Marvin and his cabinet had no problem in handing the COLSTON HALL £1.6m up front to develop their refurbishment plans while also agreeing in principle to chuck them a further £10m to achieve these plans.
At the same meeting, similar generosity was shown to the BRISTOL OLD VIC – who were awarded £1m to underwrite their refurbishment plans – and to another concert hall – ST GEORGE’S – who received £600k to help them with their rebuilding efforts.
And it doesn’t stop there. In September Marvin will award those famously poverty stricken organisations – BUSINESS WEST and the UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL – an undisclosed subsidy of over £500k to keep their ‘Set Squared’ creative industries ‘business incubator’ running the way they’ve become accustomed to at Brunel’s stylish ENGINE SHED at Temple Meads.
Also in the loop for an undisclosed public handout (of £500k plus) from the Reverend is the THE BOTTLE YARD film and TV studios in south Bristol. Because we can’t have austerity in the high-earning film industry can we?
This is all before we get on to the really high ticket projects Marvin is backing. He’s still committed to the £150m ARENA project, assuring anyone who will listen it’s affordable despite only having £100m to build it.
The other £50m will come from the council taxpayer until that income stream runs dry when Marvin, no doubt, will throw another few bodies on to his HUMAN BONFIRE and sack a few more staff running essential services to balance his crooked books.
Finally we have Marvin’s uncosted and unfunded EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE bid. To make himself look good in the ruins of the public services he’ll be running, the Reverend intends to make the city Capital of Culture in 2023 at an undisclosed cost.
HOW MUCH this will cost or WHAT USE it will be to any one not involved in of Marvin’s heavily subsidised high-earning creative industries is anyone’s guess. But what the hell? It’s only other people’s money and other people’s jobs isn’t it?
In less than THREE MONTHS Marvin’s mayoralty has turned into a hyopcritical farce and an elitist backscratching exercise.
“No one left behind” he says? Except for 1,000 council staff running essential services and their familes …
This is panning out exactly as I thought. I’m a bit surprised that anyone thought Marv would do anything different, however.
His previous mayoral campaign was a limp, dreary, business-placating, platitude-stuffed effort and it was no different this time round. The main difference, of course, was that he was able to gain leverage from playing the anti-CPZ message to the Clifton peanut gallery and lambasting Mayor Redpants on the Green Capital fiasco. The transparent nature of both tactics has been exposed by the winding back of the CPZ thing to a ‘review’, a similar scaling down of the promised Green Capital investigation, and his subsequent announcement that we’re to be committed to some other shitty ‘Capital’ bid. The last bit is, in the Green Capital context, breathtakingly insulting. His team must either think we are idiots, or be idiots themselves.
But then I suspect that ‘meaningful consultations’ and ‘thorough reviews’ are all we’ll be seeing from Marv in place of real action. His CV suggests it: a middle ranking, middle of the road public sector manager who seems likely to be most comfortable delegating real decisions to (well paid) consultants. At least with Redpants, for all his faults, we had someone more accustomed to the consultants’ own perspective on things rather than that of a hapless committee hack. I suspect all that will happen under Marv is more of the same, only rather more poorly financially controlled and wrapped in a layer of ‘inclusive’ language and unelected committees.