Monthly Archives: May 2017

HUNG OUT TO DRY?

The laundry … The laundry

The council’s management of Antona Court, a block of council flats in Shire and home of local gobshite and activist Steve Norman, increasingly resembles a bad scene from Apocalypse Now.

A recent decision by the council to reduce the opening times of the block’s 24-hour basement laundry to 8am – 8pm without BOTHERING to inform anyone has caused consternation among the residents. Not least when a team of council workmen materialised without explanation and carried out a load of EXPENSIVE work replacing locks and rewiring electrics to execute this vital laundry facility time reduction plan.

When residents started asking the council simple questions like, “why have you shut our laundry?” and “who authorised these changes?” and “how much are you spending on this pointless bollocks?”, the council bizarrely replied, “WE DON”T KNOW

Is there a ROGUE TEAM of council workmen loose in Bristol making unauthorised alterations to laundry facilities across the city? Or has Antona Court been especially singled out by a mysterious SECRET CABAL within the council intent on clamping down on access to Antona Court’s laundry facilities as part of a new command and control mechanism over its council tenants? Or are the people running our city’s housing department just plain fucking mental?

Who knows? Although we may find out soon as Steve has filed a complaint with the COUNTY COURT, pointing out that council tenants do have RIGHTS over the properties they occupy. He’s demanding that the council immediately REOPEN the laundry and consult the residents of Antona Court – as they’re required to do under the Housing Act – before altering a service that tenants pay for.

Will the council spend even more of our money defending their exciting new laundry regime in court? Or will the council’s legal team tell the jackasses in their housing department to stop pissing about WASTING PUBLIC MONEY and start behaving themselves?

Watch this space.

ANOTHER AFFORDABLE HOUSING SCAM

Sisters Uncut at Cheltenham Road Library

 Funny business at the Cheltenham Road Library site. The library building, occupied by Sisters Uncut last month, was recently FLOGGED by Bristol City Council to MD Homes for an unknown sum, somewhere in excess of £2.5 million. Some say it may even have been sold for as much as £9 million.

The council advertised the site for sale to developers claiming it had PLANNING PERMISSION for the “erection of 36 self-contained flats over an underground parking area”. But has it?

Permission for the flats was originally granted to the council’s development partner,  Chatsworth Homes, in 2008. They were given the prime Cheltenham Road site in exchange for a new library they were supposed to deliver in Bishopston as the developers of the notorious BRISTOL NORTH BATHS site on Gloucester Road.

Alas, Chatsworth went BUST in 2015 owing Bristol City Council £3.4m in loans and leaving us to pay a further £1.5m to complete their BOTCHED and BANKRUPT development. We’ve therefore paid £4.9m for the new library that Chatsworth were supposed to be giving us for “free”.

Now it gets murkier … Chatsworth only managed to get planning permission for luxury flats at Cheltenham Road WITHOUT any affordable housing because they were providing a library as a community benefit instead. Since the new developers, MD, AREN’T supplying a library shouldn’t they have to meet affordable housing commitments instead?

That’s notwithstanding that the planning permission for the site granted in 2008 was only for THREE YEARS. Although MD Homes have quickly applied for “a non-material amendment” to this out-of-date permission requesting minor changes to the windows on the property. This amendment was conveniently waved through in a matter of weeks in February by council Planning Officer, Thomas Wilkinson, who forgot to mention anywhere that the permission was SIX YEARS out of date!

What’s going on here? Are we about to get another luxury development of flats with no affordable housing courtesy of our dubious planning department working alongside the council’s notoriously bent Property Services department?

WE’RE CRAP CONFIRM AUDITORS

More exciting news on the Rev Rees’s efforts to support WHISTLEBLOWERS at Bristol City Council.

We learn that the Rev’s hapless pair of CHIEF INTERNAL AUDITORS have investigated the state of whistleblowing at Bristol City Council and have discovered – after all these years – that there’s “a lack of co-ordination, no central or comprehensive recording of whistleblowing reports and no governance or review of the process.”

Well, we could have told them that. Remember the whistleblowers who were unceremoniously REMOVED from the council’s Markets Service in 2012 while in the care of Internal Auditors so that middle-ranking council bosses could spend 18 months COVERING-UP a comprehensive rip-off of the public?

And who was responsible for these useless whistleblowing arrangements at Bristol City Council?  Please step forward, er,  Bristol City Council’s CHIEF INTERNAL AUDITORS Alison “Mullet” Mullis and Melanie “Joe” Henchy-McCarthy who have been regularly reporting absolute bullshit about whistleblowing matters to the council’s Audit Committee  for years.

Now – presumably to keep their ineffective whistleblowing merry-go-round spinning aimlessly – the Chief Internal Auditors have announced they’re developing a NEW whistleblowing process for themselves and they’ll present an annual review of their work to the Audit Committee (as they have, in theory, always done). Plus ca change?

What whistleblower in their right mind would trust this pair of dubious chief auditors reporting – yet again – to the same soft-headed council committee of the gullible?

CASHMAN TO CASH IN?

Cocking up and cashing in?

The next senior council boss touted to make that lucrative move from the public sector to the private sector is one of Bristol City Council Property boss, Spunkface Orrett’s minions, Stephen “CASHMAN” Ashman, Building Practice Manager.

Cashman, we’re told, has been frantically rushing around making a business case, largely by ‘CREATIVE INVENTION’, to outsource huge amounts of maintenance work on council properties to Integral, a corporate that specialises in outsourced ‘hard services’.

It’s also rumoured that Cashman will be handsomely ‘LOOKED AFTER’ by Integral going forward. So we suggest councillors get off their lazy backsides right away and launch a corruption investigation into this dubious little weasel.

They might also like to take a look at Cashman’s decision last year to DISMISS a recommendation that major maintenance was undertaken on the boiler supplying the Register Office on Corn Street.

Cashman decided to IGNORE the advice, with the result that the boiler has now been condemned with replacement costs that are described as ‘significant’. Temporary heating and sticking plaster solutions are currently being used while someone dreams up an excuse to get the necessary capital spend approved by councillors in the current climate.

Has there ever been such a buffoon making significant spending decisions and cocking up massively at a time when accuracy, honesty and prudence are the order of the day?

ST MARVIN’S-UP-THE-CREEK NEWSLETTER #6

Greetings my parish stakeholders! As the darkness of Easter descends and that appalling image of a great, bleeding, beaten Christian martyr with a meat cleaver in his head is seared upon our minds and penetrates our very souls anew, I am not unpleased to be publishing another parish newsletter.

It’s all a bit of a hurry this month as myself and my brilliant editor, Mr Slocombe, have only just arrived back from an urgent trip to Ohio to engage in intensive prayer, discussion and fine dining with fellow vicars from around the globe to seek resolution to the urgent problems facing our diverse global community in the age of Trump and Brexit.

Those of you questioning the value to the parish of such a vibrant trip would do well to dwell on the words of my mentor, the Texan psychotic preacher and notorious anti-communist homophobe, the Pastor Righteous Loon who told us in Ohio, “he that travels far on generous expenses arrives nearer to God.”

I am aware the Ms Townsend from the Dave Spart Academy has set up a petition regarding my small and  essential international travel claims. So perhaps I should remind parishioners who signs what around here. Such as the application forms for entrance to St Snoot-the-Privileged, the parish’s high performing, OFSTED rated ‘Outstanding’ school. It isn’t Ms Townsend is it? Or any of that ragbag of commies and pinkoes who follow her around on the latest passing bandwagon she’s hitched them to.

Now, moving on to more important administrative matters, please note that the new competency framework for members of the Parish Committee has been delayed because our new Parish Administrator, Ms Klonowski from London thought I asked for a complacency framework. Speaking of which, I’m sure that most of you have now had an opportunity to read the special report I commissioned from Mr Steele, a senior partner at local accountancy firm Steele & M Bezzle on the High Street, regarding my predecessor, the Rev Loose Canon Ferguson’s financial overspend.

As far as I can see from Mr Steele’s excellent report, the blame for the overspend lies firmly with our former vicar and his Parish Administrator Mrs Yates and Bursar, Mr Wide. Some of you, however, seem to wrongly  believe that the whole of the Parish Committee was responsible. I shall therefore be commissioning a further report – from Mr Bezzle this time – to ensure that all the blame is put on Mrs Yates and Mr Wide.

This new report will prove it had nothing to do with our fabulous new Parish Administrator Ms Klonowski – who helped uncover the financial problems once the Rev Ferguson had left and she wanted to suck up to the new vicar – or any of my close friends on the Parish Committee who may have been in an unfortunate close proximity to others’ wrongdoing entirely by unfortunate mistake.

Finally, a number of you have contacted me regarding renaming the Jimmy Savile OBE Playgarden next to the church. As vicar of the parish I am unable to offer a formal view on the subject of nomenclature of public land managed through a charitable trust vehicle. Similarly, the generous church stipend to the garden is the responsibility of the St Marvin’s Garden Blind Trust over which I have no control.

Please therefore pursue this campaign through the correct channels and not through me. Please, also, if you are protesting at the garden, ensure that there is vehicular access to the church at all times. Some of my congregation are extremely wealthy time-limited people who need to get their kids into a decent secondary school in a timely manner with the minimum of fuss.

Hold-ups for families wishing to attend my church and hear my words of wisdom will not be tolerated. Have a happy Easter.

The Vicar

RESHUFFLE KERFUFFLE

Bizarre Cabinet reshuffle from the Reverend Rees last month. The highlight of which was a BLATANT LEAK to the press of his decision to fire his Labour rival for Mayor and transport chief Mark “LAME DUCK” Bradshaw days before the official announcement.

Quite what the Reverend and his PR point man Kevin “Don’t mention the private school education” Slocombe thought they might achieve by publicly firing Bradshaw is anyone’s guess. Maybe it boosted the pair’s FRAGILE EGOS and helped them feel like they were actually in charge of something?

The Reverend also took the opportunity to PROMOTE his close friend, hapless incompetent Asher “The Slasher” Craig, to Deputy Mayor alongside yes-man Craig “Crapita” Cheney, the cabinet’s overpromoted finance man.

Slasher’s promotion came just days before another LEAK to the press appeared. This one claiming Close-It’s enormous £5k council tax DEBT, run up over a number of years and still outstanding when she was elected councillor last May and promoted to Cabinet in the autumn, was paid off by the local Labour Party!

The LEGALITY of any of Slasher’s financial decisions while having an undeclared debt with the council is being carefully studied. As is her new portfolio extended to include public health and public transport alongside her existing and disastrous responsibilities for demolished kids’ playgrounds, collapsing Neighbourhood Partnerships, underfunded leisure centres, closing libraries, decaying community assets and up-for-sale parks.

“Even those on the right wing of the Bristol Labour Party think she’s A TORY!” is how one insider described Slasher to us recently.

Meanwhile, the Reverend is taking on PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for the ongoing Arena non-appearance project and for elements of the TRANSPORT brief, particularly congestion. Effectively splitting responsibility for the city’s difficult and badly managed transport brief between himself and useless Asher the Slasher. Of course, neither have any EXPERIENCE whatsoever of transport.

The Reverend and  Kevin “Don’t mention the private school education” Slocombe are desperately touting this reshuffle as a “CONSOLIDATION OF POWER“. However, the press leaks; the Reverend’s new responsibility for two poisoned chalices and the promotion of an idiot – Asher the Slasher – look more like an administration UNRAVELLING.

There may be trouble ahead …

BUNDRED: NOTHING GOING IN WRITING FROM REES’S BENT LAWYER

The Reverend Rees’s response to the Bundred Report into the council’s MULTIPLE FINANCIAL FAILINGS, being personally overseen by his chronically underperforming donkey of a new Chief Exec, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski, is FALLING APART before it’s even started.

On Tuesday – in the middle of a General Election when politicians are looking the other way – Ms Big Wedge published her SEMI-LITERATE, ‘Response to the Bundred Review’ for the Cabinet to sign-off next week. Page 4 of Big Wedge’s rambling error-strewn drivel tells us:

“S[enior]L[eadership]T[eam] have agreed and the Chief Executive has recently reinforced the need for reports rather than presentations to be used as the basis of discussions and decisions.”

So come Thursday and Ms Klonwoski’s incompetent legal boss and Monitoring Officer, Shahzia “Dim” Daya – who personally oversaw and signed off the UNLAWFUL BUDGET of 2016 at the heart of the controversy – published her own report to councillors, ‘Scrutiny Structures and New Ways of Working – Hothouse Outcomes’.

This report is just one page long and tells councillors, “Full details of the outcomes of the Scrutiny review will be provided by Members VERBALLY at the meeting.”

So much for “the need for REPORTS rather than PRESENTATIONS to be used as the basis of discussions and decisions” then. Do the new rules not apply to lazy and bent Monitoring Officers?

The significance of all this is that councillors simply did not have the necessary ACCESS and INFORMATION they required to scrutinise what their bent managers were up to in 2015 – 17. This new scrutiny review is supposed to correct that.

Although it looks to us like councillors are being blatantly set up to fail all over again by exactly the same council bosses who conned them last time.

BUNDRED: GRAMMAR CLASS

OK. Here’s the Reverend’s new Chief Executive, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski’s long-awaited ‘Response to the Bundred Review’ going to cabinet next week.

The Bundred Review, you may recall, discovered that Bristol City Council was a financial basketcase where senior managers were running amok committing a variety of offences in order to massage our council’s accounts for their own benefit.

Many of us have been hotly anticipating clear and bold action from the Reverend and his well remunerated sidekick, Ms Big Wedge, to clear up this fiasco and nail the culprits once and for all. Alas, it looks like we may be disappointed.

One of Bundred’s many recommendations raised by Ms Big Wedge in her new report is:

“The Council should take steps to build on recent improvements in the quality of reporting and document management. Where necessary guidance should be issued, or training provided, to report authors emphasising the importance of clarity, transparency, analysis and advice (paragraph 121).”

Another is:

“Members should be less tolerant of poor quality reports than they appear to have been in the past (paragraph 120).”

OK then. Who’s gonna tell Ms Big Wedge the standard of English, grammar and syntax in her report is simply not good enough? Here’s a few random examples from the first two pages:

“To ensure that cross directorate saving proposal [sic] or proposals that covered [sic] more than one Directorate are achieved, each savings proposal has been allocated a named Strategic and Service Director lead as accountable officers.”

And:

“Further consultation will be required in respect of some areas of savings proposals and will commence when the General Elections [is there more than one?] have concluded. This has required Officers to consider further mitigations to assure delivery of the budgets in these unusual circumstances.”

And:

“In addition, Directorates will be challenged to explore alternative options for meeting the cost pressures faced within their existing resources or seek supplementary estimate [sic] to increase the directorate spending limit.”

And:

“This has now been put into implementation [sic] and should ensure there is a shared understanding and approach to council processes across the organisation that supports all Members.”

For fucks sake, “Put into implementation”? Isn’t there a word for that – ‘implemented’? Have the Reverend, Big Wedge or the council never heard of proofreading?

Meanwhile moving on to the subject of ‘clarity’. Try some of these for size:

“We have also reviewed, aligned and combined the monthly mechanisms for managers and their Service/Strategic directors to submit a holistic view of savings delivery from a financial and action focussed perspective.”

If anyone has the foggiest idea what Service/Strategic directors will be physically submitting and to who, please get in touch.

Or try this nightmare piece of prose from the depths of hell:

“Member oversight is a new element of this governance process that now includes a Delivery Executive. This involves attendance by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor (Finance, Governance and Performance) who is the chair of the new Delivery Executive. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the savings proposals, delivery and implementation and provides an additional challenge, enables further investigation of the detail, reviews any mitigating actions and provides a formal feedback loop to Cabinet with an overview of progress on savings delivery. Relevant Portfolio holders also attend these sessions, providing joint ownership and accountability for savings by both members and officers.”

This seems to be suggesting “member (ie, councillor) oversight” will be a matter for a “Delivery Executive”, which includes only one member out of 70 – the Deputy Mayor – plus possibly “relevant portfolio holders”. This meeting will then provide a “formal feedback loop”  to Cabinet members (although in order to be a “formal feedback loop” wouldn’t it have to return to the Delivery Executive where it came from?)

So Big Wedge’s “member oversight” stretches to around nine cabinet members if we’re generous and include those in her new-style “formal feedback loop”. The other 62 normal councillors who aren’t in the executive can presumably fuck off then?

Now try this bollocks for size:

“A one-off investment fund has been allocated to support savings related change activity across the council, this also includes funding a proportion of the change resource within the council. The resource is limited, making the threshold for allocation of this resource high, therefore promoting local ownership of service change and savings delivery, whilst mitigating against increased savings targets in future years for replenishment once this resource is fully used.”

We’ve no idea either. And what’s “mitigating against” all about? Meaning is so lost in there that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a straightforward error mistaking ‘mitigating’ for ‘militating’ or whether it’s the tautology ‘mitigating against’.

And finally (as we can’t stand any more of this half-arsed meaningless drivel):

“To ensure the achievement of long term improvements in the function, it will be necessary to take an end-to-end approach, combination of top down and bottom up initiatives, take along those involved in the execution of the operations; optimise the finance functions by removing waste and re-focus on core and value add activities.”

Excellent use of cliché, ambiguity and vague platitudes that could mean anything from Ms Big Wedge here.

Wouldn’t it all be so much simpler and provide a helluva lot more ‘clarity’ if she just fired the arseholes who fucked up the accounts in the first place and instead employed some people who can write reports competently in plain English and implement the proposed plans?

Bundred Response Recommendations FINAL-2

Colston Hall Name Change – Hally McHallface?

From our history correspondent…

It’s official, last week the board of the Bristol Music Trust (BMT) announced the Colston Hall will be changing its name. The Hall which has been in public hands since 1919 will be renamed in 2020 as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment.

Some history…

Before we start, we should get the history straight, as the fake-history from the Bishop of Bristol to the Merchant Venturers’ spin, plenty of porkies have been told about Edward ‘The Enslaver’ Colston.

From 1680-92 Edward Colston was an investor, official and eventually deputy governor of the Royal African Company (RAC), the premier Atlantic slave trading organisation in the British Empire. Under Edward Colston’s management and leadership of the RAC, approximately 84,500 enslaved Africans were branded and forced onto the company’s ships. Only 65,200 Africans survived the trip, a death toll in the region of 19,300 over the twelve year period. Of the 9,000 or so enslaved children under the age of 10 on Colston’s company slave-ships, more than 2,000 died, their bodies along with the adults were thrown overboard. The survivors, who were sold to plantation owners in the Caribbean, faced a short and brutal life of hard labour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it wasn’t just Africans that businessmen like Colston and the Merchant Venturers forced into labour. They were quite willing to coerce thousands of vulnerable Bristolians and others into working in their plantations through poverty (indentured servants) and legal (POW’s, ‘criminals’, orphans) and illegal (spiriting) bondage.

The profits of this ‘vile trade’ and the labour of hundreds of thousands in the plantations flowed back to wealthy investors like Colston and other Merchant Venturers. Colston wanted to be remembered as a ‘moral saint’ (sic) so he bequeathed some of his fabulous wealth made off the backs of Africans and others, to selected groups in the city that conformed to his religious and political bias. And the rest was history…until now. Finally, we can start to get Edward ‘The Enslaver’ off our backs.

Havin’ a laugh…

We have been chuckling in The Bristolian office over the last few days reading some of the reactions from right-wing nobs who are in love with ‘Eddy the Enslaver’

Bunter Eddy showing his class

Apparently Tory Councillor Richard ‘Bunter’ Eddy will now be boycotting the Hall because it is not named after Colston! Is this because he will only go to venues that are named after slave-traders? Message from The Bristolian to Richard Eddy…Bristol is not named after a slave trader, so please try and boycott the whole city….in fact why don’t you fuck off altogether.

City Council Conservative group leader Mark Weston claimed it was a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction…tell that to the Reverend H. J. Wilkins of Westbury-on-Trym who began the campaign against the ‘cult of Colston’ nearly a century ago with his scathing biography of Edward Colston in 1920!

Obsessive Nazi Post letter writer R. L. Smith (the ‘know all’ from Knowle) ranted on about Counter-Colston campaigners ‘erasing history’ and ‘burning books’ until it was pointed out he had been campaigning to shut Bristol’s libraries for years! Twat.

Some have said that Bristol Music Trust are ‘pandering to a tiny minority’; it was actually a tiny minority of powerful merchants and politicians that put Colston on the pedestal that he sits on today. The majority of Bristolians never had a say in the naming of buildings, statues or streets. The tiny minority that the city should stop pandering to are the Society of Merchant Venturers who, since their Royal Charter of 1552, have been dictating who should or should not be memorialised – it’s for the people of Bristol to decide who is remembered and why – and there are plenty of great candidates.

Changing names and places… what about our history?

So what’s next for a Colston name change?…Colston Boys and Girls Schools? How awful darling… and how ironic considering the Merchant Venturers and their education buddies have been changing the names of our schools like confetti over the last few years. What ever happened to Whitefield, Withywood, Speedwell and St George schools let alone Hartcliffe and Monks Park? Seems like when it comes to our schools the names can be changed without debate by posh wankers from Clifton. And none of these schools were named after mass-murdering slave traders!

The same goes for buildings of historic interest. It has been pointed out to many of the opponents of the name change that, for fucks sake, it is only the name of the Colston Hall that is changing; the building is not being demolished. Unlike half of Temple Way and the historic Methodist Ebenezer Chapel and Avonvale School in East Bristol which were flattened without any debate by rich property speculators. It seems Bristolian working class history is worth shit compared to the history of murdering profiteers like Colston and the Merchant Venturers.

Of course, the next battle will be over the new name for the Ex-Colston Hall. A sensible solution would be to open it up to the people of Bristol to choose a name (what like Hally McHallface? ed). More likely is that some wealthy scumbag or a Corporation will buy the brand off the cash-strapped Council and it will end up as ‘Sir Rich Bastard Hall‘ or ‘Carphone Warehouse Hall’. Just like in the olden days when wealthy scum like Edward Colston and the Merchant Venturers had the run of the city and named everything after themselves…