Fast on the heels of Property Guardian Company CAMELOT’s unfolding disaster where two of their ‘guardians’ successfully WON a case at Bristol County Court that established them with tenants’ rights, and accompanied by further peasants’ revolts at four Scamalot-run properties (three in Bristol, one in London), The BRISTOLIAN has learned that an emergency meeting was convened in London, with Scamalot’s CEO Joost Van Gestel (aka ‘Dr. No’) flying in specially from Belgium.
Van Gestel ordered a ‘shake-up’ of the multi-national company’s UK branch, most especially in the South-West, and enacted a so-called ‘phoenix’ clause. This allows them to exploit a legal loophole and dissolve one of their two companies (Scamalot runs two EXACTLY for this purpose), absolving themselves of all debts or liabilities, say to property owners/energy suppliers – yet simultaneously transferring all ‘guardian’ contracts and rent payments etc over to the other company!
After being summoned before Dr. No and his fat cat friends, we can speculate that Scamalot’s SW Area boss PAUL ‘FAT SLOB’ LLOYD fell first into the ‘shake up’ piranha pool (his profile and pic have ominously disappeared from the Camelot UK SW area website page). And there has indeed been a renewed frenzy of dodgy Scamalot activity in the Bristol area recently – led by a raft of new operatives, some sent down from London and others being locally recruited 18 year old (zero hours, minimum wage?) school leavers.
What all Scamalot employees have in their famed lack of talent and competence, the new team can certainly make up for with industrious mania, as their first target was not the now written-off rebel stronghold of Broomhill EPH, but the presumed ‘easier option’ of YET ANOTHER Scamalot-run BCC property, Speedwell Fire Station. Here, Scamalot snoopers tried illegally to gain entrance to tenants’ rooms WITHOUT DUE 24 HOURS NOTICE, but once confronted by outraged residents who knew their rights – and despite the intruders furthermore having the cheek to call in a wholly unwarranted police intervention, they were forced to back off.
What the intrusion turned out to be was to try and find an excuse to ‘fast-track’ the planned eviction of rebellious Speedwell tenants under a ‘notice to determine’. This had been served specifically on Speedwell tenants who are currently withholding their rent because of Scamalot’s failure to carry out essential repairs ordered by BCC Environmental Health, such as dealing with kitchen rats, electric shocks off water fittings and exposed asbestos. But it seems that Scamalot had already forgotten the county court judgement made against them in February, because a notice to determine can only be served on licensees and NOT tenants! Bravo! FIRST FUCK UP for new Team Camelot!
The BRISTOLIAN demands that Housing Director Paul Smith sticks by his PROMISE to PROTECT all tenants of Scamalot that are being persecuted for exercising their rights on BCC property.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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 …
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.
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).”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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?