Bristol City Council has very, very quietly released limited membership details of its BRISTOL HOMES BOARD, tasked with spending a headline figure of £160m of our money to resolve the city’s housing crisis.
Naturally the equaliser, the Reverend Rees, has opted for a 75 per cent male, all-white board (except himself) stuffed with incompetent TIME-SERVERS and serial QUANGOCRATS to spend this large wedge of public money.
Alongside the Reverend and his sidekick, Labour housing boss, Paul “Wolfie” Smith, you’ll find Alison “THREE JOBS” Comley, a senior city council boss and direct subordinate of Rees and Smith, hardly best placed to speak truth to power. Especially as she’s up to her neck in the council’s £30m unlawful budget scandal and is yet to be cleared.
Alison is joined by luminaries such as Stephen “What Crisis?”Teagle from Galliford Try Partnerships, a front for the corporate that runs house builders, LINDEN HOMES. Last year, Linden saw profits rise 21 per cent to £74.3m while its average house cost a mere £338,000. The company also boasts to shareholders that it has a LANDBANK of 14,250 plots. Doesn’t sound much like a crisis for them does it?
Also on the board is Knightstone Housing Association boss Nick Horne “Blower”. He was last seen sat on his useless lazy arse as a board member for West of England LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP (LEP) while, directly under his nose, BAE sold their Filton Airfield land to YTL Homes UK. YTL is run by Colin “Tory Boy” Skellett who also happened to be the Chair of er, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership! This blatant CONFLICT OF INTEREST clearly passed Nick by, even though the LEP was given a key role in marketing and developing the airfield for sale with the public money he was overseeing!
Nick also waved through TWO PAYMENTS from the LEP to board member George Ferguson’s Beer Factory and Bristol Brewing Company totalling £62k. A further £92k was paid to a company owned by one of Ferguson’s political donors, Alasdair “Sorearse” Sawday. What were these handouts for? Who knows? Because NO MINUTES exist of these board decisions and no documents indicating Ferguson’s interests were ever published by Horne’s LEP!
Also getting rewarded for serial incompetence and moving across from the useless board of the LEP to oversee millions of pounds of our money for housing in Bristol is Business West bigwig James “Licker” Durie. Not only is he unlikely to raise any difficult questions about any handouts to wealthy locals, he’s also a notorious salaried lackey for the MERCHANT VENTURERS.
Making up the numbers on the Rev’s quietly appointed board are a couple of posh public schoolboys turned voluntary sector luvvies – David “HAPPY CAMPER” Ingerslev from multi-million homeless charity St Mungos and the CEO of Elim Housing Association, Alistair “HEAD BOY” Allender. No doubt Head Boy can bring his street-level experience from Birkenhead School, “a top performing independent day school for boys and girls aged 3 months to 18” and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he studied Natural Sciences to bear?
Further INEFFECTUAL luvvie input on our Homes Board will be supplied by Bevis Watts “The Fuck”, Managing Director of Triodos Bank. He’s a serial quangocrat who boasts the pie, booze and cash giveaway to the wealthy that was the board of the Green Capital, Bristol 2015 Ltd, on his CV!
Adding a healthy dose of surrealism to the whole affair, the board also has a ‘Head of Multi-Channel Fulfilment’ at the table – Debbie “Fulfil Me” Franklin from the Andrews Property Group, a local LETTINGS AGENCY, no less. Career bureaucrat David “The Loaf” Warburton from the Homes and Community Agency quango is also along for the £160m public money ride
The small amount of hope we can invest in this board lies with the final two members. Geraldine Winkler, a housing solicitor with the Avon & Bristol Law Centre and Tom Renhard, a member of tenants union ACORN. He also sits on the board of the Avon Pension Fund for some random reason and we note with concern that Renhard was funded by local authority bosses’ union UNISON to help him get on to this pension board. It’s unclear, too, whether Renhard was a personal appointment by the Vicar or whether he was chosen directly by Acorn members.
As always, it’s just as interesting to note who ISN’T on the committee – seasoned troublemakers or gobshites known to be prepared to stand up to a committee of pie-munching land dealing wankers who forget to keep minutes. And It’s further worth noting that there was no sign of a competitive application process to join this board disbursing £160m of our cash. Instead membership is entirely courtesy of the political PATRONAGE of the Reverend Mayor Rees well away from any scrutiny by councillors and public.
The last “PUBLIC MEETING” of this board took place on 29 June. Despite being “public”, no reports were issued and the board was, instead, treated to a series of Max Wide “Boy” style verbal briefings and crappy Powerpoint presentations that will never be seen again. Already, we have to ask, are these board members doing their jobs properly?
There may be trouble ahead …
The homes board membership is not secret but is openly published. We moved it from being a meeting which met in private – it was set up by George Ferguson, to being fully public. You are very welcome to come along and attend the meetings like any other open council meeting. It is an advisory body, any decisions are made by the democratically elected members of it, namely me as the cabinet member for homes.
We didn’t say the membership was secret. Only that it has been kept quiet and there’s been little consultation or discussion about who should be on this board, their terms of reference, their qualifications or their experience to do the job.
Your first meeting consisted entirely of verbal updates and presentations. A style of governance and decision-making that came in for a lot of criticism in the Bundred Report published less than six months ago. He said such presentations “have little meaning when viewed at a much later date by someone not present at the meetings where they were considered.”
For something to have any meaning as “public”, there needs to be more than the right to attend the meeting. We need access to reports and minutes so that you can be held to account and this board is properly accountable to us.
It is disappointing, to say the least, that you appointed a group of people, not one of whom appears conversant with the Bundred Report and its stark conclusions regarding sound governance and reporting and not one of whom appears to understand the techniques (as basically non-execs) required to hold you to account on our behalf.
It is even more concerning your officers serving this committee are disregarding the Bundred Report and repeating the same old errors. Bundred should be required reading for every officer in your council. Would you like us to arrange some no-nonsense workshops for them?
£160million is a lot of money to be disbursing by Powerpoint presentation. A knowledgable and experienced committee would know that and be bollocking you and your officers. In the long run a weak committee of yes (wo)men will be no benefit to you or us.
Its not spending £160m and the first open meeting didn’t take any decisions. For items requiring decisions there will be full written reports. The board was in fact set up in March 2016 by the previous mayor. Since then we have added three members: a representative from Acorn, a representative from the advice sector and a representative from the Bristol housing partnership – the other members are those appointed in 2016. We have also reserved a place for the Bristol community led housing hub once it is in a position to nominate. I have no idea where you get the £160m figure from.
How many Merchant Venturers are on the Homes Board. My bet is too many as £160M is just too tempting a trough for these pigs not to get stuck into.
Sorry, that should be £175m: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/new-175-million-bristol-housing-4654
The £175m is not allocated to the Homes board. £57m is for grants to housing associations which requires sign off from the strategic director with advice from the cabinet member, this is delegated so doesn’t need to go to the board, £104m is allocated to the housing company, which will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the council – again not the homes board and the rest is for work the council is doing on getting outline planning permission on its land and recruiting more staff to manage the increased housing programme.
So what’s the Homes Board for then?
Can you please provide more details (ideally with links) to the £92,000 of public money given as you say to a company owned by Alasdair Sawday?
Can you also set out the evidence that establishes Alasdair Sawday as one ‘Ferguson’s political donors’?
So for all the £62k paid to George’s Fergusson’s Beer Factory and Bristol Brewing Company – the building is still disused and in a poor state of repair. Mortar fell off the building last September. I have an email from George saying the building is unsafe, but he does not intend to do anything in the near future due to the costs and the company not having the funds together!
So – why was the money awarded? What was he committed to do with the money?
Of course Bristol council won’t do anything to inspect the safety or insist safety work is carried out, but I guess he’d be pretty good pals with them. Funny how enforcement has a way of not applying to those with power and influence.