CENSORSHIP WATCH: THE BRISTOL CABLE

 

In an unprecedented move, Bristol’s co-operatively owned indie newspaper, The Bristol Cable, has REMOVED an entirely accurate article from its website following COMPLAINTS from the Reverend Rees and his bent coterie of very shy high-earning council bosses.

The article, published YESTERDAY, drew attention to a the council’s Draft Statement of Accounts, originally highlighted by the Bristol News Facebook page last week, that the Reverend’s council was employing more people on salaries exceeding £50k a year than they were a year ago.

The Reverend failed to comment to the Cable yesterday but did tell a Full Council meeting last night that the salary figures in his Statement of Accounts were INACCURATE and MISLEADING because they included the redundancy payments received by departing bosses.

This seems UNLIKELY since the Rev’s statement doesn’t list the gross salaries and benefits of his highly paid managers but the general ‘Remuneration Band’ they fall within. A ‘Remuneration Band’ would not ordinarily include one-off redundancy payments.

And if it did, why aren’t the twenty-one high-earning bosses – who shared out £2.5MILLION between them in redundancy pay-offs last year – listed and named in the report as earning over £150k last year as the law requires?

Regardless of these facts, the Cable has pulled the article and replaced it with the following statement: ***PLEASE NOTE THIS ARTICLE IS SUBJECT TO A COMPLAINT AND UNDER REVIEW***

Why has this article been pulled? It’s based on figures published in June by the council that were signed off by their Audit Committee on 27 June. If the figures are wrong, it’s the council’s job to explain this and publicly correct them. There is absolutely NO PRECEDENT or GOOD REASON for The Cable to pull a whole article published in good faith quoting publicly available official figures. Especially when these figures are yet to be formally denied anywhere as inaccurate.

It’s also laughable that The Rev Rees has put out a call across the city for “ideas” to deal with his budget deficit. However, when an “idea” involving not paying his bosses such large sums of money for sod-all appears, he tries to ban it!

If Bristol City Council wishes to attempt to censor information that makes the mayor look like a powerless twerp, then that’s their affair. But why are the Bristol Cable making fools of themselves by being bullied into supporting the council in their efforts to censor the truth?

The Cable article, obtained from the web’s cache is published below:

331 employees are now paid an annual basic pay of between £50,000 and £124,000, compared to 216 people in the financial year of 2015/16.

At the same time as general public sector pay caps and cuts has battered the council, almost every band of executive salaries at the council has seen an increase in numbers in the past year. Of the 21 senior pay categories that changed over the year, 18 have seen increases in the number of staff receiving top salaries.

These figures include the £160,000 a year council chief executive Anna Klonowski. It also includes at least three other executives who have seen their pay packets swell over the year by around £7,000 each, taking them to well above £160,000 a year including pension contributions.

Under pressure for implementing drastic cuts, Mayor Marvin Rees, who was elected in May 2016 has challenged anti-cuts protesters to come up with solutions, rather than just criticise. Defending the council positions on cuts, Mr Rees has written: “If we do not make a saving in one area we have to make it in another area. The consequence of one person’s priority is the de-prioritisation of another person’s priority.”

Responding to this latest information, Tom Whittaker a spokesperson from Bristol People’s Assembly, a coalition of trade unions and activists, said: “Clearly there can be no justification for executive pay rises when services are being cut, when many of Bristol’s poorest residents are struggling to survive under the impact of austerity and when ordinary council workers are enduring a long pay freeze.”

Mayor Rees was asked what involvement he had in these decisions, and how it fitted with his priorities agenda. He did not respond to the request.

The figures come from the 2016/17 unaudited annual accounts published by the council, available here.

20 thoughts on “CENSORSHIP WATCH: THE BRISTOL CABLE

  1. Paul Cardin

    Anna Klonowski creamed £411,000 here on Wirral for a pisspoor “independent” report done over a few months a few years ago.

    Even from the very start she was conflicted. She was called in by the then Tory leader to investigate something called “governance” and found serious failures – a few short years after providing “governance training” to the senior officers and councillors who had failed spectacularly in their “governance”.

    Not one idiot from the press, local and national, questioned this obvious conflict of interest and this obvious self-made discovery that her highly paid “governance training” had been no damn good.

    Reply
    1. The Bristol Blogger

      Klonowski was instructed to bring the number of management down. They’ve gone up.

      She’s also been instructed to save money so she’s paid £3.5million to get rid of 33 high earning staff. Each person therefore got over twice their maximum entitlement of £57k.

      She’s absolutely useless and quite clearly thinks she can do what the fuck she likes without reference to elected politicians.

      Reply
  2. Jane

    It’s completely right for a paper to pull an article if it’s possible they’ve made a mistake, and publish the correct version later.

    If you’re trying to infer that the Cable has been somehow coerced into doing this then you need proof.

    The Cable is a great source of independent journalism and should rightly be concerned about fact checking it’s articles and responding to complaints about inaccuracy, something that the Bristolian doesn’t seem to care about.

    Reply
    1. The Bristol Blogger

      No one ever has pulled a story because of a whining press officer who can’t produce any evidence the story they’re moaning about is “a mistake”.

      The facts are taken from the council’s Statement of Accounts. They are indisputable. If the facts are “mistaken” then that is entirely the responsibiilty of the council and its Audit Committee, which has signed these “mistaken” facts off.

      The Cable removes factually accurate copy under political pressure. We do not. We do care about accuracy and are consistently accurate. Just because someone in authority says something is inaccurate doesn’t make it so as you seem to believe.

      Reply
  3. Sexy Sophie

    The Cable have pulled a legitimate and solid piece of reporting Jane because it is cosying up and pampering to the Tories Poodle that is Marvin Rees. The truth is Marvin Rees was a spent force prior to his election and he is now the captain of the Titanic on his way to total obscurity unfortunately it is fellow Bristolians who suffer the cost of this mans uselessness shame on the Cable for lacking in balls to stand by its story

    Reply
  4. Fred Hampton

    I wonder what The Cable will do when they are threatened with Lawyers? Piss themselves and run scared it looks like. They need to find some balls from somewhere and start fighting against austerity. That means not bending to pressure from any political party even if they are sponsors/supporters.

    This is a war against money grabbing middle class neo-liberals and they are in all political parties from the Greens and Labour to the Tories and UKIP.

    Reply
  5. TM

    I’ve just had a look at the Cable’s “correction”. How are they going to get the brown stuff off their tongues?

    Reply
  6. Sid Ryan

    Oh I am glad that someone published the correction here already. The article was wrong, the premise of it was wrong. Same as the rest of the article you have published here.

    Don’t confuse occasionally getting leaked some information for good journalism. There’s satire, and then there’s just printing bullshit. Not just the above, but plenty of other things too. The fact that the editorial team don’t seem to care about that is worrying.

    Look, the Bristolian *is* a valuable thing and it deserves to be good. But dude, do better. Please!

    P.S. The day I get a nickname is the day you prove my point :)

    Reply
    1. thebristolblogger

      The premise of the article – that the council is employing more managers to run less services – is correct. The figures were wrong mainly down to the council’s negligence and inability to present stats.

      Don’t confuse boring the city to death with good journalism either. The Cable deserves to be good but, really, get over yourselves.

      Reply
  7. The Real TM

    Sid ‘Privates’ Ryan is correct in saying that you should make corrections if you make mistakes. The correction in the Cable is in my view, however, spectacularly cringing and indicates how quickly they are prepared to back down when given only minor political pressure.

    I am disappointed in them because they had potential. They can rescue this by republishing, with minor corrections, in the same tone. But will they?

    Reply
  8. Sid Ryan

    Some of the stuff we at the Cable publish is good, some is a bit ropey. People think most of it is good and a few bits are dumb. That’s pretty much inevitable. But although the Bristolian does have some good stuff (I wouldn’t make a point of reading it otherwise) the worst bits of what you publish are ugly, unnecessary and generally wrong.

    You’re right, you absolutely have a point that the Council have still increased the management payroll. But you lose it in the hysterics, ‘no precedent’ and ‘No good reason’ good reason for pulling the article. It’s just silly for a journalist to say ‘there’s no reason’ without phoning up and asking. The Cable didn’t get a call or an email from you asking what’s up. You just guessed that, like you guess most of what you write as fact.

    And seriously, you think that a retraction means we’re not going to keep investigating the council? Yeah, there are unanswered questions and we’ve filed an Audit of Accounts request with their finance team. There is such a thing as a follow-up. But when your facts are WRONG there is NO REASON for them to stay published.

    Journalists are supposed to care about what’s true and what’s not, and just because you have a point doesn’t mean you have a right to slander people just for fun. Unlike any other news organisation, the Bristolian isn’t worth suing – so you don’t have to worry about it.

    The worst bits of what you publish poison the well for the rest of us journalists – who *you actually rely on to tell you what is going on*. You may do your bit for truth and transparency, but I think as it is, it’s having a net-negative effect. I’ve got no illusions about how big or important the Cable is, but at least we give a shit about the quality of what we publish.

    I’m really not trying to be a dick, and telling you because I think the Bristolian could be so much better. ‘Patronizing’ wold be good, but you spelt it wrong! :D

    Reply
  9. Cotham Cider

    “the rest of us journalists – who *you actually rely on to tell you what is going on*”

    I think you’re in serious danger of overestimating the Cable’s influence.

    Reply
  10. Cotham Cider

    There’s no actual news these days in the Post, unless thinly disguised advertorials for burger restarants count as news. Robust, old-fashioned local journalism is dead, as it is across the rest of the country. Who’s left to expose the workings of local politics now?

    Not the Cable, judging by its latest reporting on the ‘cuts’: some mild hand-wringing and a link to the council’s own lame rubber stamping consultation exercise. Is this what the Bristolian should be striving to emulate?

    Reply
  11. Darrin

    Sid said: “‘Patronizing’ wold be good, but you spelt it wrong!”

    Oh dear! I’m afraid it’s perfectly fine for a Brit to use ‘-ize’, ‘-ize’ wasn’t invented in the colonies, we’ve used it for hundreds of years. Saying that, I personally wouldn’t use it, and I think we’ve collectively made that choice as a two fingered salute to the Americans, but it’s not *spelled* wrong. I do use -ize with fertilizer because to me ‘fertiliser’ scans poorly.

    Being journalists you probably have a style guide, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us are bound by it. I’d be interested to see your style guide’s entry as to ‘bollox’ or ‘bollocks’.

    I was told ‘slider’ has made it into one of the dictionaries, a great victory for Bristolian hegemony!

    Reply

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