Author Archives: thebristolblogger

MANIFESTO WATCH: ‘CLIMATE EMERGENCY’ REQUIRES PUBLIC ASSET FIRE SALE ANNOUNCE GREENS

Green manifesto

The first of the manifestoes for the mayoral elections crashes on to the internet. It’s from the Green Party’s “Squire” Sandy Hore-Ruthven “Bufton-Tufton” who marked this auspicious occasion by standing on a street in Broadmead yesterday and reading out a poorly drafted script from an iPad.

His manifesto gets underway by claiming, “Sandy’s not a politician”! Something only a politician would need to say, before proceeding to unload the not-so-great man’s not-so-great plans for Bristol.

Bufton-Tufton’s effort is actually highly reminiscent of The Reverend Rees’s manifesto of 2016. Back then we said of Rees’s slightly deranged effort: 

The Labour manifesto consists of around 180  COMMITMENTS. These roughly break down to 78 UNCOSTED  PROMISES ranging from an arena – a snip at around £150m – to “Promoting the role of Bristol Credit Union as an ethical means of accessing financial services” – at a cost of, I dunno (and neither does he, Ed), £150k? So fuck knows how much this little lot would cost us in its entirety.

Our research team haven’t managed quite the same level of detail as they managed back in 2016 mainly because they lost the will to live halfway through that project. However, they assure us that Squire Bufton-Tufton has managed to come up with over 50 uncosted promises himself.

These range from some promises that appear at first sight to be costed: “Halve the price of bus fares for under-21s” and “Invest £600,000 in information, advice and guidance for young people this year”. To vague big-ticket items notable for a high risk and the lack of any multi-million price tag: “support the development of local and regional banking”; “address flooding risks”.

A large majority of Bufton-Tufton’s promises, however, are considerably more small scale: “Celebrate our local high streets with events and festivals led by our creative and arts organisations”; “revitalise South Bristol’s industrial estates”; “create a repair and reuse industry in the city”; “continue installing electric vehicle charging points”; “maintain bus shelters and install universal real-time information”; “invest in specific services for marginalised groups”; “introduce seamless ticketing across the West of England region”; “improve support for families and young people seeking asylum”; “protect and provide more allotments”; “introduce free bulky-waste collection on doorsteps”; “write a Mental Health Charter for Bristol”; “set up a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces available to help arts and cultural organisations”.

The list of shit Bufton-Tufton intends to deliver just goes on and on and on … Just like Rees’s 2016 manifesto. The detailed promises from which remain robustly undelivered five years later. Is history repeating?

What super-experienced expert Chief Executive Bufton-Tufton appears to fail to understand is that every promise he makes requires a substantial resource to deliver. Unless he thinks that the Council House is full of council officers hanging around doing nothing while sitting on a large pot of unspent money marked ‘vanity projects for incoming mayor’?

Let’s take just one example – “set up a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces available to help arts and cultural organisations”. This has actually been tried before and does not come for free. You need to identify the properties, set up a register; run a register; run an application process; complete due diligence; run an allocation process; survey the building to ensure they’re safe for public use; monitor the spaces; act as a good landlord; this list goes on. 

A highly conservative estimate of the cost over Sandy’s three years in office to run “a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces” would be £300k if you managed to do it with a couple of staff working their arses off unmanaged with few resources. Multiply that figure by 50 to cover Bufton-Tufton’s various promises and you have a spending commitments averaging, at least, £15m. Although the cost of say, “seamless ticketing across the West of England region” would probably cost more than £15m on its own.

This from a council that can’t afford lollipop ladies, public toilets, SEND provision and has had to outsource their own low paid jobs to their private companies to save a few quid.

So much for the undeliverable small stuff designed to attract the foolish voter who likes ‘a good idea’ and believes anything they’re told. But what of the headline items? The ones that tell us what Bufton-Tufton is really all about and where the money’s really going?

Bufton-Tufton’s big announcement is on housing. He promises to “build 2,000 new council homes by 2030 and “insulate every council house in Bristol by 2030, reducing carbon emissions and fuel bills by 40%”. There’s some debate as to whether the funding exists to both build the houses and retrofit the existing stock, which may be why Bufton-Tufton has downgraded to a cheaper option of insulating homes rather than the a full retofit extravanganza of heat pumps, solar panels etc. Let’s just hope he’s got his sums right on this or his legacy may be a bankrupt Housing Revenue Account for the city.

2,000 council homes is also a fairly small promise if you consider we’re losing homes at a rate of about 150 a year through Right to Buy. He’s actually promising just 500 homes to tackle a council house waiting list of 12,000 and a projected population increase of around 70,000, which makes you wonder why anyone would expend so much political capital on so little? Maybe it’s all about having a big swinging dick my-numbers-are-bigger-your-numbers game with the Reverend Rees during the election?

Also on housing, having explained we have a ‘housing crisis’, Bufton-Tufton proposes, to “charge a carbon levy of £75 per tonne of emitted carbon in all new domestic and commercial developments, to generate income to offset carbon emissions from new developments.”

We’re reliably informed this could cost somewhere between £3k – £5k on a new three bed house. Yes, in the middle of a housing affordability crisis, the Greens are proposing to put house prices up! Who thinks this shit up?

Another big issue is the Reverend’s proposed corporate redevelopment of the Cumberland Basin, which involves renaming the area ‘Western Harbour’ and moving the Brunel Way flyover and existing road into Hotwells to free up land with views of the Suspension Bridge so that corporate developers can cash in while trashing Ashton Park. 

Bufton-Tufton has very little to say about this. The man who’s assured interviewers he can take “tough decisions” weakly proclaims he will, “reappraise the Western Harbour development, consulting with residents and businesses first.”

Quite how yet another bloody consultation on a corporate road building scheme – few people outside the business community want – squares with his promise elsewhere in his manifesto to “oppose plans for major road building” isn’t explained. Although the absence of a simple “tough decision” contrary to multinational corporate interests screams out at you.

Of another harebrained council corporate scheme, designed to hand huge amounts of our public assets to the private sector with poor oversight and little discussion or useful scrutiny, Bufton-Tufton comfortably adopts one the council’s many examples of dubious Reespeak. Cheerily repeating news of the “£1 billion City Leap programme,” Bufton-Tufton promises, “We will accelerate the City Leap project and increase investment beyond the £1 billion currently committed.”

His explanation for this dodgy public asset firesale and corporate sell-out helpfully reveals Bufton-Tufton’s true ideological colours, “the climate emergency dictates that speed is more essential than public ownership,” he says.

There you have it. The Bristol Green Party in a nutshell. We must urgently give our public assets away as quickly as possible to corporations because “climate emergency”. Public ownership is now an unaffordable luxury according to the Green Party in Bristol

Anyone telling you this right wing, free market, corporate crap is in any way ‘left wing’ is a liar. We suggest you (don’t) vote accordingly.

HR BOSSES LAUNCH BENT COMPLAINT ABOUT COUNCILLORS AS ELECTION APPROACHES

Two Bristol City Councillors are the subject of a formal complaint from the council’s ridiculous pair of senior Human Resources bosses Mark “Bashar” Williams and John “Bedwetter” Walsh. This is the result of the councillors standing up for the Council’s cleaning and security staff, which Cabinet agreed last month should be outsourced to Bristol Waste Company to help disguise a large hole in the company’s budget.

The BRISTOLIAN hears that Tory councillor Richard “Bunter” Eddy and Lib Dem leader Gary “Meathead” Hopkins are presently being investigated by the Council’s Legal boss “L’il” Tim O’Gara after complaints were received from senior officers about the conduct of a Human Resources Committee on 18 February 2021. Both councillors expressed robust concerns about the outsourcing at the meeting.

The same two councillors were the subject of a formal complaint alleging breach of confidential information three-and-a-half years ago following the controversial departure of former Chief Executive Anna Klonowski. who bagged a reported ‘Golden goodbye’ from local taxpayers of £98,000. Following an expensive independent investigation, both councillors were cleared of the daft allegation made by present Cabinet Member Cllr Kye “The” Dudd.

Bunter has confirmed to friends that he is the “subject of a complaint under the  Members’ Code of Conduct” and denies any wrongdoing. He also told friends, “I am particularly surprised to receive a complaint from senior officers with telephone-digit salaries with reference to my attempt to defend the interests of some of the Council’s hardest-working and poorest-paid staff at the Human Resources Committee in February.

The timing of the complaint has also raised eyebrows. No complaint was made in the month following the HR Committee or the outsourcing decision made by Cabinet on 18 March 2021. Instead the managers have waited until the Local Elections to lodge a complaint.

Are this pair of HR scrotes trying to interfere in our election?

y.

History Wars: Sanitising the history of protest in Bristol

Riot policing

From our Violent Disorder Correspondent

The violence which surrounded the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest on Sunday 21 March catapulted Bristol into national headlines. The predictable outrage and condemnation by politicians and business leaders was magnified by gruesome statements (now unmasked as lies) coming from Avon & Somerset Police of officers with ‘punctured lungs’ and ‘compound fractures’. Meanwhile, the reason for the demonstration, a Tory Bill to repress protests, and the numbers of protestors injured by police in full public order kit, armed with shields, clubs and pepper spray was usefully obscured

After the initial ‘outrage’ news items, journalists began focusing on feature articles which attempted to contextualise the ‘Bridewell riot’. One well-read article ‘A city of protest: Bristol’s history of resistance’ on the BBC website began with the questionable premise that the city was somehow historically exceptional. It claimed that “The city’s counter-culture identity reaches back through the centuries”. This somewhat ludicrous claim was followed by some of the worst historical analysis we have seen for a while. Claiming dubious validity by referencing Mayor Marvin Rees’s controversial History Commission, the article continued by quoting a University of Bristol academic who was “investigating the city’s heritage of protest”. They stated:

There is a long history of protest in Bristol and a radical self-identify is more prevalent here, but why Bristol and not other cities is a difficult point. Bristol has always been a city of protest with an alternative identity that pushes back on those mainstream or established narratives. Protest is very richly woven into the city’s history and I think the people of Bristol today are influenced by that narrative of protest.

Apart from not making much sense (radical self-identify?), failing to explain what period they were referring to and vaguely talking about ‘narratives’ they also claimed that Bristol had “always been a city of protest with an alternative identity”. This begged some questions. What is this so-called alternative identity that Bristol has had for centuries? And isn’t protest woven into the fabric of many cities?  Ok…give them a break you might say…let them get into some detail. They did and it got worse.

Centres of protest like Stokes Croft or St Paul’s are a stone’s throw away from more affluent areas like Clifton, where you also have a high student population where people are very interested in a different way of living.

This statement tells us more about the bubble where this academic hangs out than making much sense. Bristol’s centuries long ‘alternative identity’ is reduced temporally and spatially to the last 15 years and to Stokes Croft (which most Bristolians regard as a street rather than an area) with the added bonus of ‘edgy’ St Pauls. A different way of living? Bristol University? Yes, maybe a route to top jobs and wealth for public school and middle-class kids, but hardly a hotbed of counterculture.

Rounding off their contribution, the ‘expert on protest’ jumped to the late eighteenth century claiming “the Bristol Bridge riots in 1793 as the first notable clash with the establishment in the city”. Writing off almost all the 1700s in Bristol suggests social peace in the supposed ‘deferent century’. In reality, as most local historians know, Bristol was riddled with confrontations between crowds and the ‘establishment’ in the ‘riotous century’. From ‘moral economy’ food riots led by women who reduced prices by force, to turnpike riots and wage riots led by the Kingswood colliers and East Bristol Weavers, ‘collective bargaining by riot’ was a fairly normal method of direct action in a deeply undemocratic society.

At this point the article began to really lose its way, Exposing more about the current politics of the BBC and some of the contributing historians than teaching us any coherent history. The following timeline was offered as a guideline to the exceptionalism of protests in Bristol:

(BBC) Timeline of protests in Bristol

1793: The Bristol Bridge riots

1831: Queens Square Reform riots

1963: The Bristol bus boycotts

1980: St Paul’s riots

2011: Stokes Croft Tesco protests and riots

2019: Extinction Rebellion protests

February 2020: Greta Thunberg climate change rally

June 2020: Black Lives Matter protests

As anyone knows who has looked at the history of protest in any city, anywhere in the world, deciding what to include and exclude in a timeline is very difficult as there is so much protest, in so many different forms. Even if we concentrated on one form, say riots, the list would fill several pages and that would be unfinished. Looking at the above timeline, there are huge glaring gaps and massive omissions. So nothing happened over the 132 years between the 1831 ‘reform riots’ and the Bristol Bus boycotts of the 1960s? Really? The number of struggles connected to protest wiped out by the timeline in this period alone is truly remarkable: labour history, women’s history, enfranchisement, education, housing, healthcare, socialism, poor laws, anti-fascism, LGBT history, unemployed marches, communists, soldiers strikes, anti-war demonstrations, prisons etc etc.

As for riots, clearly only those that ‘count’ are to be counted. If the one-day event in St Pauls in April 1980 is alright, why not the two nights of rioting in Southmead that followed immediately after? Or the three nights of rioting in Hartcliffe in 1992 in response to the killing of two residents by police? Or perhaps the Sidney Cooke paedophile riot at Broadbury Road police station in 1998 led by local women? And the Poll tax riots of 1990? If the so-called Tesco’s riot of 2011 gets a tick, why not the massive wave of rioting and looting that occurred a few months later in August 2011 across England?

Is the history of protest being sanitised on the basis of social class and to some extent ethnicity? When St Pauls rioted in 1980 it is justified, when Hartcliffe did, it must be condemned, ignored or belittled. After all, what have working class people got to get angry about? This stinks of liberal politicos and academics with a social-democratic narrative trying to control the historical agenda of what is acceptable protest and what isn’t. This becomes clearer later in the article when we are informed:

Protests like the Bristol Bus Boycott were organised with clear aims and strategies which minimises demonstrations turning into something different.

I guess the ‘something different’ was a reference to the Bridewell ‘riot’ on the previous Sunday. A pattern is beginning to emerge, sensible, peaceful, organised, Bus Boycott campaign good….Anti-police bill demonstration bad. This assumes, of course, that peaceful protest works? Does anyone remember the massive CND demonstrations of the 1970s and 80s when millions marched legally, sensibly and peacefully to try and stop the introduction of first-strike nuclear weapons and the potential for mass destruction? Failure. Or the Stop the War marches of 2003 when millions marched legally, sensibly and peacefully to stop the invasion of Iraq? Failure. Compare that with hundreds of thousands breaking the law by refusing to pay the Poll Tax, storming city councils and famously rioting in London in 1990 which finished off the ‘Community Charge’ and led to the fall of the Thatcher cabal of right-wing nutters. Or thousands of miners going on strike, shutting power stations down and physically confronting the police in the 1970s which brought the anti-Union Tory government down. Or the Black Lives Matter protestors solving a century-long festering sore by pulling down the Colston statue after years of failed petitioning and peaceful protests.

If you think the historical debate is irrelevant to the protests around the Police Bill then fair enough. However, Bristol’s elected Mayor disagrees with you. In a Facebook video addressed to the city the day after the first protest at Bridewell Marvin Rees stated:

I absolutely condemn the violence we saw in Bristol last night. It was a display of selfish, self-indulgent, self-centred violence by a group of people who were looking for any opportunity to enter into physical confrontation….We have a history of politically significant protest, like Chartists and Suffragettes protesting for emancipation, trade unions striking and campaigning for jobs and rights at work. This was not that. Last night’s action was politically illiterate and increases the likelihood of the policing bill passing. The riot is not worthy of being mentioned alongside the very legitimate debate about the bill…..We won’t allow these people to hijack our city’s story.

Despite the obvious fact that the violence outside Bridewell meant that the ‘legitimate debate’ about the ‘Policing Bill’, which had been hardly publicised, was suddenly all over the media and forced politicians to start commenting on it, there were some more worrying signs in Rees’s statement. Odd as it seems, Rees appears to have appointed himself judge of what is ‘acceptable’ protest both now and in the past, and guardian of the ‘city’s story’ (whatever that is). Several commentators have noticed this Orwellian turn from the present to the past (and we suppose to mapping out the future) and the contradictions inherent in his statement. My advice is if you are going to set yourself up as the judge of ‘acceptable protest’ then at least read some history.

If the Suffragettes are ‘good’ then is Rees suggesting that mass campaigns of criminal damage, arson and bombing are the way forward for the Anti-Policing Bill protesters? If the Chartists are ‘good’ then would planning for an armed Republican insurrection and forming your own organised and armed force to deal with the Police on demonstrations be useful strategy and tactics for the protestors? If Trade Unions are good then would Rees support mass strikes over Bristol City Council redundancies due to austerity measures?…. Like fuck he would. It looks to me like Rees has either swallowed a sanitised, social-democratic historical narrative or that he really doesn’t know what he is talking about.

There may be an explanation to Rees’ turn to the historical and that is his flagship committee. The ‘We are Bristol (University)’ History Commission set up in the wake of the pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June last year. Perhaps this has spurred him to learn about some ‘radical history’. The irony, of course, is that it was a ‘bad protest’ that forced the Mayor to take the issue of the city’s contested history seriously after years of ignoring it. Will the ‘We are Bristol (University)’ History Commission try to become the arbiter of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protest history whilst itself being the product of what it would call a ‘bad’ protest?

For many of us who spent years challenging the sanitisation of the history of Edward Colston by City elites the move by Rees and his ‘academics in tow’ to now sanitise and ring-fence the history of protest in Bristol when faced by a real and vital protest movement is both ironic and dumb, but also boringly predictable.

Ends—–

Green party Mayoral candidate re-writing history! See his tweet – some hilarious comments

The Bristol 24/7 article demonstrates how desperate the bosses, state & middle class are to de-escalate the situation so we’re all peaceful –

https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/peaceful-scenes-throughout-fourth-kill-the-bill-protest-in-bristol/

– quote “Teams of officers with riot gear were poised well out of the way…”. Yeah like 75m away hiding in the NCP carpark next to Bridewell (with spotters on the roof), also 6 vanloads nearby in Deep St.

LABOUR: DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION SHOCKER AS DEAF CANDIDATE DUMPED

Lee-Starr-Elliott-photo-Lee-Starr-Elliott-1200x675

Labour’s long-term candidate for Hengrove and Whitchurch Park has been ruthlessly dumped by the regional party bureaucrats for requesting support as a deaf person!

Here’s the comments posted to Facebook by the former candidate, Lee Starr-Elliot on this latest Labour row

*Statement to explain my no longer standing as your local candidate! *

I am taking the time to write this to explain why after 3 years I am no longer your candidate for Labour! After applying to be a candidate back in 2018, going through the candidate approval process including checks, a panel interview organised by the Bristol Labour Local Campaign Forum (LCF) and endorsement by Bristol Labour members, I was selected by my local ward as their candidate in 2019.

I was very proud of this as I had the best interests of the ward at heart and wanted to bring back a sense of strong local community and ownership to the area, something I’ve felt has been lacking as our current councillors seem to prefer to play party politics rather than focus on the needs of local people.

However, after the pandemic hit and the 2020 elections were delayed, I lost running mates one by one due to personal or work-related issues. In the meantime I continued to move forward, founding the BS14 Community Support Group on Facebook, which has brought together local people, allowing us to help and support each other directly or by sharing helpful information. It made me proud to see BS14 come together in this way and I thank everyone who made it a success and hope it continues.

Most people are aware that I am Deaf. In previous elections, central government has provided the Enable fund to support the access needs of disabled people so that they can run for public office. The government withdrew this for these elections. I sought support from my Regional office, in line with their duties under the Equality Act, for example to provide a BSL interpreter for local, regional and national events and online training. I’m sad to say my request was not even acknowledged.

This led me to filing an official complaint, which has yet to be resolved, despite having the made the complaint nearly 5 months ago! When I asked for assistance with phone banking I was fobbed off and told to get people to volunteer! This put me at a serious disadvantage as many other people across all parties were able to phonebank, leaving me as the only one unable to do so, as by this stage the other candidates had withdrawn.

As people may understand, I became increasingly frustrated and angry that I was being discriminated this way and I took to social media to call out bad practices and condemn the leadership for failures in supporting members. Instead, they were busy suspending members for supporting the local members’ right to debate and offer solidarity to the suspended previous leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn!

While all this was happening, the regional office of the Labour Party was preventing constituency party groups from carrying out democratically agreed actions such as supporting food banks with financial donations from the members’ fund. Regional staff even went as far as suspending the AGM of a nearby constituency party and announcing they would run it months later – allowing them time to install their preferred members into positions. When they eventually ran the AGM it was shambolic and clearly designed to exclude members’ voices!

Similarly, the selection of the West of England Mayoral candidate was decided undemocratically, with the previous candidate Lesley Mansell and other left-leaning candidates excluded from the membership ballot by a regional panel. This has clearly backfired on the local party, as members are not happy to campaign for someone who while he was an MP voted for the Iraq War and is clearly against helping people such as students!!

It seems that by standing up for myself against discrimination and calling out where the party is failing nationally and regionally and when it is bullying the membership, this has resulted in the Labour Party refusing to endorse me at the local elections on May 6th. I would like to acknowledge the support of a small group of candidates and supporters who are leading the fight both locally and nationally against actions of politicians from all parties in order to make Bristol and the country better.

I wouldn’t have got this far without them, as the discrimination I’ve faced as a candidate and a person within politics is emotionally breaking. However, I will continue to be as loud as possible and call out actions of councillors and MPs who are not transparent and are not working for the people who voted for them but are instead following the party line. I thank everyone who has supported me and were going to vote for me!

*Lee Starr-Elliott*

LABOUR: PARTY OF THE PEOPLE

Champagne socialist

News drifts in from Lockleaze that Theresa Allain, the new Regional Office imposed  Labour candidate for the ward, one of the most deprived in Bristol, lives in Bristol West!

Her upmarket period home in leafy BS6, just a stone’s throw from Redland Station has an estimated value of £1,402,000.

Who says champagne socialism is dead?

‘FUCK SARAH EVERARD’ SHOUT POLICE BEFORE KNOCKING MOURNER UNCONSCIOUS

Everard

People gathered at College Green last week to protest a part of the ‘Police Crackdown Bill’ that targets the Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma community. The bill gives the Police new powers to fine and imprison people, simply for residing in a vehicle at the side of the road. It also gives Police the power to confiscate the homes of people they ‘suspect’ will commit trespass at some point in the future. The bill effectively bans and criminalises anyone who lives nomadically – whether through culture, choice, or necessity.  

The protest began peacefully with people sat on the grass around tents and placards. The atmosphere was relaxed and calm as speeches were made, people danced, and others laid flowers and lit candles for Sarah Everard at the memorial to her. From here, ‘Chloe’ takes up the story. This is her full statement:  

My name is Chloe. I was at the ‘Kill the Bill’ peaceful protest on College Green last Tuesday. My grandad was part of the Traveller community. I wanted to go along to show my support for the Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma communities threatened by the bill. I also wanted to take flowers to the Sarah Everard memorial. I have been working so much lately, I haven’t had the chance to go. I went with my friend Sophie. We are both shop workers from Knowle, Bristol. I am 25, Sophie is 22. 

We placed our flowers and stood there reading the messages. Although it was sad, I felt so moved by the memorial and all the flowers and messages people had left there.  

We had been there for about 20 minutes when a gang of riot Police ran up to us from behind. They started smashing up the memorial. They were kicking and stomping on the flowers and teddy bears. They were so angry. It looked like they were trying to make a point.  

My friend Sophie took a step towards them and said: ‘Please don’t… this is a memorial for Sarah Everard’. The Police Officer said: ‘F*ck Sarah Everard’, and hit her over the head with his baton. The force knocked her off her feet, and her head hit the ground with a thud. As she was laying on the ground, he kicked her in the stomach. I started screaming and a second Police Officer hit me in the face with his riot shield and I fell to the ground. Blood was pouring from my nose

I couldn’t see Sophie at this point, there were too many legs in the way. I struggled to get to my feet. The last thing I saw was Sophie being dragged off by her hair – completely unresponsive. 

I was hysterical and crying at this point. Everything seemed a blur. I eventually found Sophie and she was conscious, but very confused about where we were and what we were doing there. 

The next day, we phoned the Police to report what happened. The Officer told us we were lying, and said: ”You’re lucky we’re not arresting you for criminal damage”. 

My view of the Police has completely changed. They acted like terrorists. The Officers should be punished for what they did to us, but I don’t think they will”. [Statement Ends] 

We showed this statement to Bristol Mayor – Marvin Rees. He has refused to condemn the violence meted out to Chloe and Sophie, and said in a statement: ‘Police in Bristol have shown they are capable of managing protests well and with sensitivity’.  

We also sent Chloe’s statement to all four Labour MP’s in Bristol; Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire, Karin Smyth, and Darren Jones. Each one refused to criticise or condemn the actions of the Police. Not one of them offered any kind of sympathy or regret at the way Chloe and Sophie were treated. 

An unelected, unaccountable group of corporate chancers calling themselves the ‘Bristol City Leaders group’ have heaped praise on the Police saying: ‘We have complete confidence in the way Police have acted’. Despite many not actually living in Bristol, they have taken it upon themselves to speak for all of Bristol, as they proclaim: ‘The protestors are nothing but thugs who demean us all’. 

We showed Chloe’s statement to five members of the shady ‘Bristol City Leaders group’, who some say is just a rebrand of the Merchant Venturers. These include: Ben Lowndes (Social – Communications Consultancy), Oona Goldsworthy (Brunel Care), Professor Steve West (Vice Chancellor – UWE), the Bishop of Bristol – Vivienne Faull, and Andy Forbes (Principal of City of Bristol College). We asked if they would consider retracting and disowning the group statement. They all declined. They also refused to add their names to growing calls for an independent inquiry. 

Bristol City Council’s ‘Women’s Commission’ recently led a campaign called ‘Bristol, a zero-tolerance city’ which encouraged bystanders to ‘report violence against women, and raise awareness of gender-based violence through staff training’. We showed Chloe’s statement to several members including Vice-Chair Anna Smith, who is also CEO of women’s charity ‘One25’. Shockingly, Anna Smith declined to condemn the Police, and refused to include ‘One25’ in a list of organisations calling for an independent inquiry. 

We showed Chloe’s statement to a serving Police officer in the Avon & Somerset Police. This is his reply:

”I can honestly say, in over 30 years service I have never witnessed such violence and brutality as this week. The total lack of professionalism and disregard for rules and procedure is astounding. Chloe’s statement is sickening to read. I am amazed she isn’t seriously injured. Their actions were deplorable. I watched the footage from that night. I saw a Police officer punch a woman in the face without any provocation. He was twice her size and strength. There is no justification in the way she was hit. Just mindless thuggery. 

I watched the footage of a man taking repeated blows to the head. Even as he lay on the ground dazed, the officer continued to reign down blows of his riot shield. That is what would be classed as inappropriate use of the shield. He was out of control. 

It sounds hard to believe right now, but there are some good people in the Police. Our job is extremely difficult at the best of times. We rely on the consent of the public. It’s not just a phrase, our job would be impossible without it. What makes me angry, is the fact that in the 80’s, the Police had a very toxic relationship with some parts, and some communities in this city. Since then we have worked bloody hard to repair that relationship and gain the trust and good will of those communities. Now it seems all that hard work has gone down the drain in the space of 7 days. I think there needs to be a proper inquiry, and Superintendent Mark Runacres needs to go

The Police officers responsible for violent conduct should be sacked and prosecuted for assault. Some serving officers are a danger to the public. They should not have been recruited in the first place. Senior Police at the A&S are well aware of this”.  [Reply ends] 

Cleo Lake – Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, led calls for an independent inquiry into Police conduct. Via social media she said: ”I advocate the need for an urgent meeting & dialogue between Police and protestors to find a way forward if possible, in addition to the independent inquiry into the latest Bristol Protest. We must absolutely condemn the level of unnecessary Police violence witnessed in our city. We must have policing by consent. To all those peaceful protesters battered, I’m sorry this has happened to you. It is not, and will never be ok”. A link to Cleo Lake and Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement is below. 

Bristol Lib Dems defended the right to peaceful protest, and called for an inquiry into how the policing was handled. Their statement reads: ”We have seen violence from a minority of protestors. However, the response by Police officers was disproportionate and excessive, which is also unacceptable”. This is an excerpt. Link to full statement below.  

A group of 16 Labour council candidates published an open letter saying: ”We are deeply concerned about the videos circulating on social media which appear to show police using excessive force against protestors. Of particular concern are the reports of multiple journalists being intimidated and in some cases assaulted by the police. We condemn all violence. We absolutely condemn uses of excessive force. These incidents need to be fully, independently investigated and those responsible held to account”. This is an excerpt. Link to full statement below. 

Bristol Women’s Voice have added their name to calls for an independent inquiry, saying in a statement: ”BWV are deeply concerned by the images of violence at the protests over the last week and horrified by the experiences of aggression we have heard about from women who have contacted us directly. 

We condemn all violence – this is never the way – and we support the call for an independent inquiry into police behaviour”.   

Discrimination and prejudice experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities has been called ‘the last acceptable form of racism’. Possibly the most sinister part of the ‘Police Crackdown Bill’ empowers the Police to confiscate GRT homes at the mere suspicion of future wrong doing. If GRT families are suddenly made homeless, the state has a legal obligation to remove their children and place them into care.  People who remember ‘Dale Farm’ know it is not simply a case of buying some land and setting up camp. England has some of the strictest planning laws in the world. With GRT people unlikely to satisfy Local Authority criteria to get a Council house – they could be in for a long wait for housing and the return of their children.

 

Links… 

Cleo Lake and Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement:  

Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement:  

Bristol Lib Dems official statement:  

Labour council candidates open letter:  

TOP TEN BRISTOL RIOTS: THE OFFICIAL LIST

THE LIST THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO READ!!!

To celebrate last night’s small riot, here’s one list the local media will not print. Lovingly compiled by our Violent Disorder Correspondent, we give you Bristol’s Top Ten Riots

Riot - skater

Now, next time you hear some poncey local liberal politician pronouncing on a local riot and claiming that “This isn’t Bristol” or “We don’t don’t do this” you can tell ’em, “Oh yes this is us. This is exactly what we do. The problem is that you are not us”.

10. 1090 Slave Riots

First reported rising of the ‘Bristol mob’ led by anti-slavery ‘outside agitator’ Saint Wulfstan. Inspired by Wulfstan’s opposition to trading in slaves with the Vikings in Dublin, the mob put out the eyes of a slave-trading merchant and cast him out of the city.

9: 2011 Stokes Croft Riot

In one of the dumbest police operations in living memory, on a warm evening before the first Easter bank holiday police shut down the Gloucester Road and raided a squat near the new Tescos. With young women leading the way, hundreds of people out drinking on the Croft attack police lines eventually driving them out of the area in the early hours of the morning.

8: 1986 St Pauls II

Police launch Operation Delivery with 600 officers swamping St Pauls after a series of pointless raids. Seen by many as attempted payback for the Police defeat in 1980, residents respond with their fists, bricks and petrol bombs for several nights.

7: 1936 Melvin Square Riot

Mosley’s fascist blackshirts attempt to hold a meeting in Melvin Square, Knowle West with an armoured van protected by police. Five thousand residents turn out to heckle them and pelt them with stones and turf. After a Blackshirt struck a resident the fascists and the police are violently driven out of the area.

6: The 1700s – one long riot

The riotous century. With the vast majority of the population having no political representation, riots were common. In Bristol there were uprisings over turnpikes, food prices, wages and enclosures. Top of the riotous league were the KIngswood Colliers, the weavers and Bristolian women who often led food riots.

5: 1992 Hartcliffe Riot

Police kill two Hartcliffe residents who were joy riding on a police motorbike. Hundreds of people attack police for several nights, with south Bristol estates uniting to teach them a lesson.

4: 1932 Old Market Riots

At the height of the Great Depression police launch an ambush to batter and arrest the leaders of a march of the unemployed in Old Market. Baton charges of the crowd of thousands are met by determined resistance with protestors ransacking market stalls and a coal lorry for weapons and missiles to chuck at police.

3: 1980 St Pauls Riot

Police carry out one racist raid too many when they have a go at the popular Black and White cafe in St Pauls. Large crowds of black and white residents attack the police, drive them out of the area and then have a street party. Anti-police disturbances follow in Southmead and Knowle West.

2: 1793 Bristol Bridge Riots

The widespread corruption of the Bristol Corporation comes home to roost when hundreds of Bristolians repeatedly protest about the continuing tolls on Bristol Bridge. After Bristolians repeatedly destroy the toll gates the leaders of the Corporation send in the Hereford Militia who open fire indiscriminately on the protesting crowds, killing 14 and wounding more than 40.

1: 1831 Queen Square Riot

The ‘mother of all riots’ is kicked off by Tories and Bishops who oppose expansion of the democratic franchise. Crowds of Bristolians attack four prisons, the Bishops Palace, Mansion House, Custom House, Toll Houses and burn down half of Queen Square, the lair of the hated merchants who ran the corrupt Corporation.

BRISTOL LABOUR PRE-ELECTION MELTDOWN IS ON!

LOckleaze councilliors and new candidates (2)
‘Disappeared’ Labour candidates

At the end of last week Labour Councillor for Avonmouth Jo “Hippy” Sergeant quit the Labour Party. Before running for the hills she fired off a letter revealing the Reverend and his council’s Labour Group as a misogynistic bullying hell.

Now, this week an entire ward committee has quit the party. Here’s what they say:

To members of Lockleaze Labour Party

We are writing to you to let you know that we, the committee of Lockleaze Labour Party, have taken the decision to resign. We feel that we have no other choice.

In October 2020, a meeting was to held to select two candidates to stand as councillors in elections to be held in May 2021 as both our longstanding councillors Gill Kirk and Estella Tincknell were retiring. The process was overseen and approved by the Bristol Labour Party Campaign Forum which was responsible for the selection of candidates.

There were six excellent local candidates. The two candidates selected by due process were Alfie Thomas and Anna Lart Greene (see attached photo). Both are in their twenties, committed to the local area and able to speak up for local people on Bristol City Council. However, our chosen candidates were blocked by the South West Labour Party Regional Director and no one from Regional Office has talked to us about reasons for doing so.

Instead, Regional Office took over the selection process. They have not met their timetable for the selection of candidates which means that we still do not have Labour Party candidates in place for May’s election, despite campaigning officially starting on March 15th. Therefore, our position as committee members is not tenable.

We regret the decision we have had to take but have been given no alternative.

Lockleaze Labour Party Committee,

Do Rees and his right wing regional office cronies think Bristolians will vote for any old crap put up by the disorganised bent shambles that now passes for our local Labour Party?

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #3: IS IT RACIST (SLIGHT RETURN)?

Further analysis of the Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) for the transfer of Bristol City Council cleaners and security to Bristol Waste reveals that over 36 per cent of the staff involved are black, not 34 per cent as we claimed last week. The increase is because we didn’t include groups such as Pakistani and Black Caribbean/White who are underrepresented among cleaners and security.

It is also noteworthy that, despite allegedly running a ‘comprehensive’ consultation with these staff, the council does not know the ethnicity of 42 out of 215 of them. That’s 19.5 per cent of this workforce. This is over double the ‘unknown’ figure for the whole city council workforce, which stands at 9 per cent. Could more work have gone into the council’s ‘comprehensive’ consultation of cleaners and security?

The EqIA is also unfinished. Here’s what we find at the end of the report:

EqIA

Will Bristol City Council go ahead and outsource staff on the basis of an unfinished EqIA and a one page ‘comprehensive’ consultation that fails to state what staff said about the transfer? Is such a set of circumstances even policy compliant?

Meanwhile, the council’s Equality and Inclusion Progress Report 2019-20  tells us ,“a review of our Equality and Diversity Function in 2018 identified that equality impact assessments were often undertaken after, rather than before, service design or service changes have been proposed.”

Nothing’s changed since 2018 then.

Maybe proper EqIA’s are only needed for jazzy management and professional  job changes at Bristol City Council?

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

YESTERDAY LABOUR’S FROME VALE COUNCILLOR, NICOLA BOWDEN-JONES DEFIED THE WHIP AND THE BULLIES IN HER PARTY TO VOTE AGAINST THE LABOUR BUDGET. HERE IS THE SPEECH SHE MADE, WHICH SHE HAS POSTED TO FACEBOOK:

Thank you Lord Mayor.When I was a child I watched war films with my Dad. I worried that if I faced the choice between following the pack whose collective actions were perilous to others, would my ethics be sufficient to enable me to stand alone. Today I test my own hypothesis.

So let’s get one thing straight, this Council rent freeze is nothing to do with coronavirus or helping people on low incomes. – Let’s be honest.

I’ve been at the Labour Group meetings where speaker after speaker supporting the freeze, starts by saying we shouldn’t raise rents in the run up to the election. Some don’t understand what a rent freeze means, rent is income, creating borrowing power, without which we restrict our ability to repair, regenerate, retrofit and build houses

Every four years they would ditch housing investment for votes. Do you know of any other business models where your 30 year plan is punctuated every 4 years by self-indulgence?

We are happy to put up council tax for the same people by 5%, yet apparently a 1.5% rent rise is too much for people to take even though the benefits system for both is the same. The report which went to cabinet, showed an enormous reduction in social rented housing. Because 30% of the future programme will now be shared ownershipA difficult decision for some members of the cabinet.

Difficult for Helen Godwin as cutting the social rented housing programme means, she is voting today to leave families in temporary accommodation for longer, we know they can’t afford shared ownership.

Difficult for Nicola Beech our staunch advocate for strong planning policy, she is voting for a form of shared ownership which doesn’t meet the planning department’s definition of affordable.

Difficult for Afzal Shah, because he is voting to take over £100m from the spending power of the housing department when there is a bill of £500m to retrofit homes to meet our carbon reduction target.

Difficult for cabinet members who have lived in council housing to remove an opportunity for those who now have that same need for a home -they once had.

Difficult for some of my colleagues who have been told they will not be able to stand in the May election if they vote to save our council housing.

Difficult to look at the finances and say there is an underspend. COVID means thousands of repairs have not been completed, or even reported. Have those repairs now disappeared with the vaccinations? Did we have a vaccination that made the damp, or broken windows, or leaking roofs disappear?

The money is only there because the repairs have not been done.

We must ask ourselves when will we be told that the challenges we have in sustaining council housing can only be solved by public private partnerships, public -private partnership read privatisation?

We should not put votes before ensuring our tenants have warm, safe and well maintained homes.

We should not put a headline on a leaflet or a tweet, before building social rented, yes social rented not shared ownership, homes for the thousands of families in temporary accommodation or insecure, expensive private lettings.

Actually it’s not difficult. There are a thousand children in our city in temporary accommodation. The choice today is clear, vote for their future, the future that many years ago someone was brave enough to give you. The future of our cities council housing and not its decay.