Author Archives: thebristolblogger

OUTSOURCING WATCH

A readers writes …

H&S

“Please find attached photo (courtesy of Bristol Post today) of a contractor working for Bristol City Council on the Centre. For a council that states it is a leader in health and safety, surely they should know anybody using the tip of a chainsaw to cut timber without safety trousers is asking for an accident?”

How easy it is to save money and outsource risk by using the private sector to risk lives instead …

BRISTOL’S SOCIAL HOUSING REVOUTION IN FULL

In the week that the ridiculous Guardian newspaper ran a story funded by a bank – ‘Meet the man who was part of a social housing revolution‘ – featuring Paul ‘Wolfie’ Smith, the Reverend Rees’s housing supremo who ran away, a new banner appears on Hengrove Way. The latest attempt to sell glamorous new build flats next to a dual carriageway?

investment

Buy-to-let flats? How revolutionary. By strange coincidence, the other side of Creswicke Road, overlooking this new banner lies the Reverend’s new corporate chipboard housing project courtesy of Ikea:

Boklok

The 3 bedroom homes here are currently listed on Rightmove at a price point of £275K.

Vive la revolution (if you can afford it)!

LABOUR PURGE LATEST

Reports emerge of more Labour Party madness in the lead-up to Christmas as apparatchiks from the party’s South West regional office turned their attention to the Bristol East Constituency Party. And the party bureaucrats are now so keen on purges that although the chair and secretary in Bristol East had resisted a Corbyn-supporting motion passed by their membership earlier this month, they got purged anyway! 

This means that the elected leaderships of Bristol’s North West, West and East Consituency Parties have all been suspended without explanation by their party. Nationwide, 40 more CLP officers were similarly removed during the week before Christmas.

In Bristol North West, now managed by Councillor Brenda Massey, who’s previous career high was quietly decorating George Ferguson’s useless rainbow Cabinet, and the South West Regional Office, requests to hold a constituency party meeting have been directly refused by the regional apparatchiks. They insist the next constituency meeting will be an AGM to elect new officers some time next year at a time they decide.

Looks like an interesting year ahead in Labour politics …

THE GREAT BRISTOL NORTH WEST PURGE

masseycoup (2)

Has there been an anti-democratic RIGHT WING COUP in the Bristol North West Constituency Labour Party, home of ambitious Blairite “Dipshit” Darren Jones MP?

It sure as fuck looks that way as the Chair and Secretary of his branch have been mysteriously PURGED and “DISAPPEARED” by Jones and Labour South West Regional Office bureaucrats. This followed an overwhelming popular vote (58-19) at a meeting of the constituency Party last month in favour of a mildly supportive motion of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and questioning his suspension from the Labour Party.

Bemused Labour Party members in Bristol North West have received no explanation about what’s happened to their Chair and Secretary. Instead they’ve received a cursory note informing them that they CAN’T HOLD MEETINGS FOR TWO MONTHS and that Labour Councillor for Southmead Brenda “Beria” Massey, a hardcore Stalinist and Dipshit Daz groupie, has either been appointed by Regional Office orr else she has appointed herself “Acting Chair” of the constituency Party and then has unconstitutionally SUSPENDED THE ENTIRE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE until further notice.

ENTER NAPOLEON IN DRAG

Requests that the upright-standing pigs Dipshit, Beria or the Regional Office bureaucrats explain what’s happened to the elected Chair and Secretary and how Commissar Massey was able take over a constituency party and obtain the member information database have so far been REBUFFED.. 

Instead, members have been told by Beria Massey that she will be holding an AGM “as soon as party rules allow”. This is unlikely to be until LATE FEBRUARY. Although the Great Leader Sir Keir “Bell-End” Starmer’s Bristol NW chief of secret police does not seem to be able to quote the Party rules concerned when asked for them.

Dipshit, meanwhile, has infomed Party members that it’s “NOT FAIR” to ask his Acting Chair what the hell is going on and announced, “I have been asked to host an MP’s  [Zoom] Q&A in place of the [constitutional] December meeting of the CLP”. Who asked Sub-Commissar Dipshit to host this event is not clear. Did the move originate in Regional Office or in Bell-End Starmer’s Central Politburo itself?

PAT BALL OR PAINT BALL?

Rumours are now filtering out as this goes to press that certain “known” Labour members were not even permitted access to Dipshit’s Zoom meeting. And of course, Jones answering a few PAT BALL questions from a selective audienceof former Tories from Westbury-on-Trym is no replacement for a Constituency Labour Party meeting, where he’d likely get a volley of PAINT BALL questions.

In Bristol NW these recently elevated upright-pigs insist that they remain “in charge” – in contravention of all discernible LP rules and procedures. 

What a fucking shit way to run a so-called democratic party

ONE SMALL LEAP FOR BRISTOL: ONE GIANT PAYDAY FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR?

Leap 82429

“We should never have been in the energy business,” is the Reverend Rees’s mantra regarding Bristol Energy. The deranged energy reselling wheeze delivered courtesy of a pair of hapless elected mayors and a supporting cast of idiot senior council bosses and greedy private sector troughers that has cost the city an estimated £50 MILLION during a long period of austerity and public service cuts.

But why, if we should never have been in the energy business, is the Reverend now setting up ‘CITY LEAP‘, a “billion pound” public-private vehicle to decarbonise the city? Or is “the delivery of a local interconnected, low carbon, smart energy system in Bristol that provides long-term social, environmental and economic benefits for its residents, communities and businesses” not “the energy business”? If not, what is it?

This latest Bristol City Council energy project, which, like the last one, is promising social, environmental and economic benefits to the city is also, like the last one, shrouded in mystery. Albeit an even more EXPENSIVE mystery with the best part of £10million already shifted to the private sector to pay for legal and procurement consultants who have finally delivered a shortlist of three multinational corporate ‘partners’ for the project.

But what is this project? So far, we understand, the council will be handing over their limited number of ENERGY ASSETS – mainly some half-finished city centre heat networks and wind turbines to a multinational company to “implement competitive heat retail and competitive heat generation across the heat network”.

In English that means the multinational will be making A PROFIT from public assets by charging the competitive rate they choose to supply energy from our public infrastructure. However, this is nowhere near a “billion pound” project, which makes some recent announcements from the council’s housing department rather interesting. 

They say, “Housing recently assisted the City Leap team with updating and revising documentation for the City Leap project, which included the INFORMATION ON OUR STOCK and the potential OPPORTUNITY for improvements to net zero. Housing will continue its liaison with the City Leap team and notes the significant benefits that having a pre-procured partner for project delivery and, potentially, investment could have on the rapid roll out of carbon reduction programmes.”

In other words Bristol City Council Housing Service intend to sign A CONTRACT IN ADVANCE with a multinational to retrofit all their council homes. Then should any large government grants for retrofitting council homes roll in to the council – such as through a ‘GREEN NEW DEAL‘ – they’ll roll straight out again and offshore to a corporation who can charge whatever they want and do whatever they want.

They’ll be no competitive tendering; no local opportunities; no local profit and little democratic control over any housing improvements or the public funds for them. This could, potentially, amount to tens, if not hundreds, of MILLIONS in grants.

Of further concern is another missive from the council’s housing department, “it is anticipated that the retrofit of domestic properties will be included in the program of works delivered by the City Leap Energy Partnership. The REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties is essential to the decarbonisation of heat and to achieving carbon neutrality.”

Is this a reference to privately owned homes? And what is this “REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties”? A project that might well cost that magic “billion pounds”. But how will home owners be “required” to retrofit their homes? Will this have to happen through the council’s multinational partner? Do homeowners pay or do the government pay? Can homeowners be FORCED in to debt to meet this new “requirement”?

Will households in the city end up INDENTURED to some faceless multinational corporation so that the council can live the green dream while delivering an extravagant pay day to a lucky corporate? Is the plan, this time, that the council’s foray into the energy business dumps the inevitable huge losses directly on to us?

We think we should be told,

PARKVIEW DEATH STAR IMPLODES

Parkview-Bristol-1-1

An update on our notorious high-living slum landlord friends, Caridon, who took over ‘Imperial Apartments’, a cheap, shoddy conversion of the old Parkview council offices in Hartcliffe. 

Caridon won a small lottery when they managed to rent 216 of their shitty little apartments, mostly studio flats, to the council. A policy promoted by defective housing department bosses over the summer who thought this was a great spot run by great people to dump the city’s homeless.

Alas, it transpires the council has only let 150 of these pokey little rabbit hutches in the middle of nowhere to the desperate and vulnerable. While the daft contract BCC housing officers signed with Caridon (publicly available online) states clearly that if BCC can’t let the spaces, then they still have to pay the rent in full. This is, we understand, £695 a month per empty studio flat. That’s about £45k a month being shovelled directly to the repulsive boss of Caridon for doing fuck all except owning a property.

 An outcome that the pair of clowns who created this mess, Bristol HomeChoice Fuhrer Paul “Speer” Sylvester and his snooty boss from London, Housing Director Julian “Luvvie” Higson, assured everyone could not happen. They would expertly manage this obvious risk, they assured us, by “raising interest from people in the local community” and holding “a daily morning meeting to monitor progress”! 

Wouldn’t it be fun to attend one of those morning meetings now to hear all the vain and self-serving excuses from Speer and Luvvie for their wholly predictable failure (surely sub optimal progress in a challenging environment? Ed)? A failure that will come as no surprise to the huge number of ordinary Bristolians without any high-earning housing management expertise who told them in the summer, “this is a totally shit idea on every level that you should have no part of”.

In further bad news, it appears that overpaid pillocks Speer and Luvvie have contracted the council to pay for all these apartments, whether full or empty, on a rolling contract with no fixed end in sight. And the pair even negotiated an option to take up a further 199 apartments on the site in January. Will our amazing housing business experts be taking up this exciting offer? Will their contract let them refuse? Do these chumps have the foggiest idea what they signed us up to?

Meanwhile, Health and Safety responsibility in this disastrous deal remains highly ambiguous. Officially, it’s Caridon’s lookout. But we all know how well a very similar relationship of this nature went at Grenfell Tower don’t we?

Speer and Luvvie’s Daily Progress Meeting when the first tenant on Caridon’s watch carks it will be interesting.

WESSEX WATER: KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

Skellett statement

The shape of the YTL/Wessex Water public relations response to the death of four of their staff in an explosion at their Avonmouth sewage plant on Thursday is becoming apparent.

Fronted by Merchant Venturer sleazeball Colin Skellett, there’s a focus on this Bath resident’s attachment to Avonmouth and what the wealthy Tory patriarch calls the ‘Wessex Water family’.

Talk of ‘family’ reminds us of hit and miss leftie luvvie author, George Orwell. Here’s what he had to say when he compared England to a family:

“[England] resembles a family, a rather stuffy Victorian family, with not many black sheep in it but with all its cupboards bursting with skeletons. It has rich relations who have to be kow-towed to and poor relations who are horribly sat upon, and there is a deep conspiracy of silence about the source of the family income. It is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control – that, perhaps is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.”

Who needs this sort of family?

CORPORATE MURDER IN AVONMOUTH?

 A worker that delivers to the treatment tanks at the Wessex Water plant in Avonmouth, one of which blew up today, has told The BRISTOLIAN, “Wessex Water workers there have been complaining for ages that the tanks were in disrepair but the company would not shut down the process. It will have been a methane gas explosion.”

Wessex Water is owned by Malaysian multi-national YTL who are developing the arena at Filton along with a load of unaffordable housing there. The Chief Executive of Wessex Water is Tory donor and Merchant Venturer, Colin Skellett.

YTL paid for the Reverend Rees to fly from China to Malaysia in December 2017 and stay overnight in the Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. they also paid for all his meals on the trip and a flight back to Bristol. The Reverend then set about cancelling the arena at Temple Meads and promoting an arena by YTL in Filton.

Was it worth it Marvin?

LEAKED DOCUMENT: UNION SLAMS REES ADMINISTRATION FOR SHIT EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS

More problems for Bristol City Council’s beleaguered and failing Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh?

However, as further oppressive practices and anti-union activity against council staff by Tory-boy bully boy Bedwetter and his HR team emerges, a question arises. Is Bedwetter actually the Reverend Rees and his administration’s personal workforce enforcer? Employed on a handsome six-figure salary to shaft the council’s workforce?

The evidence from a leaked letter from Unison suggests Bedwetter is no maverick looney but, instead, is implementing an agreed suite of right wing employment policies on the instructions of his political masters. Read this letter to Labour councillors from the Secretary of the Bristol Branch of Unison and weep:

Dear Councillors 

It is a matter for regret for me that the links between this council’s senior union branch and the city’s Labour Party are as wafer-thin as they are and I suppose it is not going to get better anytime soon. However, in the hope of getting a better deal for our members, I still need to try to steer discussion to somewhere that coincides with our priorities and matches your aims and objectives. Here are some matters of concern for us.

 Sick Pay 

Yes, we are setting up some sort of work programme with Helen regarding the sick pay situation for care workers that work for organisations contracted by the council. The latest news on this was welcome. However, the mere fact of outsourcing has at best coincided, and at worst has led to, reductions in what we think are basic protections for staff who, ultimately, work for an organisation that is led by the Labour Party.

So, regardless of efforts to improve the sick pay for care staff we still have Bristol Waste who mostly do not receive occupational sick pay (some might have it because of TUPE) and who have suffered loss of pay over this trying period. Some are scared rigid putting themselves in danger each day; and we now see further moves to set up arms-length organisations (or contract out) where terms and conditions are pegged only to legal minimums. 

Outsourcing Agenda 

There seems to be an accepted view that the public sector cannot run services as efficiently as arms’ length companies and contractors. We disagree with this. But even if we accepted your privatising agenda there should be no reason to suppose that a Labour administration making these decisions would not protect and uphold decent standards for those organisations’ staff.

We stand for public services delivered by local government and it is within local government that decent standards can be maintained for staff (notwithstanding the problems being faced by council staff). In English law, labour protections are so small and regulation is so light that organisations that proudly say that they are upholding legal standards are really only upholding basic just-above-poverty entitlements.

The unions have struggled to lift people from poverty but there is a constant traction that draws wages down to minimum wage and reduces other benefits such as redundancy pay to statutory minimums. Management made an “offer” two years ago whereby we saw no tangible offer to compensate us for a loss of redundancy pay. We balloted and rejected it, but we shouldn’t have had to if there had been someone at a senior level who was prepared to stick up for ordinary staff. Decent redundancy pay does two things: it compensates the staff member and makes the employer think more carefully before letting people go, which is what we in the Labour movement should be supporting, not undermining.

Our staff are frustrated because they know they can deliver in-house (they already are) and are worried about being spun out to another third-party organisation where the risk of failure can appear as likely as it was before. Please see my points about outsourcing and sick pay above. UNISON remains opposed to TUPE transfers and outsourcing. This position was not decided on by this branch but by conference and is the national position of the union. 

Staff Appeals 

It is not my place to put pressure on you to find someone not guilty but I respectfully request that you listen to the evidence and make a just decision. I have, however, been placed in farcical situations that were unjust. The last time was before three Labour councillors.

Under the heading ‘appeals’ ‘what you can do in the hearing’ on the Acas website is ‘present new evidence if you have it’. It can be found here for you to check for yourself: https://www.acas.org.uk/appealing-a-disciplinary-or-grievance-outcome#:~:text=The%20right%20of%20appeal%20and%20the%20law%20The,them%20if%20the%20case%20goes%20to%20employment%20tribunal.

It goes on to say that employers should “look at new evidence, if there is any”. Unfortunately, Bristol City council’s position is that new evidence is not allowed at appeals and this was upheld by three Labour councillors – a position that is below the basic standards of Acas. It is fair to say I was taken aback. If we are not allowed to present new evidence what is the point? 

Breach of Contract 

With a section of our surveyors, management freely entered into a new contract, in writing, with our members to pay a ‘market forces supplement’ for between one and three years. A few months later, they then withdrew from that contract, which of course we are unwilling to allow them to do. We, alongside Unite the Union, have entered a dispute with BCC.

Management realising that this may end up in county court seem to have consulted a solicitor or two who know that they may be allowed to argue that three months wages is the award for breaking a contract such as this. We argue that it has a fixed term (at least one year) and we will see who wins.

In the meantime this places BCC’s commitment to honour its agreements in doubt. Again, it is not my role to press you to make decisions, but I want you to know that BCC is not a playground utopia for hard-leftists (as it is presented, I am told) but a battleground over basic bourgeois rights such as upholding a contract of employment. 

Unilateral Policy Changes

I have been arguing for months now that BCC needs to put its policies back to the last position where it was agreed with the unions. HR are attempting to reduce our employment rights further. Management have insisted that none of this is part of our contract and they can do this but when it coincides with dismissal (and other matters such as appointments) then we have insisted it is and they can’t.

None of this is minor: the sickness policy now says that you no longer have to be taken through the warnings consecutively – they can jump straight to the last stage (and dismissal) if they want. And there are no longer minimum periods for consultations.

We recently saw a one-week consultation that led to a contract change, which means restructures can be rushed through. There are many more minor changes that staff relied upon to get fairness at work. I can’t find anyone who will admit to okaying any of this so why is it still up? 

Conclusion 

The number of complaints I have are much greater than what I have set out above, but further matters will have to come later. It is fair to say, I can’t understand why our members are under attack like this but we are now going to start campaigning over these issues. 

Thanks, Tom Merchant, Branch secretary, Bristol UNISON