Heard the one about Bristol City Council pointlessly hiring an expensive HR consultant to run a disciplinary against a member of staff the great all-powerful Reverend Rees decided he wanted sacked? A disciplinary is normally a straightforward job any competent middle manager would do at the council. Was there, maybe, something a little abnormal about this particular process then?
Possibly, as they had to hire another HR consultant to hear a grievance regarding the conduct of the first consultant’s investigation! Now, we’re told by our trade union brothers, the council is hiring yet another consultant to investigate the conduct of both of the previous consultants! Will this deranged cycle of HR consultants at our expense ever end?
More to the point, after all this huge expenditure, did the Reverend get his man?
Unlike our own pathetic version of a ‘socialist’ Mayor here in Bristol, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo of the tiny town of Marinaleda (population of less than 3000) in Andalusia, Spain, gets up every morning to take control of yet another piece of privately-owned but idle property with his fellow townsfolk, or redistributes produce to those in need by immediate requisition from city supermarket chains. And he also succeeds, simply by using the principle of “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs”, relentlessly using militant direct action and leading by example from the front.
In a poverty-stricken region of Spain with 35% unemployment – the people of Marinaleda have only 5% due to local initiatives. The once idle, privately owned land is now owned communally (seized originally through land occupation) and farmed collectively. They also now have their own democratically-run primary and secondary schools for the kids, their own community radio station, and best of all, the hated local police force are not allowed into town.
Now compare and contrast with the wealthy metropolitan city of Bristol where you can’t get a council house for love nor money: but in Marinaleda you get a full grant to build your own high quality council house to any specs you like, getting expert help and the building materials for free, and then afterwards you pay onlythe equivalent of £13.50 a month! ___________________________________________________________________
IN FEBRUARY of this year, two activists from Bristol (Y and Z) travelled to Marinaleda on spec, hoping to interview this inspiring character. “We were starting to despair of the mayor having any time for us,” said Activist Y, “as he was so busy with his work for the community”. However, the day before their arrival they finally managed to contact him on the phone, where according to Activist Z, “he said only two words: ‘Diga me’ (tell me), and once he’d heard what we were about, he boomed out just one extra word: ‘Venga!’ (come!)”.
Below is the transcript of their interview with a very different sort of Mayor:
Activist Y – How did the Marinaleda socialist project start?
Mayor Gordillo – It started with a struggle against unemployment. Fighting land ownership was the best way forward for solving unemployment, because in rural Andalusia just 2% own 50% of the cultivatable land and we realised that we were not going to get anything through charity. We had to seize the initiative by taking direct control of the land and the means of production. So we fought continuously for 12 years and did many things from hunger strike to occupation to get the land back. King Juan Carlos and those other rich scum haven’t forgiven us, because for the first time in the history of Andalusia we managed to get back our land and to keep it. So there we were, the forgotten poor, facing off against the government, the judges, the police and the landowners, and we got our land back.
Activist Y – What approach was in your opinion the most successful?
Mayor Gordillo – The success came from fighting; each struggle never stopped until we got a victory no matter how small it was. That made people motivated enough to struggle on for the following success and then the one after that. It helped people to forget what they hadn’t been able to get, and to remember what they had gained.
Activist Y – What problems have the community encountered, and how have they resolved them?
Mayor Gordillo – The problem is that when people start getting land and the government or the landowner concedes a few crumbs from the table, they start feeling like masters – without actually being masters. Peasants who didn’t have anything before now have some rights, but it can breed complacency. Another problem is the concept of work. If one person has a wage and another hasn’t one at all, this creates division. The other problem is maintaining people’s unity amidst a constant barrage of consumer culture. We have been gaining ground slowly, recently discussing with people for example how we can possibly pay the [central government] taxes, or whether we could even stop paying them at all, so this is how the battle continues. But the capitalist system is always a thief, and is exploiting us more than ever before.
Activist Y – Have the ideas of Marinaleda had any influence across the region, or even into any other parts of Spain?
Mayor Gordillo – In some places yes, but I wish we had more influence across Spain and in the world, and that people paid proper attention to what we say instead of seeing us as a freak show. It’s terrible how the public is deceived – they don’t seem to realise that by buying things, they get bought. But people like us who don’t buy this con and who’d rather spend our lives fighting don’t have to follow that life. Through struggle, you learn not to be afraid of anything.
Activist Y – How do you plan out the allocation of land and housing in Marinaleda?
Mayor Gordillo – Those who don’t have a home receive the materials to build them. 350 houses have been built in this way in the town centre. They are each 90 metres square, and each has a further 100 square metres of courtyard. A typical council house here has three bedrooms. Except that they cannot sell it, the house is effectively owned by its residential household, who pay 15 euros a month into the community housing fund.
Activist Z – In my city we have many homeless people, so if someone became homeless here, how would you support that person?
Mayor Gordillo – There should not be anyone without housing or food, but if somebody ever needs it, they’ll get it. We can provide all of our people with economic assistance – I don’t think there’s anyone homeless in Marinaleda.
Activist Y – How does wages and money work here?
Mayor Gordillo – Same as everywhere in the world. The ideal was to have our own currency and our own bank, but money works the same as in any other country. What we earn here is more than the standard [over double the Spanish minimal wage], and way over what people generally earn for labouring in the countryside of Andalusia. There are no poor people, but there are no very rich people either. In terms of indirect taxes for sustaining what we have, everyone pays the same. There are no direct taxes that are charged on wealth, as everyone in the village is more or less on the same level economically.
Activist Y – Do you have a TV station for the town?
Mayor Gordillo – We had one, but we had to close it in the end. TV is only good in that it gives you a voice, and that’s very important because mainstream media is run by big capital. Most Spanish channels serve as the voice of the rich. There is no public TV in Spain. We do still have a radio station.
Activist Y – In Bristol, our mayor pretends to be a socialist but he is really just another self-serving careerist and blind follower of the market ideology. For a ‘wealthy’ city, there are many homeless people and much poverty, while the council hires inefficient private companies and high-fee charging consultants to make things worse. The council runs along happily under the model of ‘austerity’.
Mayor Gordillo – There are far too many people who call themselves socialists, but in reality they are capitalists. These things do not sit well together, or at all. Energy, water and housing should be expropriated and turned into public assets. Small businesses can be kept private, but large businesses and the means of production must always be made public, run directly by the workers. TV and radio too. Austerity is driven by the endless search for low production costs. The cheapest labour costs for capitalism currently come from Africa and Asia. Take Amancio Ortega – the richest man in Spain – his textile companies are in Bangladesh and India. There he pays a euro and a half for 10 hours labour without paying any taxes, then he sells on at a huge profit in the US and Europe. Austerity is just a tool to drive the working class everywhere down to the same level of total exploitation and misery. Ortega is a multi-millionaire. If a person gets very rich, then he is a thief. He does not get rich through his own work, but by stealing. Under capitalism the workers always fail, while the idle rich always succeed.
Activist Z – What solutions do you think we could achieve in Bristol? Is there a message we can take back to our own council, or even better to the people they are supposed to represent?
Mayor Gordillo – You won’t get socialism by accepting how things are. You can only achieve what they always tell you is impossible through direct action – by struggling for it, just as we are doing here. Every single city, town or village in the world has the land and resources that can sustain it. Get out there and take back control!
This transcript was translated from the original Spanish recording by two Bristolians: Activist Z (see above), and Activist X, a native speaker.
Have you heard the one about the appalling new ‘WELLBEING’ MANAGER at Bristol City Council who has triggered multiple complaints by council staff to HR for bullying? Please step forward ISLE OF WIGHT RESIDENT Christina “The Nag” Czarkowski Crouch, who didn’t rock up at the Counts Louse six months ago to start work as the council’s new Safety, Health and Wellbeing Manager.
Covid has proved a boon for this former Head of Risk and Safety at Hampshire County Council – who retired from there “UNDER A CLOUD” – as she’s only had to come to Bristol ONCE IN SIX MONTHS. Leaving this ridiculous Tory bint plenty of time to indulge in her expensive hobby running a riding school and poncing about at dressage events.
Less happy are trade unions at the council who tell us that there’s “a plan to get everyone back to work at the council based on an IDEOLOGICAL HR PLAN“. A plan enthusiastically fronted by a Hampshire resident safely tucked away in a home office 130 miles away who doesn’t see any need to come near one of her ‘safe’ workplaces in Bristol any time soon. Unions also tell us The Nag got paid a generous MOVING ALLOWANCE by us when she got the job but obviously hasn’t bothered moving to Bristol. What’s she done with our money?
The Nag’s current job at the council is to sign off – from a safe long distance – UNSAFE WORKPLACES and offices at the council as, er, safe. This corporate ‘wellbeing’ expert has done this by BULLYING staff into signing off her dodgy risk assessments and telling them that if they don’t do what she says, SHE WILL MAKE THEM LEAVE! Unions sources say The Nag is anti-union too and has refused to speak with them, let alone account for her efforts to kill council staff.
Multiple complaints regarding The Nag have now landed in Bristol City Council’s HR inbox. Although so far her bosses, the council’s mentally unstable Head of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, A NOTORIOUS BULLY himself, and his hopelessly thick and useless yes-man sidekick, Director of HR Mark “Bashar” Williams, have done FUCK ALL. Mainly on the basis that this pair of turds view bullying as top quality management practice that needs to be encouraged. Unless any bullying is aimed at them of course.
Why can’t city council staff just man up a bit and be prepared to die of Covid for a bunch of management cowards and bullies hiding in expensive homes around the UK?
The Reverend Rees’s highly regarded Cabinet Member for Housing has sensationally QUIT the council. Paul “Wolfie” Smith resigned from Rees’s cabinet on Tuesday and also QUIT as a councillor to take up a lucrative £90k (plus bonus) a year position as Chief Exec at Elim Housing Association. The resignation leaves the Reverend without a majority at Bristol City Council.
According to social media, Wolfie was a great champion of social housing and has had some success over the last few years getting homes built and tackling homelessness. However, over the last year some increasingly erratic policies have emerged from Wolfie’s housing department where Jez Sweetland, who runs the Bristol Housing Festival and happens to be a prominent member of the Reverend’s Church at the Hope Chapel, Howells has become increasingly influential.
Harebrained initiatives emerging from Sweetland have included a plan to build 173 IKEA chipboard homes on the verge of the A4174 Airport Road and another madcap idea to build ‘Hope Rise’. Tiny modular flats for young people over the car park at St George Park. This week the council even started a queue jumping ‘super tenancy’ opportunity for these properties, directly offering a shared council home to applicants in exchange for voluntary work with vulnerable young people. A plan that is unlikely to comply with law.
Wolfie’s department also announced their intention last month to create the slums of the future. They will house 200 homeless people and families in the shoddily converted Parkview office complex in Hartcliffe. Homes that do not meet national space standards. The owner of the flats, Caridon, are also one of the country’s most notorious slum landlords.
Has Wolfie thrown in the towel? Has he quit while he was ahead? But how ahead was he anyway? Despite all the promises of council housing from the Rees administration and Wolfie’s regular assurances that his projections to meet a manifesto promise of 2,500 homes, 500 affordable, a year were ‘on target’, the stats say something quite different. In March 2016, there were 27,402 council homes in Bristol. By March 2020 there were 26,833. A net reduction of 469 council homes.
Of course, Wolfie can’t be held to blame for the Tory ‘Right to Buy’ policy, which has led to this reduction in council homes. But he can be blamed for spending four years delivering half-arsed market solutions and supporting timid private sector responses to the city’s housing crisis. These solutions have simply failed to deliver and were never going to deliver the quantity of council homes required to turn around a housing crisis.
Wolfie can also be blamed for entertaining Sweetland and his weirdo ideas for the last few years. The evangelical nutter is now left free to dominate the show with his Victorian Christian charity message and fill the city up with his cheap shit housing for the poor and vulnerable.
Are we in more of a housing mess than when Wolfie started?
On September 1, Bristol City Council’s Mayoral Executive will ram through a package to house many of Bristol’s homeless currently sheltered from Covid-19 in a series of inner-city hotels. They will be sent to a large office-to-housing development at Parkview (formerly the offices of Bristol City Council) off Whitchurch Lane in South Bristol.
These homeless, and any new homeless, are to be given places in 200+ alleged ‘flats’ in a converted office building at Parkview. Run by Caridon, a Croydon-based property company who will PROFIT from this scheme, it will be be known as ‘IMPERIAL APARTMENTS’.
Planning restrictions for an ‘office-into-home conversion’ do not hold the same weight as in residential properties, however. For example, they do not have to conform to normal health and safety regulations and cupboards or storage spaces can be turned into squeezed/minimal size ‘flats’ that do not even have a window.
Companies like Caridon – see this BBC investigation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT0pXJ8L_2g – specialise in EXPLOITING a new housing market devised by councils desperate for cheap housing in an ongoing housing crisis.
And who will deliver Caridon’s profits for their imperialist dream of providing’ sub-standard ‘accommodation’? The answer is of course the Bristol taxpayer, signed off by The Mayor and his Council Executive cronies at College Green on September 1. BCC will also offer Caridon the rent IN FULL as demanded by its Director Mario ‘Darth Vader’ Carrozzo, regardless of whether the residents can pay or not.
The flats run by Darth Vader’s Evil Caridon Empire will house the homeless, single parents, victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill, probationers etc; all together in one big happy family. Take a look at this Panorama documentary to see how well a very similar project, once again run by Caridon, worked out in Harlow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAuilFQYHKc
BCC appear to have told Caridon to keep mum about their Bristol adventure in light of this bad publicity, as the Caridon currently provide no relevant information or links on their website.
1. Prince Andrew is a PAEDOPHILE. This means he likes to rape working class boys and girls with his billionaire friends like Jeffery Epstein who was murdered in prison in case he started squealing on other Royals or politicians etc etc to get a reduced sentence.
2. Another name for Prince Andrew the Paedophile is “NONCE”. These people go to a “NONCE WING” in prison and get boiling water thrown into their faces……. And get stabbed.
3. Like the rest of his family Andy is chronically work shy and bone idle. He would have no idea what a trowel or hawk was. BUT he would know how much a 15yr old eastern European girl would cost for an evening.
4. And WE would pay for that out of OUR TAXES
5. His favourite band is the Gary Glitter band BUT when paedo Andrew sings, “Do you want to be in my gang” it means…….. ARE YOU 14? And do you want to be shared around with a load of senile tory voting millionaires.
6. He once asked Tory supporting, corpse shagging mate, JIMMY SAVILE to “Fix it for me” to have a beautiful child bride but ended up with that fat fuck Fergie….. Who after sucking off lots of millionaire business men, left him with two inbred daughters who we pay for.
7. Every military parade, Prince Andrew, Like the rest of his fucking INBRED repulsive family like to show off a whole chest full of medals for “bravery” and “service to the country”. For example in 1982 whilst working class soldiers from the UK and Argentina were killing each other, Andy’s ship almost came within 1,000 miles of the Falkland’s! Such breath taking courage needs to be rewarded with millions of tax payers money, lots of mansions, constant Caribbean holidays….. and teenage SEX SLAVES.
8. His favourite brother is the slap-head ponce Prince Edward. He also hass a dazzling military career. Whilst trying out for the marines he managed two whole press-ups before crying and running back to his fucking Mummy and organising the excruciating it’s a “Royal knock Out” with the rest of the fuckwits. Nowadays he still takes MILLIONS in taxes from our hard-earned wages but has been told to keep out of the public spotlight. So now he cries alone at home while he tugs off into his dead Grans Bloomers.
9. The Queen has told Andrew he can carry on being a lazy fucking NONCE “But to stay away from any Muslim children” or “He will end up like that Bitch Diana”.
10. Andrew has constant nightmares that the working class may one day drag him out of one of his mansions, strip him down to his ermine pants and socks and put a well-deserved BULLET in his head.
Since Colston came off his pedestal and went for a swim on June 7th social media, TV and the press have been dominated by politicians, journalists and so-called ‘community spokespeople’ gushing with praise for the statue coming down.
The Mayor’s Office even banged on in a press statement that the Reverend Rees had an audience of 10 million around the world, from Bangladesh to Tokyo after Colston’s ‘burial at sea’. However, while seizing this new opportunity for pontificating, Rees conveniently failed to give a toss about the people who had put him on the world stage. That was the 17 or so demonstrators who had been identified under Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s orders to “get these people” – the statue topplers.
So as Rees was boring the masses in Bangladesh, Avon & Somerset Police were being forced to line up charges of criminal damage that could put the protestors away for up to 10 years. And what did Rees do? Intervene at the Council for the good of the city and agree not to press charges, allowing the cops to give two fingers to Patel? Like fuck he did … Far better to bathe in the glare of global publicity and forget about those who put him there.
Campaigners who have fought for many years for the Colston statue to be removed and to get a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery in the City have been astounded by the two-faced hypocrisy of these turncoats. Rees told Points West:
“When I first came in, myself and a number of black people in the creative sector said that the best thing to do is to keep that [Colston] debate away from me.”
So Mr Civil Rights’s major contribution to the struggle to get the Merchant Venturers pet slave trader off our streets and schools was not just to do nothing but to actively discourage others from getting involved.
When calls came to change the name of the Colston Hall in 2017 Rees was silent, refusing to make his position clear until he was caught like a rabbit in the headlights at the end of a TV programme. Martin Luther King, who Rees idolises, must be turning in his grave.
In 2019 after the Merchant Venturers had spent months sanitising the wording on a plaque for the statue that was meant to correct the history of Colston, Rees only intervened to avoid becoming a laughing stock. Finally using some of his executive power to block the Venturer’s sanitised plaque before heading to the hills faster than Dominic Cummings in a top of the range Land Rover, leaving the project in limbo for over a year.
Meanwhile Rees’s second in command Asher Craig’s hardly covered herself in glory in dealing with persistent calls by campaigners for a permanent memorial to remember the victims of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Bristol lags far behind other ports like Liverpool and Nantes in France that were involved in the ‘vile trade’ and have made major efforts to both memorialise the victims and tell the history – warts and all.
One historian from Bristol University stated in a meeting with Asher Craig in March 2019 “that Bristol’s reputation abroad, when referring to the city’s response to its slaving past, was very bad”. He also said that Bristol shouldn’t limit its ambitions regarding a slavery museum, “the city should think big and be better than Liverpool”.
Bristol City Council have missed opportunities to right this embarrassing wrong many times. In 1996 around the Festival of the Sea, in 1999 when the Respectable Trade exhibition was launched, in 2007 with the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade and again in 2015 when the Colston protests began.
In 2017 campaigners from three groups and local residents proposed the Abolition Shed project, which wanted to convert two council-owned warehouses on Welsh Back into a memorial for the victims of the African slave-trade with a visitor centre to tell the history. When they approached Asher Craig to get support from Bristol City Council she basically told them to clear off and get some private funding.
Despite this slap in the face campaigners continued the fight to halt the council’s proposed development of the warehouses into more restaurants and bars and to finally do something. This persistence and enthusiasm by unpaid Bristolians who gave a fuck about the memorial, the history and the city’s reputation was clearly starting to annoy Rees and Craig.
In August 2019 Marvin angrily demanded to know “who the campaigners were” and in response to their proposals cited a record in office of being amazing, without, of course, any concrete commitment to a memorial and museum. Asher was even more furious claiming“the City was now taking this seriously” and accusing the campaigners of being “bullies”. One local historian from the Counter-Colston group commented:
“Despite the fact that it is just not true, for Asher to characterise people as ‘bullies’ who have, without ‘funding’ and political power given lots of time and energy over several years to try to get something done after decades of failure, is disgraceful.”
Needless to say the Abolition Shed project was strangled at birth by Rees, Craig and the Council as they voted to turn the warehouses into pizza restaurants whilst wasting a million quid on moving a barge to appease the developers. Another missed opportunity in Bristol’s tradition of failure.
Asher’s only response to persistent demands for a memorial was to set up a ‘roundtable’, which descended into the usual talking shop while those who wanted to get a concrete commitment from the Council were seen as ‘troublemakers’.
It is also no surprise that Marvin’s response to Colston’s statue coming down was to propose a ‘history commission’. Looking into the “true history of the city”, which sounds like another opportunity for free-loading academics to fail to do anything.
So here we are, kicking the can down the road again….
I’ve been watching for some time Bristol City Council’s war against its own staff, but it becomes particularly vicious in light of the coronavirus situation. The suppression of our black whistle-blowers continues apace and the dismissal and downgrading of our disabled staff has been made worse by the pandemic because there aren’t any safe roles to be redeployed into. But nonetheless, BCC won’t let an impossible job market get in the way of following an unethical and discriminatory policy to the bitter end, no matter how illegal it is.
I’ve written at length about this (see Smiter passim). The message, I think, has got through but they sadly have no shame and continue down the same road anyway. There is one member of the cabinet who is genuinely interested in these affairs and has tried to rectify these problems but the chain of command is so long it becomes like a game of Chinese whispers. Instructions and queries are garbled on the way down and replies obfuscated on the way up. When reports are written (for example, the workforce survey which jumped across the management chain and informed leaders directly) the facts are obfuscated by legal agreements that prevent disclosure and therefore the reasons for staff unhappiness aren’t shown.
And here we come to the nub of it. Bitter disputes between management and staff (grievances, disciplinaries and capability hearings) are being hidden by settlement agreements that have non-disclosure clauses. This means that if BCC discriminates against a member of staff and gets its chequebook out so no one can talk about it. This situation often happens when staff reach the point where appeals have failed and they are left with the option of either taking a settlement or going to court. You can’t blame them for settling when the council starts writing a cheque that equals what they would expect in court but without all the stress, but the process prevents the leadership of the organisation from seeing staff being manoeuvred into their predicament and then being bought off. The council is buying the silence of people it victimises.
So, even if a discriminatory event takes place that has been identified (like manoeuvring out most of the black staff from a department during a restructure and then making it impossible to stay at your own grade if you manage to hang on in there) any subsequent agreement not to go to court about it can’t be talked about. So we can’t learn from it. So the narrative that there was no discrimination at all is maintained and black staff, apparently, weren’t “a cabal” as reported. (You know who you are.)
Of course our black staff aren’t the only ones who are frightened, because our disabled, sick and older staff are too. It’s quite clear that quite a few of our staff are clinically vulnerable to the coronavirus (BCC used to be disability-friendly) and have shielded. Except a lot of these instructions to shield were rescinded. Some have cancer, some have heart conditions or hypertension and others have diabetes. Others have family members with the same sort of impairments and need to shield for their sake. When the instruction not to shield (unless you matched very strict criteria) came in, the staff phoned in sick and got a doctor’s note because they were in danger. BCC is now having sickness absence hearings for these people (some of which are the last stage, stage three). They promised not to penalise people who were sick because of coronavirus and they have gone back on this promise. How I really feel about this behaviour is just not reportable.
All of this is led by a well-motivated, well-organised human resources team. They enable the worst excesses of managers and provide custom-crafted tool-kits for those managers to demote, redeploy, harass and dismiss staff who do little more than stand up for statutory rights such as whistle-blowing and protecting themselves from danger.
It’s about time HR was reorganised. Hopefully they can then get a taste of their own medicine.
Press releases tumbling out of the Society of Merchant Venturers since the fall of Colston on Sunday 7 June 2020 have left campaigners against the cult and their slave trade icon gobsmacked.
“The statue of Edward Colston was removed from Bristol’s city centre last weekend and the fact that it has gone is right for Bristol,” the Venturers innocently chirped to the press late on a Friday evening about a statue they fought a bitter and underhand battle for years to maintain at the heart of city.
Public warm words and contrition now are in stark contrast to the cult’s attitude as recently as 2018. Then the Merchant’s misfiring education wing, the Venturers Trust, which runs Colston Girls School and Withywood’s Merchants Academy as well as string of primary schools across the city, accused Colston campaigners and anti-racists of terror offences.
The damaging smear, a deliberate attempt to destroy the careers and reputations of campaigners prepared to directly challenge our city’s wealthy and influential Colston cult, came after Countering Colston’s Christine Townsend submitted a formal objection to the Office of the School Adjudicator in April 2018 about admission arrangements at Colston’s Girls School.
During this adjudication process, in letters to the Adjudicator and to Bristol’s Local Education Authority, signed by senior Merchant Venturer Anthony Brown of the Venturers Trust, they claimed that Christine had harassed children and associated her with a bomb threat to Colston Girls School. They even demanded that the Home Office’s PREVENT Programme to tackle homegrown terrorism investigate Christine and other members of Countering Colston.
The Adjudicator ignored Brown’s absurd fabrications as the Adjudication process deals exclusively with school admissions and a ruling on this appeared in August 2018. The local authority told the Merchants they needed to speak with the police, not a local council, in line with long established children’s safeguarding processes an academy chain should be familiar with.
Throughout the summer of 2018 the Venturers Trust ignored all correspondence and refused to retract and apologise for the kind of damaging smears that can cost people hard-earned careers. Eventually, in August 2018, a Civil Procedure Rules Pre-Action Protocol was served on Anthony Brown as Chair of Colston Girls Schools and trustee of the Venturers Trust. Christine was suing for libel.
By February 2019, with neither Brown, Colston Girls School or the Venturers Trust able to produce a shred of evidence for their claims, a written apology and a full and detailed retraction of their allegations was received by Christine from Anthony Brown. The proven liar also quietly resigned as Chair of Colston Girls School and a Trustee of the Venturers Trust. Oddly, Trevor Smallwood, a former Master of the Merchant Venturers, followed Brown out of the door as Chair of the Venturers Trust. The typical fanfare the local press reserves for vain old Venturers for their much-vaunted charitable and voluntary work was noticeably absent.
No explanation for Brown and Smallwood’s sudden departure from running one of the city’s leading academy chains has ever been publicly provided by The Venturers Trust or the Merchant Venturers. While the editor of the Bristol Post, Mike Norton, has declined to publish this news, almost certainly in the public interest, that his newspaper has held for over a year.
Are we to believe it is so entirely unremarkable for senior Merchant Venturers running academy chains to be proven liars that it is not worthy of news or comment? Or is the city’s wealthy slave trade cult so malignly powerful and influential it can easily silence our city’s senior media figures in order to maintain their false reputation?
Why are these wealthy men allowed to continue getting away with it and what else haven’t you heard about the Colston cultists dominating our city?
Meet Merchant Venturer Trevor Smallwood, a very wealthy man indeed. Like a number of Venturers, Smallwood obtained the majority of his wealth courtesy of Thatcherite privatisation policies and ended his career as chairman of First Group, who count Bristol’s buses among a portfolio of public transport service mediocrities run for shareholder benefit. Smallwood, from a fairly ordinary background, has used his wealth to climb the social ladder and has been the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and the Master of the Society of Merchant Venturers, the top job at the racist cult.
2009: Smallwood finally loses in the Court of Appeal and is forced to pay £2.7m in Corporation Tax to the Inland Revenue after attempting to dodge the tax via a Trust Fund – of which he was a beneficiary – that had been temporarily based in Mauritius. The tax was due on a £6m sale of shares in First Group held by the trust that were sold in 2001. His tax advisors at the Bristol office of big four accountants Price Waterhouse Cooper had encouraged Smallwood’s trust to sell these shares only after its governance had been transferred to Mauritius in a transparent attempt for the share sale to come under the jurisdiction of Mauritian tax law rather than British. A tax dodge that publicly and spectacularly failed.
2014: UWE Bristol awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration to Trevor Smallwood OBE DL in recognition of his, er, “entrepreneurial and charity work”. Tax dodging, apparently, being no bar to gaining the highest honour from one of our city’s universities.
So does it come as any surprise that, also, in 2014 UWE Bristol’s Vice Chancellor, over-promoted podiatrist Prof Steve West, became a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers? But what on earth for? Why would a leader of an allegedly progressive institution wish to join a racist organisation best known among the majority of progressives in the city for openly lying to generations of children for sanctifying and sanitising their hero, the slave trader Edward Colston?
What’s in this bizarre arrangement for West exactly? What’s in it for the public he’s supposed to serve? And how much longer are UWE staff and students going to tolerate their boss hanging out with racists and tax dodgers? His position as both a Venturer and head of a higher education institution that aspires to be anti-racist is surely untenable? Or, like tax dodging, is being a member of a racist cult a cause for public celebration and honours when you’re part of Bristol’s self-styled elite?