The ‘Smart City’ prophets love games and play and promote them hard because what you need to understand is that the ‘Smart City’ is a whole lot of fun. Harmless fun entirely for your benefit. It brings jobs, growth and innovation to make you wealthy and delivers entertainment, play and games to keep you happy.
Here in Bristol we have a publicly funded organisation dedicated to promoting what a load of harmless fun a ‘Smart City’ is – the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed. “It’s a world of amazingness and wonder. If Willy Wonka existed, he’d be jealous of it :)” Kieron Kirkland, their former Magician-in-residence uncritically assures us. Magically unaware that the manufacturing of confectionary doesn’t conjure huge amounts of behavioural data for tech firms to appropriate and monetise.
The Pervasive Media Studio’s big idea is the ‘Playable City’. “There were a lot of older people,” these ageists tell us, “who were totally terrified at the notion of a smart city and how cold and alienating it was. So we decided to reappropriate smart cities’ technology for play.”
But who’s playing what game and what is really being reappropriated in a ‘Smart/Playable City’? Are “older people” right to be alienated? On the face of it, Pervasive Media, once you get past its creepy name, is pretty harmless. ‘Playable City’ is little more than an annual international conference and accompanying prize for daft ideas such as creating smart phone enabled talking street furniture or randomly triggering projections of animals at unsuspecting pedestrians at night.
So far, so much municipally imposed fun courtesy of hipsters. However, the corporate Godfather of the outdoor digital play market, Pokémon GO, is taking digital play somewhere else entirely. Initially this ‘augmented reality mobile game’ involved finding and capturing, on your phone, virtual cartoon characters in your neighbourhood. Then Pokémon GO struck deals with the likes of McDonalds, Starbucks and other corporates who handed over hard cash in exchange for the behavioural and location data held by Pokémon GO.
These transactions transformed Pokémon GO. A cheap, harmless hour in the park with the kids hunting virtual characters became the completely different game of nudging you through the door of a corporate outlet to spend money.
Pokémon GO is a step forward in the use of your behavioural data by tech firms. They’re moving beyond storing and analysing data to predict your behaviour (say through promoting certain ads on the internet at you) to trying to directly manage and control your behaviour through your digital device. Behavioural control and management is the new frontier for big data firms in the ‘Smart City’ test bed and play and games are among the tools in their box.
When you pick up your phone to play, regardless of how old you are, be sure to know what game you’re playing.
The enthusiasm with which our serially useless senior council bosses are suddenly embracing advertising their INCOMPETENCE is a new and novel innovation for our Counts Louse’s Third Floor DEPARTMENT OF DUNCES.
Their public confessional follows a report from Green Councillor and Audit Committee vice chair Clive “Shakin'” Stevens into how former chief exec Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski walked away from Bristol in 2017 after just SIX MONTHS’ OF INDIFFERENT WORK with £98k in her pocket. Shaky, was given access to carefully selected top secret documents by dodgy council bosses and has devised a personal “MOST LIKELY SCENARIO” regarding the payout.
Shaky claims it was all down to SERIAL INCOMPETENCE and council bosses are queuing up to cheerfully admit it. Not least because their only other option would be to admit to UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY. What Shaky alleges transpired is that Big Wedge’s colleague and associate, Jackie “You’re Fired!” McGeachie – the former Tesco exec turned jobbing senior local authority HR interim – “ACCIDENTALLY” sent the wrong Chief Exec contract to lawyers in 2017, which allegedly entitled Big Wedge to a big wedge and, er, nobody noticed it was the wrong contract until it was too late.
However, Shaky’s “most likely scenario”, which we’re invited to believe over “the conspiracy theories”, raises as many questions as it answers. For instance, if the payment to Klonowski was an error, WHY AREN’T WE ASKING FOR IT BACK? And what type of contract was sent by Big Wedge’s personally appointed HR boss that allows someone to resign and scarper with immediate effect but contractually obliges the employer to fork out six months’ pay in lieu of notice? AN UNPRECEDENTED ARRANGEMENT Shaky fails to explain.
Of course, this mysterious ‘top secret ROGUE CONTRACT remains safely locked away from the public, despite, by Shaky’s definition, being an out-of-date generic document and not personal information relating to a named individual. Shaky also says he discovered evidence of “GROSS OBFUSCATION” or “A COVER-UP” from bosses over the payment. Only to meekly announce “they should be ashamed”. But why isn’t Shaky recommending IMMEDIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION against them? Why would anyone want bent and dishonest bosses to remain in post running our council?
Is it because these bosses might start revealing what really happened and who authorised paying Klonowski £98k of hush money that we weren’t obliged to pay?
UKS Group are at it again. The company built a block of flats in Bishopsworth in 2017 – Litfield Court – that was LARGER than they had planning permission for (see ‘PLANNNING NEWS’, BRISTOLIAN 36), pissing off many locals in the process. After the REFUSAL of a retrospective planning application by the council, the company finally got permission for the enlarged block on appeal.
Now one of UKS’s directors Sam Litt, is trying to REPEAT THE TRICK at 32 – 38 St John’s Lane, Bedminster, where a blatant OVERDEVELOPMENT of ugly housing has sprung up with a glaring problem. Some of the properties are listed on the planning application as 3-BEDROOM, with a much smaller floor space than actually constructed. In reality they are 4-BEDROOM PROPERTIES.
Now Mr Litt, to overcome this little problem, is applying to the city council’s planning department for a ‘variation of conditions’ to make “MINOR AMENDMENTS” to his original planning application. And the planning officer dealing with this? Step forward our dear old friend ANGELO “KING PRAWN” CALABRESE, who had to be hastily shifted out of Avonmouth after a series of UNLAWFUL officer-delegated planning decisions favourable to the Port of Bristol Company and various corporate waste firms came to light.
Has King Prawn learned any lessons? Or is he overseeing dodgy planning decisions in South Bristol instead?
The Reverend Rees’s deranged efforts to build his way out of his carefully branded “HOUSING CRISIS” is hitting south Bristol and its open spaces very hard. Following last month’s unveiling of the Reverend’s IKEA/BOKLOKS housing solution, giving his loopey evangelical mate Jez “I’m no housing expert” Sweetland free rein to build 200 IKEA chipboard homes for the DESPERATE and the VULNERABLE on the narrow verge of a trunk road in Hengrove, comes news of another attempt to grab open space in south Bristol.
Filwood residents expressed their displeasure at Rees’s madcap “CHIPBOARD AND PRAYER” plans for the Airport Road at a cabinet meeting last month and community GROUP KNOWLE WEST FUTURE asked that the council, at least, reduce the number of homes planned for the small and narrow tree-filled site to 100. The group said, “A possible 400 people emanating from this site would be a significant addition to that area and if that is to happen other parts of community retail and infrastructure need to be improved.”
Meanwhile, less than a mile away at Broadbury Road in the heart of Knowle West, Curo Housing Association have unveiled plans for 47 homes on a small piece of COUNCIL-OWNED OPEN SPACE WITH A PLAYGROUND behind Broad Plain House. And the community are not impressed that their wildlife and rights of way are to be traded away by the council for concrete, traffic and overshadowing by large buildings.
Residents have also pointed out that the site is part of GARDEN CITY PLANNING PRINCIPLES and that the area was built to have green spaces. However, principles, planning or otherwise, are in short supply at Rees’s DUMBED DOWN FREE MARKET COUNCIL or at even dumber Curo. Instead Curo Communications Manager Valentina Warren gives the game away by gormlessly explaining the complex planning vision underpinning the Reverend’s “housing crisis”. “You can’t build new homes and have green space at the same time,” she’s announced.
So that’s south Bristol’s NEW ENVIRONMENTAL AND PLANNING STRATEGY sorted by Rees and his ragbag of religious looney mates, voluntary sector morons and second rate Counts Louse planning officials, then:
“No green space for you – losers.”
What are the council’s glorious leadership doing about the results of their staff survey published earlier this year? Remember the survey that revealed that a huge majority of staff at the council correctly viewed their bent and bonkers senior leaders as a bunch of UNTRUSTWORTHY CHARLATANS who were so out of touch they had no idea what their staff even did?
Fear not, enthusiastic Labour-supporter and council Head of Paid Service, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson has devised A BRILLIANT SOLUTION to reinvigorate trust and belief in him and his hapless senior leadership politburo colleagues Colin “Head Boy” Molton and Jacqui “Village” Jensen.
All was revealed to councillors last month when Billie Jean unveiled the kind of creative and innovative response he’s paid TOP-WHACK to deliver. He plans to … Wait for it … publish a “new structure chart with photos of senior leaders”!
Impressive or wot? Billie Jean’s really earning his six-figure sum with this NON-EVENT isn’t he? Quite how publishing photos of Head Boy Molton, who closely resembles a pig; Village Jensen who might be promoting ITV 4’s new “When Makeovers Go Wrong” and “Billie Jean” Jackson himself, channelling the style of a provincial accountant, will engender IMMEDIATE AND TOTAL TRUST from their staff is not a question Billie-Jean directly addresses.
Isn’t it time this useless shower of shit with no clue left Bristol alone and fucked off back to Devon or Leicester or wherever else it is they came from last year?
The fatuous twat’s fatuous twat departed back to Bath as he arrived, wearing a really shit suit and talking bollocks. Finally, we bid adieu to Alan “Stubby” Stubbersfield, Bristol City Council’s bizarre interim Director of Education – THE BOSS WHO COULDN’T SEEM TO COUNT – appointed by council social care exec, Jacqui “Village” Jensen to sort out the shambles in her SEND department.
Stubby, best known for maintaining a reasonably cheerful disposition while trousering A SIX-FIGURE SUM for overseeing, possibly, the worst run local authority department in the country, had a habit of releasing formal reports regarding Bristol’s SEND department to councillors and the public, only to have to WITHDRAW significant facts and figures in these reports because they were wrong.
As his parting shot to Bristol, Stubby of the Bailey had a crack at some law. Releasing his final report to a scrutiny committee meeting, he announced that the decision by the High Court in 2018 that found Bristol City Council had acted unlawfully when it cut £5million from its SEND budget was INCORRECT and the council had therefore done nothing WRONG.
This counter-factual nonsense didn’t go down well with either parents or politicians and left Stubby mumbling inanely about “legal advice from Bristol lawyers”. After receiving a THOROUGH BOLLOCKING from virtually everyone present at the meeting, Stubby issued another one of his grovelling public apologies for getting it all wrong (again).
Stubby and his AMAZING ACCIDENTAL REPORTS have now been replaced by new boss Alison Hurley “Burly”. We don’t know much about Alison yet, but her name provides opportunities for naff references to Macbeth. And, let’s face it, three witches huddled around a cauldron in the basement of the Counts Louse incanting “Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog” HAS AS MUCH CHANCE OF SUCCESS as any strategy devised by Stubby and the council’s resident village idiot Jacqui Jensen.
We await Alison’s formal actions on SEND with interest. Can she exceed Stubby’s extraordinary failures?
Parents of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) kids, royally SHAFTED by useless council social care boss Jacqui “Village” Jensen and her merry-go-round of clueless and unaccountable interim education chiefs on BIG MONEY were out in force at the Counts Louse on Tuesday 2 October. This was after OFSTED inspectors put out a call to parents to pop in and tell them what they think of SEND provision in Bristol as part of their statutory inspection of the Bristol City Council’s SEND disaster area.
Terms such as “CARNAGE” and “BLOODBATH” were liberally supplied to The BRISTOLIAN to describe the scenes as around 40 stressed and disgusted parents queued up to BLAST Village’s useless department that has failed to produce 98 PER CENT of their Education, Health and Social Care Plan (EHCP) on time. Without one of these plans many of the city’s most vulnerable children are UNABLE to access any kind of education in the city and children have been stranded at home with some parents having to give up work to care for and educate their kids themselves.
Village was clearly expecting trouble as she was spotted, with a host of her social and education ‘top guns’ fawning over her, loitering near the parents as they waited to meet the Ofsted inspectors. One parent commented to us that highly paid council bosses aimlessly hanging about at the Council House feigning concern, “PERFECTLY SYMBOLISED THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO THEIR ONGOING SEND CRISIS“.
But the big question is, when the abysmal OFSTED report arrives, will Jensen do the decent thing and do us all a favour and agree to aimlessly hang about at home on her own time on a permanent basis?
Words on the Development of Hengrove Park
As I sit here taking air at the enervating window of my oak-panelled study and surveying the natural majesty before me, I can only express utter joy and no small sense of wonder at the good news just arrived. Nay, this is more than mere good news. It is a tumult of the most joyous news. For soon these green and pleasant tree-lined fields of west England, which impart the form of my current panorama, shall be better moulded by enlightened man’s industry into the spectacle of a housing estate.
This finest of aspects, alas, currently despoiled by no peasant ever toiling hard under the hot sun as God intended, will receive, by God’s grace, the best of human enrichment and utility. Gone from our land will be the idlers, chokers, hawkers and show men with dog, child, bicycle, car boot or ball perambulating aimlessly upon fruitless, lazy, unprofitable soil and revealing a sordid disposition toward non-labouring activity.
Instead let us rejoice as these loafers are swept beyond view to dwell in chipboard slums of their own making. In their place the hard working peasant and the labouring man will toil, sweat, struggle and overcome upon our imperial soil to yield the finest fruits for the most deserving. Oh how my heart yearns to see 850 trees uprooted and nature’s roughly arranged bounty better diminished to make way for man’s ingenious scheme of road, concrete, congestion and poison fumes.
If you’re a middle class wanker who hates south Bristol and would like Avonmouth to continue to be poisoned, you can vote for ‘Green’ Sandy in the Mayoral Election on 6 May 2020
An alliance of LABOUR and GREEN councillors – taking a break from pre-election climate emergency PR fisticuffs for the benefit of the gullible Guardian-readers of Bristol West – have granted planning permission for 1,400 homes on Hengrove Park, THE LARGEST PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IN SOUTH BRISTOL. Their reason for this crap decision is that old chestnut for foisting sub-standard shite on us – “THE HOUSING CRISIS”.
The development means the LOSS, not only, of a huge amount of PUBLIC OPEN SPACE and PLAYING FIELDS but of 850 TREES on the land. The poorly connected new housing estate is also likely to bring TRAFFIC CHAOS to local residential roads as more car users are poured into a working class suburb where a rapid transit system isn’t even AN UNLIKELY PROMISE from the Reverend Rees.
This is also the suburb already earmarked by the same climate emergency obsessed councillors as an ideal location for a NEW RING ROAD designed to CHOKE CHILDREN in south Bristol in order to get traffic out of the city centre to improve air quality there. The new road will also help get punters to an EXPANDED AIRPORT at Lulsgate.
Residents in Whitchurch and Hengrove are “LIVID” at the loss of their park and the planned destruction of their neighbourhood and local social media pages are full of lively chat about THE SELL-OUT COUNCILLORS and the scheme’s political architect, the Reverend Rees. The usually quiet and undersubscribed pages have leaped to life and are full of RIPE LANGUAGE on the subject of the city’s politicians. Popular terms include “wankers”; “arseholes”; “hypocrites” and “tossers”.
Hengrove and Whitchurch are unlikely to be returning any Labour or Green politicians to power any time soon, then.