Author Archives: thebristolblogger

WHO THE FUCK IS JOHN BETTY?

John Betty

Possibly the most expensive idiot you’ve never heard of. This dodgy old fart has spent years grabbing lucrative local authority interim contracts.

He pitched up in Cornwall for a couple of years in 2018 where a local blog colourfully called him “a 10-minute shoe-in pensioner” as he forked out £2.5m without authorisation to an associate for a regeneration scheme in Truro.

Another career highlight was a stint in Bath 2005 – 10.

In charge of the later stages of the Bath Spa development where costs spiralled from £13 million to £45 million. He also featured in the press. They revealed he earned £1.2m during his five years there. A deal the coalition government called “exorbitant”.

So guess who, since leaving Cornwall under a cloud in 2020, has been project director for the Bristol Beacon as costs spiralled from £52m to £132m?

Remarkably, there’s no record of who appointed 77 year old Betty or why and there’s no recorded process for his appointment. Neither has he appeared before any committee of councillors. Nor is his, undoubtedly, huge salary recorded in the council’s statement of accounts.

Why is this high-earning, high public spender not accountable?

CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?

Alacatraz
Bristol’s first prison food restaurant?

Our down home new £130m concert hall announces the opening of the Colonade, ‘a sustainable-forward restaurant set within the historic heart of Bristol Beacon’.  Which is more than enough to make you want to heave.

Their copywriting hacks then move into overdrive. We’re talking no less than ‘a fresh take on modern European cuisine’; ‘seasonal menus and daily specials led by artisanal local produce’ and ‘consciously low-carbon impact’ here.

But how much do these well worn foodie cliches cooked by someone you’ve never heard of set you back?

Bread and butter comes in at a fiver while a serving of cheese and ‘cracker’ is nine quid. An actual plate with a meal on starts at 14 quid plus a fiver for fries and six quid for veg. The cheapest bottle of Spanish plonk – ’round on the palate’ and heavy on the wallet – is 27 quid.

No sign of a cost of living crisis at the ‘inclusive’ Bristol Beacon then.

‘OPPRESSIVE AND DYSFUNCTIONAL’

Contrary to the contrived local PR waffle, the Colonade is actually owned by a Kent-based catering company, Graysons. Their major shareholder is US prison food provider, Aramak.

Aramak also run three ‘direct provision asylum centres’ in Ireland where asylum-seekers are forced to stay until their application is complete.

Praxis, the artists union of Ireland say, “the direct provision system is an oppressive and dysfunctional migrant prison system which has successfully enriched private companies like Aramark over many years.”

Praxis also described the National Gallery of Ireland’s decision to award Aramark a multi-million catering deal as “a stain on the reputation of our public institution.”

If you must support the local economy by eating overpriced food, try elsewhere.

LOSING THE PLOT

allotments

Allotments? So what if the council doubles the rent? They’re for the chattering classes to grow rainbow chard while talking bollocks to each other about shit they read in the Guardian.

Wrong. Allotments have a history.

Our right to an allotment is the only compensation we have for the loss of our right to work common land that’s been systematically robbed from us over the last 1,000 years.

This robbery of land by the rich from the poor can be traced back to Norman Britain; was attacked by Sir Thomas More in ‘Utopia’ published in 1516; was directly challenged by the Diggers (they really did dig) after the English Civil War and caused the 1885 land reform campaign where ‘Three Acres and a Cow’ was the demand in the fight against poverty.

A series of laws followed. The 1887 Allotments Act, the 1892 Smallholding Act and the 1908 Smallholding and Allotments Act gave local authorities the power to create allotments. It’s not much in exchange for the robbery and privatisation of virtually all the country’s land by the wealthy but allotments and the odd tract of scrubby ‘common’ is all we have left.

When our money-grabbing Labour council casually announces it’s doubling the rent on our allotments, it’s the latest attempt to drive the country’s poorest from the remnants of our shared common land.

They can fuck off.

NEIN NEIN NEIN

999

Call handlers at South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, based at Bradley Stoke, North Bristol are well aware that they are understaffed, underfunded and under-resourced in many areas like the rest of the country.

They are no longer surprised when regularly receiving emergency calls from places like London. But imagine the expressions on the faces of dumbfounded frontline staff when they received an emergency call from, er, Germany!

Are response times in the South West similar to a country about 640 miles away?

LEGACY? ISSUE 71 ON THE STREETS NOW!

Layout 1

It’s all hands on deck for long-suffering Bristol City Council museum staff.

Under direct orders from the Reverend Rees and his office, they’re racing to get their Edward Colston statue exhibit complete and on display as part of an exhibition on ‘protest’ at the M Shed by a deadline of 16 March.

In the absence of much else to brag about, the Reverend seems to have decided the Colston Statue will be a key part of his effort to have some kind of legacy.

This is something of a u-turn for Rees. He began his ruinous reign distancing himself from anything to do with Colston on the advice of “creative industries advisors”. He therefore didn’t even bother getting a poxy corrective plaque on the statue prior to its fall and even enthusiastically supported the prosecution of the Colston Four ‘privileged activist’ statue topplers.

Now the desperate soon-to-be ex-mayor is trying to claim the toppled statue as his own!

WHO’S GOT YOUR MAIL?

Farah

A handy source tells us that at a recent community meeting, low key, low effort Labour councillor for Central Ward, Farah “Way” Hussain, turned up with two Labour members and told residents they would be ‘replacement’ councillors and would be taking on casework.

One of these Labour bods then said something like “yes, we are already responding to councillor emails”.  And, sure enough, in recent weeks “Farah” has magically started responding to her councillor emails.

This is all dodgy as fuck. Why is she allowing unelected individuals access to her private councillor emails?

HOPKINS ON THE MOVE

Hopkins - Guriben colour
Gary Hopkins; the portrait by Guriben

It’s very nearly goodbye to Gary “Fuckbucket” Hopkins, the man who brilliantly wrestled the title of most hated person in Knowle off Mary Smith.

Branding his constituency ‘the desirable part of Knowle’ in 2003, he nailed his colours to the mast. Then blocked off our streets; got the Friendship shut down citing ‘undesirable elements’; shut the historic Talbot Coaching Inn and helped to rob our green spaces.

The icing on the cake was enthusiastic backing for the insane Broadwalk development, which will effectively trash the area. He formed the Knowle Community Party but has now cleared off to Brislington leaving his mess behind him.

Why did he come to Bristol and what has he gained?

PHOTO OP WATCH

Bris meadows (1)
  1. 16 April 2021:  Bristol Labour politicians had their photos taken at Brislington Meadows, insisting they would be saving a Site of Nature conservation Interest (SNCI).
  2. 23 June 2023 Bristol Labour politicians had their photos taken at Yew Tree Farm insisting they would save an SNCI.
  3. 12 September 2023: Bristol Labour politicians had their photos taken at Blackswarth Road Wood at Crews Hole Road insisting they would save an SNCI.
  4. 30 November 2023: Bristol Labour politicians vote to develop South Bristol Crematorium next to Yew Tree Farm, an SNCI – no photos available.

ELECTION WATCH

Desperate times for Greens trying to get their national co-leader Carla “Head Girl” Denyer elected in the new constituency of Bristol Central.

Princess

Formerly Bristol West, the constituency of “Thingy” Thangam Debbonaire with a majority north of 10,000, the Greens are currently begging Tories to vote for them!

A leaflet dropped across the leafy constituency, notorious for its Guardian-reading electorate, explains “the Conservatives can’t win here” and has a Lib Dem-style graph where unidentified “independent polling experts” say the Green vote is up 3.4 per cent; Labour down 7.7 per cent and Tory down 4.5 per cent.

Meaning that Labour are set to easily win the constituency despite ecstatic noises from the Greens over their latest snooty candidate in a constituency they’ve insisted for years they can win.

Another issue: if  “independent polling experts” say that the the combined Labour and Tory vote is down over 12 per cent and the Greens’ up 3.4 per cent, where the fuck have all the other votes gone?

Are voters giving up on the ‘progressive’ crap that the colour branded parties dump on us?

HALLS WELL

Beacon interior

Mystery surrounds how the £80m debt the Reverend Rees has run up refurbishing his cultural legacy project, the Bristol Beacon, is being funded.

Borrowing £80m, even at council rates would cost around £4m – £5m a year. Figures not cropping up in any financial projections published at the council.

That’s because the overpriced hall is being part-funded from this year’s capital underspend. Money that should have gone on other projects but didn’t. In October, Rees’s Cabinet approved “the reprofiling of this underspend of £68.8m from 2023/24 into future periods.”

Among the many budgets raided to fund this elitist concert hall are the schools budget (£5.9m); the SEND investment programme (£3.9m); Highways and Traffic infrastructure  (£4.2m); the housing delivery programme (£3.5m) and the Harbour’s operational infrastructure budget (£2.5m).

All stuff we, presumably, can do without now we’ve got an expensive concert hall?