Category Archives: Bristol City Council

SEND SPYING: “SACK ‘EM” SAYS TORY

Spy medium

Papers for Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission tomorrow which will look at council legal boss Tim O’Gara’s ludicrous ‘fact-finding’ report into SEND spying have been published. These papers include questions and statements from parents.

There’s also one statement from a councillor, Tory Geoff Gollop, which is a little bit odd. The Tory, well known for arselickin’ councillors starts off saying:

Whilst the report is extremely professional and detailed and may deliver what it was instructed to, the initial brief missed the most serious concern.

Has this Tory idiot lost all leave of his senses? Are we to understand that a report full of obvious bias, containing false statements and with a conclusion at odds with the same legal team’s opinion just two years ago classifies as “extremely professional”? What would amateur look like?

However, Gollop then goes on to say:

I am concerned that we employ people who thought it was acceptable and the fact that we have no document anywhere that makes such unacceptable behaviour an issue for potential dismissal.

That’s more like it. Almost a call to sack all the revolting fuckers responsible for spying on our city’s SEND parents. Something councillors could probably demand on the basis officers haven’t followed council policy, have almost certainly broken the law and have brought the council into disrepute.

Dismissal would send a clear message wouldn’t it?

SEND SPYING: WHY DOES A ‘FACT-FINDING’ REPORT CONTAIN LIES?

Spy medium

Papers for Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission tomorrow which will look at council legal boss Tim O’Gara’s ludicrous ‘fact-finding’ report into SEND spying have been published. These papers include questions and statements from parents.

Are Bristol’s SEND technocrats conspiring against parents with SEND children? This is part of a statement from a parent to the People Scrutiny Commission on 26 September 2022.

It begins to look very much looks like SEND managers and council legal ‘investigators’ are using their shitty little internal ‘fact finding’ report to councillors to try and stitch up outspoken parents. Will they get away with it?

SENDIASS is the Special Educational Needs & Disability Information Advice & Support Service. In Bristol, this is run by Send and You. The service is funded by Bristol City Council as part of their duties in Chapter 2 of the Send Code of Practice (CoP).  

On 20 January 2022, SENDIASS contacted Bristol City Council to say that an officer of Bristol Parent Carers had posted ‘confidential’ information online regarding a co-production meeting attended by the ‘Alternative Learning Provision Team and the council and other stakeholders’. Unfortunately, no such meeting actually took place involving a BPC officer*. 

The event that did take place on that day was an informal coffee morning hosted by Send and You for any parent carer in Bristol to attend. I attended. Send and You often hold things like Send Surgeries, virtual coffee mornings and information events on topics such as exclusions, transitions, personal budgets and SEN support. I don’t make a habit of attending Send and You parent carer meetings. I did on this occasion because the specific subject of the meeting was for parent carers to find out more about Education Other Than At School (EOTAS). As I was in the process of taking Bristol City Council to tribunal for EOTAS in one of my children’s Education Health Care Plans, I attended the meeting. 

I registered on Eventbrite as a parent carer, under my own name and with my own personal email address. Being part of the Twitter Send community, I posted some of the comments being made during the public parent carer meeting, because they might have been of interest to others. According to Bristol City Council’s report, someone from Send and You saw these quoted comments in some capacity and reported them back to Bristol City Council. 

SENDIASS Staff would have known full well that this was not a co-production meeting and I was not there as part of BPC because they organised it and ran it themselves. In light of this, I went back through my Twitter account and blocked a number of Send and You staff along with some Bristol City Council and Sirona officers who had been following me. 

The service appears to have conspired with the Local Authority to say that a BPC officer had released confidential information from a co-production meeting which did not actually exist. Remembering that Send and You ‘should be impartial, confidential and accessible,’ how can a supposedly vital service heavily replied upon by Bristol families now be trusted with personal information that would be highly beneficial to the council legally at Tribunal? 

How on earth has false information found it’s way into a so-called ‘fact-finding report’ from Bristol City Council’s Head of Legal Services? is this good enough?

Is this report simply another vehicle for bent council managers to attack parents of SEND children with lies?

SEND BOSSES SHARED TWEETS WITH SCHOOLS

Spy medium

Papers for Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission tomorrow which will look at council legal boss Tim O’Gara’s ludicrous ‘fact-finding’ report into SEND spying have been published. These papers include questions and statements from parents.

Here’s a particularly disturbing statement, which suggests that the spying goes far beyond a couple of parents involved with the Bristol Parent Carer Forum. While SEND management actions go far beyond spying. They also appear to be referring ‘difficult’ parents to child protection social workers as some sort of weird disciplinary measure.

Very ugly.

I am a parent of a child with Special Educational needs. I am not an officer or volunteer of Bristol Parent Carer forum but I have experienced tweets of mine being copied and shared with other agencies.

It took me almost 2 years and cost me thousands of pounds to ensure my son was in a suitable school place – this was decided by a judge during a tribunal process, through independent reports.

During this process I was referred to social services as Bristol SEND services raised concerns that I had fabricated or induced my son’s illness. Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is the term used for when a parent or caregiver of someone, most commonly a child, is accused of fabricating, exaggerating or inducing the symptoms  of that person.

False FII allegations are made by people in power, such as medical professionals, social workers, teachers, the Local Authority etc and they happen more often than is known and the cases are continuing to rise by the day.

Part of the reason these allegations came about is because in May 2021, an employee of BCC sent my son’s head teacher a copy of some tweets I had made about how my son feels in school. The officers told the headteacher that, “BCC communications team…. Monitor social media for us” and that she felt the school would, “rather be aware of the situation than not”.

SEND parents know that monitoring of families is prolific, especially if we appeal decisions of shoddy EHCPs which are not fit for purpose. This SEND surveillance is not just about [Bristol Parent Carer] forum officers – the leaked emails clearly show redacted names which are likely to be other parents.

Although my eldest son is now in the correct provision and social services have no concerns and are discharging us, my younger two children are being denied referrals to the Autism team. This is in part due to the school insisting that my children are not autistic and should not be referred and being denied Human Rights to go private.

The officer that shared my tweet sought to damage my relationship with the school – which they have been totally successful in and the actions of this officer now impacts the support my children are able to access and the hellish nightmare of FII accusations over the last year. The school for example, has actively called the paediatrician to ensure the GP request of referral for autism assessments is blocked.

I urgently need to get my children help as their SEN needs have been recognised by independent professionals but I am not able to get them they help they need due to the FII allegations, yet I have support of my GP, Social Services. 

Their needs are being ignored across health and education. Surely this is disability discrimination? I feel this situation has been deliberately created due to the surveillance actions of the comms team and the officer that shared the post with the headteacher. I believe  this is some form of punishment for advocating for my eldest and for contacting the Evening Post in 2020 to share with them how awful the SEND system is. 

This is simply unacceptable and I hope my story encourages other families to share the experiences they have had and not to be scared of the threat of social services.

The People Scrutiny Commission takes place tomorrow, Monday 26 September 2022, at 10.00am. The meeting will be streamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVGK620pizA

It may be some of the most entertaining TV you see all week. One councillor is describing it as potential ‘carnage’ for Bristol’s SEND team!

ASK ME ANYTHINGATE

Mini me 2
The Reverend talking his shite to a bored audience

The Reverend’s bizarro press conferences making national headlines raises questions about the state of our local press. The Reverend boasted about his “open press conferences” to the Mayor’s Migration Council website as recently as May: “my motto is: ´ask me anything,” he chirped with a straight face.

Not quite. It’s since emerged that Local Democracy Reporters at the Post could not attend these ‘open’ press conferences “by agreement” with whatever moron was running our local newspaper at the time. 

Middle class community rag, The Bristol Cable, then waded in, explaining that they’d never been allowed to attend the ‘open press conferences’ since they began two years ago. Although, for some reason, they didn’t tell anyone or consider their ban newsworthy.

It gets worse. Bristol 24/7 hackette, Ellie “Copy Typist” Pipe, attended the press conference on the 8 June. She watched Rees’s dreadful council tax funded PR Saskia “Hindley” Konynenburg attempt to bully newbie Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook on camera for asking the Reverend a mild question about his pointless climate change lecture trip to Vancouver. And Ms Pipe didn’t notice anything worth reporting!

The story finally came to light two weeks later when citizen journalist Jo “Vexatious” Booth, saw the blatant act of bullying on Youtube and posted the clip to Twitter. Cue viral story and the Reverend and Koynenburg making national headlines for their bullying antics.

Bristol journalists really need to get their shit together and stop allowing themselves to be easy pushovers for the Reverend and his PR team.

How many stories have these idiots allowed to be buried over the last six years?

NETTING ZEROES: COUNCIL STAFF TO PAY

Netting Zeroes

Another set of council cuts appears. From 2025, Bristol City Council has announced that they will only pay travel expenses to staff if they have zero or ultra-low emission vehicles.

This means only some – generally the better off – staff who can afford newer, upmarket vehicles will be able to claim travel expenses. The others will either have to pay for their own fuel to do their job or take the bus.

The money saved is likely to be poured into council coffers to help fund the endless revolving door of useless interim directors and consultants; pointless trips to the US and any other passing fad that takes bosses’ fancy such as £100k designer balustrades for the new Beacon Centre.

You just better hope your council visitor isn’t one who has to get the bus or it could be a long wait and a short visit.

ONE RULE FOR THEM

Rumours emerge that council staff are less than happy that the Reverend has seized a £900k underspend from last year’s budget to reinstate £400k of funding to his personal office that was scrapped by councillors at this year’s budget meeting. The other £500k will be tucked away in the Reverend’s slush fund (surely ‘Reserves’? Ed).

The £400k will be spent hiring new staff to bow and scrape around the lame duck Reverend so that they can carry on spying on what local residents are saying about them on Twitter and continue bullying the press into complying with the Reverend’s deranged stateside worldview. 

Meanwhile. a memo is doing the rounds at the council telling staff there is a recruitment freeze.This means that any staff not up on the privileged third floor servicing the Reverend’s personal needs will simply have to work harder to make up for a management imposed recruitment freeze.

Sounds really fair and well thought out.

COUNCIL SOCIAL MEDIA PROTOCOL THAT DIDN’T EXIST IS RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC

Oh my! Just days after a formal council report from Bristol City Council Legal Services, the direct responsibility of Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, “L’Il” Tim O’Gara claimed:

SEND report  Protocol
Para 53, Fact-finding report – Use of social media by council staff re SEND Parent Carer Forum

The council has released, under Freedom of Information, their protocol – Guidance re Use of Social Media in Investigations – that, er, deals directly with viewing and sharing third party social media!

This is not a new document cobbled together in the wake of the SEND spying scandal. It was created in May 2020 by Kate Burnham-Davies, a solicitor at Bristol City Council and a colleague of the people who produced the ‘fact-finding’ report assuring us that there was no social media protocol “dealing directly with viewing and sharing third party social media”.

SEND  Guidance  Doc properties

The guidance strongly suggests that the social media surveillance carried out by Bristol City Council on SEND parents is unlawful. Pretty much a consensus view shared by everyone in the country except the council’s Director of People, Hugh “Cares” Evans; Director of Education, Alison “Pervy” Hurley; a variety of spying chancers in Bristol City Council’s SEND management team; the External Comms team and the council’s Head of Legal, “L’il” Tim O’Gara.

Here’s some relevant items from the guidance. This is what it says about RIPA:

SEND  guidance  4.4  RIPA
Bristol City Council, Guidance re Use of Social Media in Investigations, May 2020

So where’s the evidence the SEND management spies and External Comms followed RIPA procedural guidance?

Next up, here’s what it says about social media users’ human rights:

SEND  guidance 5.1  HRA
Bristol City Council, Guidance re Use of Social Media in Investigations, May 2020

Where’s the council’s public interest purpose for spying on SEND parents social media? Where’s the specific legal advice establishing a lawful basis for direct surveillance?

Finally, this on record keeping:

SEND  guidance  6.1  record keeping
Bristol City Council, Guidance re Use of Social Media in Investigations, May 2020

Where are the records of the decision and rationale for spying on SEND parents?

This document proves that everyone from Hugh “Cares” Evans and Alison “Pervy” Hurley down have deliberately ignored their own organisations’s policies and broken the law to spy on the city’s SEND parents. They all need to go and if they won’t go, they should sacked.

Meanwhile, “Li’l” Tim O’Gara and his legal team have tried to cover it all up. What. The. Fuck?

HUGH CARES IN TORY PERVERT MAKEOVER SHOCKER

Hugh Evans

A generous reader supplies a brand new snap of one of the city’s favourite clowns, Hugh “Cares” Evans, Bristol City Council’s comic-turn Director of People.

Our reader says the picture appears to be freshly commissioned especially to accompany the superannuated fool’s unreadably dull missives to long-suffering staff struggling under the weight of the enormous caseloads he unceremoniously dumps on them. Are Hugh Cares’ efforts at mean and moody mugging for the camera part of some sort of ‘please someone take me seriously’ makeover? 

It looks that way as with poorly applied make-up accentuating the piggy little eyes, Hugh uncomfortably leers out of the half light shadow of a cheap photography studio. Alas, the overall effect is less tough, bold, efficient ‘don’t mess with me’ corporate man of action and more camp Tory politician in the local newspaper calling for the return of the birch because “there’s nothing like a hazel rod across firm young buttocks to instill discipline in a boy.” 

Or maybe that’s the effect he’s after?

COUNCILLORS SNUB MAYOR IN SEND SPY STATEMENT

Spy medium

A holding statement regarding the spying by council education bosses and External Comms officers on parents with SEND children was put in to cabinet today by councillors. 

The statement from senior councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Commission seemed intent on keeping its powder dry for the People Scrutiny Commission on Monday. When councillors with direct knowledge of SEND issues may have the opportunity to grill some of the moral and mental inadequates directly responsible for the spying as well as the authors of the council’s unreliable fact finding report.

The suspicion is that OSMB councillors know that a cabinet meeting dominated by the Rev Rees, who can talk his personal brand of tedious drivel long as he likes and take any decision he likes, may not be the ideal forum to address the issues at stake. However, the OSMB statement still makes a few useful points.

Firstly, they completely distance themselves from the council’s flawed fact finding report and dump responsibility for that hot mess firmly on the officers:

It is therefore an officers’ report not an OSMB report, and its conclusions are those of Legal Services not of OSMB members.

OSMB statement to Cabinet – item 6 ,

OSMB also express some serious concerns about the director-level oversight of the spying. The direct responsibility of Education Director Alison “Pervy” Hurley and People Director Hugh “Cares?” Evans, both banking a small fortune in public money to, at least, get the basics right and leave an accountable paper trail behind them for their actions.

OSMB also has strong concerns about the statement in the report that there was “no formal written decision to authorise the gathering of these social media posts”. Although the officers’ report concludes that there was no legal requirement to undertake a DPIA, this has been concluded in retrospect and only after concerns had been raised in the public domain. There does not seem to be any evidence of the officers involved in the collation of social media posts considering whether a DPIA was necessary beforehand. There is also no evidence of any of the officers considering whether the action they were taking, (i.e. searching through personal social media of parent-carers of children with Special Education Needs) was morally or ethically appropriate.

OSMB statement to Cabinet – item 6 ,

The OSMB statement concludes with a snub to the Reverend and his cabinet meeting with councillors not even bothering asking them for a comment or response on the matter:

It is hoped that further inquiry via the People Scrutiny Committee session on September 12th will provide further additional context.

OSMB statement to Cabinet – item 6 ,

Full steam ahead to next Monday then. When some of the dodgy officers responsible for spying might have to show-up and explain themselves.

Book your tickets early.

*******A meeting of Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission will take place on Monday 12 September at 5.00pm for councillors to discuss this absurd report and next steps. People are encouraged to ask questions, make statements and, if possible, to attend and jeer at any spying director or manager scum in attendance (that’s if they have the balls to attend – look out for last minute sick notes). Details on asking questions and putting in statements are here under ‘Public Forum’.

ACORNS IN FEUD WITH FORMER FRONTMAN ‘PLASTICINE MAN’ RENHARD

‘Hey hey we’re the ACORNS … We just rat-rattle around … We’re too busy careering … To put any rentiers down’

monkees

By Ex ACORN band member

After a string of minor hits since launching in 2014, skin and hair has been flying recently for tweenybopper band the ACORNS as they split messily with former frontman Tom ‘Plasticine Man’ Renhard.

The uncharismatic frontman had been moving in the well-worn ‘sellout’ direction ‘pursuing a solo career’ ever since he signed a contract with the Housing Delivery label at Rev. Rees’ Business Confidence for Christians Inc. (BCC), a wannabe global media empire last year.

Outside of the band’s credulous fan base, that involves total immersion in a ‘cult-like’ rapture where members all wear red shirts and scream band lyrics at gigs in unison, more sceptical observers have noted that the rupture between Plasticine Man and band leader/founder Nick ‘Action Man’ Ballard had been brewing for some time.

The British ACORNS arrived on the scene from Bristol as harmless no-hopers and immediately landed a series of minor hits. A partnership quickly developed between band leader Ballard and then-unknown aspiring frontman Renhard. The duo formed a close bond and together wrote their first hit full of 1960s innocence, ‘I’m A Believer’ to commemorate the occasion.

As the red-shirted ACORNS fan base grew, the pair followed this up with ‘IWW Funds Heist/Theme From The US ACORNS’ (featuring Wade Rathke) and ’Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Bad Ass Landlord Picket’. 

The lyrical focus of these early pop-protest songs was on the rent difficulties of poor people. Yet by the time of their difficult second album, songs like ‘Last Bus To Eastville’ were not only an acknowledgement of a concentration of fans in East Bristol but also of the fact that the duo’s self-penned songs were expanding into other concerns. Such as the lack of reliable or affordable bus services, encouraging people ‘to go out and vote’, and erm, volunteering to collect rubbish.

The high point in this partnership, as their prophetic ‘Daydream Believer’ hit Number 1, was marked when Renhard was asked by the Rev. Rees of BCC Inc. to sing in City Hall to a rapt audience of more wealthy and respectable types than the ACORNS’ usual red-shirted riff-raff fan base.

Band members and fans had been assured by Ballard that the ACORNS would be playing regularly for the Reverend in person and would get career-launching gigs in spaces controlled by the Rev’s friends in ‘the business’ such as the Dipshit and Dudd Recordings and the Merchants (of Death) venture capital label.

However, it became increasingly apparent that the ACORNS were being actively excluded from the Reverend’s charmed circle and were failing to reach the nationwide acclaim they craved.

Not so Tom ‘Plasticine Man’ Renhard whose naked ambition to climb the greasy pole can be traced to his inexplicable membership of the Avon Pension Fund from 2015. A mainstream career move missed by ‘Action Man’ Ballard in the euphoria of the band’s 2014-19 smash hit run and the apparent Bono and The Edge-like success of their partnership.

The Rev. Rees appointing Renhard to the Homes Board as early as 2017 was also given the seal of approval by an indulgent Ballard leadership. The final straw for the ACORNS, however did not come until they were excluded this summer from the Renhard/BCC collaboration project ‘The Living (Dead) Rent Commission’ – an ongoing 3-4 month PsychoSilly festival of middle class hand-wringing at City Hall about ‘the regrettable suffering of proletarians’.

The ACORNS did not take this latest insult lying down or, more accurately, Nick Ballard, self-appointed band leader could not take anther slap in the face to his ego. He immediately denounced Renhard in the local press and as in many other press outlets as he and his minions could find willing to vent the ACORNS’ rage.

Their red-shirted fans even managed to shut down the first gig from Renhard/BCC’s ‘Loving Your Rent (Living Rent, surely? Ed) Commission’ earlier this month. Plasticine Man was then summarily expelled from the ACORNS. A course of action which he has objected to on the grounds of it being done ‘without due process’.

Feeling the pressure from a failed law suit in Sheffield against a ‘defamed’ landlord that had cost the band (or the fan base) £100K, Ballard further responded by penning the last to-date ACORNS hit song as a response to events. The bitter and angry ’Not Your Stepping Stone’.

The irony of this Punch and Judy shit-show is that Renhard could actually be correct about the lack of due process regarding his expulsion. Except that the ACORNS, oddly for a ‘unionised/community band led by the fans’, are still very vague about whether they even have a written constitution.

They are, in fact, registered at Companies House as not one, but two limited companies: ACORN the Union Ltd, and ACORN Community Organising Ltd. The latter run by Ballard and the former by fellow 1960s throwback crooner Louie ‘Louie’ Herbert.

Very much like a Trump, Putin or even a Marvin Rees show, whatever the Great Leader says goes and there is no comeback.

An overdue kick in the ass for the Reverend’s ineffective, unqualified and slimy ‘Chief Housing Warbler’ is not to be regretted for sure but as an example of internal democracy from an alleged ‘fan base-led’ community organisation/housing union? Hmm.
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