Category Archives: Bristol City Council

NETTING ZEROES: PUBLIC HEAT – PRIVATE PROFIT

City Leap  BE

An announcement in March that the council’s £7.3m City Leap procurement process had finally come to an end and US firm Ameresco had got the contract to ‘decarbonise’ the city by 2030 was accompanied by a lovely Thatcherite kick in the teeth from Labour. As it was also revealed that the city’s heat network assets would be handed to Ameresco’s partner, Vattenfall to run.

Vattenfall is an energy multinational owned by the Swedish state. So we’re in the odd position of handing some of the city’s publicly owned energy assets over to the Swedish people to financially benefit from. Go figure. The announcement of this giveaway – that’s not even a sell-off as no price tag is attached – comes after claims as recently as February that the networks would be put into a joint venture company owned by the council and the private partner.

Bristol Holding boss, Peter Beange assured councillors at a scrutiny meeting on February 9 that the heat networks would be part of “a successful share sale to the winning City Leap joint venture.”

Not any more. The brand new networks of underground pipes and heat centres built with public money over the last seven years will now be fully privatised so that Bristolians can be squeezed for profit for heating their homes and businesses in an unregulated energy market. 

The news didn’t seem to bother councillors at a scrutiny meeting on 28 March when the u-turn was revealed. Instead they engaged in another round of cheerleading for the private sector. Strange, because Labour, Green and Lib Dem politicians have all called for the Tories to nationalise energy providers in the face of the cost of living crisis and huge energy price hikes.

It’s like politicians come out with any old populist bollocks that they have no intention of really fighting for isn’t it?

HAS THE REVEREND GIVEN ARENA ISLAND AWAY TO THE TORIES?

An old FoI request about the dodgy Bristol City Council/L&G Arena island deal catches the eye. It reveals L&G execs operating inside Number 10 [Downing Street] in 2015 and meeting Bristol City council property bosses who were supposed to be building an arena on the controversial site:

Downing Street FOI

The bizarre deal The Reverend has now struck with L&G execs is that they get the prime Arena Island site after £32m of public investment and BCC get a 40 year lease on one of the proposed L&G corporate office slabs proposed for the site … And both sides get to avoid any procurement or open sale that might upset the cosy arrangement.

But what the hell were L&G execs doing in Downing Street at the heart of power in 2015? The answer is John Godfrey, L&G’s longtime Corporate Affairs Director – basically their chief political lobbyist. The former Tory Parliamentary candidate worked at Number Ten as Head of Policy for Prime Minister Theresa May from 2015-17. At the time, this L&G/Downing Street revolving door generated headlines in the Financial Times like, “Legal & General gives Toryism a reboot“.

At the same time the Legal & General CEO was musing on his blog that “UK cities are not overbuilt but under-demolished”. The company also developed an interest in fiscal policy (basically government spending money on infrastructure); called on taxpayers to invest with savings groups such as, er, L&G and argued that planning laws should be eased to defeat ‘Nimbies’.

Alongside L&G’s political capture of Downing Street, another front opened. In 2016, John Kingman was appointed Group Chairman of Legal and General plc. Prior to this, Kingman was a senior Treasury official and, among other things, led a research project looking at the tax treatment of buy-to-let property, which led to major policy changes in the 2015 Budget.

The specific change was Section 24 of the Finance Act 2015-16, setting mortgage tax allowance for individual landlords to 20 per cent. A change that didn’t apply to corporate landlords or property rental companies. Corporates, effectively, were allowed to operate at a state-engineered advantage to smaller competitors in the property market.

With the political and legal environment in place to fill their boots, L&G now required gullible twerps from the provinces who think they’re big shot property players with access to public land. Please step forward on 12 December 2017 Marvin’s £1.5k a day ‘property expert’ Colin Molton.

He walked into L&G’s offices in London desperate to offload Arena Island quickly so that the Reverend’s favoured multinational, YTL, could dodge the ‘sequential test‘ designed to favour inner city sites over out-of-town and get planning permission for an arena in Filton. L&G were happy to oblige with a self-serving deal and advice on how BCC could dodge procurement regulations and hand them the land.  

As an added sweetener May’s L&G-friendly Downing Street operation stepped up, hinting to the Reverend and Molton that £100m of government money was on the table towards the Temple Quarter regeneration.

However, since the demise of May in 2019, L&G’s influence in the corridors of power has waned and the Johnson government with its levelling-up agenda focussed on the Red Wall seems uninterested in handing over £100m to the Reverend to regenerate Temple Meads.

In fact, they’ve now knocked back two funding applications from Bristol. Leaving the people of Bristol shortchanged and Tory L&G with a prime piece of public land in Bristol to cash in on. 

What a scam.

WYE WATCH

Wye
Wye Oh Why?

Bristol City Council rolls out its annual Pay Policy Statement. Where they announce the ratio of their lowest paid worker to an alleged highest paid worker. Written by one the council’s leading retards, HR Director, Mark “Bashar” Williams, it’s an eyewatering tissue of lies and bullshit that’s dutifully signed off every year by councillors for the wards of Cloud Fairyland on the HR Committee and Full Council.

In 2020 -21, the last year actual, rather than invented, figures are available, the council announced a pay ratio of 9.45:1.Except the lowest paid earned £17,364 while the highest earner, our friend Colin “Head Boy” Molton, trousered about £280k pro rata. A ratio of about 16:1.

Bashar’s sums are a little awry aren’t they? This year, Bashar calculated a pay ratio of 9.36:1, which has been backed by the new Green Chair of the HR Committee, former
big cheese council boss, Tim “Why-Oh” Wye. Delivering this pile of lying HR wank to Full Council, Why-Oh Wye explained “this [pay] policy is about the council’s directly employed staff. Interims are not relevant to this item”.

Why the largest salaries paid to workers at Bristol City Council aren’t relevant to a
policy about the largest salaries paid to workers at Bristol City Council isn’t something
Why-Oh Wye bothered to explain. It just isn’t relevant, apparently.

Although what is potentially relevant is that, according to LinkedIn, Why-Oh Wye is a “Self Employed Consultant specialising in Health and Social Care” for local authorities!

Anyone got any ideas why he might be keen to keep consultant and interim fees at a council off the record and unaccountable?

Downs Committee Statement March 21st 2022

The vile Merchant Venturer creatures on the Downs Committee: selfish; anti-democratic; unaccountable; dishonest; rude; arrogant; ignorant; misleading and stupid …

Here’s the full statement from Green Councillor, Christine Townsend made to the Downs Committee today:

As stated in January this committee must be served by the Nolan Principles, current composition prevents this. The Society of Merchant Venturers is an unincorporated, undemocratic, invite only, private members’ club whose position derives from ongoing environmental extraction and the historic horror of the TST [Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade] that saw human exploitation, kidnap and murder for private gain. The legacy of the TST is structuralised throughout present day society and personified in Merchant Venturer presence on this committee. Despite Freed claiming that the Merchant Venturers will
follow the Nolan Principles, the statement he then read out in January ran contrary to each and every one of them: –

Selflessness – Fighting members of the public in a prolonged, unwinnable judicial review, funded by the public purse to ‘save face’ is not in the public interest.

Integrity – Merchant Venturers are on this committee by way of this undemocratic, unaccountable private members club and, by definition, are here to represent and promote that organisation’s interests

Objectivity – Freed attempts to blame Downs for People for the cost of the judicial review. But it was the Merchant Venturer dominated sub of the Downs Committee, not Downs for People, that prolonged the case even though they will have known it was hopeless. They did not concede until they were almost on the steps of the courtroom. Downs for People were pursuing the case in the public interest to safeguard the Downs, mainly at their own expense.

Accountability – This committee has repeatedly failed to engage with scrutiny from members of the public, ignored email requests for information and has to date failed to make public the amount of public money wasted attempting to fight an unwinnable judicial review. As I stand here as a democratically elected representative there remains zero public information about the total sum wasted on this failed venture.

Openness – it is not acceptable that members of the public are needing to resort to making Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulation requests to get basic information. It was necessary for Downs for People to get a disclosure order via the court to have sight of the 20 year licence they were challenging, the judge was unimpressed with the Committee’s behaviour. Needing to approach the Information Commissioner to access requested information is shameful and the antithesis of the Nolan Principles.

Honesty – Freed’s statement references ‘the court case’ the process was a judicial review – accurat language use matters. Freed referred to the history of the Downs and claims that ‘at a time when the others were making a fortune out of developing houses all around it….they bought the land specifically to stop that from happening’ This statement is factually incorrect, the Merchant Venturers purchased the land in the 17th century and sold leases for development pocketing the money and quarried large parts for private capital gain. The idea that Merchant Venturers act in a manner that benefits anyone other than themselves is ludicrous and is demonstrated in other aspects of their ‘work’. The public words of their ex-head teacher John Whitehead stated that the instinct of the Merchant Venturers is ‘self-preservation’ days after the felling of their statue mascot the enslaver Edward Colston.

Leadership – Whilst Freed promoted historical inaccuracies, myths about the history of the
involvement of the organisation with the Downs and private profit made from it, described a judicial review as a ‘court case’ the rest of the Merchant Venturers sat back silent, this is not leadership this is complicity.

THE SOCIETY OF MERCHANT NITE SPOT BOSSES


motion_i1_s4
Bristol City Council managing Covid

Bristol City Council is using council tax money and government public health handouts for Covid to, er, promote nightclubs!

£15k from the Covid Outbreak Management Fund and £15k from the council’s Growth and Regeneration budget were used last year to pay the council’s ‘Night-time Economy Advisor’. 

This year the money will come from the government Covid cash and from the council’s private sector partner, Sound Diplomacy, “an international consultancy” who are going “to develop a framework to capitalise on the cultural, social and economic benefits that night-time industries offer the city”.

Other partners in the Sound Diplomacy project include Master of the Merchant Venturers David Freed’s Deeley Freed; Merchant Venturer Marti Burgess’s Lakota nightclub; Motion nightclub; the University of Bristol; the Bedminster and City Centre BIDs and PfP Capital Limited

So who’s likely to benefit from the public money handouts that are likely to emerge from this corporate night time industry framework then?

Watch this space

CIL-LY GAMES

CIL

To that most boring of events, the council’s annual budget meeting. Where 70 councillors argue for hours over a few million quid of a £400m budget that gets passed largely unscrutinised.

Last year, the Green’s longwinded Redland Councillor Martin “Yoda” Fodor – “Ramble for hours at a tangent, I can” – spotted that there was £12.5m of CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) funding from corporate developers sat there doing nothing.

So he popped in an amendment suggesting that the money be spent on improving parks and the city’s national laughing-stock public transport system. This was voted down by Labour who claimed the money was earmarked for projects such as: City Centre/Castle Park, Whitehouse Street, Frome Gateway, Green Infrastructure (inc tree planting & biodiversity improvements), City Region Sustainable Transport Strategy and Avon Flood Strategy.

At this year’s budget Yoda reappeared, he did, and popped in another amendment asking for £1m for parks and liveable neighbourhoods after he discovered there was £12.1m of CIL still sat there doing nothing. 

And Labour’s response? “The money’s earmarked for projects such as  City Centre/Castle Park, Whitehouse Street, Frome Gateway,blah, blah, blah.”

Yoda’s amendment got through this time but then the Reverend’s took five days “to think about it” and then rejected it!

What a joke.

INFAMY! INFAMY! IT’S A WECA MAN CONSPIRACY!

dan-norris signing off
Dan signs off road that is ‘a conspiracy theory’

News that the government is handing WECA over £500m to give to First Bus (surely to “transform regional transport infrastrucure”? Ed) has got our brand new Metro Mayor Dan “The Weca Man” Norris hyperventilating with joy.

However a closer look at the plans reveals most of this money will be going into so-called “transport corridors” to develop more bloody Metrobus routes. The Metrobus having been conveniently redesignated from public laughing stock to “a step change in public transport” by the WECA Man’s optimistic transport bods.

An even closer look reveals the majority of the money may well be splurged on just one route – ‘The Bristol – Bath A4 Corridor’ in the jargon. Does this mean that on-off plans to build the Callington Road Link that would take cars off the A4 Bath Road and along the route of the disused North Somerset Railway line between Sandy Park and Callington Road are back on?

This a road scheme that the Reverend and his Labour councillors, taking time off from pretending that Brislington Meadows won’t have housing built on it by Homes England, deny is happening and have described it to locals as “a Lib Dem conspiracy theory”! 

Not a theory at all, however, according to WECA’s Public Transport Manager Phil Wright who confirmed on Twitter in the autumn that the road plan is very much under consideration again.

Is there a WECA conspiracy against Marvin’s Bristol Labour?

NUTS CUTS

The £20m of cuts announced by the Reverend Rees for next year mainly seem to confirm that he has now gone totally insane. Among the highlights we’ve spotted so far:

  • An inexplicable £4m cut to the Adult Care budget will appear if HomeChoice prioritise people with adult social care needs on the housing register.
  • A proposal from a Labour administration to cut trade union facility time by 75 per cent. That means union reps will have no time to represent staff directly affected by cuts from a Labour administration.
  • Lots more cuts are proposed by HRH Helen of Holland overseeing Adult Care. This is despite her failure to deliver £4m of the £6m cuts she proposed last year.
  • Transport guru, “Tweedle” Don Alexander, will attempt to increase council revenue by about £2.5m from Residents Parking Zones (RPZ) and car parking. Tweedle Don has lost about £5.4m in income from these so far this year.
  • Asher “The Slasher” Craig proposes charging a fee to parents who are contacted by her Education Welfare Service about their child’s school attendance. Will she discover parents are suddenly uncontactable?
  • Finance kingpin, Craig Cheney, officially the stupidest man in Bristol, is opening a rooftop bar at the M Shed to make £85k a year.
  • Asher the Slasher is supporting young people by slashing youth services budgets by £400k.
  • Government money for Public Health will be spent on wages for the Reverend’s evangelical pals in his City Office instead. He will also pass a begging bowl around ‘external partners’ to see if they’re up for funding an office full of evangelical loonies at the Counts Louse.
  • Cabinet Pied Piper Nicola “La La” Beech is to deliver pest control in “different ways”.

We’ll let you know as we find more of these inanities over the coming months.

LETTER TO ALL COUNCILLORS FROM UNISON

From: Bristol Unison
Sent: 14 February 2022 07:58
To: All councillors
Cc: Bristol Unison; Branch Secretary; Branch Secretary, Unite
Subject: full council and collective disputes

Good Morning Councillor

I am emailing you regarding the budget proposals for Full Council on February 15th.

I am unsure if we are allowed to speak, but even if we are if will only a minute.  Hardly sufficient.

I have to inform you that we have raised two collective disputes.  One regarding museums, is by UNISON, the other one is unsurprisingly regarding the cut to trade union facility time.  With the latter, we are joined by UNITE.

The collective dispute regarding museums relates to the paperwork that was submitted to Cabinet and scrutiny prior to the full council.  The equalities impact assessment ( EQIA) was wrong and out of date.  Full details of this, is within out statements.  Furthermore, on meeting with Senior officers they confirmed this and apologised.

The EQIA should not be a paper exercise, but a robust evaluation.  I would suggest that this is especially important within culture and particularly in relation to museums and archives.  This remains the last free event that a low waged family can undertake on a rainy day.  With the cost of living increases and the low wage economy this is essential to many of your citizens.

The cuts in the papers suggested only £85k, when the true figure of nearer £420k has now arisen.  This will decimate the staff group. 

There are other issues, but with the speed of the consultative process prior to budget setting and inaccuracies within the paperwork, we are unable to engage properly.  We are asking for this report to be withdrawn, so it can be written properly and we can engage with our ideas on raising revenue to offset damage  to this service.  Furthermore, has Cabinet been misled?

Our other collective dispute with UNITE, involves the intention to cut trade union facility time.  We expect that the intention is to hamper us being able to represent member’s views in situations like this, and allow budgets and similar to pass through unmolested by democracy. 

I have spent days trying to get to the bottom of this, unsuccessfully.  I was first directed to the office of Kevin Slocombe, after a few days.  He engaged for a bit, and then handed me and our collective queries to John Walsh.  I have only received platitudes, not concrete assurances that this cut will not decimate trade union’s ability to function.  I have been told that this not a cut, but a realignment of funds.  If that is the case, then why is it in the budget proposals dealing specifically with cuts? 

We ask you to vote against this and withdraw it for proper consultation.  If it is not a cut, then it can be dealt with at the HR committee.  We will be discussing these collective disputes at this afternoon’s CJCC, with a view to them being heard at the next HR committee.

We have also been informed from other sources that Councillors have been told to vote this budget through, or fall foul of the Code of Conduct.  There is a letter circulating on social media, showing this. We believe that this undermines democracy in our city further.  We would support any councillor who votes with their conscience on the 15th.  The press would be interested in such a threat, as would the citizens of Bristol.  Who voted you in, to represent their wards and constituencies.

Lastly, I need to make a point about waste of finances.  We are told about Central Government reducing funding and putting us in such a position, that we need to cut services and outsource.  However, it is our opinion that BCC has not been entirely prudent with the budget.  For example the recent giving away of land at Temple Island to L and G, with a further £34m in improvement works.  To our knowledge, there was not a procurement process or open market tendering.  We are unclear what benefits there are for BCC or Bristol citizens.  City Leap has cost £7.4m, with a further £3m in reserves.  Bristol Energy lost £43m.  Colston Hall has now cost the council tax payer £54.4m.  I could go on, with salary increases for senior officers being one example.  We are in the process of collating evidence of this type of possible financial mismanagement.  If you are interested, then please get back to me and I can provide the list.

We firmly believe that our City should not be subjected to cut after cut and revenue should be more carefully managed, and utilised to deliver services.

Thank you for taking time to read this email and we hope you join us in defending our city.  It deserves much better.

Best wishes

Area Organiser, Unison Office, The Create Centre

PRITI USELESS UNION BOSSES

Kaye
Priti awful

Just what is up with Unison South West Regional boss Joanne “Priti” Kaye, Bristol’s answer to Priti Patel ? Why does she seem to dedicate her life to wrecking trade unionism at Bristol City Council where lots of her members work under appalling pressure for little money and less thanks.

The Reverend’s PA, “Slo” Kev Slocombe – completing a predictable trade union bureaucrat journey from Militant Tendency to right wing cunt – now wants to cut trade union facility time at the council. A move that effectively destroys trade union representation at the council by ensuring there’s no full time professional union workers around to represent members to bosses. 

Slocombe
Prolier than thou geezer actor

“We’re cutting the head off the snake” is how Slo Kev likes to tell it in front of the crowd of simpering senior council officers he tries to impress at the Counts Louse with a ridiculous prolier than thou geezer act that trousers him over £90k a year.

Some of the many people unimpressed with Slo Kev’s right wing antics over the unions are members of Labour’s South Bristol Constituency Party. Some even approached the chair of the constituency party and demanded a debate on these blatant anti-union attacks disguised as cuts cooked up by Labour. Only to be refused by the party chair. 

And who might this chair, backing Slo Kev to the hilt and not fighting for trade union rights at Bristol City Council, be? Please step forward,er, Unison’s Joanne Kaye.

Who needs bosses screwing you over when we’ve got trade unionists like Joanne and Slo Kev doing their job for them?.