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It’s a library Jim … but not as we know it

What’s going on at Clifton Library? It appears to have been taken over by a group of local worthies, the Friends of Clifton Library (FoCL), an “unincorporated association”, who have installed a bar and started charging the public for free events. Listed among their committee members is Tory masquerading as Green councillor, Paula “Taking the Mickey” O’Rourke who is currently fancy dress mayor for the city.

Paula-ORourke-Lord-Mayor
O’Rourke: new fancy dress mayor running a library sting operation

Bristol Radical History Group were approached by FoCL to do some talks at what they thought was a public library where they’ve done free talks for no charge on many occasions. They agreed and arranged five dates for five talks. Then they discovered, via the internet, that FoCL are charging the public £10 a ticket to hear their free talks! To add insult to injury, when the history group approached FoCL to ask what was going on, they discovered that FoCL usually pays speakers a £150 fee, which was never mentioned when the history group were booked.

The Radical History Group have now cancelled their talks at this dodgy library for the wealthy. Not because they aren’t being paid, which they never are, but because people are excluded by being charged for a free event in a space that should be inclusive and free at the point of use. Having tried to rip off the poor and a local group of volunteers to fund their exclusive library with a bar operation, FoCL told the history group when they cancelled that they were “grossly unprofessional”.

Bit rich coming from a bunch of wealthy conmen openly destroying our public services.

ST MONICA TRUST: MICK LYNCH vs THE VENTURERS

L&G WATCH

L&G Downing Street

We recently ran a story on our website about the relationship between L&G, who the Reverend Rees is gifting Arena island to, and the Tory government under Theresa May. Now we learn that the global pension player turned property developer continues to maintain strong links to the Tories under Johnson.

A Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, contains an account of a meeting between the Minister for Housing and Planning, Esther McVey, and L&G on 27 January 2020. Topics included the greenbelt. L&G got to tell the Tory minister, “the entire country was not for protecting the Green Belt as a blanket rule”.

They also got to express concern about “the planning capability of local authorities,” stating they would pay a premium to get planning applications fast tracked. Explaining, “when large scale developments are delayed by slow decision making, the financial cost of delay is greater than it would cost to contribute to planning upscaling”.

McVey agreed to “take this point onboard as she considers further work”. Meanwhile, “the Minister was eager to know what L&G thought government has to do to speed up the release of public land”!

On the plus side, at least Tory ministers take minutes. Unlike BCC who gave Arena Island away at a private unminuted meeting at L&G’s offices in London attended by Rees’s dodgy property supremo Colin “Headboy” Molton, now at WECA.

Closer to home, the council has just published a VEAP for their Arena Island deal. A document used to avoid legal action by acknowledging they may have acted unlawfully in terms of regulation.

Tells us all we need to know about Rees’s shit deal with L&G

ST MONICA TRUST UPDATE

The fight at St Monica Trust against fire and rehire and cuts to pay and conditions continues. Management have refused to meet for negotiations and so the workers have been left with no other option but to stand up for themselves and strike.

Five days of strike action have been announced starting tomorrow, Wednesday 29th June.

*  Wednesday 29th June at 7.30am for 24 hours

*  Saturday 2nd July at 7.30am for 24 hours* Tuesday 5th July at 7.30am for 24 hours

*  Sunday 10th July at 7.30am for 48 hours (ending at 7.30am Tuesday 12th July)

We will be holding pickets on these days which you are encouraged to come along and support. They will run at the 4 homes on each of the strike days at the following times:

*  7:00am – 3:00pm

*  8:00pm – 10:00pm

At these addresses:

*  Sandford Station Retirement Village, Sandford, Winscombe, BS25 5AD

*  Cote Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3TW    

*  6 Charlton Rd, Bristol, BS10 6NG

*  Trajectus Way, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 2GL                           

If you’d like to know where your support is best placed, check out the public pledge sheet and put your name down for some of the slots. Green ones are the best priority to go to then yellow then orange, but your support is welcome at any!

Public day of action – Saturday 2nd July

On Saturday, following the 7am pickets, there is a rally in support of the strikes at the Greenway Centre in Southmead which is a short walk from the Westbury Fields site. We have a Facebook event page with all the info here: Facebook Event

The rally will start at 11:30am in the sports hall with a variety of speakers from the trade union movement including UNISON’s regional secretary, Joanne Kaye. They will give short speeches in support of the action and share stories of other workers who are standing up and fighting. This will be followed by some food.

A minibus with around 15 spaces will be put on to transport members from Sandford Station. Striking members will be prioritised but if you want to be on the reserve list should there be extra space then contact Joshua.connor@bristolunison.co.uk and we’ll let you know if you’ve got a space by the end of the week.

Strike fund

The current cost of living crisis will have an impact on our ability to undertake effective strike action. It’s going to be vital that we’re able to support our members, many of whom are low paid. We have a healthy fighting fund but the more available, the longer and harder we can fight.

Union branches are encouraged to donate to our strike fund. You can make your own request to your branch committee or use this letter from our branch secretaries to make the request. We’d of course welcome donations from any other groups or individuals if you can afford to. Donations can be made by transfer to the following details with the reference SMT and will be split between the two branch hardship funds.

Account name: UNISON South West
Account number: 49021079
Sort Code: 60-83-01

Finally, if you wish to share a message of support with our members then please either post on twitter with #StMonicaStrike or send an email to Bristol.unison@bristolunison.co.uk

In solidarity,

Jack

Jack Horwood (he/him)

Area Organiser | Press & Digital
UNISON South West

southwest.unison.org.uk

BLAIR BABE IN CONFLICT SHOCKER!

Hazelgrove 2
Claire Babe

Wasn’t it lovely to see the former youthful Labour Parliamentary candidate for Skipton and Repton and former employee of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Claire “Babe” Hazelgrove, out ‘on the doorstep’ campaigning hard to keep the mayoral system in Bristol?

On April 30 Claire even announced on Twitter, “Final few days before the referendum on keeping our strong city mayor role – or moving backwards to the indecisive “committee system”.”

However, some might find this a strange comment from someone fronting up a national organisation, TPXimpact, that has just been contracted by Bristol City Council to deliver a number of workshops at public expense to members of the city’s local area committees and voluntary sector about how to best spend millions of pounds in the city’s poorest areas. 

There have already been questions about why TPXimpact were brought in, in the first place, rather than using existing well established facilitators available in Bristol. Now there may be even more questions about why an enthusiastically pro-Mayor Labour Party member was brought in just before a referendum where Labour backed keeping a mayor and Claire Babe publicly campaigned for it.

Don’t expect to get too many answers from the Reverend about it.

DEMOCRACY WATCH

democracy

Some tittle-tattle about the Labour Party and the mayoral referendum: a little birdy tells us Bristol Labour never passed a motion through their internal processes about any of it. Therefore the membership never confirmed that they supported having mayor in Bristol. 

Instead, it seems,Labour councillors and members were instructed by the Reverend and his team to support a mayor for Bristol in a referendum all about, er, democracy and whether one person in the city making all the decisions was a good idea?

This may explain why few Labour members bothered to campaign and the Reverend suffered a crushing defeat.

Isn’t this also something a decent local journalist might have bothered to ask some questions about during the campaign? 

ST MONICA TRUST STRIKE DATES ANNOUNCED

st monica
St Monica: patron saint of picket lines

Attention comrades!

Care workers at the St Monica Trust, the notorious Merchant Venturer-run care home operation, have announced the dates of their first wave of strikes:

They will be on strike for 24 hours on June 29, July 2 and July 5

They will be on strike for 48 hours 10 – 11 July

The workers are going on strike as the management of the care homes attempt to ‘fire and rehire’ them by ripping up existing contracts and replacing them with worse ones. The wealthy Venturers plans include substantial cuts to pay by reducing night and weekend enhancements; slashing weekly hours and removing paid breaks.

Details on picket lines, strike funds etc to follow

Victory to the workers! Down with the capitalist scum Merchant Venturers pigs!

REFUGEE WATCH

City of Sanctuary

The barely concealed joy of council bigwigs at the first Ukrainian refugee family through the door at Bristol City Council last month was quickly silenced when the family told the assembled reception committee that they “don’t want to live next door to any coloured people”!

The constant media and political frenzy around the arrival of white European refugees has also overshadowed the plight of  the – now – unfashionable Afghani refugees in the city. We’re reliably informed about 95 per cent of our refugees from Afghanistan are still to be housed. Most are still being put up in hotels.

Welcome to a City of Sanctuary.

CREATIVE ANTI-UNION NETWORK

Sandy-scaled
Bufton-Tufton: posh bloke who hates uppity workers?

There was a bit of a fuss recently after the Reverend instructed one of his idiot sidemen, Craig “Crapita” Cheney to veto a multimillion WECA grant to the Creative Youth Network, the former protectorate of failed Green mayoral candidate, Sandy “Bufton-Tufton” Hore-Ruthven.

Unfortunately the Reverend was unable to personally deal the deathblow to the grant himself as he was otherwise indisposed. Destroying the planet by jetting to Vancouver to deliver a live and pointless TED Talk for the benefit of billionaire clown Elon Musk.

A lot of people are claiming the veto was revenge by the Reverend on Bufton-Tufton for daring to run against him in last year’s election. And there may be some truth in this. However, trade unionists can take a small crumb of comfort from the Reverend’s latest display of thin skinned pettiness.

Mark-Coates
‘Mussolini’ Coates leading ‘Rainbow Lanyards Against the Workers’

Because, we learn that, during his time as CEO at the Creative Youth Network, the city’s great Green progressive alternative, Bufton-Tufton, consistently refused to enter into a voluntary  recognition agreement with a union. Instead, in typical Tory bully boss-with-head-up-his-arse style, Bufton-Tufton told the union that their services weren’t required as he had set up a staff forum where staff could raise any issues they had. 

No doubt, Bufton-Tufton’s “door was always open” too? So far, Creative Youth’s new chief exec, Oxbridge twit, Mark “Mussolini” Coates, hasn’t done anything to change Creative Youth’s robustly anti-union approach either.

Hands up who gives a toss if this kind of right wing shit is turned down for grants from the public purse?