Category Archives: News

Juicy tales of corruption and stupidity from across Bristol

WHISTLING IN THE WIND

WHISTLING IN THE WIND

Council bosses continue to deliver a pile of NONSENSICAL CRAP instead of working WHISTLEBLOWING ARRANGEMENTS for their staff.

Delivering their ‘Annual Review of Whistleblowing Arrangements’ to the Audit Committee, bosses trumpeted to councillors that their review included “a survey of 100 CITY COUNCIL EMPLOYEES“.

Although the sheepish bosses went on to admit “the response rate to the survey was limited with only 22 RESPONSES RECEIVED“. This means around 0.3 per cent of council staff were actually surveyed, which seems a rather small amount to be building a working policy around.

The information gathered from the small amount of staff brave enough to respond was, however, deeply worrying. As staff admitted they have not reported concerns due to “FEAR OF REPRISAL” and “CONCERN THAT NOTHING WOULD BE DONE.”

Audit bosses response to this, supported by the city council’s hapless HR department, was to advise the Audit Committee that they needed to “REINFORCE THE MESSAGE“. Even though “the message” coming through to staff appears to be “don’t you dare blow the whistle at Bristol City Council”

After discussing the matter for a while, councillors concluded that their HR department needed to take responsibility for “REINFORCING THE MESSAGE” so that staff understood that whistleblowers have legal protections and any allegations of malpractice are taken seriously (honest guv, ed).

An odd decision since their current Director of HR and Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, appointed last year, was working as a senior HR consultant in Wakefield in 2006 when six social workers were SUMMARILY DISMISSED for trying to reveal serious children’s SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS.

The concerns were regarding children living in care homes run by Wakefield Council who were being exposed to DRUGS and were at risk of SEXUAL EXPLOITATION. Within a month of making their complaints in January 2006, the whistleblowing workers were FIRED. Wakefield Council then tried to get the six workers placed on a government blacklist usually reserved for SEX OFFENDERS.

Bedwetter scarpered from Wakefield in March 2006, before the fallout from the affair, which cost the council £1 MILLION in an out of court settlement to the exonerated social workers. There was also red faces all round at the council when it publicly emerged that they had sought to protect potential CHILD ABUSERS at the expense of WHISTLEBLOWING SOCIAL WORKERS.

Is Bedwetter Walsh really the best person Bristol City Council can find to promote a better deal for whistleblowers?


Rotten Comrades: Disability, Part One By the Dwarf

I had no idea that two weeks after my last article about the (bad) experience of (quite a few) black and ethnic minority staff that the council would hold a ceremony celebrating the council’s, er, success in supporting people from marginalised backgrounds (otherwise known as the ‘Stepping Up’ program). I might not have helped.

So it is with that recognition that I am hoping that the council aren’t about to announce some sort of ceremony celebrating the Council’s success in supporting people with disabilities, because today – hold on to your hats – I have quite a few things to say about how the Council treats its disabled staff, too.

The Council is bad on disability. Its worst offender is Adult Social Care (the “caring” profession), but other departments get a dishonourable mention as well. It’s not always the manager’s fault, because sometimes they want to help their staff, but pressure from more senior managers and woeful advice from HR makes it inevitable that staff don’t get the help they need.

Let’s be clear about this: the employer MUST make reasonable adjustments to help disabled staff overcome organisational, operational and physical obstacles. The Council – or at least its managers – treat any adjustment that requires them spending any of their budget on it, as unreasonable, which is quite wrong.

So what happens is that a person who has deteriorated in physical or mental ability takes some time off – perhaps they have an operation or a spell recovering from a breakdown of some kind. They consult their doctor who says, ‘I’ll write you a fit note saying you must have light duties. Here you go, they have to give it to you – it’s the Equality Act 2010.’

Except, when that person does return to work they get told: ‘we don’t have light duties.’ So the staff member goes back on the sick. They don’t have any choice, they have a disability, they aren’t as able as they were before.

A few months later, the sick pay has run out, management have popped round twice and very nicely, over a cup of tea and a digestive, given you a level one and then a level two ‘notice of unacceptable attendance’ and you have to go back to work or face ruin. The HR adviser was a very nice woman who nodded whenever you spoke and frowned in all the right places.

That HR adviser is the one who will tell you, when you get back, that because of ‘the needs of the business’ there are no light duties and that we will now need to give you a ‘stage three final review of attendance’. You reply that there is always paperwork that needs doing, or perhaps it is just visiting people’s homes that you can’t do anymore and perhaps you could do triage instead? And why are you giving me a stage three when I have done what you wanted and come back to work? But the answer is no and the stage three is just policy.

One of three things happen next: you go back to work on their terms and have a fall; you go back on the sick and they hold the stage three in your absence, dismissing you; or you phone the union and try and get what is supposed to be an ethical employer to accept its responsibilities.

There is another pitfall that unwary staff fall into that the employer is only too happy to lay. If there are no adjustments that can reasonably be done – and scepticism would be my default position on this – then medical redeployment is a reasonable adjustment. What if there are no suitable jobs? What if I get no help? Well, at the end of the redeployment, if you haven’t found another job you are then on the dole.

What sort of impairments are we talking? Cancer, musculo-skeletal injuries, fibromyalgia, depression, macular degeneration – those sorts of things. All serious and all debilitating unless you get the support you need to work with less pain; happy and productive in your occupation. You may have seen them struggling their way around City Hall, terrified of being managed out of the business.

It didn’t use to be like this. In the old days, if you had seen better days your manager would’ve done his best to look after you. Something bitter and hard-hearted has happened to the Council.

LABOUR NEWS

The selection process for the Labour mayoral candidate in 2020 continues to be gripped by BUREAUCRATIC INERTIA. As nobody, it seems, in the entire Labour movement still has any idea how the trigger ballot process they’re proposing to use to decide if the Reverend runs again or not actually works or when it might take place.

However, we do now have some idea about the Labour-affiliated organisations who will DECIDE whether the Reverend Rees gets a free run at re-election next year or whether he will need to go through a proper and, likely, very tricky ONE MAN ONE VOTE selection process within his own party.

We’re reliably informed that 25 Labour WARD BRANCHES made up of members have a vote each in the trigger ballot; 15 SOCIALIST SOCIETIES have a vote and 77 TRADE UNION AFFILIATES have a vote. Members, many of whom oppose the Reverend, are therefore outgunned THREE TO ONE by the votes of faceless trade union bureaucrats. If this ballot ever happens, the result seems a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile the Bristol Labour Party, encouraged by Momentum campaigners, has forged ahead with an “open” selection process for its candidates for councillor. Although all might not have gone quite to plan after a well-organised LGBT LOBBY helped out by right wing  DARREN “DIPSHIT” JONES SUPPORTERS in Bristol North West managed to get two female socialists and opponents of Rees’s Tory austerity agenda REMOVED from the councillor list for “transphobia”.

Naturally, the usual ragbag of Blairites, social climbers and former Lib Dems who tend to make up the majority of Labour’s council candidates have all been waved through for selection as candidates.

ONE CITY FOR BUSINESS

ONE CITY FOR BUSINESS

With a large public relations fanfare, the Reverend’s ONE CITY PLAN and re-election campaign was launched upon us in early January. This plan is another absolute tsunami of DRIVEL of the kind we have now come to expect from the Reverend Rees.

Created by overenthusiastic copy writers working to the Reverend’s instructions, the plan attempts to PREDICT what the city will be like in 2050 thanks to the Reverend’s ideas. And yes, it is as embarrassing as it sounds.

For a LABOUR Mayor leading a LABOUR administration, the plan, however, lacks much in the way of traditional left wing content. Our search of the document revealed the terms ‘socialism’; ‘nationalisation’; ‘tax’; ‘taxation’ and ‘public ownership’ appear a grand total of ZERO times. While ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ get ONE appearance each in the Reverend’s grand design for a golden future.

However, the term ‘BUSINESS‘ appears 63 times while meaningless Reverend Rees jargon such as ‘sustainable’, 50 appearances; ‘leadership’, 17 appearances; partnership, 13 appearances; diversity, 23 appearances and ‘innovation’, 10 appearances, are LITTERED throughout the document.

Basically, it’s a load of right wing American BUSINESS SCHOOL BOLLOCKS of the kind the Reverend was spoon fed on his crappy leadership course at Yale.

Is this the future we want?

ALL 4 THEM?

All 4

After a ludicrous PR blitz announcing that Channel 4 would be setting up a small ‘creative hub’ in Bristol – apparently all thanks to the tremendous persuasive powers of the Reverend Rees – comes the SECRETIVE NON-ANNOUNCEMENT regarding the cost to council tax payers.

This ‘creative hub’ opportunity created a lot of EXCITEMENT among certain local authorities around the country who desperately wanted to look fashionable. Authorities spent months battling and outbidding each other to attract to their area just 50 TV EXECS from London who devise shite new reality TV formats and game shows.

And, naturally, Bristol – never a city to knowingly turn down an opportunity to PISS AWAY MONEY on some marginal crap with ‘creative’ in the title – came out on top with Channel 4 agreeing to locate one of their crappy offices here. Cue rapturous celebrations from the city’s self-styled creatives and their hangers-on.

However, not so much noise has accompanied the publication by Bristol City Council of their ‘CHANNEL 4 CREATIVE HUB HEADS OF TERMS’. Basically a document setting out how much council taxpayers will be forking out to encourage a few twats from London to work from an office in Bristol.

NO FIGURES are issued in this head of terms but it does state what we’ll be shelling out for. This includes “dedicated support staff to facilitate the transition to Bristol’ because, presumably, a bunch of gormless TV execs can’t arrange to move offices by themselves?

Other areas of EXPENDITURE include “support for proposals for an Accelerator and a Channel 4 Academy,” whatever they may be, as well as “potential office space”. Because, presumably, an organisation turning over £960million a year urgently requires SUBSIDY from Bristol’s council tax payers towards their office space?

These secret subsidies – or bribes if you like – were all signed off by the Reverend’s new Chief Exec Mike “BILLIE JEAN” Jackson in December. Billie Jean arrived from North Somerset to scoop up a £165k a year salary in Bristol last summer.

And Billie Jean’s last act at as boss in North Somerset? Er, to sign off the purchase of the SOVEREIGN SHOPPING CENTRE in Weston-Super-Mare. The shopping centre M&S have just pulled out of.

Makes you wonder how will Billie Jean’s latest business deal with Channel 4 will pan out doesn’t it?

ST MARVIN’S-UP-THE-CREEK PARISH NEWS #18

Alongside my good self, no doubt all sensible parishioners are extremely concerned by the huge amount of pointlessly negative comments made on social media about me. These comments are consistently racist, rude and less than helpful towards an innovative black leader of a creative parish with an increasing international profile.

Things have now taken a turn for the worse with some parishioners even daring to hang  ‘Paul Smith for Vicar’ banners outside of their homes and then share the pictures on social media. I have therefore decided now is the time to take a very serious stand and destroy the evil scourge of negative parishioners destroying sensible debate on social media. It’s what God would have wanted. As my mentor, the Texan psychotic preacher and notorious anti-communist homophobe, the Pastor Righteous Loon says, “The Book of Thin Skin sayeth that thee who message against me, is the racist enemy of thy lord and shall pay now in media smears and then in the hereafter.”

I am particularly obsessed and concerned – as, no doubt, are you, the sensible silent majority of parishioners supporting global reach parish leadership – about the Twitter account @st-marvin’s_citizen. He has been spreading rudeness and alternative news about the parish and especially myself for many years. I have therefore tasked our head verger, Mr Walsh, with taking this social media ringleader down. A task Mr Walsh is eminently experienced in after his time up north working at St Wakefield-the-Pederast’s-Friend, where he attempted to protect child rapists from justice at a cost of just one million pounds and a humiliating climbdown just prior to a high profile court case.

Results orientated Mr Walsh has already employed a close friend as a consultant at a highly competitive rate to investigate the Citizen. So if you see a confused posh twit in a pin-stripe suit who doesn’t appear to have the foggiest idea what he’s doing around the place, be sure to guide him towards the cash office so he can pick up his pay packet. Rest assured, the Citizen will be stopped and positivity, sanity and sense restored to the parish’s social media messaging. “If not,” says Mr Walsh, “we can always blame the Citizen account on Ms Townsend and her rabble at the Dave Spart Academy like we do everything else.”

Finally, following the vicious racist graffiti aimed at my good self, discovered in the vestry after last Wednesday’s mother and toddler group, I have no choice but to step up security at this week’s Sunday service. All bags will be searched and any ‘Paul Smith for vicar’ placards removed for your own safety. We will also be inviting certain congregation members, mainly those from the Dave Spart Academy and from notorious racist hotspots south of the parish, to view the service by videolink from the nearly-completed Church Hall complex.

The sermon will be delivered by myself working in partnership with senior editorial staff from the BBC and the St Marvin’s Post. Our theme is ‘are Commies and Corbynites racist?’ and all my friends and supporters are especially welcome. Front row pew tickets are available after careful vetting from my office.

See you there!

The Vicar

UNISON INACTION

AWP, the local NHS mental health trust, is SLASHING over 70 band 4 admin posts with a knock-on effect on the band 3 admin staff underneath them. AWP are predictably doing this to try and make up a funding deficit.

Targeting admin rather than clinical staff is a sneaky ploy from the bosses. They know that admin staff are less likely to be unionised and less likely to FIGHT BACK than the frontline staff. Make no mistake, though, admin workers are essential to the provision of services. These cuts will have a huge impact on the delivery of essential care in an already FAILING NHS trust.

Unison promised to FIGHT these cuts but, despite enthusiasm from the workers, their plans were underwhelming. They failed to adequately consult their membership on their plans and many of the affected staff were left feeling cynical, jaded and voiceless by the union that CLAIMS to represent them.

Unison promised a ‘DAY OF ACTION’ in early December against the job cuts. However, ‘action’ may be the wrong word here. What unison actually proposed was a TOKEN half-hour protest outside workplaces, with the not-insignificant caveat that members take this time out of their lunch breaks so that there would be no disruption to services and no stoppage of work. It is the staff – not the bosses – that are losing out.

This wasn’t an ‘action’ so much as a photo opportunity. One AWP employee described the ‘action’ as “like punching yourself in the face so you can show off the bruise”.

STREET LIFE

Within days of the cops announcing in November that they had gained more funding to create jobs within STREETWISE, the council and cops’ joint anti-begging initiative for Broadmead, undercover cops had taken to the streets.

One service user told a voluntary support group that two undercover plain clothes officers approached him and asked him to leave Broadmead IMMEDIATELY and said that if by the time they were back out in uniform he was still in the centre he could get ARRESTED. He was also told they want to try to stop voluntary outreach groups supporting the homeless.

Happy New Year!

DESELECTION NEWS

The question on the lips of many Labour members in Bristol – “How the fuck do we get rid of the Reverend Rees”? – remains UNANSWERED by the Bristol Labour Party less than 18 months before the next mayoral election.

Members have been told that any selection process for their mayoral candidate in 2020 will be subject to a ‘TRIGGER BALLOT’. A process where affiliated organisations such as constituency parties, trade unions and other largely mysterious and unknown Labour Party interest groups get a vote to decide whether there should a selection process or whether the Reverend Rees should get another shot at mayor UNCHALLENGED.

Many local Labour members are unhappy with the trigger ballot process, claiming that a decision on whether to have a selection process should be ONE MEMBER ONE VOTE and not left to the Labour Party’s labyrinthine bureaucracies and rule book to decide.

Unfortunately members appear to have LOST that battle already.  Instead, local members are left scratching their heads at the nature of this ballot they do not want after trigger ballot rules, largely used to challenge sitting MPs, were CHANGED at the last Labour Conference. Now, nobody seems sure what that means for a mayoral trigger ballot in Bristol.

Local Labour members have been told that the local party and its regional office is “seeking clarification on what the changes to the trigger ballot process mean for the Mayoral selection”. But the clock is now running down FAST.

Will the Reverend get returned to office due to administrative incompetence and bureaucratic inertia against the wishes of the majority of Labour members in Bristol?