Category Archives: News

Juicy tales of corruption and stupidity from across Bristol

WET AND WEAK MONITORING OFFICER DROPS HIS TROUSERS AND BENDS OVER FOR THE MAYOR AGAIN

O'Gara

“L’il” Tim O’Gara, the city council’s weak and woolly Monitoring Officer, is at it again.

Richly rewarded to be a tough and independent voice at the council, keeping the Mayor, councillors and staff in line and acting according to the council’s constitution and policies, “L’il” Tim has consistently failed at this. Instead he has carved out a reputation for doing whatever the mayor tells him, regardless of propriety or the law.

Among his many handiworks has been turning a blind eye to the Reverend’s lack of any apparent open sale or procurement process as our valuable land at Arena Island is handed over to pension fund L&G. They will develop the land at a considerable profit to themselves while lumbering us with a 40 year rental charge for an already obsolete office block they intend to build.

O’Gara was also behind hiding vital Bristol Energy documents, such as dodgy business plans and realistic accounts, from the councillors and the public. A dumb practice only helpful to the Reverend, keen to hide his fundamental incompetence, now condemned by the council’s auditors. “L’il” Tim’s work almost certainly helped the shambolic energy reseller run up a £43m debt for council taxpayers.

Now we learn “L’il” Tim has turned his attention to next week’s motion before the Full Council to have a referendum on whether we should continue to have a mayor. And “L’il” Tim has helpfully allowed the Reverend to table an amendment to the Lib Dem’s motion stating that the alternative to the Mayor should be a leader and Cabinet system not the committee system requested by the Lib Dems.

This is odd because last year, when the Lib Dems put in a similar motion, proposing a leader and cabinet system, the Greens tabled an amendment to change it to a committee system. Only for O’Gara to pop up and dismiss the Greens stating it was a “wrecking amendment”. 
So what’s changed now? Apart from it’s the Reverend (who O’Gara’s shit scared of) tabling this latest and similar amendment?

Why is some weak and useless tosspot of a Monitoring Officer allowed to be entirely partisan and fuck about with our city’s democracy like this? With his limited legal skills, mental weakness and poor character, might “L’il” Tim be better suited to provincial house conveyancing practice rather than to the political cut and thrust of a core city local authority where the bullies and thugs tend to congregate at the top?

“L’il!” Tim is a wimp and a coward and he now really needs to fuck off before he does any more damage to our city.

LEAKED EMAIL: BUSINESS WEST BEG COUNCILLORS TO SAVE THE MAYOR!

With a vote by councillors due next week on whether to have a referendum on scrapping the elected mayor, Business West head honcho James Durie and friends have got scribbling fast:

FAO All Bristol City Councillors

Dear Councillor

I attach a letter to each of you from Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative – Business West with reference to the motion to trigger a referendum on the Democratically Elected Mayoral model for the City of Bristol at Full Council Meeting on 7th December. This is a matter of significant interest and concern for us.

Regards

James

James Durie  | Chief Executive – Bristol Chamber & West of England Initiative

Executive Director – Business West 

Dear Councillor, 

Strengthening Bristol’s Democracy  

We are writing to you about the motion to trigger a referendum on the Democratically Elected  Mayoral (DEM) model for the city of Bristol. This is a matter of significant interest and concern for us.  

The DEM model – chosen by the people of Bristol in the 2012 referendum – has enabled all voters  across the city to directly elect the leader of the city every four years. As the representatives of  business in the West of England, and also as residents of Bristol, we saw the need in 2012 to change  the governance model of the city and supported the creation of a directly elected mayor. We continue  to support this now and wish to see it strengthened.  

We are writing to each of you privately as our representatives in Bristol’s democracy to make clear  our position. We will also be contributing to the debate at the council meeting and in public.  

Background 

We believe in a strong and inclusive economy for Bristol. In 2012, Business West Chamber and Initiative supported the ‘Elected Mayor for Bristol’ referendum “Yes” campaign as we believed that a  directly elected mayor would improve decision making in the city, strengthen Bristol, and help deliver  prosperity which is essential for jobs and services and the continued sustainable growth of the city.  

Over the last 35 years we have had many strong partnerships with Bristol City Council (the  regeneration of Harbourside and Broadmead are two). However, our long experience showed us that  the system of local government in 2012 – being often short-term in outlook and delivery – was holding  the city back. We believed then, and continue to believe now, that stable leadership, which brings the  city together, is essential. The five changes of leadership in Bristol City Council we encountered in the  seven years before the referendum made stability and consistency impossible for the long-term  thinking and decision-making that cities need. It also made the case harder for investment to be made  in the city whether by national government or private.  

At present, businesses and employers are focussing on dealing with the impact of inflation, Brexit, and  trying to recover from the pandemic with major skills and supply chain shortages in what remains a  challenging, fast changing environment. And on top of these, there is the need for businesses to  contribute to decarbonisation as part of meeting the climate crisis. Many of these challenges are long term and our work to meet these will be helped by strong and accountable leadership.  Build a New Future for the DEM model 

We are supporters of the Directly Elected Mayoral model but also want to see this strengthened. We  want to see strong and effective system of local government which is best able to serve all our  communities. We need to ensure that there is consistency of leadership over each four-year period so  that critical issues of, for example, transport and land use planning can be agreed and delivered. 

The research published in the Bristol Civic Leadership project argued that: 

• The mayoral model delivers more visible leadership of the city. 

• Direct election gives the individual substantial democratic legitimacy to lead and makes mayors  more accountable. 

• Successive mayors have been effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city. • Four-year terms provide stable leadership. 

We believe these points are critical in this debate. At the same time, we share the legitimate concerns  that the role of councillors in decision making has been restricted and that the expansive remit of the  mayor risks overloading one individual. There are other issues, too. Since Bristol adopted the DEM  model, the city and its councillors have also supported – and become part of – the West of England  Combined Authority. We believe that Bristol still needs strong leadership to enable it to operate as  the central and largest component of a city region of over 1.1m people. As national government shifts  more funding into regional authorities, we need to make sure that the leadership in the city is right to  work in the context of WECA, too.  

We want an open debate about all these points so that we can see democracy strengthened as well  as retain the leadership needed. We believe that we can find the right way to balance leadership,  accountability, and a renewed role for councillors, amongst others, to help the city move forward. We  will be contributing to The Mayor at 10 projects. In the meantime, we feel that a referendum will be  a distraction and urge that the motion be rejected in favour of a commitment by all to improve the  DEM model.  

Signed 

Jaya Chakrabarti 

President 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative 

James Durie 

Chief Executive 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative 

Director – Business West 

John Savage 

Chairman 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative

****It’s been brought to our attention that the letter is inaccurate. It states:

‘The five changes of leadership in Bristol City Council we encountered in the  seven years before the referendum made stability and consistency impossible for the long-term  thinking and decision-making that cities need.’

But there were only two leaders of council in the 7 years before the 2012 referendum: Barbara Janke 2003-07 and 08-12 and Helen Holland 07-08!

COP26 CLIMATE MARCH: GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES?

ClimateMarchjfifjpgest

Yesterday saw another poorly attended march around Broadmead as part of a “global day of action for climate justice.”

The usual liberal suspects bearing ‘witty’ homemade placards were joined by unions, the Labour Party and the Green Party, all touting a version of “the Green New Deal”. Where large sums of commercially confidential public money will be handed over to struggling corporations with no questions allowed to provide profitable market solutions to the climate crisis.

Under the ubiquitous straplines “net zero” and “just transition”, some of the most unjust organisations and institutions on the planet – that created climate change in the first place – are now going to solve it for us (for a fee)!

The BRISTOLIAN’s position on this hasn’t altered on this since 2014 when there was also a “a global day of climate change action” during a UN conference in New York City to organise a climate conference. We said then:

Any response to climate change requires a new mass social movement and the dismantling of existing elites and their interests, not some crude rearrangement betweeen these elites (who have already trashed the planet) backed up with a novelty global PR campaign aimed at GUILT TRIPPING US.

If we want to protect humanity from climate change, we have to TAKE CONTROL of business and industry ourselves, not leave it to profit-hungry corporations or a bunch of rich hippy clowns. We don’t want a nicer shinier ‘green capitalism’, we want to DESTROY it, their class system and protect our future in one shot. You know it makes sense 

GREENBALLS: GUESS WHO’S SAVING THE PLANET FOR US?

To get involved in the COP26 action and talk up climate change “business opportunities”, Business West ran a conference – ‘COP26 Green Zone – The Business of Net Zero’ today. The Reverend dashed down from some dull meetings at COP 26 in Glasgow to be the keynote speaker for the business boys but look who else turned up …

Skellett CC

When not lecturing stupid wealthy old white men on how to save the planet, Skellett is Chief Exec at Wessex Water. Last year Wessex dumped 197,213 hours of raw sewage into out waterways up from 107,435 the previous year.

One reader said, “Colin’s graph shows the increases not only in crap being released in our rivers but the expected dividend payment increase for our shareholders this year.”

CITY LEAP: ANOTHER ENERGY BUSINESS SHAMBLES?

Leap 82429

A strong rumour rumbles through the Bristolian newswire that never sleeps … One of the three multinational corporates bidding to become a partner in the ‘billion pound City Leap’ neighbourhood heat network joint venture with Bristol City Council has thrown in the towel.

So it’s farewell, then, to ENGIE Services Holding UK Ltd and Sumitomo Corporation (as a consortium). Have they decided that Bristol City Council’s “billion pound’ golden egg may well end up all over their faces? This leaves E ON and Ameresco to battle it out for the grand prize in a procurement race that has so far burned through £7million of council taxpayers cash for no useful reason.

Engie’s decision may not be unrelated to a cabinet paper released this week that reveals the council has just received £11million from the government to build a heat network in Bedminster. This, the paper explains, will connect to eleven new blocks of flats in the Bedminster Green area. In other words, the cost, at present, of connecting one block to a neighbourhood heat network is a million quid.

Never mind any profit, Engie probably figured out not losing a small fortune in this expensive business was probably unavoidable. How much would you have to charge punters to get a million quid back while “implement[ing] competitive heat retail and competitive heat generation across the heat network”?

Not a question Bristol’s cabinet or councillors have so far asked while signing away £7million of our money on their latest daft energy business.

THAT RARE BEAST … An informed comment on the Evening Post website!

In response to claims that Cineworld at Hengrove isn’t viable and “the cinemas for years have been dead”:

RARaspberryEgg17 HRS AGOReply to AwrightMeBabberz

You are wrong on this one.

At the current time, Cineworld charge £6 a ticket.

Around 400 of us have the Cineworld “Unlimited” Card, where, for a fixed monthly fee, you can watch as many films as you want (I know the numbers because Cineworld set up an unlimited group on Facebook for each cinema)

Cineworld themselves haven’t helped with their scheduling :

The Sopranos spin off, “The Many Saints of Newark” was released yesterday. Hengrove gets just one showing per day, at 4.40 PM, not great when you factor in people’s working commitments.

In the Cineworld App, both Yate and Weston have two showings per day, at 5.40 PM and 8.30 PM. Further afield, Cineworld cinemas in Newport, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Swindon have four showings per day, and this scenario is repeated for other films.

Prior to Covid, Hengrove was designated by Cineworld as an “International Film Cinema”, showing many Polish and Bollywood films, with Poles and Asians coming from as far as Thornbury, Newport, Cardiff, and Gloucester, to watch films in their native language (with English subtitles) that they could not watch nearer home. Since Hengrove re-opened, precious few foreign films have been shown

As a benefit of having an unlimited card, we had regular early preview showings of films, before they went on general release. Outside the screen, there was usually a table set up for us, offering free film posters, badges, water bottles, etc, and occasionally a tub of sweets or a drink. Again, this has all stopped.

Those of us with unlimited cards have long suspected that Cineworld themselves have wanted to close Hengrove, irrespective of any housing development.

Worse still, Cineworld are just silent when we ask questions via their social media channels….

NEW HENGROVE HOUSING HORROR

Hengrove Leisure Park

More good news for South Bristol as a planning application before Bristol City Council’s Planning Committe ‘A’ today proposes to demolish Hengrove Leisure Park and build 350 homes in its place.

This latest housing site is conveniently nestled between Hengrove Park, where 1,500 homes have planning permission, and the new private equity development ‘Urban Quarter’, where 250 homes are being built. 

A few hundred metres east of the site, on Hengrove Way, is Barratt Homes’ recently completed Filwood Park, a development of 150 homes and next to that is the emerging Skanska/IKEA ‘Boklok‘ abomination built on the verge of Airport Road with 173 homes.

The existing facilities at Hengrove Leisure Park – the cinema, bingo hall and the majority of food outlets – which only opened with much fanfare in 1998, are all proposed for demolition to make way for housing. Because, according to the planning application before councillors, the existing facilities are ‘not viable’.

Residents of Whitchurch, Hengrove, Hartcliffe and Knowle West are furious at the news that some of the last leisure facilities in the area are being thrown into the dustbin of history under the cover of “the housing crisis”. 

A slogan that, in the hands of the property industry, is nothing more than a populist ploy to extract large profits from overdevelopment. Is it any surprise that as house prices in south Bristol head north of £300k, the international private equity industry is taking an interest?

Residents also complain that they have been fooled by Bristol City council and its planners as the 1,500 home development on the hugely popular Hengrove Park was only signed off for planning permission on the basis that there were public facilities, like the leisure park, in the area to support new housing. The leisure park is even listed as part of ‘Phase one‘ of this new development by Bristol City Council.

This proposal is also another major disaster for the credibility of Bristol City Council planners who, 25 years ago, foisted this car-friendly development – a large car park with some large retail sheds – on south Bristol as their vision of the future for the area.

Indeed, so enamoured were council planners and politicians with their exciting new corporate-leisure-in-a-car-park future, they even granted the privately-run operation an unprecedented 1,000 year lease on the council-owned open space of Hengrove Park to realise this dream.

Whether this ludicrous 1,000 year lease to a corporate allows the new owners of the leisure park, AEK UK, to demolish it and build housing remains to be seen. 

OSBORNE OFFSPRING MAKING GRIME GRIM

Osborne

Local journalists, glued to social media in search of clickbait, might be missing a trick not subscribing to celeb gossip news – Popbitch.

This week we learned that “George Osborne’s son Luke is running a drum’n’bass night in Bristol that claims it will “smack shades of shit out of your Tuesday”!

If you have a really strong stomach, that style bible the, er, Spectator has more info on Luke Osborne and his nightlife career. Is this the first Bristol club night to be promoted in Tory wankers’ magazine of choice?

“The heir-in-line to the family baronetcy is already showing an abundance of entrepreneurial flair while still an undergraduate at Bristol University. The Old Pauline has registered his own nightclub business on Companies House under the name ‘The Constitution Limited.’ He and his co-directors have spent the summer entertaining Bertie’s club in Newquay, hosting nights which offer an ‘immersive genre-fluid return to raving.’

And tonight the budding tycoons are set to take their thriving business back to Bristol for their first drum and bass night there – just in time for freshers’ week. The event is set to be held at Basement 45 – described by one source as a ‘sweaty, subterranean bunker’– and promises to ‘smack shades of shit out of your Tuesday night.’ Music genres include grime, disco, techno and house with the ‘fantastic line up of young talent’ boasting names such as Vsylum, DJ Natworthy and Miffz.”

If you can stand any more, here’s a link to the event that includes a very long, very weird, very boring story from Bristol’s exciting public school krew.

Help!

PRIVATE EQUITY CASHING IN ON ‘HOUSING CRISIS’

urban quarter

The quick sale of Kier’s half-finished ‘Urban Quarter’ development on Hengrove Lane, adjacent to Hengrove Leisure Centre to Terra Firma, a European private equity outfit, operating under the brand Tilia spells trouble for locals and increased profit for financiers.

The first thing Terra Firma have done is go back to Bristol City Council to alter the planning permission. Their request? That they can add two storeys to a couple of the proposed blocks of flats there.

While this will increase the amount of people and vehicles on a crowded site, it will also increase profits for a shadowy group from Europe’s financial elite.

This is also, of course, a profitable little private equity trick that can be pulled off elsewhere in South Bristol where the amount of unsustainable housing development on their open space, accompanied by few new public services or facilities, already has locals up in arms.

The housing crisis is turning out to be a nice little earner for some isn’t it? And a new kind of hell for others.