Why were an unholy alliance of council bosses so keen to prevent a meeting of councillors scrutinising the fatcats’ confusing and secretive “Billion Pound” City Leap plan last week? Who do these clowns really work for?
City Leap is the latest senior officer brainchild to emerge out of Bristol City Council and they’re spending £10m of our money on it. The money’s being spent on procuring a multinational corporation as a ‘joint venture partner’ in, er, wait for it … An energy business!
This time the business is aimed at cashing in on ‘net zero’ by, among other things, building and running unregulated neighbourhood heat networks across the city to “‘up the pace’ in reaching carbon neutrality targets”,
Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson; Exec Director for Growth and Regeneration, Stephen “Preening” Peacock and Energy Services boss David “Payday” White all told councillors at a scrutiny meeting last week that there was absolutely no role for them in City Leap until their secretive high stakes procurement process was finished in February.
The officers explained they would then generously allow councillors a couple of hours to rubberstamp their extraordinarily expensive done deal a few days before it goes to cabinet to get signed off by the Reverend, a Yale-trained corporate puppet.
The unscrupulous threesome explained that any attempt now at democratic scrutiny of this latest council energy scheme would have a ‘material impact on the procurement’.
Bizarre reasoning asserting that the council’s constitution and the right of councillors to scrutinise the executive like any normal functioning democracy should be suspended. On the basis that it might upset any multinational corporation lining up at the trough these officers are generously setting up for them.
All highly irregular. Surely any multinational that wants to work with Bristol City council needs to understand from the get-go that they’re working in a democratic environment where public scrutiny of their work is likely to be regular and detailed? And if they don’t like our democracy in Bristol? Well, they can fuck off to any of the many dictatorships around the world with their money can’t they?
Why are Bristol City Council bosses, whose jobs should directly involve upholding the constitution of Bristol City Council to the letter, creating an environment where the city’s democratic norms need to be ignored because corporate interests are waving some money around? Isn’t this exactly the time democratic scrutiny is needed?
A similar fiasco unfolded with Bristol Energy. Scrutiny and opposition councillors were persistently refused access to vital company information by officers. Councillors were unable to scrutinise what was going on at the company and the result was an estimated £50m loss to council taxpayers.
Is it acceptable for officers to set up yet another energy business shrouded in secrecy that can repeat exactly the same mistakes all over again?
Fancy finding the Reverend Rees in the latest ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column of Private Eye. The natural home of the bent provincial politician.
It seems this brief article refers to Lib Dem councillor Tim “Small Asshat” Kent who asked the Reverend at a recent Cabinet meeting how many followers he had blocked from his ‘Official’ Twitter account run by council officers?
None of your business came the official reply. It’s a private account, explained the Reverend, and he could choose what he did with it, including “blocking individuals who are abusive or deliberately spread misinformation”.
He then proceeded to block Kent on Twitter describing him as a “pit of negativity” at a press conference the next day.
None of which explains why the Reverend is spending £3k a month of public money having his private Twitter account monitored by Impact Social, a dubious internet monitoring firm based above a used car dealers in south London, while blocking any resident he feels like.
Will claims from councillors earlier this year that the real reason for the rush-job outsourcing of Bristol City Council cleaners and security staff to Bristol Waste was to address urgent cashflow issues at the stumbling council-owned company turn out to be accurate?
Last week came the bizarre announcement that Bristol Waste are suspending Green Waste collections for at least ten weeks. The reasons given for this decision were confusing to say the least. Oscilating between claims of a national shortage of skilled drivers and the alleged impact of Bristol Waste drivers self-isolating from Covid-19. We’re also fast learning that Bristol Waste is no longer able to guarantee collecting general waste and recycling on the day they are contracted to do so.
Now we hear that bailiffs acting on behalf of SITA visited the offices of Bristol Waste earlier this week to demand overdue payments for the clearance of waste from larger blocks of flats in Bristol. What on earth is going on?
Adding to this sense of a company and management spiralling out of control comes news that the struggling firm’s Finance Director Adam “Because I’m Worth It” Henshaw received a 50 per cent pay rise last year. Tidily uplifting Worth It’s pay packet from £73k in 2020 to £110k this year.
What was this enormous pay rise for and who authorised it? Is this a reward for failure? Or do Bristol Waste view their increasing inability to collect waste and pay their bills as a sign of management success?
Bristol Waste mainman, Managing Director, Tony ‘I Am The’ Lawless, had to rub along on a pay rise of just five per cent this year, which saw his pay packet exceed £125k for the first time. A rise rather more generous than he allowed his long-suffering staff.
Operations Director Jason “Fatty” Eldridge, meanwhile, trousered a cool seven per cent rise. Crashing his salary through that all-important six-figure barrier to £104k a year.
Bristol Energy-watchers may recall executive salaries there rose the more the company failed. Culminating in Managing Director Mark ‘Magic’ Majewicz pocketing an obscene compensation package of £306k while the company racked up huge losses in 2019 – 20.
The revelation in Bristol City Council’s draft accounts that former housing director and architect of the ‘Caridon Death Star‘ for warehousing the homeless, Julian “Luvvie” Higson scarpered from Bristol in December with a £27k payment as “Compensation for Loss of Office”, despite apparently resigning has raised a few eyebrows.
Not least because a report has just appeared from the council’s Internal Audit team identifying serious problems in the council’s Affordable Housing Grant scheme. A scheme worth tens of millions and meant to support “Registered Housing Providers (RP) and community led housing organisations for affordable rented homes which are within Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rent limits.”
In other words this was a scheme to hand large sums of our public money to housing providers to subsidise the building of affordable homes. The fund for this amounts to something like £47m over 2019 – 2024.
The disturbing Internal Audit report explains, “During the course of the audit both the member of staff responsible for grant administration and the newly appointed manager with responsibility for oversight left the Council.”
Having confirmed that the managers directly responsible have done a runner, the report then provides a helpful list of the scheme’s absolute failures:
There has been insufficient oversight of administration and record keeping, hence issues with data had not been promptly identified
The Housing Delivery Board had met infrequently and had not set requirements for progress reporting of grant awards
The Grant Tracker, the primary record of the progress of grant applications progress and grant award was not fit for purpose and had been poorly maintained. The source and accuracy of the data used for summarisation and reporting could not be relied upon
Data requested by Internal Audit was not readily available and required reconstruction, which upon Internal Audit review were modified
There was no interface between Pro-Contract, the Grant Tracker, and the ABW accounting system, and reconciliations could not be provided
Data was not sufficiently granular to determine whether grants were only awarded within permitted criteria, delivery timelines, within budget, or to the expected build standard
The legal advice in the Decision Pathway Report stating the importance of a robust monitoring process had not been fully implemented and the Council could not be assured that grants provided did not constitute over-compensation
No confirmation was received that the risk register referred to in the Housing Delivery Plan existed
To the untrained eye, this looks like a straightforwardly corrupt grant making process where tens of millions in public money has not been properly managed by the council and they’re unable to tell us what has happened to it.
A notion not entirely disabused by housing bosses’ promise going forward of “consistency and completeness of record keeping and evidence to ensure grants were properly awarded, the use of grants was monitored, and assessments made that grants provided value for money.”
Which all rather begs the question as to why the Director responsible, Higson, was paid £27k to disappear last December? Higson, who cut a deal last autumn that was very generous indeed to Caridon, one of the dodgiest landlord firms in the country, now has a lucrative new job in Harrow as Interim Head of Housing. So at least he’s all right then.
Meanwhile, rather than get the cops in to find out what Higson did with our money, Internal Audit have promised a further report in six months time. Something the council’s Audit Committee will discuss on Monday.
A bizarre and disturbing case unfolds at the Employment Tribunal involving the Reverend Rees, Colin “Head Boy” Molton and the council’s HR senior management nutters – presumably taking some time off from being racist? – John “Bedwetter” Walsh and Mark “Bashar” Williams.
The case involves 122 detriments to a whistleblower at Bristol City Council and there’s even a walk-on part for the Bristolian’s evil twin Twitter account, the ungovernable @bristol_citizen.
From what we’ve learned so far and we’re promised much more from the union involved, IWW Bristol, it seems Bashar and Bedwetter cooked up a cunning plan back in 2018, with the help of the Reverend, to fire the notorious Markets whistleblower from 2012 (Bristolian passim).
This is a whistleblower against whom Bashar Williams has long conducted a dirty whispering campaign in the corridors of the Counts Louse. A campaign that’s attempted to blame the whistleblower for the council’s failure in their duty of care towards council Facilities Service Manager, Tony Harvey, who killed himself in 2013. Directly after Harvey’s crude efforts to cover-up a major financial scandal in his Markets Service with the help and support of Bashar Williams and many other senior bosses started to fall apart.
According to the Employment Tribunal, the whistleblower had made TWENTY-TWO allegations that ‘relate to financial matters and alleged fraud relating to the first respondent’s market licence fees’.
The vehicle selected by the Bashar and Bedwetter to carry out their dastardly attack plan on this whistleblower was the creation of a bespoke allegation that the worker had shared – with a Bristol Waste trade union rep – ‘confidential’ council information that, er, was in the public domain!.
Their plan was assisted by Rees who handed his HR bosses confidential Bristol Labour Party and trade union information directly from his personal Facebook account. An action that resulted in the closure in 2018 of the local Labour Campaign Forum private Facebook page for members when it became apparent that personal and political information on there was no longer secure and was being shared with bosses at Bristol City Council and any passing Toryboy consultant in a pinstripe suit.
To further ensure the success of their brilliant plan, the Bedwetter personally hired – at great expense to us – ‘Mr Greaves’. a self-styled expert consultant who also happened to be an old local authority jobbing interim mate of Bedwetter’s. Mr Geaves, our union sources tell us, was “basically a posh twat in pin stripe suit who was thick as shit”.
Within a week of suspending the worker, HR’s ramshackle disciplinary house of cards inevitably collapsed with the revelation that the alleged ‘confidential information’ wasn’t in the slightest bit confidential having been released by the council themselves months earlier.
The hapless HR management team, including a clown on a generous day rate paid by council taxpayers, then started scratching around for some new allegations to nail their man. TWELVE allegations were variously tabled and hastily withdrawn over the next SIX MONTHS. Even including a desperate claim that the worker was running the @bristol_citizen Twitter account!
The worker eventually took out a grievance, possibly for humanitarian reasons, to end this Human Resources car crash and to try and resolve the embarrassing symptoms of mental decay on open display from a pair of barking senior council HR directors intent on firing someone for no reason other than that the mayor had apparently told them to.
The council responded to the grievance by wheeling out their top gun – the second highest paid council boss in the country – Colin “Head Boy” Molton. Who, it appears, hired another expensive consultant to investigate the work of the first consultant.
The outcome of this investigation is shrouded in mystery as Head Boy scarpered from the scene of his crime very quickly never to be heard from again. In the process failing to do any of the things he had advised himself to do, in his own report, to sort out his senior HR colleagues’ sorry mess..
The next act of this very Bristol City Council farce played out at a bizarre disciplinary hearing chaired by our dear old friend “Lil” Tim O’Gara. He was hurriedly shunted in to oversee proceedings after Bedwetter discovered he wasn’t allowed to hire a posh twit; hand him a weird dossier of drivel off the internet compiled by Bashar Williams; feed his pet twit a load of completely mental evidence-free allegations about a member of council staff and then chair the subsequent hearing to judge the merits of his own deranged crap.
In fact, in a highly original and unprecedented move, no one from HR turned up at all at their own disciplinary hearing to present any kind of case against the member of staff they had suspended for eight months and had, ‘independently’ investigated at great expense. Could this by any chance be related to the fact that the Reverend and Head Boy Molton might have had to appear to explain what the fuck they had been up to if a proper hearing was held?
What if any of the big swinging dicks at the top of the council had said the wrong thing and accidentally implicated each other in their fast unravelling dimwitted conspiracy? Suddenly, with the risk of funny little wriggly appendages being exposed at the top, the hearing was a very quick case of ‘allegations unfounded’ – ‘case dismissed’.
We reckon the cost of this pointless little escapade in targeting a whistleblower trying to protect your money from bent council bosses – if you add up whopping payments to various consultants, the wages paid to the member of staff to sit at home for eight months and the staff time – could easily hit six figures.
What for? An expensive game for the pleasure of a pisspoor mayor? A Bashar Williams’ revenge fantasy acted out on a member of recalcitrant staff? A palliative for Bedwetter’s prominent mental health conditions?
Have they nothing else to do at their City Hall?
MORE STUFF WE’VE BEEN PROMISED AND COMING SOON:
ARE YOU FEATURED IN BASHAR WILLIAM’S DOSSIER OF DRIVEL OFF THE INTERNET?
ABSOLUTE PROOF JOHN WALSH IS A LIAR (JUST IN TIME TO HELP SUPPORT HIS EXCITING DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST COUNCILLORS)
JOHN WALSH, MARK WILLIAMS AND COLIN MOLTON ARE ‘STUPID’ EXPLAINS THEIR OWN LEGAL BRIEF
How many thefts must an auditor ignore With their head in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the public pay Before they’re finally paid?
The answer, my friend, is whisleblowin’ in the wind The answer is whistleblowin’ in the wind
(With apologies to Dylan)
An interesting document emerges from their Audit Committee about whistleblowing at Bristol City Council last year.
It reveals that eight decent workers stepped forward between April 2020 and March 2021 with serious allegations that met the legal criteria for formal whistleblowing. These criteria are
– a criminal offence has been committed; – someone’s health and safety is in danger; – there’s a risk or actual damage to the environment; – there’s a miscarriage of justice; – the organisation is breaking the law; – you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing;
So far so good but then we learn from the council’s report that the result of seven of these complaints was that the claims were “unsubstantiated” while the other one was “not considered a whistleblowing matter”. Which raises the question of what is it doing in a whistleblowing report then?
Five of the eight complaints emerged from the Growth and Regeneration department, run for much of the year by the second highest paid local government officer in the country. That’s our dear old friend, Colin “Head Boy” Molton, and the complaints about his department included allegations of, er fraud, corruption, perjury and drug abuse!
However, we are told that in a couple of cases that “control issues [were] identified, and internal audit review commissioned,” which sounds just like something has been substantiated doesn’t it?
The question that needs to be asked here, then, is what was done to substantiate these whistleblowing claims and who was responsible? For example, if you don’t investigate a complaint then it will remain unsubstantiated won’t it?
Or if, as the council often does, a claim of wrongdoing is investigated by the manager directly responsible for the matter in question, an investigation will fail to substantiate perfectly reasonable and evidenced claims.
Alas, the report put before the Audit Committee contains no detail about how these whistleblowing complaints were dealt with other than to announce they were all “unsubstantiated” and therefore no boss at the council appears to have done anything wrong (again) in any of the cases.
It’s nothing short of risible that this is the case for eight separate whistleblowing claims and this does nothing to encourage whistleblowing at the council. Why bother to potentially ruin your career to get a sentence in an obscure report stating your claims are “unsubstantiated” without explanation?
”Yes ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?”
Rather than reinforcing the lost Labour majority in the council democratically by reaching agreement with the rising Greens, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has doubled down on his already well-developed autocratic tendencies.
Encouraged by the authoritarian nature of the office he holds and the support of “even-higher in the firmament” despot Dan Norris as West of England Regional Mayor, Reverend Rees has instead surrounded himself with a personally selected cabinet of sycophantic courtiers. All eager to pretend to the deluded but fragile-as-glass messianic emperor that he’s fully clothed.
Alas, to complete the “choir of angels” required around the celestial centre, the steady drip-feed of sufficiently pliable self-seekers and arse-lickers was wearing thin on the ground, even for the Bristol Labour Party.
So please step forward Tom “Plasticene Man” Renhard to fill the gap. The pliant New Labour councillor for Horfield – a former nobody known only for his ambition and compulsive brown-nosing of anyone in the party he saw as useful for advancing his political career.
Greasy pole-dancer Renhard started from humble beginnings as the mere obedient secretary to Cllr Brenda “Commissar” Massey’s chairing of Horfield Branch Labour Party. He then proceeded to ingratiate himself with Bristol North-West’s Blairite MP Darren “Dipshit” Jones, before – most recently – sniffing out the Reverend Rees himself by providing “indispensable” services during the Mayor’s re-election campaign in April. As a direct consequence, he’s been elevated into the latter’s key cabinet post of Director of Housing.
Plasticene Man’s been catapulted into the office previously occupied by someone with at least a minimum of experience and credibility – Paul “Wolfie” Smith. His qualifications and talents for this are, according to Bristolians who’ve had the misfortune of working with the Play-Doh chameleon or who’ve been forced to rely on him for any competent undertaking – no matter how small – completely and utterly absent. It would appear therefore that the sole reason for Renhard’s selection as Marvin’s right-hand man in the cabinet is due to the elasticity of his composition.
Eager to be all things to all people and thereby to increase his profile and visibility among the gullible, Tom Renhard has been sliming around the Labour Party and the Co-op Party for some time. Not to mention the “tenants union”/community organisation ACORN, who are currently thrilled to laud him as the hero of their forlorn hope to acquire influence in Shitty Hall. So on the face of it, at least in The Reverend’s eyes, Plasticene Man is the perfect man for the job.
This Statement has been released by GladColstonsGone (FB page + on Instagram @gladcolstonsgone). They are “a coalition united by our belief that the toppling of the Colston Statue has benefitted the City of Bristol. We want to continue conversations it has galvanised around race, racism and justice, historical and present, in Bristol.“ They’ve also made it clear they believe the charges against the Colston4 Defendants should be dropped. We at AltBristol agree with that! Beneath the Statement is their Press Release today.
Statement of Support for the Toppling of the Colston Statue & for the Four Colston Defendants The statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7th 2020. This protest was one of many globally and nationally, in direct response to the brutal murder of a black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police. The Bristol protest was attended by thousands of people. Hundreds can clearly be seen on camera to have been involved in various activities that led to this object being pushed into the harbour. Despite this, authorities have decided to single out four people who are now charged with criminal damage. They await trial in December 2021.
We, the undersigned, support the anti-racist aims of the protests throughout the summer 2020. We abhor the legacies of institutional and structural racism arising from European colonisation and the trafficking, enslavement and transportation of African men, women and children into plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Americas.
We believe that raising the statue of the slave-trader Colston in 1895, some 60 years after the Emancipation Act, and repeatedly ignoring expressions of concerns by citizens, campaigners, and artists, has been deeply damaging to Bristol’s Black community and to our common humanity.
We believe the statue has stood as a monument to the disingenuous way power is wielded, impacting those of African descent adversely and disproportionately in policing, health, housing, education outcomes, job opportunities and life chances.
In contrast, we note the absence in our city centre of any memorials, monuments or plaques that restore to African peoples’ ancestors their dignity and humanity, or that honours the many nameless Africans and indigenous people exploited and murdered by Bristol merchants and ruling elites.
We recognise that this statue has been a point of division for many years and welcome the fact that it no longer stands in our city centre. We do not believe the trial against four people is in the best interests of our city and urge that charges be dropped.
We call for some permanent recognition in our civic spaces of the historical reality of this period, and the creation of a permanent memorial and centre of memory, resistance and renewal to begin a process of understanding, healing, reflection and education.
GladColstonsGone – 7 June 2021
Note: We invite individuals, groups, institutions and campaigns to sign-up in support of this Statement. To support this statement: – add your or your organisation’s name in a comment to the pinned post of the GladColstonsGone FB page. – message us via FB or @gladcolstonsgone on Instagram – email us at email@example.com and we’ll add you. Download the Statement as a pdf here: Statement-GladColstonsGone
Now for the Press Release that came with the Statement:
Colston Statement – Press Release 7th June 2021
On the first anniversary of the toppling of the Colston statue, we are Glad Colston’s Gone from his pedestal.
We recognise that this statue has been a point of division for many years and welcome the fact that it no longer stands in our city centre.
We believe that raising the statue of the slave-trader Colston in 1895, some 60 years after the Emancipation Act, and repeatedly ignoring expressions of concerns by citizens, campaigners, and artists, has been deeply damaging to Bristol’s Black community and to our common humanity.
The Countering Colston Campaign says: “If local government and city institutions had cared about systematic racial inequalities in the past, Bristol wouldn’t be where and what it is today. Drop the Colston statue damage charges, let’s attend to the real damages of inequalities and racial injustices in our midst.”
We do not believe the trial against four people is in the best interests of our city and urge that charges be dropped.
Sam Elliot from Bristol Defendant Solidarity – legal support says: “The charges are divisive and vindictive. We cannot have a ‘conversation’ or ‘consultation’ whilst some of the architects of that consultation have been involved with the criminal justice system in persecuting protesters involved in the toppling of Colston.”
We support the anti-racist aims of the protests throughout the summer 2020. We abhor the legacies of institutional and structural racism arising from European colonisation and the trafficking, enslavement and transportation of African men, women and children into plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Americas.
We invite individuals, groups, institutions & campaigns to sign up in support of our Statement – see attached/or below.
Notes for editors, readers & others: 1. The statue of Edward Colston was erected in 1895 by a tiny clique of wealthy Bristol businessmen. It was toppled during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7 June 2020 attended by over 10,000 people. Many were involved in pulling the statue down. But just six people were issued Conditional Cautions by A&S Police in the summer of 2020, whilst just four people were charged with criminal damage by the CPS in December 2020. 2. Bristol Council provided a statement to A&S Police in late June 2020 that facilitated the start of the Police’s investigation. 3. For GladColstonsGone please see – https://www.facebook.com/gladcolstonsgone/ 4. For Countering Colston Campaign please see – https://counteringcolston.wordpress.com/ 5. For Bristol Defendant Solidarity please see – https://twitter.com/bristoldefenda1 6. For a range of historical research & articles related to Edward Colston please see – https://www.brh.org.uk/site/project/edward-colston/ 7. #GladColstonsGone! Bristol Topplers’ Defence Fund! Please see – https://gofund.me/e49428cb
Solidarity with the Colston Statue Defendants! (Feature image by AltBristol)
More bad news for Lockleaze as the Spirit of Life Church has bought the Unity Chapel on Romney Avenue. Among the many things this disreputable shower have to say is:
“We teach that homosexuality, in particular, is subject to God’s wrath of abandonment, is a matter of choice and not inherited status, and epitomizes man’s ungrateful against God.”
“Any attempt to change one’s sex or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.”
On the positive side, efforts by this church to ingratiate themselves in the local community on the local ‘Love Lockleaze’ Facebook page have been firmly rebuffed by members of the community who have told them, in no uncertain terms, they are not welcome.
The Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust (LNT), which is funded by Bristol City Council and the Arts council among others, however, seemed far more relaxed about a group of nutty far-right Christians setting up in the area.
At first two community workers at their hub even welcomed the church to the area on Facebook. However one agreed to remove her welcome post from the Love Lockleaze page after pressure from residents while Maria Perrett, the ‘Community Activator’ for LNT, has refused to do so.
Meanwhile, Lockleaze’s two brand new Green councillors, Heather Mack and David Wilcox have gone missing in action. Odd, as just last week, the local Green Party was virtue signalling from the pages of Bristol 24/7 about having signed a trendy on-message ‘trans support pledge’.
Remember when Bristol City Council’s new Chief Executive, ‘the great communicator’, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson was handed a “reasonably modest” pay rise of £2k in March?
A few months after promises that no such pay rise would be forthcoming when the Reverend’s bitch first got handed the lucrative new job in May 2020 without the fuss of going through a policy compliant recruitment or interview process.
Fast forward a year from this dodgy promotion and a report from the Local Government Ombudsman hits our inbox outlining “a serious failure in its corporate governance arrangements and oversight.” at Jackson’s council. This is due to a failure to implement agreed remedies for two separate complaints from 2019. One over waste collection and another about failures in a noise pollution complaint.
And Jackson himself was personally responsible for this latest city council corporate failure. The Ombudsman reports that Jackson ignored SEVEN items of correspondence from them sent between March and November 2020. In them he was asked to implement some simple remedies to the complaints from members of the public about the public services he’s directly responsible for. He ignored the letters and did nothing instead.
Paying £171,500 a year doesn’t buy you someone responds to their correspondence then?