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SEND PARENT SPYING SCANDAL: LEAKED EMAIL

A leaked email from the Bristol City Council education managers at the heart of the SEND spying scandal reveals them plotting over what information they would provide to Bristol Parent Carer Forum.

SEND  Email  PCF

The email clearly indicates that Education Director Alison Hurley was personally overseeing what sensitive personal data from parents should be unlawfully released to third parties

At the time, Vikki Jervis was Principle Education Psychologist at Bristol City Council. What parents were saying on social media had to do with education psychology is something of a mystery. Although she appears to be the council’s expert on RIPA and GDPR and releasing personal information obtained through surveillance to third parties.

Virginia Roberts is a consultant brought in as SEND lead for Bristol’s Written Statement of Action for OFSTED. It’s her job to oversee an improvement in SEND in Bristol after its terrible OFSTED inspection. How does monitoring and sharing parents’ social media posts relate to improving Bristol’s SEND service? Has Roberts shifted her focus to silencing parents rather than improving her service?

Maybe SEND management are more concerned with monitoring parents’ social media and supplying gossip to third parties than doing the jobs they are handsomely paid to do?

SEND PARENT SPY SCANDAL: IS IT WIDESPREAD AND SYSTEMATIC?

Spy medium

A new message just in regarding Bristol City Council spying on SEND parents’ social media:

“I know of one case where the comms team reported a Bristol parents tweets to the SEND team. Screen shots were taken and then a SEND manager sent the tweets to the parents school. I’ve seen the evidence.

“This family’s vulnerable and already facing accusations of fabricated or induced illness (ffi), so they dare not do anything.”

Yet again, sensitive personal data of parents, unlawfully processed by Bristol City Council External Communications Team, is casually handed over to a third party to further process unlawfully. In this case a school is involved.

We will be endeavouring to find out which school this was. Then we can arrange a visit from the Information Commissioner (ICO) for the school to explain why they think that holding parents’ sensitive personal data, obtained and shared via unlawful surveillance without permission, is OK.

What a mendacious shambles our city’s education sector is.

THE REVEREND FILLS HIS BOOTS

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Beacon: £104m zero-valued refurb

A gushing and not altogether clear media release arrives. From the pen of the massively overspent Bristol Beacon (formerly the Colsunall. Ed) we’re first treated to some introductory corporate word salad about “core values” and “sustainability, diversity and creativity” before the main event. An excitable announcement from the Beacon’s useless management, who have managed to spend £104m on a £54m concert hall refurb project that’s resulted in the venue being valued at, er, zero. 

The big news from this whacko state funded culture gang is that their worthless venue is going into a “corporate partnership” with local TV production firm, Plimsoll Productions. Plimsoll will produce two videos to showcase and “raise awareness of the work done by Bristol Beacon” and they will collaborate with Bristol Beacon on a number of creative projects in local communities. 

What this work might consist of isn’t made very clear. Neither is it very clear how much we’re forking out via the Beacon for Plimsoll’s “expertise in video production and storytelling”. And neither have the Beacon managed to tell us that one of the non-executive directors of Plimsoll Productions is the Reverend Rees. The man signing the £100m cheque for the 1000 seat venue’s inane refurb!

How nice that the Reverend has managed to get himself a paying gig out his own overspent crackpot culture project. No conflict of interest there at all.

SEND PARENT SPY SCANDAL: GREENS FIRST PARTY TO BREAK COVER

Spy medium

A statement on the SEND spy scandal has emerged from the Green group at Bristol City Council. They’re the first party to go on the record. We anticipate seeing more statements on the matter in the coming week:

“The recent reports in the local media about leaked information showing that parents/carers of children and young people with SEND have had their on-line social media communications monitored by senior council officers and then shared with an external agency, have raised serious concerns for councillors across the council.

“The administration have confirmed that this happened but claimed it was at the request of the parent carers forum, a claim that organisation denied in a statement released on Thursday.

“This area of work falls within the People Scrutiny remit, the vice-chair of which is Green Party Councillor for Southville Christine Townsend. She is working with other elected representatives in trying to get to the bottom of exactly what has happened as the media reports are confusing and contradictory.

“Greens, and councillors from other parties, believe that these accusations are so serious that an external investigation is required in order to ensure full transparency. Only this will help to restore the trust of our residents in this area of the statutory education service.”

We broadly agree that an independent inquiry would be helpful. However, chances of the Reverend launching such an inquiry into his own administration are near zero. We also believe that any inquiry needs to be run by an independent QC, not by some ex-local authority time-server in a pin-stripe suit on a fat consultancy fee. We need someone who knows how to nail the guilty, not cover-up for bent council bosses.

Onwards and upwards through the shit!

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.

BEA-CON?

The Reverend’ Rees’s not just an idiot. He’s an innumerate idiot. His amazing plan to spend over £100m on an upmarket concert venue for the city’s snooty culture set to hang around air kissing each other and talking pretentious bollocks in might not be going to plan.

In the council’s Statement of Accounts for last year that are just about to be signed off by our confused councillors, the Bristol Beacon is currently valued by the council’s external auditors at, er, ZERO.

What a great investment.

VENTURERS TARGET LOW PAID COVID HEROES

st monica
St Monica: Bristol’s new patron saint of class warfare

The St Monica Trust, one of the city’s most notorious “providers of retirement accommodation and care in a range of different settings” has started an all-out assault on their low paid care workers who worked throughout covid for the wealthy charity in appalling conditions.

The Trust is pretty much a front for the racist slave trade cult, The Society of Merchant Venturers, who manage a “substantial endowment on behalf of the charity” as well as providing six trustees to the charity. Among these trustees are some of the cult’s most notorious scumbags, including former Masters such as Ross “Arsehole” Ancell and Tim “Dross” Ross as well as former chair of Green Capital Andrew “The Pie Man” Garrard.

These institutional racists’ are using the despicable practice of ‘fire and rehire’ on their hard-working low paid care workers. Their plans include substantial cuts to pay by reducing night and weekend enhancements; slashing weekly hours and removing paid breaks.

The wealthy toerags also propose targeting other terms and conditions including sick pay and are looking to change shift patterns, which will play havoc with childcare arrangements by making long days almost impossible.

Finally, different jobs will be merged into a generic “customer service” role with people expected to do work they never signed up for and perform tasks they aren’t trained to do.

The Venturers, who proudly list Cullum “Cunt” McAlpine, a notorious trade union buster as a member, have also been highly resistant to recognising and working with trade unions over their scurrilous plan. They have been especially keen to identify any workers who may be members of a union.

Rest assured, unions are planning a robust and public response to this right wing anti-worker, anti-union pile on from the racist scum Venturers and any of their revolting little helpers at St Monica’s Trust.

Stay tuned

NIGHT OF THE LIVING HOUSING CRISIS

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No, not the opening treatment for a new horror movie being shot soon in Bristol but a local resident’s comments about proposed tower blocks for Mead Street in the shadow of Totterdown. The developers of the scheme are a pension fund fronted by corporate real estate business DTZ Investors and the architects are “award winning” Sheppard Robson.

Someone urgently needs to drive a stake into the hearts of these bloodsuckers.

GREENBALLS: Saving da planet for da yoof

An occasional series showcasing the bollocks that’s talked about the environment by people who really should know better.

Bristol City Council is going to sink £4million and ongoing revenue funding of about £400k a year into a ‘Youth Zone’ that will be built on open space in Inns Court in South Bristol.

This got the following explanation from the council and the wealthy philanthropists from Onside who are behind the national Youth Zone projects:

Youth Zone
https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/features/green-space-under-threat-from-youth-centre-plans/

So concreting over green space encourages young people to use green space? Glad we got that sorted.

HISTORY COMMISSION’S OWN GOAL HELL

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Own Goal Cole: let’s hope his taste in history is better than his taste in shirts

What do you get if you combine a committee of snooty academics from the University of Bristol with a committee of time-serving Labour Party Hacks? THE BRISTOL HISTORY COMMISSION!

This ongoing FARCE, set up by the Reverend Rees in the wake of the Colston statue dethroning, has lurched from PR COCK-UP to PR DISASTER and now seems to be aiming to achieve all-out city-wide LAUGHING STOCK status. 

The Commission got off to bad start with lots of people from across the city when its newly appointed Chair – who no one had ever heard of – University of Bristol History Professor Tim “OWN GOAL” Cole, decided, after a phone call with the CPS over the summer, that his Commission would COLLABORATE with the Avon & Somerset Police and become part of the criminal justice system. 

Own Goal, we learn, UNILATERALLY made the dubious decision – of questionable academic ethics –  that his commission would be part of the PUNISHMENT for protestors who hauled down the Colston statue and got conditionally cautioned by police for criminal damage. Prof Own Goal agreed to oversee a questionnaire where protestors would set out their reasons for their actions. Remarkably, most members of the commission only learned of Own Goal’s dodgy decision when they read about it in the Guardian on 18 September!

Own Goal’s next brilliant wheeze was to get some interns in to do the commission’s work for them because all these very important people are “TOO BUSY“. Own Goal personally advertised the internships – exclusively for University of Bristol post grads – at £10 PER HOUR funded by his Brigstowe Institute who, we’re told, receive money from, er … Wait for it … the MERCHANT VENTURERS, the city’s loathsome Colston cultists and dodgy statue enthusiasts!

Own Goal’s ad immediately came to the attention of #shitjobwatch, who monitor “very precarious or exploitative University of Bristol jobs”. They described the four internships as a “FIRST CHOICE” example of such practices. What does History Commission member and head of the South West TUC Nigel Costley have to say about that then?

And finally, when is Own Goal going to get off the phone to the Guardian, get his arse in gear and answer the simple set of questions about his commission sent to him last August by the Bristol Radical History Group? 

Has Own Goal got any answers?