Tag Archives: #4.8


Bristol City Council Chief Exec Nicola ‘Lady Gaga’ Yates wants to cut £90 million from what little remains of local services. But it’s not only the council that teeters on the BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY unable to provide basic services.

Remember the ‘Private Finance Initiative’ – or PFI – deals that led to all our new schools being built by private companies which then lease them back to local authorities?

Well, the schools have to pay the PFI companies before they are allowed to spend a single penny on books, or anything else. So when schools get their budgets cut – tough. Blacklisting PFI racketeers like Skanska or Carillion get their money before your kids get educated.

And the brand spanking new facilities aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. The Oasis Academy – previously Portway School – now has to pay more for five-a-side pitches, for example. The charge: a WHOPPING £40 an hour. How many kids do you know with that sort of money? So the pitches stay unused and local kids play in the streets.

Even worse, the company charges BREATHTAKING SUMS for basic caretaking. The PFI deal means that a company provides ‘soft services’ like catering, and caretaking. f a light bulb goes, the school staff can’t touch it. They must call ‘caretaking services’ who, when they eventually get there, will charge up to an EXTORTIONATE £60 for changing a light bulb!

Money grabbing bastards are stealing our children’s education – kids should come first. Time to ditch these sick PFI debts!


China & big business cashing in on city’s solar power bonanza

While leafing through our latest copy of Construction News, the ‘Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building’, a headline leaps out: CONTRACTORS EYE UP BRISTOL’S £47M ‘DASH FOR SOLAR’.

Maybe this a reference to Mayor Fergo’s go-ahead earlier this month for a £47m plan to install solar panels on 7,000 council houses and a variety of public buildings in the city?

This is “triggering one of the biggest solar PV projects since the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) was cut in November 2011,” the magazine breathlessly informs its corporate readership. It then lists massive global companies including Lakehouse, Wates, Willmott Dixon and NOTORIOUS BLACKLISTERS Carillion among the contractors who might be interested in this feed-in feeding frenzy. Hardly the kind of local businesses that Mayor Redtrousers and his sidekick, solar-powered windbag Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty seem so keen to promote at election time!

The article then finds Simon Green from Lakehouse – which grabs lucrative public sector contracts – waxing lyrical: “Because of MASS PRODUCTION IN CHINA, the unit cost of the kit has come down considerably and with the feed-in tariff the same as it was, then you have a large enough project, and the RATE OF RETURN is as big as it was before,” he gushes.

Bollocks. Unit costs have not “come down considerably”; they’ve been driven down. China has unlimited access to forced, slave and child labour and gives workers zero human rights. So they can undercut competitors in European markets by selling panels below cost. Why? To break Europe’s companies and get a monopoly.

Just the sort of practices we should be encouraging here in Bristol for our long-term benefit don’t you think?

Anyway, with £47m to play with, why can’t we manufacture and install the damn things from Bristol?


A merry-go-round of useless managers squanders £100k on lethal play equipment whilst care of children suffers!

BUDGET slashing in Bristol has cut so deep that staffing at our kids’ nurseries and Children’s Centres are now reaching dangerously low levels, sources tell The BRISTOLIAN.

Despite being scored ‘Good’ or above in all areas in its last published Ofsted report, one popular east Bristol nursery school – which we can now reveal as The Limes in Whitehall – now faces a £100,000 budget shortfall. Already staffing shortages mean that qualified teachers and Early Years Practitioners are often forced to act as little more than sentries stopping children from escaping.

The situation for staff on the frontline at The Limes is contrasted with the well-salaried upper echelons, where a recruitment revolving door has seen three new head teachers in little over a year. Each has attempted to stamp their mark on the school – which is attached to a Children’s Centre – by remodelling the kids’ play garden. The total cost? In excess of a STAGGERING £100,000!

One garden makeover, which cost an eye-watering £70k+, even had to be ripped out because it was UNSAFE. Worryingly, there had been no proper health and safety assessment before it was built, and NO OVERSIGHT from Bristol City Council. The garden’s potential for injuring children was only picked up on by chance – when someone who worked in H&S came to collect his grandchild and was alarmed by what he saw.

The garden then had to be immediately ripped up and children barred from using it until it could be made safe!

The cost of these EXPENSIVE VANITY PROJECTS by senior management has lost them the opportunity to employ extra staff to actually look after the children – yet comes at the same time as the current Head spends thousands on expensive consultants.

At least one such ‘expert’ is a former colleague of the Head, and is reportedly used mainly to cover staff shortages – when it would be more sensible and cheaper to hire full- or part-time staff on permanent contracts.

So if this is what it’s like now, what’s it going to be like once Mayor Fergo pushes through his £90 million cuts package?


Word reaches us that BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN is no longer the Finance boss at the Arnolfini arts centre by the Floating Harbour. Sources there have been keen to distance themselves from her for some reason, and have been at pains to emphasise that they parted ways in October. Why could that be?

Whilst not boasting the same name recognition as His Redtrouserness, you may remember McLennan from her unsuccessful bid for a council seat back in May, when she ran as the public-spirited, politically independent candidate in Clifton for the INDYREDPANTS PARTY, that ragbag of gormless cheerleaders for King George.

What you might not know is that this ‘outsider’ to Bristol’s local politics is also now the Deputy Chair of the City Council’s Audit Committee – which is responsible for ensuring sound management of our money and clamping down on fraud and corruption within BCC. If nothing else, this unusual appointment of one of the Mayor’s keenest public supporters brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘politically independent’.

Certainly Ms McLennan (who has racked up thousands of pounds in expenses) has wasted no time in showing the kind of gumption needed to “shake things up” at Shitty Hall by, err… Not turning up for the most important Audit Committee meeting of year!

That’s right, for reasons unknown, Ms Mclennan – one of only two people providing allegedly independent oversight of council finances – failed to show at the Committee meeting in September, where the council’s audited accounts for the 2012-13 were agreed and signed off (without a hitch, natch).

Also on the agenda at the meeting was the report from the council’s Internal Audit Department cataloguing the series of gross financial failures across the organisation. These included theft, wholesale non-compliance with procurement regulations, dodgy management of cash accounts and – even – a very special mention for The BRISTOLIAN’s bête noire, Facilities Service Manager Tony ‘Toerag’ Harvey’s bent Markets Service!

So nothing there that would in any way interest an independent election candidate who wants to “shake things up” at Bristol City Council then!


More Town Green shenanigans at LAUNDRY FIELDS in Fishponds by Blackberry Hill Hospital.

The local community and landowners the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), have agreed to split the plot between open space and development land.

The HCA have even agreed to voluntarily register the proposed open space as a TOWN GREEN, which pretty much puts a pricey judicial review out of the question. But this isn’t good enough for the Bristol City Council’s oafish big-spending managers who want to rip up this agreement by refusing to register a strip of the land on which they want to build a ‘bund’ – basically a large mound!

This mound, we learn, is needed because BCC says – in a big thumbs-up for equalities and diversity in the city – that it wants to BLOCK the sights and sounds of the nearby SECURE MENTAL INSTITUTION!

Presently the council is leaning on the HCA to reject the settlement, which means bringing in an inspector, barristers and all the other costly nonsense that we have to foot the bill for.

Is this really a good use of the council money and resources as it makes £90m of service cuts?


Farcical claptrap from council managers is destroying our playing fields and open spaces while running up massive bills

That ‘No Trespassing’ sign - helpfully sited TWO MILES from Wellington Hill at Stoke Lodge!

That ‘No Trespassing’ sign – helpfully sited TWO MILES from Wellington Hill at Stoke Lodge!

For two years the Friends of Horfield Common have been fighting to get the WELLINGTON HILL PLAYING FIELDS protected and declared a TOWN GREEN. Ever since the landowners, Bristol City Council, included the fields in their notorious Green spaces strategy as a site FOR SALE to developers.

The playing fields meet all the requirements of a Town Green and all that’s needed is a rubber stamp from the registration authority, er … Bristol City Council! But Bristol City Council, the landowner, has other ideas. Why take a cheap, efficient, legal route supported by a whole community when you can engage in an expensive argument based on liEs and DoDGy interpretations of the law backed by a few shadowy managers at the Counts louse?

The fun and games started last autumn when BOB ‘THE BORING ONE’ HOSKINS, a council landscape manager, presented to the Public Rights of Way Committee some photos of “individual signs which were installed in Wellington Hill Playing Fields” that warned people not to trespass. All well and good – except the signs weren’t from Wellington Hill but from STOKE LODGE PLAYING FIELDS…Two miles away!

With this scam exposed, the council then decided to spend lots of money employing an expensive lawyer to present their ‘evidence’ about the land to a PUBLIC INQUIRY run by an independent inspector. The hearing is due soon. So step forward another council manager – this time area Parks manager, PETE ‘PANTS ON FIRE’ CLARK, who is presenting ‘evidence’ that the fields were gated and fenced in the 1990s, ‘proving’ the public hasn’t used the land ‘as of right’ for twenty years.

Unfortunately for Clark his claims are contradicted by his council’s own paperwork. A letter dated 1980 from Avon County Council Property to the Director of Education clearly states:

…the boundary fencing and gate which used to be along the public footpath in Wellington Hill has now disappeared which has the effect of opening up the playing field to the general public.

This confirms that any gates or fences, which may have once been there, were not there in 1980, while ‘Pants On Fire’ Clark’s ‘evidence’ says that both were still there a decade later!

This has caused anger among local residents. Says one:

We don’t know how Pete Clark has got the front to submit this. He grew up in the area and he knows as well as we do that this is TOTAL RUBBISH!

But when it comes to making up “total rubbish” and presenting it to inspectors at great expense, Hoskins and Clark are but mere beginners. During the seven year fight to get land at Whitchurch declared a Town Green, City Council Property Manager JAN ‘THIRD’ REICHEL gave no fewer than FOUR different explanations at different times for the legal status of this land! All of which, incidentally, turned out to be total bollocks. The cost of that particular pointless exercise went into six figures.

So why are big sums of our cash being forked out to back the doomed and pathetic efforts of COUNCIL MANAGER LIARS to block Town Greens?


News is emerging that Green Cabinet member and Ashley Councillor, Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty, personally signed off a £62,000 payment for Bristol City Council to buy the “under threat” Lynmouth Road Allotments in his ward.

The allotments were put on sale by receivers Grant Thornton in September after Scout Enterprises, owners of the land, went bust. A brief campaign to save the land ensued – and then up popped Hoyty-Toyty to save the day!

He put in a sealed bid of £62k from Bristol City Council for the land on September 25 despite a reserve price of just £20k. The price Hoyty-Toyty was prepared to pay with our money is thought to be excessive as the land is protected by covenants and is of little value to developers.

Meanwhile Hoyty-Toyty, who wasn’t exactly shy about trumpeting how ‘he’ saved the day…

…has been rather more coy about exactly how much he spent to help voters in his own ward secure this land, admitting on Twitter only that the land “cost a ‘bit’ more than £20k.”

That ‘bit’ being three times more!


A right royal game of lawn-acy!

Park maintenance policy - Bristol City Council style...

Park maintenance policy – Bristol City Council style…

Despite being told by bosses to stop any lawnmowing as the council can’t afford fuel for lawnmowers any more, there was no shortage of gardeners or fancy kit at Easton’s FELIX ROAD ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND last week.

Up to twenty men and ten vans were seen there working all day. Indeed, so keen were parks bosses to get a quality job done, one worker was dispatched to collect the top-class mower normally reserved for use on Queen Square – and once finished the loose grass was carefully boxed up and taken away in a gas-guzzling van!

And the cause of this sudden flurry of attention and resources for this neglected corner of the inner-city? A visit from his ROYAL REDTROUSERNESS Mayor George Ferguson the next day, of course!

Alas, it was all in vain as George cancelled his visit at the last minute and never got the Royal-style tour of the playground. How the brown-nosing middle managers and Environment & Leisure Service Director Tracey Morgan (she of £300k-and-rising park kiosk fiasco fame) must have kicked themselves when they realised their feeble attempts to ingratiate themselves with the big boss had come to nothing, and that they’d wasted their efforts on mere kids and parents.

The only thing that could have added to the Alice In Wonderland feel of proceedings would have been for the Queen of Hearts herself to show up and announce she wanted all the flowers individually painted!



More cash disappearing from “of concern” authority – this time from cash-in-transit

We’ve already reported that Bristol City Council’s money management is “of concern” and that they’re unable to account for large sums of our money. Now The BRISTOLIAN can reveal that considerable sums of money have disappeared from their internal CASH-IN-TRANSIT service!

That’s the section that collects cash from across the authority and is supposed to ensure that it is safely banked: money that comes from stuff like car parking, council tax, rents and licence fees – hard-earned cash that we hand over to the council on a daily basis.

A council report – quietly released last month and exposed by The BRISTOLIAN – listed a huge number of major FINANCIAL CONCERNS. Topping the list of problems was a case of “material income misappropriation” – or ‘theft’ as it’s commonly known. Now it’s said been confirmed to us here at The BRISTOLIAN that this theft took place in the very council service trusted to collect and protect our cash!

Specific details of the scam are still sketchy. However, in circumstances similar to those that let £165k in the council’s MARKET SERVICE go walkabout without explanation, it appears that very basic cash management procedures and financial checks and balances have been systematically IGNORED by managers. Helpfully creating a culture where money can disappear with IMPUNITY and with little chance of discovery.

The council’s response to this latest scandal, so far, has been pathetic. Their internal audit team plan to develop an ‘action plan’ to deal with it! That’s right. No investigation, no cops called in and no blame dished out! This is said to be because, in another mirror of the MARKETS FIASCO, the accounts in the department have been so abused, degraded and generally screwed by managers that investigators can justifiably state that there’s “no evidence of wrongdoing”.

But then that’s because there’s no evidence of anything contained in their accounts at all – information on how much money they’ve actually bloody collected compared to how much they’ve put in the bank simply doesn’t exist!

And guess who’s overseeing this latest financial fiasco? Step forward Facilities Manager, TONY ‘THE TOERAG’ HARVEY – the very same man who oversaw the disappearance of £165k of our money in the Markets Service!

No doubt they’ll be giving him a pay rise soon.