Plans by Bristol City Council, cloaked in secrecy, to hand over the prime Arena Island site to pension fund L&G for free without an open market sale or procurement process continue.
The deal, cooked up by the council’s former £260k a year interim regeneration boss Colin “Headboy” Molton, who was officially characterised by the council’s own legal team last year as “incompetent”, finds the council guaranteeing rents for 40 years on a speculative office slab L&G intend to build on the site.
And there’s lots more public money to go around for privileged corporate sector players in on this public money giveaway. For instance, new council regeneration boss Stephen “Preening” Peacock has just signed off £420k to a corporate ‘strategic partner’ (Arcadis working with Arup and Mott MacDonald) “to provide project management, cost management and design services to maintain progress”.
Progress on what? Er, a further £32 million worth of “enabling works” on the site that the public are paying for before handing the site over to L&G.free of charge.
More news drifts in regarding
the slow but inexorable OUTSOURCING of the whole of the city’s planning system
and its oversight to private firm Arup.
We already know that Arup have been, for some time, supplying agency
staff to the council’s planning department to specialise in ‘MAJOR PROJECTS’. Then came the news
that Arup were involved in developing the Reverend’s options for his ‘Western
Harbour’ plans at the Cumberland Basin.
So it should come as little surprise to learn that Arup were also
involved in drawing up BRISTOL’S LOCAL
PLAN. Specifically, the private firm were responsible for SITE ALLOCATIONS and POLICY DEVELOPMENT for this detailed
development blueprint for the city that WILL
MAKE LOTS OF PRIVATE INTERESTS LOTS OF MONEY.
When will we get the chance to
vote on a manifesto promising to hand our city’s planning system over to
multi-national companies looking to make a profit?
Disquiet over the Reverend Rees’s plans to ‘transform’ the Cumberland Basin and its aging 1960s road system into ‘Western Harbour’, a GLOBAL CITY HIGH RISE HELL, in the shadow of Clifton Suspension Bridge is growing. A ‘public engagement’ on the gruesome plan, while everyone was away on holiday in August, led to an OUTCRY after it emerged that the Reverend was consulting the public on just THREE of the ten proposals he had received from his consultants, Arup. The remaining seven proposals remain SECRET.
The three proposals the Reverend deemed suitably “transformational” all involve DEMOLISHING the existing road system to “RELEASE LAND FOR DEVELOPMENT“. All three lack detail – just pink lines on a map indicating where any new road system may go – while potentially having A HUGE IMPACT on surrounding communities and the landscape around the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Concerns are also emerging about the involvement of The ENGLISH CITIES FUND (ECF) in any plans. ECF is a joint venture between HOMES ENGLAND, LEGAL & GENERAL and MUSE DEVELOPMENTS. Which raises questions about the role and independence of the Reverend’s semi-detatched £1,500 a day regeneration chief, our old friend COLIN “Head Boy” MOLTON, who will have had a major influence on any plans.
Head Boy was chief exec at HOMES ENGLAND – when it was the Housing
and Communities Agency – until he joined Bristol City Council on a unique TAX EFFICIENT PAY ARRANGEMENT in 2017
and immediately cut a secretive, unminuted deal, on behalf of the council, with
LEGAL & GENERAL. A deal handing
these developers the land at Arena Island should the arena be cancelled.
Remarkably, this is the SECOND TIME
Head Boy has been involved in cancelling an arena at the Arena Island site as
he happened to be Executive Director of Operations & Development at the SOUTH WEST REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
(SWRDA) in 2007 when they cancelled their plans for an arena on the site that
they then owned.
Head Boy left the SWRDA in 2008 to become director at the South and South West
Region of the HCA (now HOMES ENGLAND).
By remarkable coincidence, with the winding up of the SWRDA by the Tories in
2011, the Arena Island site was transferred to the HCA. In early 2015, Molton’s
HCA, handed the site to Bristol City Council to build an arena and then Molton PITCHED UP at Bristol City Council in
2017 to work for the Reverend. He immediately set to work CANCELLING an arena and negotiating his sweetheart deal with LEGAL & GENERAL to hand them the
site for an unispiring, if highly profitable, mixed use development.
Head Boy is now being thrown out of the job he never went through a competitive
recruitment process for at Bristol City Council. But will the man, who lists
his address with Companies House as Donington Le Heath, Leicestershire,
continue to take a personal, proprietorial interest in ANOTHER VALUABLE PIECE OF PUBLIC LAND in Bristol?
Another example of the Reverend Rees’s WEIRDO corporate free market Christian evangelical ideology appears with news that the CORPORATE PRIVATE SECTOR are moving into the city council’s planning department to deal with planning applications.
Corporate consultancy firm Arup, who specialise in picking up OUTSOURCED PUBLIC SECTOR work, will soon be, “processing a range of planning applications and associated work within reasonable timescales and will contribute towards housing delivery amongst other objectives.”
Will this contribution
towards housing delivery include Arup overseeing the Reverend’s major
development plans for the CUMBERLAND
BASIN? The one where the company delivering the masterplan is, er, Arup!
contract has been awarded with no political oversight or input from
The Reverend and the corporate land sales team he’s expensively assembled continue to impressively piss public money up against the wall while the rest of us are forced to tolerate austerity because “THERE’S NO MONEY”. The latest wheeze from the Reverend and his crew is another all-expenses trip to Cannes for that annual abomination, MIPIM: “the international gathering of property sharks” (surely “property professionals”? Ed).
A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST reveals that this year’s four day jolly to the Cote D’Azure for the UNACCOUNTABLE to shift our assets to the UNPALATABLE cost council taxpayers almost £12k.
Accompanying the Reverend at our
expense was our dear old friend Colin “Head Boy” Molton, the £1,500 a
day regeneration boss without a proper contract of employment; Nuala
“Hoop” Gallagher, Director of City Growth, Investment &
Infrastructure at the council and the Reverend’s handpicked RELIGIOUS LOONEY FRIEND from his
Hotwells church for evangelical nutters, Jeremy “I’m no housing
expert” Sweetland, the Director of Bristol Housing Festival, keen on
shoving the poor into small, airless boxes to solve “the housing
The £12k bill this little lot landed us with included rooms for each delegate
at around £800 A NIGHT for three
nights and a £200 TAXI FARE to get
Head Boy from Nice Airport to Cannes following his premium £900 FLIGHT from the UK. Presumably because a man as idle and
important as Head Boy can’t possibly get a bus to save us some money?
At the conference the group served up top nosh, drinks and hospitality at a
variety of events and receptions on behalf of some very FAMILIAR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE NAMES doing some very good
business in Bristol – YTL, Skanska and Arup. Schmoozing services were also
provided to local outfits such as Business West, property company Savills and
the Merchant Venturer front organisation, Invest in Bath and Bristol.
And the point of all this? Who knows? Any purpose and outcome of these
expensive trips is, always, shrouded in mystery and not revealed to the plebs
who foot the bill.
FACTS and FIGURES come crashing into the inbox regarding the Reverend’s recent trip to Cannes to attend the MIPIM property conference. A sort of working holiday on the Côte d’Azur where gullible local authority types can get mugged for their land by property speculators.
THREE ‘delegates’ from Bristol City Council went. The Reverend and his two current sidekicks, PR man Kevin “Don’t Mention the Private Education” Slocombe and Colin “Head Boy” Molton. Although we’re told that the Reverend’s Cabinet member for Spatial Planning and City Design Nicola “LA LA” Beech went along paid for by her employer.
And the cost of this three-day jaunt to you, dear council tax payer? A mere £9,950! Included in a busy itinerary for these selfless public servants were urgent events such as the ‘ARUP COCKTAIL PARTY‘, the ‘YTL DEVELOPMENTS DINNER‘ and the ‘BOUYGUE – LINKCITY DINNER‘!
Tough gigs but, no doubt, someone’s got to spend £10k of our money doing it!