More news on Deputy Mayor Asher “the Slasher” Craig’s 2024 post-council income generation plan, the Stepping Up leadership programme.
We reported a few months back that this council funded project had been quietly outsourced in March 2022 to Stepping Up Leadership CIC.
The directors are Asher the Slasher and the extraordinarily well-remunerated Stepping Up programme director Christine “Wonky” Bamford.
A partially successful Freedom of Information request, however, provides a different spin on this odd arrangement where the council is paying a Labour Cabinet member’s firm to deliver their project.
A council ‘Procurement Request Form’ dated 1 April 2022 and released by the council’s finance team shows that the council actually procured £57,500 worth of diversity leadership training from those well-known diversity in leadership professionals, er, Bristol Waste!
It seems that Bristol Waste, which has a few financial issues of its own brewing, is then somehow forwarding on the cash to Slasher’s Stepping Up Leadership CIC.
Why a council procurement team are engaging in this cloak and dagger arrangement is not clear.
Neither is the legality of an arrangement that effectively launders public money through council-owned Bristol Waste on its way to the Deputy Mayor’s private company.
We understand a complaint is now sitting with the council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton. It’ll be interesting to see what they make of the arrangement.
A freedom of investigation request asked the council to provide ‘the criteria for a company not owned or controlled by the Council to use City Hall, Ashton Court or the Mansion House as their Registered Office’?
The council responded that ‘no such criteria existed‘. So how are companies that are neither owned nor controlled by the Council using prestigious city council addresses for their Registered Offices?
For example, the Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust Limited (company 01549056), has their Registered Office at City Hall. Stepping-Up Leadership Community Interest Company (company 12533716), one of whose directors is cabinet member Asher “The Slasher” Craig, has their Registered Office at Ashton Court Mansions. While Parsnip Mash Ltd (company 07166972), has their Registered Office at The Lord Mayor’s Mansion.
It’s getting murkier and murkier at Stepping Up, Asher “The Slasher” Craig and the Reverend’s scheme to promote more black people into management at the council.
The council-run project, run by generously remunerated Christine “Wonky” Bamford, paid through a Byzantine tax efficient route involving a procurement firm and a recruitment agency, has been quietly outsourced since March 2022 to Stepping Up Leadership CIC. A new firm that conveniently shares an address with genuine council firm, Bristol Waste.
The new company has two directors, “Wonky” Bamford and Asher the Slasher. The Slasher, as a member of the cabinet, has, therefore, effectively outsourced a council service to her own company with zero democratic oversight.
Instead, Bristol City Council’s departed Chief Chump, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson has personally signed off all the arrangements relating to Stepping Up for Slasher since the project’s inception.
Procurement information at the council reveals that Jacko has arranged no framework, no tender, and no competition for Stepping Up’s transfer out of the council “for technical reasons”. Instead, Jacko appears just to have let Slasher grab a council funded project and then procured its services back from her for a fee!
Since being called out on Twitter over the summer about this personal financial arrangement with council resources, the Slasher has, after calling her critics “Karens”, ceased any ‘significant control’ in the firm for now.
Even so, what a totally bent way for a council, its chief executive and a cabinet member to be carrying on with public assets.
I am waiting with bated breath to read your article on the BCC meeting today (26th September) regarding the subject. I trust it will highlight the fact that every time she told a lie Nancy Rollercoaster closed her eyes.
Her reliance upon the term “I think” was also rather telling. If she “‘thinks” something she cannot be found to have made a definitive statement and may, legally, be marginally incorrect (wrong) without having made a false statement as opposed to using the term ‘I believe’ or making a statement of fact. “I think” implies a lack of conviction and therefore provides ‘wriggle room’ for subsequent retractions or amendments.
The fact that so much fuss was made over the definition of systematic monitoring and surveillance as well as the identification that the ‘fact’ finding report only considered the cases of data1 and data2 only serves to enhance the smell of whitewash emanating from the Cuntz Louse.
Asher Craig was clearly only present as a member of Marv-el-louse Marvin’s glove puppet cabinet to try and shut down criticism of the council and it was good to see that she got put firmly back in her box by the chair and Cllr Weston.
It is clear that Marv-el-louse Marvin has his rather smelly fingers buried deeply in this issue and the matter needs fully investigating by a properly independent body.
A brief check-in with Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission on Monday. A sprawling meeting with lots of questions and very few answers.
In a lovely twist, many of the public’s questions were ignored and went unanswered on the basis that SEND management were “too busy” preparing for an OFSTED inspection next week. Because a load of tweedy school inspectors wanking over spreadsheets takes priority over elected councillors, abused SEND parents and the public, apparently.
The meeting generated a huge amount of content of variable quality so we’ll confine ourselves to a few things that grabbed our attention and leave the heavy lifting to the mainstream press who turned out in numbers for the meeting.
The first question of the day came from internet SEND scourge Chopsy aka ‘Data Subject 2’, one of the targets of the council’s SEND ‘fact finding report’ (Bristolian passim).
She rather nicely set the scene when she enquired of the council’s Deputy Head of Legal Services, Nancy “No Evil” Rollason, who cheerily admitted to authoring the daft SEND spying ‘fact-finding’ report along with an absent colleague, why she had described a public information meeting any member of the public could book on via the internet as ‘confidential’ when it wasn’t?
Cue much umming and aahing from a perplexed Ms Rollason before she eventually explained she may need to, er, “verify and correct information received from officers.”
First question complete and this much-vaunted ‘fact-finding’ report appeared to have been urgently downgraded to ‘draft’ and retitled ‘Wild claims from desperate council officers about our SEND surveillance mess’.
A further question from Chopsy enquired whether council officers had been using their personal accounts to access parents’ social media? A question that got a resounding no from Ms Rollason who was at pains to explain access to parents’ accounts was all above board and would have been carefully managed through official and accountable council channels.
An answer, unfortunately, on a direct collision course with the truth as Chopsy had already been sent information through an FoI that clearly showed a SEND manager accessing SEND parent social media accounts from their personal social media account. Here’s a screenshot:
If this was a court case, the case would have been thrown out at this point and Rollason bollocked by the judge as a clueless timewaster. However, as a meeting of city councillors, they simply shambled on as though one of their senior lawyers sitting in front of them spouting bare-faced lies was business-as-usual. Which, let’s face it, it probably is.
Some questioning from Easton’s Green Councillor Barry Parsons also caught our attention. Parsons queried Rollason’s claim that any surveillance was not ‘systematic’ because it only took place on two occasions for two specific investigations.
He reeled off a series of dates contained in the report, when monitoring of parents accounts took place. A claim rebuffed by Rollason who insisted, despite evidence, that there were only two ‘specific’ occasions only when parents’ social media was accessed.
A claim rendered unbelievable by more of Chopsy’s FoI material. This includes screenshots of Tweets collected just hours after they were made rather than as part of a, later, retrospective investigation:
What Parsons didn’t ask, which also may have been interesting, was, if there were two investigations, where were the investigation reports, who were the investigating officers and who commissioned the investigations? All requirements of Bristol City Council’s Investigation Policy that management and officers are obliged to follow.
There was lots and lots more at this meeting, including a brief reference to the Bristolian’s evil Twitter twin @bristol_citizen. We’ll return to this at some point as the chair of the meeting Lib Dem Tim “Little Ass Hat” Kent correctly described the account’s inclusion in an investigation document cobbled together by SEND management fuckwits as “ludicrous”.
What wasn’t included at this meeting was also instructive. No one mentioned the social media protocol produced by Rollason’s colleague Kate Burnham-Davies in May 2020, which completely contradicts Rollason’s conclusion that the surveillance undertaken of SEND parents was lawful.
Who at the council is going to tell the Emperor he’s wearing no clothes?
With the ink freshly dried on Bristol City Council’s pay policy, we’re pleased to reveal the first City Council worker we’ve discovered breaking it. Please step up, er. Stepping Up Director, Christine “Wonky* Bamford. She’s the lucky recipient on the receiving end of a trail of payments of over £22k a month to run the Reverend’s scheme to promote more black people into management roles at the council.
Rather than paying someone around £50k a year to run their pet project, the Reverend and his cabinet sidekick, Asher “The Slasher” Craig, have decided that they need to fork out in excess of £250k a year of our money to Stanford educated HR wonk, Bamford instead.
The route the council has chosen to take to pay Wonky is intriguing. Rather than running a competitive recruitment process to appoint a proper member of staff, the council is paying a procurement firm, Bloom, over £22k a month to pay London-based recruitment firm Davidson and Partners, a firm with no employees. It then appears that this recruitment firm pay a fee to Wonky, who describes herself as Davidson and Partners’ ‘Head of Talent and Leadership Development’.
The stench of tax efficient payments is strong with this one. Although it doesn’t stop there. Training fees for Stepping Up totalling £30k were also paid to a company called Smart People Solutions back in 2020. And the owner of Smart People solutions? Please step forward Christine “Wonky” Bamford.
Yet another of Wonky’s network of firms is Women’s Coin, a cryptocurrency firm “for social good”. Wonky is listed as the CEO of this firm. While Asher “The Slasher”, the cabinet member responsible for Stepping Up and its odd approach to the employment and pay of Wonky, has been appointed chair of Wonky’s firm’s charitable wing, the Women’s Coin Foundation.
Eighteen days after his election and the Reverend Rees still hasn’t managed to find a full cabinet for his second term.
Despite reappointing his ‘Infamous Five’, the two deputy mayors – Craig “Dick” Cheney and Asher “The Slasher” Craig – his anointed successor – Helen “Oh My” Godwin – court favourite – Nicola “La La” Beech – and aging makeweight – HRH Helen of Holland – Rees still has no cabinet members to run Transport, Housing or Education.
Neither is the Reverend intending, it seems, to reach out to the Greens by giving them some cabinet seats after they decimated his councillors and destroyed his majority at the election.
What is his plan then? Is the Reverend going to end all pretence of democracy in Bristol and simply let council managers and appointed One City business wankers run these departments any way they see fit?
Questions are also being asked about the appointment of La La Beech to the Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy brief. Here, among other things, she’ll nursemaid through Rees’s deranged City Leap public asset sell-off to a multinational company. This may result in the burning of as much shit as possible in Avonmouth to generate loads of lucrative dirty (surely clean? Ed.) energy.
Alas, it turns out that La La Beech, in her day job as a corporate PR consultant, lists one of her clients as the National Grid. is there a conflict of interest here at all?
Since Colston came off his pedestal and went for a swim on June 7th social media, TV and the press have been dominated by politicians, journalists and so-called ‘community spokespeople’ gushing with praise for the statue coming down.
The Mayor’s Office even banged on in a press statement that the Reverend Rees had an audience of 10 million around the world, from Bangladesh to Tokyo after Colston’s ‘burial at sea’. However, while seizing this new opportunity for pontificating, Rees conveniently failed to give a toss about the people who had put him on the world stage. That was the 17 or so demonstrators who had been identified under Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s orders to “get these people” – the statue topplers.
So as Rees was boring the masses in Bangladesh, Avon & Somerset Police were being forced to line up charges of criminal damage that could put the protestors away for up to 10 years. And what did Rees do? Intervene at the Council for the good of the city and agree not to press charges, allowing the cops to give two fingers to Patel? Like fuck he did … Far better to bathe in the glare of global publicity and forget about those who put him there.
Campaigners who have fought for many years for the Colston statue to be removed and to get a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery in the City have been astounded by the two-faced hypocrisy of these turncoats. Rees told Points West:
“When I first came in, myself and a number of black people in the creative sector said that the best thing to do is to keep that [Colston] debate away from me.”
So Mr Civil Rights’s major contribution to the struggle to get the Merchant Venturers pet slave trader off our streets and schools was not just to do nothing but to actively discourage others from getting involved.
When calls came to change the name of the Colston Hall in 2017 Rees was silent, refusing to make his position clear until he was caught like a rabbit in the headlights at the end of a TV programme. Martin Luther King, who Rees idolises, must be turning in his grave.
In 2019 after the Merchant Venturers had spent months sanitising the wording on a plaque for the statue that was meant to correct the history of Colston, Rees only intervened to avoid becoming a laughing stock. Finally using some of his executive power to block the Venturer’s sanitised plaque before heading to the hills faster than Dominic Cummings in a top of the range Land Rover, leaving the project in limbo for over a year.
Meanwhile Rees’s second in command Asher Craig’s hardly covered herself in glory in dealing with persistent calls by campaigners for a permanent memorial to remember the victims of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Bristol lags far behind other ports like Liverpool and Nantes in France that were involved in the ‘vile trade’ and have made major efforts to both memorialise the victims and tell the history – warts and all.
One historian from Bristol University stated in a meeting with Asher Craig in March 2019 “that Bristol’s reputation abroad, when referring to the city’s response to its slaving past, was very bad”. He also said that Bristol shouldn’t limit its ambitions regarding a slavery museum, “the city should think big and be better than Liverpool”.
Bristol City Council have missed opportunities to right this embarrassing wrong many times. In 1996 around the Festival of the Sea, in 1999 when the Respectable Trade exhibition was launched, in 2007 with the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade and again in 2015 when the Colston protests began.
In 2017 campaigners from three groups and local residents proposed the Abolition Shed project, which wanted to convert two council-owned warehouses on Welsh Back into a memorial for the victims of the African slave-trade with a visitor centre to tell the history. When they approached Asher Craig to get support from Bristol City Council she basically told them to clear off and get some private funding.
Despite this slap in the face campaigners continued the fight to halt the council’s proposed development of the warehouses into more restaurants and bars and to finally do something. This persistence and enthusiasm by unpaid Bristolians who gave a fuck about the memorial, the history and the city’s reputation was clearly starting to annoy Rees and Craig.
In August 2019 Marvin angrily demanded to know “who the campaigners were” and in response to their proposals cited a record in office of being amazing, without, of course, any concrete commitment to a memorial and museum. Asher was even more furious claiming“the City was now taking this seriously” and accusing the campaigners of being “bullies”. One local historian from the Counter-Colston group commented:
“Despite the fact that it is just not true, for Asher to characterise people as ‘bullies’ who have, without ‘funding’ and political power given lots of time and energy over several years to try to get something done after decades of failure, is disgraceful.”
Needless to say the Abolition Shed project was strangled at birth by Rees, Craig and the Council as they voted to turn the warehouses into pizza restaurants whilst wasting a million quid on moving a barge to appease the developers. Another missed opportunity in Bristol’s tradition of failure.
Asher’s only response to persistent demands for a memorial was to set up a ‘roundtable’, which descended into the usual talking shop while those who wanted to get a concrete commitment from the Council were seen as ‘troublemakers’.
It is also no surprise that Marvin’s response to Colston’s statue coming down was to propose a ‘history commission’. Looking into the “true history of the city”, which sounds like another opportunity for free-loading academics to fail to do anything.
So here we are, kicking the can down the road again….
With our libraries “SAVED” until next year after the mayoral election, the Reverend’s trusty deputy, Asher “The Slasher” Craig has embarked on another bloody “CONVERSATION” about libraries in the city.
The focus this time around has been on talking to PEOPLE
WHO DON’T USE LIBRARIES. Presumably on the basis that, maybe, they’ll be
more sympathetic to The Slasher unloading a prized public service on to
volunteers than our organised and informed local LIBRARY CAMPAIGNERS AND
The Slasher, not keen on libraries and not too bothered about making wild
remarks regarding them either, has not passed up the opportunity to wade into
this conversation herself. Brazenly announcing to the press, “one of the
issues in our city is we have TOO MANY ASSETS, TOO MANY BUILDINGS IN
OUR PUBLIC SECTOR.”
Really? And how many businesses have you ever heard complaining that they have
“TOO MANY ASSETS“? Is the Slasher, by any chance, seeking to
dispose of some more community-based assets and any service they might contain
to fund some more AIMLESS VANITY PROJECTS at College Green?
The Reverend, too, has joined “the conversation”. In response to a
question at a Full Council meeting, he announced, “THERE IS NO DOUBT
THE LIBRARY MODEL IS NOT FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY“. Who says? As this
claim appears despite A LACK OF ANY RECORDED EVIDENCE held by the
council of residents wanting change to our libraries, even after two
consultations and a report costing £40k.
Is the Labour Party arranging to wreck our library service regardless of what
By Lucy Balderdash, recently reassigned to the BBC (stop press)
Following on from the (alleged, ed.) persecution of Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees last weekend by a group of ‘disgusting anarchists’ and covered by The Guardian, the BBC can reveal that his deputy Asher Craig’s socks (are you sure? ed.) were brutally attacked by a yellow vest left on a wall outside the upstanding citizen’s home.
Bristol Deputy Mayor Asher Craig takes up the story: “I came out of my home on the very same morning as Marvin was savagely told to dye wool,” she explained breathlessly, “to find my socks engaged in a fight to the death with a racist/sexist yellow vest that had been lying on my wall in wait for me to come outside.”
“Luckily my socks got there first and overpowered the terrorist garment before I set foot outside. I hope my socks get an OBE for their bravery – one of them sustained severe dye damage and has some pulled threads that it sustained in the battle (so was this a sox-attack? ed.).”
The police are currently investigating links to the ‘Bob The Builder’ cartoon character, and any sexist/racist thought crimes regarding Asher Craig that he may have (are you quite sure Bob is a he, Lucy? ‘He’ may identify as a woman, ed.).
Owners of this white supremacist cartoon character in toy or video format are advised to come forward and surrender it to New Bridewell police station for immediate interrogation, or face the consequences.
(Err, could this story not arise out of a Grauniadesque typo in the headline, Lucy? ed.)