Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

KEYSTONE COUNCIL (Part1)

Rees cop

Heard the one about Bristol City Council pointlessly hiring an expensive HR consultant to run a disciplinary against a member of staff the great all-powerful Reverend Rees decided he wanted sacked? A disciplinary is normally a straightforward job any competent middle manager would do at the council. Was there, maybe, something a little abnormal about this particular process then?


Possibly, as they had to hire another HR consultant to hear a grievance regarding the conduct of the first consultant’s investigation! Now, we’re told by our trade union brothers, the council is hiring yet another consultant to investigate the conduct of both of the previous consultants! Will this deranged cycle of HR consultants at our expense ever end?

More to the point, after all this huge expenditure, did the Reverend get his man?

HAMPSHIRE NAG KILLING STAFF TO IMPROVE THEIR WELLBEING

virus

Have you heard the one about the appalling new ‘WELLBEING’ MANAGER at Bristol City Council who has triggered multiple complaints by council staff to HR for bullying? Please step forward ISLE OF WIGHT RESIDENT Christina “The Nag” Czarkowski Crouch, who didn’t rock up at the Counts Louse six months ago to start work as the council’s new  Safety, Health and Wellbeing Manager. 

Covid has proved a boon for this former Head of Risk and Safety at Hampshire County Council – who retired from there “UNDER A CLOUD” – as she’s only had to come to Bristol ONCE IN SIX MONTHS. Leaving this ridiculous Tory bint plenty of time to indulge in her expensive hobby running a riding school and poncing about at dressage events.

Less happy are trade unions at the council who tell us that there’s “a plan to get everyone back to work at the council based on an IDEOLOGICAL HR PLAN“. A plan enthusiastically fronted by a Hampshire resident safely tucked away in a home office 130 miles away who doesn’t see any need to come near one of her ‘safe’ workplaces in Bristol any time soon. Unions also tell us The Nag got paid a generous MOVING ALLOWANCE by us when she got the job but obviously hasn’t bothered moving to Bristol. What’s she done with our money?

The Nag’s current job at the council is to sign off – from a safe long distance – UNSAFE WORKPLACES and offices at the council as, er, safe. This corporate ‘wellbeing’ expert has done this by BULLYING staff into signing off her dodgy risk assessments and telling them that if they don’t do what she says, SHE WILL MAKE THEM LEAVE! Unions sources say The Nag is anti-union too and has refused to speak with them, let alone account for her efforts to kill council staff.

Multiple complaints regarding The Nag have now landed in Bristol City Council’s HR inbox. Although so far her bosses, the council’s mentally unstable Head of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, A NOTORIOUS BULLY himself, and his hopelessly thick and useless yes-man sidekick, Director of HR Mark “Bashar” Williams, have done FUCK ALL. Mainly on the basis that this pair of turds view bullying as top quality management practice that needs to be encouraged. Unless any bullying is aimed at them of course.

Why can’t city council staff just man up a bit and be prepared to die of Covid for a bunch of management cowards and bullies hiding in expensive homes around the UK?

CARIDON IMPERIAL DEATH STAR ENTERS PARKVIEW ORBIT

Parkview-Bristol-1-1

On September 1, Bristol City Council’s Mayoral Executive will ram through a package to house many of Bristol’s homeless currently sheltered from Covid-19 in a series of inner-city hotels. They will be sent to a large office-to-housing development at Parkview (formerly the offices of Bristol City Council) off Whitchurch Lane in South Bristol.

These homeless, and any new homeless, are to be given places in 200+ alleged ‘flats’ in a converted office building at Parkview. Run by Caridon, a Croydon-based property company who will PROFIT from this scheme, it will be be known as ‘IMPERIAL APARTMENTS’.

Planning restrictions for an ‘office-into-home conversion’ do not hold the same weight as in residential properties, however. For example, they do not have to conform to normal health and safety regulations and cupboards or storage spaces can be turned into squeezed/minimal size ‘flats’ that do not even have a window.

Companies like Caridon – see this BBC investigation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT0pXJ8L_2g – specialise in EXPLOITING a new housing market devised by councils desperate for cheap housing in an ongoing housing crisis.

And who will deliver Caridon’s profits for their imperialist dream of providing’ sub-standard ‘accommodation’? The answer is of course the Bristol taxpayer, signed off by The Mayor and his Council Executive cronies at College Green on September 1. BCC will also offer Caridon the rent IN FULL as demanded by its Director Mario ‘Darth Vader’ Carrozzo, regardless of whether the residents can pay or not.

The flats run by Darth Vader’s Evil Caridon Empire will house the homeless, single parents, victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill, probationers etc; all together in one big happy family. Take a look at this Panorama documentary to see how well a very similar project, once again run by Caridon, worked out in Harlow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAuilFQYHKc 

BCC appear to have told Caridon to keep mum about their Bristol adventure in light of this bad publicity, as the Caridon currently provide no relevant information or links on their website.

REES BOARDS THE COLSTON BANDWAGON …

… After years of kicking the can down the road

Colston docks

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.

Welsh-Back-Association-and-Bristol-Radical-History-Group-have-a-plan-for-an-Abolition-Shed-empty-dock-buildings-on
Bullies? Abolition Shed campaigners

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.

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That Rees/Craig proposed slave trade memorial

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….

ROTTEN COMRADES: Manoeuvring People Out of Their Jobs and Then Buying Their Silence

By The Dwarf

I’ve been watching for some time Bristol City Council’s war against its own staff, but it becomes particularly vicious in light of the coronavirus situation. The suppression of our black whistle-blowers continues apace and the dismissal and downgrading of our disabled staff has been made worse by the pandemic because there aren’t any safe roles to be redeployed into. But nonetheless, BCC won’t let an impossible job market get in the way of following an unethical and discriminatory policy to the bitter end, no matter how illegal it is.

I’ve written at length about this (see Smiter passim). The message, I think, has got through but they sadly have no shame and continue down the same road anyway. There is one member of the cabinet who is genuinely interested in these affairs and has tried to rectify these problems but the chain of command is so long it becomes like a game of Chinese whispers. Instructions and queries are garbled on the way down and replies obfuscated on the way up. When reports are written (for example, the workforce survey which jumped across the management chain and informed leaders directly) the facts are obfuscated by legal agreements that prevent disclosure and therefore the reasons for staff unhappiness aren’t shown.

And here we come to the nub of it. Bitter disputes between management and staff (grievances, disciplinaries and capability hearings) are being hidden by settlement agreements that have non-disclosure clauses. This means that if BCC discriminates against a member of staff and gets its chequebook out so no one can talk about it. This situation often happens when staff reach the point where appeals have failed and they are left with the option of either taking a settlement or going to court. You can’t blame them for settling when the council starts writing a cheque that equals what they would expect in court but without all the stress, but the process prevents the leadership of the organisation from seeing staff being manoeuvred into their predicament and then being bought off. The council is buying the silence of people it victimises.

So, even if a discriminatory event takes place that has been identified (like manoeuvring out most of the black staff from a department during a restructure and then making it impossible to stay at your own grade if you manage to hang on in there) any subsequent agreement not to go to court about it can’t be talked about. So we can’t learn from it. So the narrative that there was no discrimination at all is maintained and black staff, apparently, weren’t “a cabal” as reported. (You know who you are.)

Of course our black staff aren’t the only ones who are frightened, because our disabled, sick and older staff are too. It’s quite clear that quite a few of our staff are clinically vulnerable to the coronavirus (BCC used to be disability-friendly) and have shielded. Except a lot of these instructions to shield were rescinded. Some have cancer, some have heart conditions or hypertension and others have diabetes. Others have family members with the same sort of impairments and need to shield for their sake. When the instruction not to shield (unless you matched very strict criteria) came in, the staff phoned in sick and got a doctor’s note because they were in danger. BCC is now having sickness absence hearings for these people (some of which are the last stage, stage three). They promised not to penalise people who were sick because of coronavirus and they have gone back on this promise. How I really feel about this behaviour is just not reportable.

All of this is led by a well-motivated, well-organised human resources team. They enable the worst excesses of managers and provide custom-crafted tool-kits for those managers to demote, redeploy, harass and dismiss staff who do little more than stand up for statutory rights such as whistle-blowing and protecting themselves from danger.

It’s about time HR was reorganised. Hopefully they can then get a taste of their own medicine.

AGILE STILL FRAGILE?

agile
An exciting Counts Louse agile workspace. Admire the colour scheme;
ignore the cost?

An expensive SEVEN YEAR FIASCO of ‘agile working’ continues unchallenged at Bristol City Council. There’s still NO EVIDENCE that the council’s plan to buy the Temple Street Lubianka for £18m and expensively refurbish the Counts Louse at a further cost of £16m while selling off council offices across the city has delivered any savings.

Alongside the pricey property arrangements came a ‘Workplace Programme’ promoting HALF-BAKED TECH SOLUTIONS and fashionable MANAGEMENT CONSULTANCY NONSENSE. This claimed the council could create money-saving “new agile working environments” for their workforce by issuing staff with laptops, smart phones and tablets and promoting home-working and mobile working to save money.

The expensive plans, put together by UNACCOUNTABLE MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS, originally came with promises of £60m of savings by Max Wide “Boy”, one of the many execs who have rolled in through THE COUNCIL’S REVOLVING DOOR over the last few years to scrounge a six-figure salary.  Wide Boy arrived in 2013 and departed out again in 2016 leaving a £30 million agile working-shaped DEBT in his wake.

Fast foward three years and the ‘Agile Working’ fiasco continues. A recent report to councillors on the latest AGILE WORKING FAILURE in adult care – where the implementation of tablets and tech on the advice of consultants has belly-flopped – explains, “there still isn’t a clearly defined and available benefits document for the Agile Working Project”.

In other words after seven years of forking out HUGE SUMS OF MONEY on the advice of management consultants procured by high-earning council directors, no one HAS MEASURED THE COST EFFECTIVENESS of their ‘agile working’ strategy. Consequently the obvious conclusion that cutting back staff and giving those that remain a tablet will NOT SAVE ANY MONEY is still yet to be reached.

Although any targets for rewarding failure among council execs and their management consultants continue to be exceeded.

WALSH’S WHISTLEBLOW JOB FLOP

MAYOR GETTING RACY

More problems for Bedwetter Walsh emerge as his useless HR department is UNCEREMONIOUSLY DUMPED from managing whistleblowing matters at the council. Responsibility for whistleblowers now sits with the Chief Internal Auditor as bosses’ and councillors’ trust in their OVERPAID HR MANAGEMENT CLOWN and his MALFUNCTIONING DEPARTMENT evaporates after a series of highly avoidable mishaps.

The new arrangements arrive after staff REPEATEDLY told council bosses and councillors that they had NO TRUST in the whistleblowing process under the bizarre management of Bedwetter who’s hobbies appear to include targeting whisleblowers for the sack.

It’s now general knowledge around the Counts Louse that this useless lying fruitbat was working at Wakefield Council in a senior HR role when six whistleblowers were PAID £1MILLION IN COMPENSATION after being FIRED and placed on a register of POTENTIAL SEX OFFENDERS for trying to expose CHILD ABUSE in Wakefield children’s homes.

How much longer can this dangerous fool survive in Bristol?

COUNCIL’S BEDWETTING PAEDO PROTECTOR BREAKS HIS OWN RULES

falling-pounds

Friend to any passing paedo and DANGEROUS ENEMY of decent social care workers everywhere, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, the council’s weirdo Director of HR and Chief Mayoral Arselicker, is at it again. His latest wheeze is TO EXPLAIN AWAY to gullible councillors his authorisation of the continued employment – ON £1,500 A DAY – of his executive colleague and the Reverend’s best buddy, Colin “Head Boy” Molton.

Despite Head Boy being REPLACED as Head of Growth and Regeneration in the autumn by his former colleague, another regional development bureaucrat, Stephen “Preening” Peacock, Head Boy CONTINUES TO WORK FOR THE COUNCIL ON A HUGE WEDGE. This bizarre arrangement was first described as “a sensible period of handover between Colin and Stephen to ensure a smooth transition and to maintain momentum with major projects” but more recently it has been slightly rebadged as “remain[ing] involved in a small number of projects for a short while to make sure there is a smooth transition.”

How long is a “short while”? AND HOW MUCH WILL THIS “SHORT WHILE” COST COUNCIL TAX PAYERS? Bedwetter finally made himself available to the council’s HR committee in December –   two months after he PERSONALLY AUTHORISED this generous arrangement at a cost to us, so far, of around £66k – to explain all. However, two key problems emerged from Bedwetter’s HR Committee appearance.

Firstly, the item was EXEMPT, meaning the public, paying for this EXECUTIVE THEFT, will not be told anything about this carve up by two public sector managers with a dubious relationship to truth, honesty and the rules. Secondly, Bedwetter’s ‘verbal report’ conveniently leaves NO PAPER TRAIL and NO ACCOUNTABILITY for a decision that puts large sums of public money into an individual’s pocket for no coherent reason.

Bedwetter’s dodgy ‘verbal report’ also ignores the Bundred Report, expensively prepared for the Reverend in 2017 to explain how to run a council lawfully and competently. The report demanded that “REPORTS rather than PRESENTATIONS to be used as the basis of discussions and decisions”.

Why, then, is Bedwetter deliberately breaking his own council’s rules to help line Head Boy’s pockets with our cash? Rules that he’s paid handsomely to uphold.

FORWARD THINKING?

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Shocked councillors

Who’s this irate councillor looking concerned in the pages of the Nazi Post? Step forward Paul “Wolfie” Smith, Labour’s cabinet housing supremo. He’s “SHOCKED” and has “LAUNCHED A BLISTERING ATTACK” on the University Hospitals Trust Bristol, who run the BRI, for leaving 20 of their 36 flats on Eugene Street empty “WHILE PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING IN THE STREETS”.

The homes are currently empty as the hospital was refused planning permission for A MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK on the site by the council in March and are now appealing against the decision. However what the fuming councillor isn’t telling us is that the homes in question were sold for A FAST BUCK to the hospital by the council in 2008 for, er, “REDEVELOPMENT PURPOSES“.

And who on Earth was running the council in 2008 selling off our council homes? Step forward our dear old friends in the angry and irate LABOUR PARTY. Then under the clueless leadership of one of Wolfie’s old colleagues Peter “HOPELESS” Hammond and his deputy – one of Wolfie’s current colleagues – prize-winning councillor HRH HELEN OF HOLLAND.

What goes around …

ARUP PLANNING TAKEOVER

Print

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?