Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

OUTSOURCING WATCH

A readers writes …

H&S

“Please find attached photo (courtesy of Bristol Post today) of a contractor working for Bristol City Council on the Centre. For a council that states it is a leader in health and safety, surely they should know anybody using the tip of a chainsaw to cut timber without safety trousers is asking for an accident?”

How easy it is to save money and outsource risk by using the private sector to risk lives instead …

ONE SMALL LEAP FOR BRISTOL: ONE GIANT PAYDAY FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR?

Leap 82429

“We should never have been in the energy business,” is the Reverend Rees’s mantra regarding Bristol Energy. The deranged energy reselling wheeze delivered courtesy of a pair of hapless elected mayors and a supporting cast of idiot senior council bosses and greedy private sector troughers that has cost the city an estimated £50 MILLION during a long period of austerity and public service cuts.

But why, if we should never have been in the energy business, is the Reverend now setting up ‘CITY LEAP‘, a “billion pound” public-private vehicle to decarbonise the city? Or is “the delivery of a local interconnected, low carbon, smart energy system in Bristol that provides long-term social, environmental and economic benefits for its residents, communities and businesses” not “the energy business”? If not, what is it?

This latest Bristol City Council energy project, which, like the last one, is promising social, environmental and economic benefits to the city is also, like the last one, shrouded in mystery. Albeit an even more EXPENSIVE mystery with the best part of £10million already shifted to the private sector to pay for legal and procurement consultants who have finally delivered a shortlist of three multinational corporate ‘partners’ for the project.

But what is this project? So far, we understand, the council will be handing over their limited number of ENERGY ASSETS – mainly some half-finished city centre heat networks and wind turbines to a multinational company to “implement competitive heat retail and competitive heat generation across the heat network”.

In English that means the multinational will be making A PROFIT from public assets by charging the competitive rate they choose to supply energy from our public infrastructure. However, this is nowhere near a “billion pound” project, which makes some recent announcements from the council’s housing department rather interesting. 

They say, “Housing recently assisted the City Leap team with updating and revising documentation for the City Leap project, which included the INFORMATION ON OUR STOCK and the potential OPPORTUNITY for improvements to net zero. Housing will continue its liaison with the City Leap team and notes the significant benefits that having a pre-procured partner for project delivery and, potentially, investment could have on the rapid roll out of carbon reduction programmes.”

In other words Bristol City Council Housing Service intend to sign A CONTRACT IN ADVANCE with a multinational to retrofit all their council homes. Then should any large government grants for retrofitting council homes roll in to the council – such as through a ‘GREEN NEW DEAL‘ – they’ll roll straight out again and offshore to a corporation who can charge whatever they want and do whatever they want.

They’ll be no competitive tendering; no local opportunities; no local profit and little democratic control over any housing improvements or the public funds for them. This could, potentially, amount to tens, if not hundreds, of MILLIONS in grants.

Of further concern is another missive from the council’s housing department, “it is anticipated that the retrofit of domestic properties will be included in the program of works delivered by the City Leap Energy Partnership. The REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties is essential to the decarbonisation of heat and to achieving carbon neutrality.”

Is this a reference to privately owned homes? And what is this “REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties”? A project that might well cost that magic “billion pounds”. But how will home owners be “required” to retrofit their homes? Will this have to happen through the council’s multinational partner? Do homeowners pay or do the government pay? Can homeowners be FORCED in to debt to meet this new “requirement”?

Will households in the city end up INDENTURED to some faceless multinational corporation so that the council can live the green dream while delivering an extravagant pay day to a lucky corporate? Is the plan, this time, that the council’s foray into the energy business dumps the inevitable huge losses directly on to us?

We think we should be told,

PARKVIEW DEATH STAR IMPLODES

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An update on our notorious high-living slum landlord friends, Caridon, who took over ‘Imperial Apartments’, a cheap, shoddy conversion of the old Parkview council offices in Hartcliffe. 

Caridon won a small lottery when they managed to rent 216 of their shitty little apartments, mostly studio flats, to the council. A policy promoted by defective housing department bosses over the summer who thought this was a great spot run by great people to dump the city’s homeless.

Alas, it transpires the council has only let 150 of these pokey little rabbit hutches in the middle of nowhere to the desperate and vulnerable. While the daft contract BCC housing officers signed with Caridon (publicly available online) states clearly that if BCC can’t let the spaces, then they still have to pay the rent in full. This is, we understand, £695 a month per empty studio flat. That’s about £45k a month being shovelled directly to the repulsive boss of Caridon for doing fuck all except owning a property.

 An outcome that the pair of clowns who created this mess, Bristol HomeChoice Fuhrer Paul “Speer” Sylvester and his snooty boss from London, Housing Director Julian “Luvvie” Higson, assured everyone could not happen. They would expertly manage this obvious risk, they assured us, by “raising interest from people in the local community” and holding “a daily morning meeting to monitor progress”! 

Wouldn’t it be fun to attend one of those morning meetings now to hear all the vain and self-serving excuses from Speer and Luvvie for their wholly predictable failure (surely sub optimal progress in a challenging environment? Ed)? A failure that will come as no surprise to the huge number of ordinary Bristolians without any high-earning housing management expertise who told them in the summer, “this is a totally shit idea on every level that you should have no part of”.

In further bad news, it appears that overpaid pillocks Speer and Luvvie have contracted the council to pay for all these apartments, whether full or empty, on a rolling contract with no fixed end in sight. And the pair even negotiated an option to take up a further 199 apartments on the site in January. Will our amazing housing business experts be taking up this exciting offer? Will their contract let them refuse? Do these chumps have the foggiest idea what they signed us up to?

Meanwhile, Health and Safety responsibility in this disastrous deal remains highly ambiguous. Officially, it’s Caridon’s lookout. But we all know how well a very similar relationship of this nature went at Grenfell Tower don’t we?

Speer and Luvvie’s Daily Progress Meeting when the first tenant on Caridon’s watch carks it will be interesting.

LEAKED DOCUMENT: UNION SLAMS REES ADMINISTRATION FOR SHIT EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS

More problems for Bristol City Council’s beleaguered and failing Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh?

However, as further oppressive practices and anti-union activity against council staff by Tory-boy bully boy Bedwetter and his HR team emerges, a question arises. Is Bedwetter actually the Reverend Rees and his administration’s personal workforce enforcer? Employed on a handsome six-figure salary to shaft the council’s workforce?

The evidence from a leaked letter from Unison suggests Bedwetter is no maverick looney but, instead, is implementing an agreed suite of right wing employment policies on the instructions of his political masters. Read this letter to Labour councillors from the Secretary of the Bristol Branch of Unison and weep:

Dear Councillors 

It is a matter for regret for me that the links between this council’s senior union branch and the city’s Labour Party are as wafer-thin as they are and I suppose it is not going to get better anytime soon. However, in the hope of getting a better deal for our members, I still need to try to steer discussion to somewhere that coincides with our priorities and matches your aims and objectives. Here are some matters of concern for us.

 Sick Pay 

Yes, we are setting up some sort of work programme with Helen regarding the sick pay situation for care workers that work for organisations contracted by the council. The latest news on this was welcome. However, the mere fact of outsourcing has at best coincided, and at worst has led to, reductions in what we think are basic protections for staff who, ultimately, work for an organisation that is led by the Labour Party.

So, regardless of efforts to improve the sick pay for care staff we still have Bristol Waste who mostly do not receive occupational sick pay (some might have it because of TUPE) and who have suffered loss of pay over this trying period. Some are scared rigid putting themselves in danger each day; and we now see further moves to set up arms-length organisations (or contract out) where terms and conditions are pegged only to legal minimums. 

Outsourcing Agenda 

There seems to be an accepted view that the public sector cannot run services as efficiently as arms’ length companies and contractors. We disagree with this. But even if we accepted your privatising agenda there should be no reason to suppose that a Labour administration making these decisions would not protect and uphold decent standards for those organisations’ staff.

We stand for public services delivered by local government and it is within local government that decent standards can be maintained for staff (notwithstanding the problems being faced by council staff). In English law, labour protections are so small and regulation is so light that organisations that proudly say that they are upholding legal standards are really only upholding basic just-above-poverty entitlements.

The unions have struggled to lift people from poverty but there is a constant traction that draws wages down to minimum wage and reduces other benefits such as redundancy pay to statutory minimums. Management made an “offer” two years ago whereby we saw no tangible offer to compensate us for a loss of redundancy pay. We balloted and rejected it, but we shouldn’t have had to if there had been someone at a senior level who was prepared to stick up for ordinary staff. Decent redundancy pay does two things: it compensates the staff member and makes the employer think more carefully before letting people go, which is what we in the Labour movement should be supporting, not undermining.

Our staff are frustrated because they know they can deliver in-house (they already are) and are worried about being spun out to another third-party organisation where the risk of failure can appear as likely as it was before. Please see my points about outsourcing and sick pay above. UNISON remains opposed to TUPE transfers and outsourcing. This position was not decided on by this branch but by conference and is the national position of the union. 

Staff Appeals 

It is not my place to put pressure on you to find someone not guilty but I respectfully request that you listen to the evidence and make a just decision. I have, however, been placed in farcical situations that were unjust. The last time was before three Labour councillors.

Under the heading ‘appeals’ ‘what you can do in the hearing’ on the Acas website is ‘present new evidence if you have it’. It can be found here for you to check for yourself: https://www.acas.org.uk/appealing-a-disciplinary-or-grievance-outcome#:~:text=The%20right%20of%20appeal%20and%20the%20law%20The,them%20if%20the%20case%20goes%20to%20employment%20tribunal.

It goes on to say that employers should “look at new evidence, if there is any”. Unfortunately, Bristol City council’s position is that new evidence is not allowed at appeals and this was upheld by three Labour councillors – a position that is below the basic standards of Acas. It is fair to say I was taken aback. If we are not allowed to present new evidence what is the point? 

Breach of Contract 

With a section of our surveyors, management freely entered into a new contract, in writing, with our members to pay a ‘market forces supplement’ for between one and three years. A few months later, they then withdrew from that contract, which of course we are unwilling to allow them to do. We, alongside Unite the Union, have entered a dispute with BCC.

Management realising that this may end up in county court seem to have consulted a solicitor or two who know that they may be allowed to argue that three months wages is the award for breaking a contract such as this. We argue that it has a fixed term (at least one year) and we will see who wins.

In the meantime this places BCC’s commitment to honour its agreements in doubt. Again, it is not my role to press you to make decisions, but I want you to know that BCC is not a playground utopia for hard-leftists (as it is presented, I am told) but a battleground over basic bourgeois rights such as upholding a contract of employment. 

Unilateral Policy Changes

I have been arguing for months now that BCC needs to put its policies back to the last position where it was agreed with the unions. HR are attempting to reduce our employment rights further. Management have insisted that none of this is part of our contract and they can do this but when it coincides with dismissal (and other matters such as appointments) then we have insisted it is and they can’t.

None of this is minor: the sickness policy now says that you no longer have to be taken through the warnings consecutively – they can jump straight to the last stage (and dismissal) if they want. And there are no longer minimum periods for consultations.

We recently saw a one-week consultation that led to a contract change, which means restructures can be rushed through. There are many more minor changes that staff relied upon to get fairness at work. I can’t find anyone who will admit to okaying any of this so why is it still up? 

Conclusion 

The number of complaints I have are much greater than what I have set out above, but further matters will have to come later. It is fair to say, I can’t understand why our members are under attack like this but we are now going to start campaigning over these issues. 

Thanks, Tom Merchant, Branch secretary, Bristol UNISON  

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING PLAQUE

Plaque

We are happy to confirm as correct rumours circulating that the Colston corrective plaque created in 2018 was actually CAST and READY TO HANG. The finalised plaque, a work of censorship and fake history by the Merchant Venturers ‘historian’ Francis “The Overseer” Greenacre that was forced on the local historians and school children invited to create the wording on the plaque, was cast by Wards Signs of Barton Hill in 2019. However, it seems to have DISAPPEARED.

What’s happened to this intriguing and valuable historical artefact that casts the MERCHANT VENTURERS and their pro-Colston racist elite friends and supporters around the city in a less than favourable light? The answer lies with Myers-Insole Local Learning Community Interest Company who were generously FUNDED BY THE COUNCIL to manage the creation of the plaque. Alongside his wife, Peter ‘Arse’ Insole, the city’s Principal Historic Environment Officer, is a director of Myers Insole, which is a very cosy arrangement between a council officer and public money isn’t it?

So is Arsehole planning on keeping this valuable piece of public property and important historical artefact as part of his PENSION PLAN? If not, perhaps he could urgently hand over our significant historical artefact he has no business with to the city’s museum service? What a potentially great display item it would make sitting alongside the original wording for the plaque that the Venturers sabotaged. 

And what a story it would tell about the city’s wealthy elitists in the early 21st Century.

COUNCIL’S BEDWETTER-AHAB ALLIANCE HUNT DOWN DOCK’S DISABLED

“All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.”

A judgement slipped out by the Employment Tribunal on September 25, studiously ignored by our local mainstream media, is yet another nail hammered firmly into the coffin of Bristol City Council HR. The council department led by arch-discriminator and the Reverend Rees’s BULLY-IN-CHIEF John “Bedwetter” Walsh.

An interim judgement published by the tribunal announces, “The claims of unfair dismissal and of DISCRIMINATION ARISING FROM DISABILITY in respect of the dismissal of the claimant from employment (on 25th of April 2019) is well founded.”

Yes, Bristol City Council are firing staff for being disabled. A finding of disability discrimination means an uncapped award for the claimant, which may cost council taxpayers a lot of money. Surely this is all a huge embarrassment for a LABOUR COUNCIL that likes to waffle on about their exceptional commitment to equality and diversity at every opportunity?

This latest equalities and diversity shambles comes courtesy of Bristol City Council Docks Service and is, therefore, the handiwork of one of The BRISTOLIAN’s oldest friends, Docks boss Cap’n Tony “Ahab” Nichol. This notorious bully and serial incompetent – who describes his own supervisory staff as ‘WANKERS‘ when they’re out of earshot – should have been fired back in 2014 after a series of proven incidents of him bullying his staff. 

Instead he was let off after a reactionary old white man middle manager investigating the case retired before completing an extraordinarily long investigation. Ahab’s bosses then decided he could issue an apology and attend an equalities workshop with his staff instead.

Fat lot of use this workshop was if Ahab is now firing and DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE DISABLED with apparent impunity and a corporate cheque book at the ready to fix any expensive mess he makes. We understand that as many as THREE disabled staff may have been offloaded by Ahab so far.

This latest disgrace also raises more questions about Director of Workforce, Bedwetter and what’s going on in his HR department as yet more INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE comes to light at Bristol City Council. Ahab would have been advised and supported by Bedwetter’s HR team throughout his deliberate effort to discriminate against the disabled.

An appeal panel of well-remunerated ‘expert’ and ‘objective’ SENIOR DIRECTORS also would have signed off this dismissal on the advice of Bedwetter’s HR. Institutional discriminatory practice continues to RUN RAMPANT through the corridors of Bristol City Council unchecked and, as always, ends at the door of Bedwetter’s HR department.

How much longer will councillors tolerate Bedwetter and his nasty little regime of discrimination and bullying? Isn’t it about time they dismantled this rogue department and kicked Bedwetter’s sorry arse back to where it belongs in the1970s blokey culture of some provincial Yorkshire town? Then they can tie a large weight to the revolting Ahab and throw him into his dock for us.

Maybe that was what a TOP SECRET HR Committee meeting last week was discussing with Bedwetter and all of his senior HR team of racists, bullies and abusers? Or were they all CONSPIRING on another crude cover-up to maintain bully Bedwetter in post so that he can keep any uppity staff – who insist on taking their employment and human rights seriously – in their place for his Labour Party political masters?

How much longer can our scumbag council maintain the lie?

BATSHIT BULLY BOSS’S NEW HR HELL

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Speculation has been rife on Twitter since an EMERGENCY Human Resources Committee Meeting of Bristol City Council was hurriedly organised last week with just one intriguing item to consider –  “CONFIDENTIAL STAFFING MATTER”. What can it all mean?

This ONE measly meeting item certainly attracted a very LARGE CROWD of senior bosses including “Li’l” Tim O’Gara, the council’s hapless Monitoring Officer; Husinara Jones, a senior council solicitor; Stephen “Not Colin” Peacock, the Reverend’s new useful idiot Regeneration chief and a whole host of HR bosses. 

Among these HR bosses were Celia Williams, Manager HR Consultancy; Mark “Bashar” Williams, HR Director; Mark Jefferson, HR Manager; James Brereton, HR Manager and our dear old friend John “Bedwetter” Walsh, the council’s batshit crazy bully of a Director of Workforce. 

So what’s Bedwetter’s absolute shower of institutionally racist HR incompetents done to their staff now that we aren’t allowed to know about? And how much is it likely to cost us? Perhaps a helpful councillor on the HR Committee might like to tell us in the, er, PUBLIC INTEREST?

Or will we have to find out for ourselves?

KEYSTONE COUNCIL (Part1)

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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

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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

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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.