Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

Rotten Comrades: “Equalities Champions on the March!”

Human Resources have been in a flap recently. Not only has the issue regarding underpayment of “scores” of staff (see Smiter passim) been reaching boiling point but the fur has been flying regarding racial discrimination as well.

Now, I haven’t written much about racism in The BRISTOLIAN – if at all – but issues regarding race have cropped up from time to time at the council and have been painfully slow to resolve.

The fact that we have a black mayor, that we have a duty to promote equalities, that we have an old and well-organised community of BME citizens and that it is illegal to harass or discriminate on the basis of race should make it pretty unlikely that anyone will get away with doing that sort of thing at Bristol City Council. Or at least, if someone felt like engaging in a spot of racism they would, at least, hide it really well so that they wouldn’t get their arses kicked out of their jobs.

Well, it would seem some of our more dumber managers haven’t given it much thought and have carried out their innately resentful and hate-filled agendas anyway. So much so, they have attracted the attention of Bristol City Council’s equalities ‘self led groups’ who in turn have contacted HR and the Head of Paid Service, Mike “shh-mo” Jackson. “Scores” of incidents have been quoted as having taken place and very little has been done about them.

HR is not happy at this new source of interference in their strategy of keeping a lid on everything. This has been especially galling as they have spent years controlling, diverting, and in some cases “letting go”, the more uncontrollable middle-ranking trade union reps – what I call your experienced barrack-room lawyer. Instead, cultivating the more useless and amenable trade union reps into positions of high influence, where it can all be jolly-hockey-sticks and fluffy kittens.

Anyway, a new form of barrack-room lawyer – the equalities champion – has arisen, as if from nowhere, to pick up the baton the unions have dropped. A bit of competition can only help, don’t you think? The unions don’t like this at all. It is – at least theoretically – their patch. Well, our equalities champions want to know: why have the unions been ignoring desperate people with just grievances begging them for help?

And the answer seems to have come back: well, they didn’t fill in the right form and other such useless excuses. A “frank exchange of views” reportedly broke out after that. And then, when it was asked, why are the unions not supporting staff at stage one of the grievance process, Unison’s reply was: they weren’t sure they should be doing that anymore. The exchange of views got franker.

I’ve been told the equalities people came away with the impression that the unions were in some way compromised, which I think pretty much sums it up. Which is not to say that there aren’t good barrack-room lawyers in the unions – I could count ten or so across all of them – it’s just a waste of time seeking help from the unions if you are given the wrong rep, as sad as that might sound to all of us.

The underpayment scandal update.
I had actually drafted an article announcing that management had seen sense over this and done the right thing. But then it seems a lack of common sense had intervened at the last minute.

I was told that one of our better reps was ambushed in the Count’s Louse by some of our worst reps, on his way to deliver a list of names of people prepared to sue the Council over the underpayment scandal. Our protagonist’s opponents – the three stooges (as I like to call them) – were reported to have staged a Dick Turpin style corridor intervention where they made it clear our protagonist was showing them up and it was their case now.

Our hero cried out: ‘no justice, no peace’ and brushed them aside. But he was not quick enough – the three stooges made their own offer to HR based on the sort of insane formula made up by people who don’t know anything about contract law.

In essence, they screwed it up, making the sort of offer that led to HR leaning back and rolling their eyes into their heads. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, our useless, “rotten comrades” will now no doubt flap their arms about a bit before losing interest, thus letting our hero have another go.

Well, hopefully …

RESPECTABLE DOUGHNUT JOY

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A petition from “local residents’ is to appear at the Council House in November complaining about “INCONSIDERATE SKATEBOARDING” in and around the War Memorial in the Centre.

Quite who is “local” to the memorial in the middle of a glorified roundabout is not clear but rest assured Bristol City Council will be taking URGENT ACTION on this matter. Not least because they are about to “publicise opportunities for trading pitches in the space which the council thinks will improve the activity there”. Or cash in on it as it’s also known

How is it that skateboarding can be banned from our war memorial as “inconsiderate” while a load of stalls selling doughnuts and conveniently paying fees to the council are considered the height of respectability?

JOINED UP GOVERNMENT: THE BOTTLE YARD

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Having spunked £1.2million in 2016 on a new roof and buying the freehold of the Bottle Yard Studios in Hengrove, the Reverend’s cabinet, urged on by finance chief Craig “Crapita” Cheney, has come up with an entirely NEW PLAN for their film studios in 2018.

They’ve now decided to spunk further MILLIONS moving the studios half a mile down the road to Hawkfield Business Park, which they intend to buy some time in the next month. The cost of this substantial piece of real estate is, currently, a closely guarded “commercially confidential” SECRET.

Four of the Bottle Yard studios will move to Hawkfield in late 2020 and then the last two will move there after the Reverend has SPUNKED more money building two purpose-built studios on the site by 2022.

The official reason supplied by the Reverend and his cabinet for this EXPENSIVE MOVE is that “the lack of soundproofing in older, unadapted buildings will render three (possibly four) of the current studios inoperable” once housing at the proposed Hengrove Park development is built.

However, insiders tell us that the current Bottle Yard site is simply “NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE“, which raises the question of why did the Reverend invest £1.2million into the site in 2016? Especially as the council claims the business only generates £100k a year so has little chance of ever paying back this huge PUBLIC HANDOUT.

Meanwhile at Hawkfield, the Reverend’s cabinet report breezily informs us that the COST of repairs alone, will be £520k and “this may have a direct impact on the Bottle Yard Studios overall operating position if they are to pick up these costs.”

In other words, we’ll be picking up the BILL for the purchase of the Hawkfield site and its repairs so that the Bottle Yard Studios can continue to pretend – for PR purposes – to “generate” money for the public purse.

It doesn’t. It runs at a loss and will run at a bigger one now.

AVONMOUTH COUNCILLOR IN RACISM ROW

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Is Avonmouth Labour councillor Don “Lenin” Alexander a LIAR, MISOGYNIST and a RACIST?

At a recent Labour Party event to discuss waste issues for their manifesto for the 2020 mayoral election, Lenin openly shouted at a “difficult” female member, telling her “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP“. This was after she raised the issue of the FLY INFESTATION at Avonmouth and the conduct of the regulatory bodies responsible, Bristol City Council and the Environment Agency.

This, however, is not the first time Lenin has managed to INSULT MINORITIES. When he recently appeared on the council’s Public Safety Committee, responsible for licencing taxis, committee members were shocked when Lenin told a muslim taxi driver that he couldn’t have tinted windows in his taxi because it might ENCOURAGE TERRORISTS!

 Shouldn’t this revolting little shit be in the Tory Party?

News Release: Bristol IWW defending whistle blowers and free speech in Bristol City Council

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In March 2018 a FW ( fellow worker) working in Child Protection for Bristol City Council (BCC) was suspended from his post. He was charged with issues under the code of conduct, and most of the first set of allegations against him related to a closed Labour Party Facebook page. The group are made up of labour activists, who regularly discuss policy and procedure in BCC. The FW was conversing with a union shop steward about the Walter Ayles anti-war artwork. This had been taken down after orders from BCC. But after an outcry, the Council had to apologise, and the artwork was replaced.The face book posting had been given to the council by Mayor Marvin Rees. Therefore, rather than just speaking to the labour party member, he tried to get them dismissed from their post in Child Protection. He also, by his actions, closed down a labour party face book group, and shut down free speech concerning BCC’s activities. Furthermore, he may have breeched rights of members under data protection legislation. All in all, Mayor Rees has attacked his own party members, and stopped them discussing his own policies. Hardly a beacon of democracy, and more will be forthcoming about this. Probably just prior to his reselection attempts.

Marvin failed to get the activist sacked for this, but then BCC forwarded more allegations, and tried to refuse our FW trade union support. The Head of Workforce, a Mr John Walsh wrote in an email, that the IWW secured, that the caseworker must be “shut down”. Hardly in line with the ethos of an open and transparent disciplinary process. Walsh carried on in his attempts to carry on with out the FW having representation, until BCC employed an expensive consultant. This consultant had to explain to Walsh that he could not do this, and also, he had to follow his employer’s own policies. This consultant even had to explain to Walsh what “will” meant, in the context of employment legislation; unbelievable when you consider that this person’s wages equate to a couple of libraries being kept open.

The other allegations revolved around a twitter account, held by the Bristol Citizen. The Citizen regularly criticises BCC’s officers, councillors and policies. The democratic Mayor and his officers cannot stand this and were determined to prove that our FW was the Citizen. One small problem, they did not have a shred of proof, not a smidgen, absolutely bugger all. Their main “proof” was that it was common knowledge in the Public Relations Office, and the Mayor’s Office, that the FW was the Bristol Citizen. Come the day they could not supply a single statement, or witness. The IWW contacted the Bristol Citizen, who did provide a statement, and some interesting information.

Whilst this incompetent mess could be seen as the council just being completely out of their trees. The FW does have some history with BCC. In 2012 he whistle blew that a six figure some was missing from Bristol markets. This figure could build a children’s centre, or similar. Rather than a full investigation, he lost his job and was lucky to be redeployed. To this day, the money is still missing and there has not been any disciplinary process, other than against the whistle blower. No other FWs in the council have had to put up with this level of incompetence relating to disciplinary. So we can only conclude that these bizarre allegations, and the victimisation that followed, were due to him being a whistle blower. He even phoned the Council’s whistle blower’s helpline, to get an answer phone, and no help.

Our FW is made of stern stuff though, and he had the support of the best Union in the world. After 8 ½ months on suspension. 15 allegations, the employment of 2 external consultants, and hundreds of officer’s hours, all at a great cost to the tax payers of this city. He won his hearing, as everything was unfounded. He will go back to his Child Protection role, supporting vulnerable children in our city. But, we are not finished. There are serious questions to be answered, both from the Mayor, but also Mr Walsh. He started by trying to deny the FW his trade union rights, interfered in the case, and even instructed the FWs witnesses not to engage. Furthermore, the Bristol Citizen tells us that he has history. He was involved in the sacking of several whistle blowers in Wakefield. The Citizen has tweeted this, and the IWW will be investigating further. We do not need these people in our City. We need proper, transparent public services, run by a democratic council. If they cannot do this, we will.

Steve Mills, National Case Worker, Bristol IWW

November 2018

MAYOR’S OFFICE CASH UPDATE

MAYOR’S OFFICE CASH UPDATE

While Bristol City Council continues to IMPOSE AUSTERITY on the rest of the city, it’s trebles all round in the office of the Mayor.

We’ve already told you about the Reverend’s personally appointed regeneration chief Colin “Head Boy” Molton – responsible for arena non-delivery – trousering £1.5k a day without the bother of having to go through any COMPETITIVE RECRUITMENT PROCESS. Not this side of the 2020 mayoral election, anyway.

Now we learn that the Reverend’s political assistant, Kevin “Don’t mention the private education” Slocombe has been treated to a ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN PER CENT pay rise by the Reverend. The same post under Mayor No More Ferguson attracted a wage of £45k for his glamorous assistant, Zoe “Groupie” Sear. Now the pay is £95K.

£45k isn’t bad money at all for a post managing a PA and a couple of admin assistants. But clearly not enough money for a MIDDLE RANKING PR of Slocombe’s standing. So he’s has bagged a £50k pay rise from his friend, the Reverend.

News is also in, courtesy of the council’s external auditors, that the £100k the Reverend handed to departing Chief Exec Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski last year was a GENEROUS PERSONAL GIFT with public money from the Reverend and not a legally required pay off for her notice period as he claimed.

How much is the Reverend spending on generous and unnecessary payments to his mates? It’s hard to say. Especially now that the paperwork for the senior management reorganisation that the Reverend promised would save £1million a year on senior bosses’ wages has been made ‘EXEMPT‘. This means the public and press are conveniently DENIED access to any final figures.

 Is this because the promised savings haven’t materialised for the council, while large sums of money for a privileged few have materialised in personal bank accounts?

RECYCLING NEWS

A bizarre new turn in the neverending saga of the non-appearance of a RECYCLING CENTRE for south Bristol on Hartcliffe Way.

The centre, readers may recall, was signed off to be built by the Lib Dems in 2012 and then kicked into touch a few months later when recently elected Mayor No-More Ferguson decided to pursue his environmental goals through the medium of CIRCUS PERFORMANCE and FREE PIES for the wealthy.

In May 2016, at his inauguration speech, The Reverend appeared to resurrect the plan, PROMISING south Bristol a recycling centre on Hartcliffe Way as outlined in his ‘Our Bristol Plan’ manifesto. Since when, NOTHING WHATSOEVER has happened to deliver the centre.

Now, in 2018, we find that the south Bristol Labour Party has set up a PETITION. “We the undersigned call on Bristol City Council to take steps to deliver the long-promised recycling centre on Hartcliffe Way.”

 Er, that’s right. The Bristol Labour Party is petitioning itself to get their own manifesto promise delivered by 2019! What a shambles.

CRATE EXPECTATIONS

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Bearing a large marketing budget and a tireless PR team, BRISTOL HOUSING FESTIVAL launches itself upon an unsuspecting city. “Bristol is a city of innovation and creativity. It is a city that is prepared to stand up and lead. It is a city that punches above its weight,” runs the insufferable PR bullshit.

But what does it all mean? A recent spate of articles in the local press gushing about “INNOVATION” and “CREATIVITY” in housing have highlighted such creative ideas as dumping the homeless in shipping containers; plonking cheap flats on top of multi-storey car parks for key workers and grabbing gardens in Knowle West for trailer-sized eco homes for god knows who?

And who’s behind this shameless five year MARKETING DRIVE to warehouse the city’s poor in cheap, crap accommodation? Please step forward Patrick “Shit” Shine, a “specialist in global fixed income and derivatives” who’s now an employee of London-based Tory thinktank, the SHAFTESBURY PARTNERSHIP.

According to its website, the Shaftesbury Partnership is a “SOCIAL BUSINESS” and a “practice of professionals committed to large scale 21st Century social reform”. While the Co-founder of the Shaftesbury Partnership is Nat “Wee” Wei, a former MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT for McKinsey, the notorious right wing management consultancy, turned venture capitalist.

And, if you still have any doubt about what Wei means by “21ST CENTURY SOCIAL REFORM“, in 2010 he was made a life peer and appointed Chief Adviser on the Big Society by David Cameron. This was after the Shaftesbury Partnership under the management of Wee Wei and Shit Shine set up the “Challenge Network”, which got a big share of CASH from David Cameron’s Big Society scheme, the National Citizens Service, to send children to summer camps at a cost of £1,182 PER CHILD.

Now these deep blue Tories have pitched up in Bristol to “innovate” and “create” in the ruins of our public housing services by shoving the poor in crates. And the first to applaud their efforts and climb aboard this MARKET SOLUTION bandwagon are none other than Labour bigwigs, the Reverend Rees and his housing sidekick, Paul “Wolfie” Smith.

“The festival will turn Bristol into a showcase of the latest innovation in housing building and financing,” The Reverend BREATHLESSLY ANNOUNCED from his tedious blog while Wolfie booked himself in with the Tory boys to deliver a KEYNOTE SPEECH to help kick off this festival of crap housing for the poor.

And guess who’s chief executive of this miserable little Tory bandwagon? Please step forward failed lawyer Jez Sweetland who admits “I’M NO HOUSING EXPERT“. He is, however, a regular at the Reverend’s church, The Hope Church in Hotwells.

How cosy.

COUNCIL WORKERS BACK HOMELESS NOT THE BOSSES

COUNCIL WORKERS BACK HOMELESS NOT THE BOSSES

Another good kicking and a bloody nose for the vile shower of useless cowards who call themselves “senior leaders” at Bristol City Council.

A few months ago these Nazis decided to DECLARE WAR on the city’s homeless and cooked up a ruse, from the comfort of their 5-bed executive homes in the leafy suburbs, to target tent dwellers in parks for eviction.

The gang of lazy parasites then decided that the perfect people to harass and bully the vulnerable out of their homes on their behalf were the PARKS MAINTENANCE CREWS who you occasionally see cutting grass and generally maintaining our parks. A meeting between the lads and “senior leaders” was hastily assembled and the vicious plan explained.

“As you’re there on the ground, you can hand these tent dwellers a little note from the council telling them to leave,” trilled a glorious city council leader.

“No we can’t,” piped up a voice.

“I beg your pardon?”

“We won’t do that. It’s not our job. It’s not in our contracts. We’re not doing that. Do it yourselves.”

“Oh.”

“You see what you’ve got to understand is we hate working for the council now.”

“Oh.”

“You’ve scrapped our overtime which for some people made up half their wages. We can’t take vans home no more so we’ve had to buy vehicles. We only work here cos we’re waiting for our pensions.”

“Oh.”

“And if we had the chance we’d like to burn the council house down with the mayor, the councillors and all the top bosses in it.”

Cue nervous eyebrow raising and gobsmacked expressions from the brave “senior leaders” followed by an extremely hasty and inelegant RUSH FOR THE DOOR. A few minutes later the middle management pansies of the parks department – who should never have let their bosses demand their crews do this dirty work for them in the first place – entered the room, broke up the meeting and sent the lads BACK TO WORK.

And, er, that’s it. Parks maintenance crews aren’t evicting tent dwellers from parks and senior bosses had to fuck off elsewhere at the council to find some mugs prepared to BULLY and HARASS the vulnerable and homeless for them.

 Up the workers!

DAFT POLICY ON ROUGH SLEEPER ENCAMPMENTS

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The recent EVICTIONS of homeless people living in vans and caravans from Greenbank, Easton and an ENCAMPED PROTEST in July on the council’s doorstep on College Green has focused attention on BCC’s homelessness prevention and provision services. As well as its new draft policy proposal on van dwellers and rough sleeper encampments.

As The BRISTOLIAN recently highlighted, a private for profit company, Social Impact Bristol Ltd is to commodify and make a profit from homeless people through a SOCIAL IMPACT BOND.

So it may not entirely be a coincidence that the recently launched DRAFT POLICY ON ROUGH SLEEPER ENCAMPMENTS is proposing to wholly outsource homelessness provision to St Mungo’s. An organisation that is intimately involved with Social Impact Bristol Ltd. and will be paying interest to the ‘high net worth individuals’ that have invested in it.

Bristol is seeing increasing numbers of people BECOMING HOMELESS, with some taking control of their own living conditions by squatting, living in vans, caravans and tents and refusing to pay exorbitant rents to landlords.

Sadly far too many are falling through our social safety net and ending up on the streets. Against this backdrop, a policy proposal that would seem to originate from the DEPUTY MAYOR’S OFFICE seeks to coral all rough sleepers into a ‘pathway’ through St Mungos. Encampments, even if deemed “low impact” with no anti social behaviour complaints, are only going to be tolerated for a maximum of 3 months and then dwellers will be forced into a “pathway”.

Whilst Marvin has been jetting off to Asia to seek international finance at a Green Growth seminar, there are people who are living environmentally LOW IMPACT LIFESTYLES that are going to be directly affected by the Draft Policy proposal on Rough Sleeper Encampments. A policy headed by Tom Gilchrist, BCC Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer, who has publicly stated he “wants to see everyone in bricks and mortar”.

How does this draft policy proposal fit in with Marvin and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig’s public statements about inclusivity, sustainable living and other corporate drivel?

Many homeless people refuse to engage with St Mungo’s, citing reasons of chronic drug dealing, serious substance misuse issues, violence and theft within St Mungo’s hostels. St Mungo’s own outreach workers state that they don’t have the capacity to deal with the number of homeless people, and admit that St Mungo’s hostels are DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE for those that do use them.

We ask why would a draft policy proposal that comes under the remit of the Deputy Mayor be calling for all homeless people to be CORRALLED into St Mungo’s when St Mungo’s doesn’t have the capacity or the safe conditions to properly assist some of the most vulnerable people in our city?

It wouldn’t have anything to do with providing a financial investment return to those high net worth individuals that have invested in Social Investment Bristol Ltd would it?