Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

THIRD TIME UNLUCKY FOR ALIEN OTHERNESS BOSS?

Our dear old friend, Richard “The Builder” Fear, city council property boss and congenital idiot, continues to impress. Fear The Builder, you may recall, extended his period property in leafy Knowle with an “upscale dormer window” or, as a planning inspector later described it, a “strident and bulky structure creating an awkward sense of ALIEN OTHERNESS”.

The Planning Inspector became involved in an appeal early last year after this senior city council property expert FORGOT to get planning permission for his new structure. He then, unfortunately, FAILED, in 2016, to get retrospective permission for his hideous mess that broke all known planning regulations for a dormer window and had to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Decisively losing the appeal, Fear then attempted to try and get retrospective planning permission all over again last summer by claiming a PAINT JOB and a bit of FAKE ROOF added to his unlawful carbuncle would solve all the problems.

Alas, not according to a planning committee of councillors who sent Fear packing a second time. Councillor Olly “Mediocre” Mead telling him, “You can put me in a TUTU and I’d no more resemble a BALLERINA than that resembles something that is appropriate for the area”!

Now, nine months later, and Fear has developed a new two-pronged strategy to save his expensive extension from demolition. We learn that, for the THIRD TIME, he is applying for retrospective planning permission while also appealing to the Planning Inspectorate for the refusal of his second effort to obtain retrospective planning permission.

Neighbours and locals assure us that Fear’s latest efforts are ludicrous. “The new plans look EXACTLY THE SAME as the ones refused planning permission last year,” they say, “what’s changed”?

Meanwhile, will an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate be any more help to Fear than last time around? Informed opinion suggests not.

CREATIVE STORAGE INNOVATION JOY

Our favourite PUBLIC SECTOR MONEY PIT, Bristol City Council’s Bottle Yard Studios, the loudmouth film and creative industries public relations initiative for the city funded by you, dear council tax payer, has some news.

We learn that at present there is NO MORE SPACE at the studios to make any actual, er, films, because Mammoth Screen, the private production firm behind BBC’s crappy Poldark drama is currently renting out most of the studios as cheap STORAGE SPACE!

Quite why the firm can’t pay COMMERCIAL RATES at Big Yellow Storage like the rest of us and let us use our facility, subsidised to the tune of £1million a year by the council taxpayer, to make films is unclear.

This foray by the council into the world of equipment storage at the city’s premier creative industries venue puts a rather large dent in their ridiculous claim that they are delivering JOBS and TRAINING in the film industry for the people of South Bristol.

What are these jobs and training in? Manual handling and minimum wage security roles?

ARENA NEWS

Adepts at the art of reading runes, the philosophy of semiology or the mysteries of poetics and symbology may have noticed the Reverend’s recent PLAN put before his cabinet to “facilitate the necessary cycle lane works on Airport Road”.

So what? He’s building a cycle path on Airport Road in Hengrove? Big deal. But this is what catches the eye – “This proposal seeks approval to submit a Local Growth Fund (LGF) GRANT REALLOCATION request to the LEP”. So why might the Reverend be reallocating a grant and from where?

“Due to the fact that the coach parking scheme on ALBERT ROAD can no longer be completed within the originally agreed LGF funding window, this proposal seeks approval to reallocate £790k to the Airport Road scheme,” breezily explain the Reverend’s transport minions.

Of course, a coach parking scheme on Albert Road is an integral part of transport plans for the Arena at TEMPLE MEADS. If there’s no coach park planned then there’s no arena going ahead at Temple Meads.

So look out for that arena at Filton announcement coming soon and be sure to enjoy your cycling lane on Airport Road instead!

Rotten Comrades – Redundancy Pay Cut Scandal Update

by Our Industrial Correspondent  -The Dwarf

I thought I would give you an update regarding the council’s recent attempt to slash the redundancy pay of its hard-working and undervalued members of staff.

It has gone remarkably quiet recently unless, that is, you happened to be passing the HR committee like I did, where it was certainly less than quiet. Having been given a great big fuck off by the unions – yes, I know, even a stopped clock is right twice a day – city council management refused to drop the matter.

Instead, they decided to get our councillors to force the cut through and that meant a request to the HR committee to recommend that their proposal goes to full council for debate. Bristol’s trade union warriors got wind of this and after a flurry of phone calls and whispered conversations in council corridors, Unison decided to write a letter of protest and Unite decided to go along to the committee and protest in person.

Of course when it came to Unison Bobo sitting down to write, he jabbed his eye with his pen because he was startled by Chuckles stepping on the comb end of a rake and hitting her nose with the handle. Needless to say the protest letter was never sent by our amusing circus friends, but someone from Unite did manage to turn up on the day for the committee.

As I said, I was passing and I was sure I heard swearing, the breaking of furniture, a squeak or two and the odd plea for mercy or might I just have imagined that? Management came out of the meeting angry and outmanoeuvred. ‘N’ (from Unite) had explained to the councillors on the HR committee exactly the sort of stitch up management was planning and the committee had sent management off with a flea in their ears.

I was told by top secret, back-channel sources that the HR committee members found the whole thing highly amusing. A just decision as well as amusing, I would say. Here’s hoping that management now see sense and drop such a highly damaging claim on their staff.

I’m not using N’s name because he doesn’t need his name all over the internet if he has to look for another job anytime soon. But if they do go for him, I think N will see them off. But it will not be thanks to the usual rotten comrades who consistently failed to back him up. N has previously been under attack and it hasn’t been pretty.

But N is in good company. Many of our bravest, most principled reps have been victimised, sacked, managed out of the business on dodgy grounds, or nobbled by their own unions and all had piss poor service from those unions. If this was the train company or one of the engineering firms in Filton, everybody would’ve been out the gates by now. But anyway, here is a partial list of some of our nobbled class warriors, I salute them all, even the ones who contributed to their downfall.

1. R victimised. It was alleged he called managers ‘corrupt bastards’ when they gave themselves pay rises and handed around opportunities to each other like sweets.
2. M who suddenly found himself outsourced after campaigning against cuts.
3. A who was sacked for sickness but really because he was a rep.
4. M forced out of his union position for not being complimentary to a woman by email.
5. J sacked for threats but he maintains it was because he stood by his principles.
6. S redundancy bought forward before union elections making it impossible for him to campaign to win.
7. T downgraded after his own union recommended (in writing) that his job be provided differently.

I’ll keep you updated regarding any further shenanigans.

WHACKO JOINS THE MERRY-GO-ROUND

The appointment of North Somerset Council boss, Mike “BILLIE JEAN” Jackson, as Executive Director: Resources and Head of Paid Service on £165k a year at Bristol City Council continues the merry-go-round of big wages, changing job titles and eye-watering pay-offs for poor performance at the top of the council.

This leadership farrago really gathered steam in the summer of 2012 when the Bradford Sun Queen, Chief Executive Jan Ormondroyd on a cool £190k a year, JUMPED SHIP after trying and failing to rig the outcome of the Town Green application at Ashton Vale in favour off Bristol City FC. The Sun Queen “TOOK EARLY RETIREMENT”, scooping a £50k pay-out as the door slammed on her way out.

In the autumn of 2012 Mayor Old Fool arrived in the hot seat and immediately decided that the big problem with the top job at Bristol City Council was its NAME! So the great leader scrapped the Chief Executive post and introduced a CITY DIRECTOR instead.

Step forward Nicola “Lady Gaga” Yates who swanned into this new role from Hull in 2013 scooping a generous £192k a year through various salary enhancements we weren’t told about. By 2016, she had departed IN DISGRACE with a £200k pay-out when a £30million hole emerged in the council’s budget.

Now, with the Reverend was at the helm, he decided the problem was, er … the JOB TITLE! So, in early 2017, he appointed Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski as Chief Executive on £160k a year. SIX MONTHS later she departed with a controversial £70k pay off, currently being investigated by the council’s auditors.

This brings us to new boy “Whacko” Jackson. He arrives with yet another NEW JOB TITLE and the usual bollocks from the mayor and his patsy HR Committee of councillors insisting we must pay top dollar to get the skills they need. Although which of Ormondroyd, Yates and Klonowski was in any way a success or value for money?

£320k in SIX YEARS spent on pay-offs o council top bosses? That’s over £50k every year just to get rid of the last liability

So how much will Billie Jean really cost us?

CLEAN AIR ZONE SPIN SCAM

Using that tried and tested scam of changing the name of something that’s hugely unpopular, back in 1971 the government changed the name of the Windscale nuclear power plant to Sellafield after a series of major safety scandals had shaken public faith in the safety of the plant.

Now, the Reverend Rees, not being one to pass up the chance of repeating a DAFT IDEA, has come up with his own name changing scam. Knowing full well anything called ‘CONGESTION CHARGE’ would unleash a torrent of unpopularity and be an instant kiss of electoral death, the Reverend in March unveiled some new options to improve air quality in the city – ‘Improving Public Health – A Clean Air Plan for Bristol’.

And – can you believe it? – four out of the five options on the table involve introducing an, er, CONGESTION CHARGE of some kind! The Reverend even wheeled out his youthful and rather dim Cabinet member for Energy, Waste and Regulatory Services Kye “The” Dudd to explain why this congestion charge wasn’t a congestion charge. “It’s to address a public health matter rather than a war on motorists,” blustered the tyro politician before CLAIMING this not-a-war-on-motorists congestion charge would save 300 lives a year.

Not entirely true as these 300 hundred deaths a year are not REAL deaths but STATISTICAL deaths calculated at a desk by consultants using complex equations. Indeed, The Dudd’s own consultants admit the deaths from this public health crisis are “UNCERTAIN” due to “RISK COEFFICIENTS“.

Statistically uncertain deaths in Bristol could therefore be as low as 101 per year or as high as 612. WHO KNOWS? Not the Dudd, that’s for sure, as he bandies around that figure of 300 deaths to unleash a congestion charge on unsuspecting Bristolians.

If the Dudd was serious about reducing pollution rather than raising revenue then he would, in fact, be leaving motorists alone and getting his middle class mates to ditch their poncy WOODBURNERS. According to the British Medical Journal these must-have heating systems for the well-heeled urban twat are producing over TWICE as many harmful emissions as road traffic!

But where’s the money and votes in targeting woodburners?

PORT PLANT PLANNING HELL

More bad news for Avonmouth residents as another POLLUTING PLANT appears at the Port of Bristol overnight without planning permission and, apparently, with the support of compliant government regulators and Bristol City Council.

A temporary CONCRETE BATCHING PLANT and manufacturing facility at Avonmouth, which will be used to make concrete segments to form the water intake tunnels for the new Chinese funded nuclear power station at Hinckley Point, is up for retrospective approval by a Bristol City Council planning committee in May. As usual in Avonmouth, it appears the plant has ALREADY been built by contractors HANSON and is ready to start production.

Despite potential RISKS from nearby sites with HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE consents, the council is likely to wave the application through claiming any problems can be overcome by monitoring the site during construction (which, conveniently, has already happened!)

Locals are said to be less than impressed with this latest example of the council’s CAVALIER APPROACH to their wellbeing. The Reverend Rees even made a PR friendly visit to the Merchant Venturer-run Port just last month where DEVELOPMENT ISSUES and POLLUTION weren’t even mentioned by the Reverend or his entourage as they posed for photos for the press.

Instead the mayor played CHEERLEADER for the Port’s apprenticeship scheme and generally brown-nosed the management of the Port for providing employment. Concerns of residents and locals did not feature.

This latest cosy planning arrangement between Bristol City Council, the Port of Bristol and MULTINATIONAL POLLUTERS comes just a few months after the Day Group won an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate to run a poisonous waste processing plant on Port land without any planning permission.

Welcome to the latest regulatory failure and corporate stitch up of Avonmouth residents.

Cuts to Bristol Community Links – Part One

Bristol Community Links, otherwise known as Day Centres, have recently been at the centre of some of Mayor Marvin’s cuts. Its manager, Sonia Moore, faced with quite a budget shortfall chose to make cuts to the centres’ transport and also, er, increase the number of highly paid managers in her department. Because that is just what a service making cuts needs – more managers.

But what about the transport? How are some of Bristol’s most disabled and complex adults, living at home with mum and dad, going to get to their day centres? Well, Sonia decided to decommission the transport (a dozen or so minibuses and a handful of cars) and replace this transport with alleged spare capacity in the (privatised) special needs school minibus service*. The theory was, once the school minibus had taken the kids to school they would then go off and pick up the punters and take them to the day centres. Likewise with going home in the afternoon. The council would then be able to halve the number of vehicles it hired and halve the drivers it needed. So, as long as you didn’t mind being picked up an hour and a half later, it is business as usual.

So far, so good. But unfortunately, not all has gone well. Here are the highlights:

* New hours inconvenient to you? Tough, says Sonia. You can bring your loved ones in yourself if you don’t like it. Some of those parent / carers with jobs have had to do so. Others have decided to keep their kids at home more and struggle on. Several families faced with this have given in, a further blow struck against people whose lives are dominated by care-giving.

* The new ‘service’ suddenly refused to continue to take people to respite care homes, which meant that parents could no longer got a rest from permanent care. For people with family members who have complex needs this is the only chance they can ever have to take a holiday. Instead of going away for a few days to rest and recuperate the parents have to stay behind and deliver their kids to the day centre each day. Something really important was lost here: care for the whole family, not just the disabled person.

* Some parents complained, other parents suffered in silence. The ones who complained were provided with transport, the others who didn’t complain are still picking up their children.

* Sometimes the transport picks up people from respite care and leaves behind those whose parents haven’t complained, even though there are spare seats. This, I feel, is one of the more brutal failures on the list. Managers know what the right thing to do is but are deliberately refusing to do it.

* Some people have been left behind because of clerical cock-ups. Requests to the new company to pick up regulars have been met with refusals. More than my job’s worth, mate! Health and safety, not insured, and other excuses that have never, ever been used in the history of social services.

*Sonia hasn’t made it clear that all the transport will be discontinued in 12 months. She says she has told them, but the parents have no idea at all. The news was buried in a letter and the word ‘reviewed’ conflated with the notion of a social worker coming round and having a bit of a chat over a cup of tea and a jammy dodger. It is an open secret amongmanagers, politicians and contractors that it will all be gone in 12 months.

*One of the minibus companies hired is rumoured to be the one that left that Downs Syndrome child alone on the bus for six hours outside one of Bristol’s schools, mere weeks ago, remember that?

ON THE DEATH OF MARTIN CONNOLLY, LANDLEECH & PARASITE

It was with great sadness that The BRISTOLIAN heard last week about the passing of Martin Connolly, former owner of Bristol’s CONNOLLY & CALLAGHAN property speculators – or “a family-run property business, creating homes that make a difference to people’s lives” as their online spin-waffle goes.

We are told he died of a heart attack, no doubt brought about by the sheer volume of cash being emptied into his bank account by Bristol City Council’s “strategic directors” for all the neoliberal landleeching that C&C is doing for it. Surely The Reverend Mayor could have been more considerate to the health of BCC’s favourite outsourced “emergency housing provider”, and avoided the shock that such a vast increase in his profit margins would cause him?

The BRISTOLIAN would like to remind readers of some of the qualities and contributions Mr Connolly brought to us in his long and illustrious career. Where does one start? Is it in the rip-off prices and spurious service charges he charged and his “family run-business” CONTINUES to charge BCC to house the homeless?

Is it the mothers evicted from C&C properties at Carpenters Place, Knowle West, in 2016? Is it the financial collapse of the “charity” he funded called Bristol Housing Foundation (BFH) in 2013? Or is it the ongoing sale of community space at Hamilton House on Stokes Croft by C&C to build luxury apartments?

“But we don’t stop there”, as the marketspeak on the C&C website attests, so perhaps the crowning achievement of Mr Connolly’s “strong social ethos” and will to “provide shelter for the vulnerable” had to be that North Street homeless hostel in 2016 where the basement was running with raw sewage, the bedrooms overrun with vermin, where exposed electric cables dangled, and holes in the outside wall were so big you could stick your arm through. Now that’s what you call really making a difference to people’s lives.

DISCLAIMER: In case of confusion we must establish that, despite his name, Martin Connolly bears NO relation whatsoever to James Connolly, the revolutionary socialist, trades unionist, syndicalist and Irish freedom fighter murdered by the British army in Dublin, 1916.

CUT TODAY FOR LABOUR VICTORY TOMORROW

Some excellent sleuthing by Momentum in the lead up to the Reverend’s Tory cuts budget at the end of February UNCOVERED what appeared to be an extra £9million being hosed into the council’s cash reserves for NO APPARENT REASON.

This £9million was the difference between what the council’s published financial risk assessment said was NEEDED in cash reserves and the amount of cash actually being PUT IN THERE.

But lo and behold! Just the day before the council’s budget meeting, a new risk assessment suddenly emerged, explaining the council actually needed a FURTHER £9million in cash reserves.

All very convenient, although the stench of the Reverend building a personal ELECTION WAR CHEST for 2020 at the expense of our public services now remains hanging heavily in the air.

Do look out for those Labour election treats, baubles and bribes in 2019 – 20 but try not to forget what they really cost us in terms of lost services and wrecked lives