It’s quite the bromance isn’t it? Will
the lovestruck Reverend Rees ever let his wannabe property speculator FRIEND
WITH BENEFITS, city council Executive Director of Growth and Regeneration,
Colin “Head Boy” Molton, go?
Stephen “Preening” Peacock,
the replacement for the Reverend’s dubiously appointed CONSTITUTIONAL WRECK
of a £1,500 a day council exec with a taste for £200 taxi trips on us, finally
arrived at the Counts Louse on the 26 September. However, we were soon informed
that Head (Lover) Boy would NOT BE WALKING OUT on the Reverend just yet
and that the starry-eyed lovers could carry on sharing their public land
giveaway fetish, romantic Cote D’Azure mini breaks and secret trysts on the
third floor of the Council House for a while yet.
The latest excuse provided by a council
PR for the NON-EXIT of Lover Boy and his ample wage demands is that
“There will be a sensible period of handover between Colin and Stephen to
ensure a smooth transition and to maintain momentum with major projects”.
Although, the poorly briefed PR was UNABLE TO SAY when this bizarre ménage
a trois might end. How much longer will we have to pay Lover Boy £1,500 a
day for services rendered to the mayor? Days? Weeks? Months?
Rees’s new love interest, Peacock, will
have to struggle along on a wage of just £165k a year and the GOOD NEWS
is that he will also be subject to PAYE like his employees. The BAD NEWS
is that Peacock’s another South West Regional Development Agency reject with a
“huge amount of experience of economic development, major regeneration
projects, technology and the energy sector”.
Doesn’t this sound dangerously similar
to Lover Boy? Has the Reverend fallen head over heels for yet another naive
career bureaucrat with a high opinion of himself who’ll get SHAGGED
ABSOLUTELY SENSELESS when he falls prey to CORPORATE PROPERTY PIMPS
with an eye for his assets?
Locals in North Bristol have come out against The Reverend’s cabinet transport supremo, Kye “The” Dudd’s CRAZED and EXPENSIVE plan to increase the height of the damaged grade II listed Kingsweston Iron Bridge on Kingsweston Hill to stop more high vehicles crashing in to it. The Kingsweston Action Group (KWAG) is instead SUPPORTING Historic England’s SENSIBLE and considerably CHEAPER plan to install sacrificial “goalpost” height restrictors at the junctions with Shirehampton Road and Westbury Lane to the south of Kingsweston Hill, and Kings Weston Lane in the north.
The damaged bridge could then be dismantled, taken away for repair and restoration, and rebuilt back in place as it now is and at a far cheaper price than the £2MILLION estimated for The Dudd’s plan. KWAG’s advisers, Dorothea Restoration, say it would take a week to dismantle the bridge, three months to strip, repair, re-cast broken sections and repaint and then a further week to reassemble back in place. Job done! KWAG say, “We genuinely need public feedback on these proposals before we develop them into a more finished form for planning”.
Support these plans and help get the bridge back in action sooner rather than later.
Our story in BRISTOLIAN 50 about the council’s ODD ACCOUNTING and WEIRD PROPOSALS for rent hikes at St Nicholas Market created a flurry of activity suggesting that old habits are dying hard when it comes to management of our historic market.
A number of sources tell us that the market’s ‘Food Coordinator’, Lorna Knapman, described as a friend of the current interim market manager, was appointed WITHOUT ANY FORMAL RECRUITMENT PROCESS. Moreover, it seems, Ms Knapman, who has worked at the market for some years, was NOT ON THE COUNCIL PAYROLL for much of this time and instead collected her salary through a tax-efficient private company, claiming she was a contractor for the council.
This cosy tax-dodging arrangement was almost certainly CONTRARY to all known council HR policy and it’s unlikely that the council has met its obligations under so-called ‘IR35’ tax legislation by paying what is almost certainly an employee in this fashion. To add insult to injury, we’re informed that the markets coordinated by Ms Knapman “ARE DYING A DEATH“.
There’s “often only one trader for the ‘Award Winning Vegan Market’ on a Monday and traders are RAPIDLY DESERTING the popular Farmers Market,” we’re told. Meanwhile, Ms Knapman appears to have personal control of all the market’s social media accounts, which she uses to SOLELY promote her street food markets, ignoring any traders in the main market.
Presumably because they don’t matter to market bosses who have other plans for their stalls?
It looks like more problems may lie ahead for TV celeb Kevin McCloud’s HAB HOUSING COMPANY’s eco housing development at the former Dunmail School site in Southmead.
Launched in a blaze of ecstatic c-list
publicity by snooty Channel 4 property presenter McCloud alongside Mayor No
More Ferguson in 2015, they promised us the “HOUSING OF THE FUTURE“. And the future duly arrived in 2017
when Bristol City Council agreed to
BAILOUT the project by underwriting it with £500k of our money.
Now news emerges about a HAB development, ‘Lovedean Fields’ near Winchester in
Hampshire, which a local councillor has described as “RESEMBLING A BOMB SITE“. Originally marketed as “a
collection of beautiful three, four and five-bedroom homes” with facilities
including allotments, play areas, an orchard and a wildflower meadow, the
reality is turning out to be very different.
The councillor reports some of the roads on the development “DON’T HAVE THE TARMAC ON,” while completed
roads are already CRUMBLING. A
number of homes, due for completion in 2017, have “MAJOR PROBLEMS” including flooding and many are still covered in
scaffolding. As for allotments, play areas, orchards and wildflower meadows,
they’re all reported to resemble “A
This latest HAB cock-up follows press reports over the summer revealing that
small investors who sank millions of pounds into HAB – which stands for
“Happiness Architecture Beauty” – to fund bonds for this celebrity eco-housing
adventure have been told they could face LOSING
UP TO 97% OF THEIR MONEY. In September it emerged that attempts to
restructure HAB bonds had failed and the company risked being wound up or
falling into INSOLVENCY.
Quite where this leaves Bristol City
Council is anyone’s guess. But if they want their “housing of the
future” in Southmead to be habitable and have road access they may have to
fork out some large sums of money.
The ‘Permanent Energy Centre’ on Castle Park will eventually generate some of the energy for the wider ‘OLD MARKET HEAT NETWORK’. This is a plan to supply low or zero carbon heat to connected buildings around Old Market at a cost equivalent to, or lower than, mains gas. To this end the council has now agreed to spend £9.4MILLION (plus £8.8MILLION of government money) installing a heat network around the Old Market area.
However, rather than the people of Bristol and council tax payers DIRECTLY BENEFITING in lower bills from their PUBLIC INVESTMENT into CHEAP ENERGY, the council say, “these projects are important parts of the Bristol Heat Network system and will be important assets under the CITY LEAP INITIATIVE“.
In other words, once this network has been completed at PUBLIC EXPENSE, it will be FLOGGED to the private sector so that they can extract a PROFIT from the cheap, clean energy infrastructure we’ve paid for. A similar heat network at Redcliffe, directly serving SOCIAL HOUSING, has also been put up for sale to the private sector as part of the Reverend’s energy fire sale (surely the billion pound City LEAP Prospectus? Ed).
Why can’t these heating systems REMAIN IN PUBLIC HANDS to deliver any financial and social benefits directly to the Bristolians that paid for them? Why are they being SOLD, before they’re even built, to make PROFITS for a group of global shareholders? Why are Bristol Labour Party using public money to build assets that are already on the market to global corporations?
News drifts in about what’s in store for the former city council parks depot on Castle Park. At a cabinet meeting over the summer it was announced that the site would be used for … Wait for it … A MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT! Basically luxury flats and a mid-market chain restaurant, then. However, the Reverend’s Cabinet have also agreed to use the site as a ‘PERMANENT ENERGY CENTRE’. With the PR claiming that a Water Source Heat Pump “which draws waste heat from the floating harbour along with gas peak and reserve boilers” will be located there.
The reason for the sudden need for an energy centre on the site is that in December 2018 the council’s first COMMERCIAL HEAT NETWORK AGREEMENT
was finalised with Castle Park View, the 26-storey residential block
being built on the site of the old ambulance station at the edge of the
park. On paper, a Water Source Heat Pump is a good thing, providing low
cost, low carbon energy from the docks. However, The BRISTOLIAN learns, this ‘low cost’, ‘low carbon’ energy solution will not be ready in time.
Instead, “while the Permanent Energy Centre is being designed and built, heat will be provided by ‘INTERIM GAS BOILERS’, one at Castle Park Depot and the other at Gardiner Haskins car park” just a few metres from HANNAH MORE PRIMARY SCHOOL. Yes, Bristol City Council is installing highly polluting gas power plants in Castle Park and by a Primary School to provide CHEAP HEAT to a commercial development.
The council acknowledge, “this is not a low carbon solution and therefore increases the need for the Water Source Heat Pump which will ultimately replace the use of the gas boilers at Gardner Hoskins which will then be removed with gas boilers at Castle Park Depot retained as peak and reserve boilers only”.
So the long term plan is for a permanent gas boiler on Castle Park to supply cheap heat to luxury flats. Who’s up for that then?
There’s still a lot of anger in Easton as the final phase of a council traffic scheme, designed by Sustrans, is implemented with the CLOSURE of All Hallows Road at the Bannerman Road School site.
Critics of the HAREBRAINED TRANSPORT SCHEME claim that in a ward of approximately 14,000 people, just 855 people – about six per cent of residents – were involved in an expensive £180k ‘consultation’ based on hookie stats such as the claim that “39,883… vehicles enter and/or leave the area during a 24 hour period” (by comparison, 60,000 vehicles use the M32 every day). However, since NO RECORDS of this consultation were kept, the council can’t confirm that the people who took part even live in Easton and they can’t deny that the same people attended multiple consultation meetings.
The closure of All Hallows Road is especially controversial as this “additional filtered permeability” didn’t appear until the final phase of the consultation which had less than 92 participants. So, even assuming every single one of them was enthusiastic, we’re talking about LESS THAN 1% OF THE POPULATION in favour. Residents say they were never offered any different ideas or plans. There was never any vote held nor public meetings to discuss options. There was just an announcement “WE’RE CLOSING THE ROAD“. The closure has been opposed at public meetings; opposed in a resident-run survey of over 1,000 people and opposed by local businesses, faith groups and the community centre.
Residents recently fought the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to close the road and requested evidence of how the closure would achieve any of the things being claimed for it such as a REDUCTION IN TRAFFIC, CLEANER AIR and SAFER STREETS? Indeed, they asked, how would the council even measure success since they made no effort to quantify their aims, goals or success level?
A resident says, “They are literally spending money with no way to tell if it has done any good. And you know that this is the case because they have REFUSED at every opportunity to address any of our concerns. Instead, at every phase we have been told “PEOPLE WANT THIS” and “IT MEETS OUR TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES“. Who wants this? Because I can find no-one outside of a tiny group of a dozen people who actually want it. How does it meet their transport objectives? Which ones? In what way?”
Residents continue to say there is an alternative. Close the road between 8am and 9am and 3pm and 4pm. Two hours a day and open on weekends. Simple. Straightforward. Protects the children, makes the area safer at the times when it needs to be safer and doesn’t disrupt traffic into well-known accident hotspots. The council and their councillors just say, “IT’S TOO LATE“.
Disquiet over the Reverend Rees’s plans to ‘transform’ the Cumberland Basin and its aging 1960s road system into ‘Western Harbour’, a GLOBAL CITY HIGH RISE HELL, in the shadow of Clifton Suspension Bridge is growing. A ‘public engagement’ on the gruesome plan, while everyone was away on holiday in August, led to an OUTCRY after it emerged that the Reverend was consulting the public on just THREE of the ten proposals he had received from his consultants, Arup. The remaining seven proposals remain SECRET.
The three proposals the Reverend deemed suitably “transformational” all involve DEMOLISHING the existing road system to “RELEASE LAND FOR DEVELOPMENT“. All three lack detail – just pink lines on a map indicating where any new road system may go – while potentially having A HUGE IMPACT on surrounding communities and the landscape around the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Concerns are also emerging about the involvement of The ENGLISH CITIES FUND (ECF) in any plans. ECF is a joint venture between HOMES ENGLAND, LEGAL & GENERAL and MUSE DEVELOPMENTS. Which raises questions about the role and independence of the Reverend’s semi-detatched £1,500 a day regeneration chief, our old friend COLIN “Head Boy” MOLTON, who will have had a major influence on any plans.
Head Boy was chief exec at HOMES ENGLAND – when it was the Housing
and Communities Agency – until he joined Bristol City Council on a unique TAX EFFICIENT PAY ARRANGEMENT in 2017
and immediately cut a secretive, unminuted deal, on behalf of the council, with
LEGAL & GENERAL. A deal handing
these developers the land at Arena Island should the arena be cancelled.
Remarkably, this is the SECOND TIME
Head Boy has been involved in cancelling an arena at the Arena Island site as
he happened to be Executive Director of Operations & Development at the SOUTH WEST REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
(SWRDA) in 2007 when they cancelled their plans for an arena on the site that
they then owned.
Head Boy left the SWRDA in 2008 to become director at the South and South West
Region of the HCA (now HOMES ENGLAND).
By remarkable coincidence, with the winding up of the SWRDA by the Tories in
2011, the Arena Island site was transferred to the HCA. In early 2015, Molton’s
HCA, handed the site to Bristol City Council to build an arena and then Molton PITCHED UP at Bristol City Council in
2017 to work for the Reverend. He immediately set to work CANCELLING an arena and negotiating his sweetheart deal with LEGAL & GENERAL to hand them the
site for an unispiring, if highly profitable, mixed use development.
Head Boy is now being thrown out of the job he never went through a competitive
recruitment process for at Bristol City Council. But will the man, who lists
his address with Companies House as Donington Le Heath, Leicestershire,
continue to take a personal, proprietorial interest in ANOTHER VALUABLE PIECE OF PUBLIC LAND in Bristol?
During a rambling speech to long suffering parents of SEND children in June, council Education and Social Services boss, Jacqui “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” Jensen, admitted there was “A KIND OF MIX BETWEEN PARALYSIS AND PANIC” in her SEND department. A department that she was paid £150k a year to run with a kind of mix between efficiency and professionalism.
During the same speech she also made the barking mad claim that the humiliating Judicial Review she lost to SEND parents forcing her to reverse the unlawful cuts she had made in her department was, in fact, a “A TECHNICAL PIECE OF CONSULTATION“.
So what is the council’s response to this shambolic performance from their very own VILLAGE IDIOT? Er, a pay rise! At an HR Committee meeting less than a month after this exercise in absurdity by a senior council boss in front of parents, councillors agreed to accept a recommendation from Jensen’s subordinates that “the annual salary for this appointment be set at the maximum of the range for the Executive Director – People role”. The maximum range being £165k. Or a £15K PAY RISE.
What would a council
boss have to do to not get a generous pay rise?
Built in 1820, Kingsweston Iron Bridge, which takes pedestrians safely across busy Kings Weston Road, is Grade II listed and a source of pride and affection across North Bristol. It’s now been CLOSED FOR OVER THREE YEARS after a lorry hit it in November 2015. This happened immediately after a botched resurfacing job by Bristol City Council, which raised the height of the road, built on solid bedrock.
Bristol City Council finally released a bizarre plan to repair and restore the bridge in March but have now CANCELLED any works because “there’s a lot of heritage issues” according to clueless Labour transport boss, Kye “The” Dudd. This latest delay arrives after The Dudd personally fronted a madcap and expensive proposal to DISMANTLE THE BRIDGE and then attempt to raise it by a metre to stop lorries smashing into it.
A plan that The Dudd’s own impact assessment states would cause “SUBSTANTIAL HARM” to the bridge and a plan immediately rejected by Historic England, concerned that if the council dismantled the bridge it would never be put back up. “Historic England have seen other examples of structures being ‘temporarily’ dismantled for repair, only for their reinstatement to be abandoned for financial or operational reasons,” they warn. Instead Historic England say it would be cheaper and quicker to put up some SIMPLE METAL POSTS either side of the bridge to protect it from tall vehicles.
Meanwhile, exasperated residents in north Bristol have been left scratching their heads at a fiasco that’s taking longer to resolve than Brexit. They’re especially pissed off with their local councillor, our dear old friend Don “Lenin” Alexander. Promising residents he would sort their bridge out, Lenin has FARTED ABOUT FOR THREE YEARS now failing to keep any promises while assuring residents that council highways middle management clown Chris “Doolally” Dooley had the solution. The man who fucked the bridge up in the first place.
At present the only winners seem to be the scaffolding contractors, responsible for keeping our bridge up. They are now into a fourth year of easy money from the council taxpayer.