Tag Archives: Bristol Energy

COUNCILLORS WANT COMPANY SECRETS

Councillors, with bugger all to do since the Reverend Rees decided he didn’t want them scrutinising his work in detail any more, are finally ASKING QUESTIONS about the council’s two companies – Bristol Energy and Bristol Waste.

Councillors from all parties have been querying whether, in legal terms, Bristol Waste – a so-called ‘TECKAL COMPANY’ that can be selected to deliver council services without going through a procurement process – should be treated in the same way as a Council directorate for audit purposes. In other words, should there be FULL PUBLIC ACCESS to the company’s income and expenditure accounts like any other council department?

The Reverend and his panicky bosses have, so far, responded by trying to SHUT COUNCILLORS UP. They claim that a secret “independent review” of the companies has required Bristol Waste to establish its own audit committee while Bristol Energy had already established an audit committee. This is enough oversight argue the Reverend’s gophers.

Councillors, however, concerned at mounting LOSSES and excessive SECRECY at the companies, are reputed to be less than happy with the Reverend’s response and his insistence on constant secrecy for his failing companies. Especially as, at present, only ONE COUNCILLOR, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, is permitted to attend Shareholder Group meetings and only as an observer.

Shareholder Group meetings are where the finances and management of these companies are discussed. But, “due to the commercial sensitivity of the matters discussed”, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is then BANNED from SHARING any information with other councillors.

Many councillors, permanently out-of-the-loop and concerned at the LOSSES and the general CONDUCT of companies they’re responsible for, are now saying that it’s “too limiting to maintain a situation whereby only one non-executive Council member is given access to information.”

How much longer can the Reverend keep his “commercially confidential” company bandwagon on the road? It increasingly looks like pressure is mounting from both the public and councillors for exactly the kind of TRANSPARENCY the Reverend promised us during his election campaign.

Watch this space.

AUDITORS SLAM ENERGY SHAMBLES

Even Bristol City Council’s own external auditors, BDO, have CONDEMNED the incompetent management of Bristol Energy, the council’s laughing stock energy reselling business that started trading in 2016 and has cost us about £25million so far.

“We have NOT seen evidence that the risks and potential financial losses of this investment were fully understood by the council when the investment was made in 2015 and 2016,” say the auditors before concluding, “Bristol Energy has NOT performed in line with its original 2015 business plan.”

This business plan, signed off by Nicki “Chocolate” Beardmore, the Reverend’s golden girl senior manager on £300k a year, said they would MAKE a 12% return on investment after 5 years and 35% after 10 years. Instead, the company reported a LOSS of £3million last year and £7million this year. With 110,000 customers and an initial investment of £15.3million by Bristol City Council, this means Bristolians have SPENT £139 for each customer and then Bristol Energy has generated a further LOSS of about £70 per customer. Top work!

BDO go on to conclude that a further hurriedly rewritten business plan in 2016, which admitted NO PROFITS were in sight, was also a lot of crap. “We have some concerns that the risks around the energy company, its governance arrangements and greater than expected losses were not understood fully by the Council in the early part of 2016/17.”

The auditors are now applauding the inevitable arrival of a team of CONSULTANTS from London to pick over the bones of this CORPSE and personally cash in on the shambles. “Independent Advisors and external consultants have been commissioned to provide advice on how the governance arrangements for the Group could be improved and financial and commercial advice to optimise value in the delivery of the Council’s investment and ensure that the Council achieves the best value for money outcome,” they claim.

When are we going to get a decent, decisive politician willing to pull the plug and shut down this miserable money pit shambles devised by idiots?

COUNCIL BASKETCASE BUSINESS NEWS

Impressive news from Bristol Energy, Bristol City Council’s basketcase electricity reselling company that LOST £3.3million last year. Well, they’ve done whole lot better this year and will soon be posting A LOSS of £7.7million! Top work and trebles all round for the stupendously well-paid bureaucratic half-wits who thought this crap up.

There is room for optimism, however. Because Bristol Energy boss, Peter “High Pay” Haigh has taken to Twitter to assure concerned Bristolians that Bristol Energy MIGHT make a profit in about four years! Quite how much we’ll lose before High Pay manages to get a small profit dribbling in to his soppy business is anybody’s guess. Although judging by current trends, High Pay’s business is easily on course to lose us around £50million by 2021.

How the Reverend Rees is funding this loss-making nonsense is something of a mystery. Although if he’s borrowing the money to keep his MUNICIPAL VANITY PROJECT afloat, then recouping the investment and covering the losses he’s run up so far will cost us around £0.4million a year in debt finance and another £1million a year to pay off the capital over ten years. That’s lots of librarians, school crossing patrols or public toilets that the cash-strapped Reverend is closing to keep Bristol Energy’s solvent.

Should, as we predict, this debt rise to in excess of £50million then it will cost us over £4million a year to service the debt and pay off the capital over 25 years. The simple fact is that if the Reverend stopped DITHERING about like the wishy-washy voluntary sector plonker he is and took the decision to DITCH this business and also cancel the Arena that will never get built, he could cancel many cuts to our services.

For fucks sake Rees, grow some balls and start taking some decisions for the benefit of the people in this city you useless twat.

WORLD OF THE USELESS UPDATE

Keith Barrow: company expert Beardmore didn’t notice he was shagging the auditor!

Congratulations to Nikki “Chocolate Fireguard” Beardmore. She’s ascended Bristol City Council’s greasy pole at remarkable speed to joins the council’s official REALM OF THE STUPID and claim a prized six-figure salary as the fancy-sounding ‘Interim Strategic Director of Resources’.

Ms Fireguard pitched up in Bristol last April as ‘Interim Commercial Director’ for the council and Bristol Holding Ltd – part of Mayor No More Ferguson and Nicola “Lady Gaga” Yates’s bizarre network of UNACCOUNTABLE and FAILING private companies set up with our cash.

Ms Fireguard’s first move was to hand £3million more of our money to the council’s energy reselling business shambles, Bristol Energy, who used it to get themselves 10,000 customers and post an immediate £3million LOSS … Charged to us!

With this success under her belt, Ms Fireguard was immediately promoted to ‘Interim Director – HR, Change, ICT, Communications & Culture’. Here, the great strategist – having overseen a RANDOM and DISORGANISED voluntary redundancy process last year (surely she “led a programme of change using a rapid redesign methodology to drive and deliver major and complex change at pace”? Ed.) – set the council on course to spend £10million this year employing 15 per cent of its workforce on expensive temporary contracts.

Now, just four months into this role, Ms Fireguard has hit the jackpot and has been PROMOTED by the Reverend’s under-powered new Chief Exec, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski, to the Counts Louse’s top table and been issued with a long spoon.

Nobody at Bristol City Council bothered to research Ms Fireguard’s CV then? Had they done so they might have noticed that she has a record of, er, APPALLING FAILURE allied to ZERO entrepreneurial skills and a wholesale INABILTY to oversee and scrutinise the work of senior colleagues!

Ms Fireguard’s previous employer was Shropshire Council where she rose to the giddy heights of Director of Resources & Support in 2013. She then got a taste of the really big time in December 2014 when she was also appointed Chief Operations Officer of ip&e, a wholly owned council company notorious locally for continually LOSING MONEY, disliking disclosing information to councillors and the public and trying to UNLAWFULLY DODGE FoI requests!

Somehow things managed to take a TURN FOR THE WORSE on Ms Fireguard’s watch, however, when Shropshire’s council leader Keith Barrow hurriedly resigned as chairman of the board of ip&e in September 2015 after a conflict of interest SCANDAL. Apparently the dubious Tory twit was in a “personal relationship” with one of the auditors he had appointed to ip&e in 2012!

Is this not something a competent ‘leader’ might have noticed while a senior boss at an organisation for all those years? Apparently not. Instead Ms Fireguard sloped off in DISGRACE from Shropshire in December 2015 to enter the world of local government consultancy. Three months later she popped up in Bristol as an expert in local authority trading companies!

Last spring, with the ink still drying on Ms Fireguard’s lucrative consultancy contract in Bristol, ip&e was wound-up in Shropshire as an EMBARRASSING FAILURE. Although we understand there’s an ongoing fraud case at Shrewsbury Crown Court relating to the company and FALSIFIED INVOICES. Another unfortunate incident their expert Chief Operations Officer managed to miss!

To add to the sense of absolute farce surrounding this latest appointment to a senior post in our city, oddly – for someone employed to sort out a crisis hit FINANCE DEPARTMENT – Ms Fireguard is qualified in, er, MARKETING!

Don’t believe the Reverend’s bullshit, hype and spin. The pieces are already falling into place for yet another Bristol City Council financial scandal within the next few years

LABOUR TIP MONEY INTO ENERGY BLACK HOLE

Our favourite proposed Bristol City Council budget amendment came courtesy of Tory councillor, Graham Morris “Minor”. “Reduce investment in Energy Company,” by £250k he cooed and use the money to “resolve the perennial flooding problem of Scotland Lane.”

The road in Brislington has been closed for months and Morris claims that there’s a “£30k cost to the Council of closing, cleaning and reopening this important transport route” every time it floods. So far, so Tory. But it was council finance officers’ response to this that was the real eye-opener. “It is not clear how this would affect the company,” they explained.

Excuse me? We’ve invested millions in an energy reselling company – Bristol Energy – and nobody at the council has the foggiest idea what affect this money has had? Apparently not a problem for the Bristol Labour Group who still voted Minor’s amendment down.

Better money’s tipped into a murky black hole for PR purposes than solving an actual problem in the city then?

COUNCIL ENERGY FIRM ABOUT TO BELLYFLOP?

The smell of FAILURE hangs heavy in the air around BRISTOL ENERGY, Bristol City Council’s energy reselling business set-up at great expense with public money.

Despite the council’s best efforts to keep the financial performance of the year old company TOP SECRET, it’s widely known that the company’s original business plan has FAILED.

“The energy market is showing significant price volatility,” is the current form of words being deployed by council bosses for this deplorable state of affairs. While, behind CLOSED DOORS, large sums of our money are being conjured up and another business plan hastily cobbled together by a secret committee, safely hidden away from anyone who might call it like it really is.

We also understand that council bosses have been FORCED to set up an Audit and Remuneration Committee for the firm. Although many might say this kind of basic financial oversight committee should have been in place before the company began trading.

Strenuous efforts are also being made by the Mayor’s office to avoid consolidating the company accounts into the Council’s accounts for 2016/17. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the council, it’s standard accounting practice that their wholly-owned energy company’s accounts are PUBLISHED alongside the council’s in its annual reports. Hardly ideal if you’re trying to hide losses into six or, even, seven figures from the public!

Meanwhile, the architect of this UNDERPERFORMING SHAMBLES, council Service Manager, Bill Edrich, has been instructed by the Rev Rees to ensure an “orderly exit strategy” forms part of the company’s new business plan.

Watch this space.

ENERGY COMPANY TO BELLYFLOP?

BE2Are there more tough times ahead for Bristol City Council’s LOSS-MAKING electricity reselling business, BRISTOL ENERGY?

The private company, funded from our council tax, has already posted a £3M LOSS this year it doesn’t want you to know about. Meanwhile, total investment in the firm by Bristol City Council, although a closely guarded secret, is believed to top £9M. So will Bristol City Council ever see a return on this huge investment of our money?

Ovo is another local energy reseller that’s been running since 2009 and its business model is virtually identical to Bristol Energy’s. They both buy power wholesale off the ‘big six’ power companies who generate it and then try to sell it retail to customers for a profit. Ovo have just announced a £35M LOSS based on 400,000 CUSTOMERS. Bristol Energy has 80,000 CUSTOMERS.

Bristol Energy and Ovo both have the same problem: the cost of obtaining new customers. If you take apart the scant information available about Bristol Energy (their business plan is a closely guarded secret), it may well be COSTING THEM MORE to get customers than they will ever make in PROFIT from them in this low margin business.

Bristol Energy boss, Peter “HIGH PAY” Haigh pockets a six-figure salary for his troubles while claiming he will start making profits when Bristol Energy has “a large enough volume of customers”. However, Ovo with FIVE TIMES as many customers continues to run at a HUGE LOSS. What can Peter High Pay do that’s different?

But why should High Pay give a toss? He tops up his paltry six-figure salary from the council taxpayer with a LUCRATIVE DIRECTORSHIP at Energy Market Risk Ltd, consultants to the energy industry. Does Bristol Energy have a hope with High Pay at the helm? Does he even care while he’s spending other people’s money and significantly expanding his personal bank balance?

And why has Bristol City Council earmarked £7.5m of their capital funds to run this profitable ‘business’ over the next couple of years while they cut our public services?

ARE THEY PULLING OUR LEGACY?

“The establishment of the council’s energy company – Bristol Energy – will be one of the landmark achievements of Bristol’s year as Green Capital and one of its most significant legacies and that’s been recognised from way beyond Bristol,” blustered MAYOR NO-LONGER, George Ferguson, to any media that would listen in July 2015.

Although a somewhat lower key PR approach has been taken by Bristol City Council to the news this July that Bristol Energy – their wholly owned landmark achievement company – has made a LOSS of £3m already!

What a legacy! And you, dear taxpayer, will – of course – foot the bill.