(We might even have finished drawing the logo by then)
Bristol’s Labour council continues to impress with its militant support for the workers. A PCS Union organiser was recently THROWN OFF the council’s 100 Temple Street site by security while trying to speak with Department of Work and Pensions staff based there.
Security told the organiser that SENIOR COUNCIL BOSSES wanted him gone after they got a complaint from bosses at BRISTOL ENERGY, the caring sharing energy company costing us millions.
Seems these community-minded energy folk are actually A BUNCH OF FASCISTS who don’t like trade union organising.
It’s trebles all round for the variety of FAILING BUSINESSES run by our council. At last month’s Cabinet meeting, politicians not only agreed a further £6MILLION HANDOUT for Bristol Energy, which has now had £37.7million of our money, but decided that Bristol Holding, the parent company for Bristol Energy, Bristol Waste and their low key data gathering firm, Bristol is Open, now needs AN EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN on a cool £150k a year.
This expensive appointment is the prelude to the council’s City LEAP energy venture where public assets and infrastructure such as wind turbines, solar panels and local heat networks will be handed over to Bristol Holding, basically A PRIVATE FIRM outside any useful public oversight. The holding company will then be able to use these assets as sweeteners to attract private sector investment. A plan that has all the characteristics of yet ANOTHER COUNCIL GIVEAWAY TO THE PRIVATE sector.
The Reverend’s finance chief, Craig “Dick” Cheney, also used City LEAP as the excuse for keeping his LOSS MAKING SHAMBLES of an energy firm afloat for reasons he didn’t make very clear. Will we end up funding this LOSS-MAKING VANITY FIRM indefinitely while the private sector gives it a wide berth and cherry picks other valuable public assets for PROFIT? It was also quietly announced at the same meeting that Bristol University was pulling out of the underperforming joint venture data gathering firm Bristol is Open. Although it’s not yet clear whether the university JUMPED or were PUSHED.
How long before our council is handing any ‘smart city data’ they’ve gathered about us over to the private sector hawks that are circling?
Our old friend Old Sparky from Private Eye’s ‘Keeping The Lights On’ column cast his eye over municipal ENERGY RESELLING COMPANIES again in January. He explained that Notttingham City Council’s Robin Hood Energy would require its THIRD bailout in a year very soon.
He then observed, “the municipal energy supply model is FINANCIALLY UNVIABLE“. A message virtually everybody now gets except the Reverend Rees and his gormless sidekick, responsible for council finance, Craig “Crapita” Cheney.
Early in January, on the day Bristol City Council-owned Bristol Energy announced a further LOSS of £11.2million for 2018, Cheney cheerily announced that the company was at a “at a turning point where it can now begin to play a greater role in the city’s journey towards a CARBON NEUTRAL FUTURE.”
What a load of bollocks. How can running up a DEBT, now standing at over £30million – that will never be repaid – help our future? Carbon neutral buzzwords or not?
The Reverend and Cheney need to shut their energy business fiasco down today and apologise to the people of Bristol for wasting their money.
This story was published in our paper version earlier this month. Bristol Energy MD, Peter “High Pay” Haigh, has subsequently left the organisation as we reported yesterday. The reasons for his departure, like everything else about this shit show of a company, are shrouded in mystery.
So it’s farewell, then, to NICK JORDAN, chairman of Bristol Energy, who’s quietly sloped off somewhere or other to do something else instead and left behind a cool £30million tab for council taxpayers to pick up.
Nick has RUSHED FOR THE EXIT just behind Bristol Energy’s finance director, Laura Flowerdew and he’s replaced by Alex Wiseman, one of the few remaining directors at Bristol Energy and the owner of consultants Alex Wiseman Associates.
Meanwhile, staff at Bristol Energy tell us that the Operations Director, Dave Ford, and the Sales Director Phil Biddle were made REDUNDANT last month and they’ve not been replaced. This comes after three heads of department at the company were made redundant over the summer while others have simply DEPARTED without explanation. None have been replaced.
Bristol Energy staff tell us there is very little funding left and that they are being managed by consultants and very inexperienced managers as the whole operation winds down, apparently heading for BANKRUPTCY.
The only question seems to be when will the business go to the wall? Before the mayoral election in 2020 saving council taxpayers further DEBT. Or after the election? To improve the Reverend’s chances of re-election?
And cost the council taxpayer further millions ….
As the debt owed to council tax payers by the city council’s useless energy reselling business, BRISTOL ENERGY, tops £30 million, the stench of CRISIS at the firm settles like an early morning carcinogenic dust cloud over Avonmouth. Not least because of a wonky merry-go-round of directors bouncing in and out of the company on A MONTHLY BASIS.
In May, we reported that the Reverend’s personally appointed £1,500 a day regeneration chief, Colin “HEAD BOY” Molton had been given the nod to join Bristol Energy’s board. What exactly does moneypants Molton know about the energy reselling business, we mused at the time and the answer appears to be, er … fuck all!
As Molton RESIGNED at the end of July having served all of five months on the board and helped wave through a further council tax payer cash injection into the firm of £7 MILLION. Is this a rat leaving a sinking ship?
Following Molton out of the door, a month later in August, was the firm’s Director of Finance, LAURA FLOWERDEW. Did she jump or was she pushed? Who knows? Any information on the company we fund is cloaked in ABSOLUTE SECRECY. However, we do know she’s been replaced by an Interim Finance Director, consultant Marek “MAGIC” Majewicz. Perhaps he can make a £30 million debt to the council taxpayer disappear?
Joining Magic Majewicz on the board of the sinking ship in August was St George Labour Councillor Steve “WALLFLOWER” Pearce. A typical loud-mouth Labour Party bully with no discernible talent for anything and zero business experience.
Is Pearce the Reverend’s useful idiot who will be left at the table grinning like a fool when the whole thing finally crashes and burns?
Much fuss all round last month as the local BBC finally cottoned on to what we’ve been saying for over a year now and announced that the council’s vanity energy reselling firm, Bristol Energy, has now LOST £24MILLION with no end to the losses in sight!
The BBC even pointed out that the council’s so-called “INVESTMENT” in Bristol Energy jumped by 40 per cent in six months last year from £17million to £24million. But is it even an investment if you’re unlikely to get your money back?
Bristol City Council and Bristol Energy’s response to their loss-making disaster continues to be shrouded in “COMMERCIALLY CONFIDENTIAL” mystery. Although an UNKNOWN Bristol Energy spokesman assured the BBC that the money would be paid back “with interest”! How, we’re not told.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the city council director who set up the company, Bill “Dick” Edrich, has been quietly OUSTED as a director of Bristol Energy and replaced with the Reverend’s new golden boy, Colin “HEAD BOY” Molton of the Colin Molton Consultancy Ltd.
Head Boy, currently the very well remunerated interim Executive Director of Growth and Regeneration at the council, is the latest CHANCER to have the ear of the Reverend. He comes from a senior post at the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) and it appears he is being paid a SMALL FORTUNE in the region of £5k a week by the Reverend to get some housing developments moving in Bristol prior to the next mayoral election.
But what exactly does he know about the energy reselling business?
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.
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?