Tag Archives: Business West

LEAKED EMAIL: BUSINESS WEST BEG COUNCILLORS TO SAVE THE MAYOR!

With a vote by councillors due next week on whether to have a referendum on scrapping the elected mayor, Business West head honcho James Durie and friends have got scribbling fast:

FAO All Bristol City Councillors

Dear Councillor

I attach a letter to each of you from Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative – Business West with reference to the motion to trigger a referendum on the Democratically Elected Mayoral model for the City of Bristol at Full Council Meeting on 7th December. This is a matter of significant interest and concern for us.

Regards

James

James Durie  | Chief Executive – Bristol Chamber & West of England Initiative

Executive Director – Business West 

Dear Councillor, 

Strengthening Bristol’s Democracy  

We are writing to you about the motion to trigger a referendum on the Democratically Elected  Mayoral (DEM) model for the city of Bristol. This is a matter of significant interest and concern for us.  

The DEM model – chosen by the people of Bristol in the 2012 referendum – has enabled all voters  across the city to directly elect the leader of the city every four years. As the representatives of  business in the West of England, and also as residents of Bristol, we saw the need in 2012 to change  the governance model of the city and supported the creation of a directly elected mayor. We continue  to support this now and wish to see it strengthened.  

We are writing to each of you privately as our representatives in Bristol’s democracy to make clear  our position. We will also be contributing to the debate at the council meeting and in public.  

Background 

We believe in a strong and inclusive economy for Bristol. In 2012, Business West Chamber and Initiative supported the ‘Elected Mayor for Bristol’ referendum “Yes” campaign as we believed that a  directly elected mayor would improve decision making in the city, strengthen Bristol, and help deliver  prosperity which is essential for jobs and services and the continued sustainable growth of the city.  

Over the last 35 years we have had many strong partnerships with Bristol City Council (the  regeneration of Harbourside and Broadmead are two). However, our long experience showed us that  the system of local government in 2012 – being often short-term in outlook and delivery – was holding  the city back. We believed then, and continue to believe now, that stable leadership, which brings the  city together, is essential. The five changes of leadership in Bristol City Council we encountered in the  seven years before the referendum made stability and consistency impossible for the long-term  thinking and decision-making that cities need. It also made the case harder for investment to be made  in the city whether by national government or private.  

At present, businesses and employers are focussing on dealing with the impact of inflation, Brexit, and  trying to recover from the pandemic with major skills and supply chain shortages in what remains a  challenging, fast changing environment. And on top of these, there is the need for businesses to  contribute to decarbonisation as part of meeting the climate crisis. Many of these challenges are long term and our work to meet these will be helped by strong and accountable leadership.  Build a New Future for the DEM model 

We are supporters of the Directly Elected Mayoral model but also want to see this strengthened. We  want to see strong and effective system of local government which is best able to serve all our  communities. We need to ensure that there is consistency of leadership over each four-year period so  that critical issues of, for example, transport and land use planning can be agreed and delivered. 

The research published in the Bristol Civic Leadership project argued that: 

• The mayoral model delivers more visible leadership of the city. 

• Direct election gives the individual substantial democratic legitimacy to lead and makes mayors  more accountable. 

• Successive mayors have been effective in developing a forward-looking vision for the city. • Four-year terms provide stable leadership. 

We believe these points are critical in this debate. At the same time, we share the legitimate concerns  that the role of councillors in decision making has been restricted and that the expansive remit of the  mayor risks overloading one individual. There are other issues, too. Since Bristol adopted the DEM  model, the city and its councillors have also supported – and become part of – the West of England  Combined Authority. We believe that Bristol still needs strong leadership to enable it to operate as  the central and largest component of a city region of over 1.1m people. As national government shifts  more funding into regional authorities, we need to make sure that the leadership in the city is right to  work in the context of WECA, too.  

We want an open debate about all these points so that we can see democracy strengthened as well  as retain the leadership needed. We believe that we can find the right way to balance leadership,  accountability, and a renewed role for councillors, amongst others, to help the city move forward. We  will be contributing to The Mayor at 10 projects. In the meantime, we feel that a referendum will be  a distraction and urge that the motion be rejected in favour of a commitment by all to improve the  DEM model.  

Signed 

Jaya Chakrabarti 

President 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative 

James Durie 

Chief Executive 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative 

Director – Business West 

John Savage 

Chairman 

Bristol Chamber of Commerce  and Initiative

****It’s been brought to our attention that the letter is inaccurate. It states:

‘The five changes of leadership in Bristol City Council we encountered in the  seven years before the referendum made stability and consistency impossible for the long-term  thinking and decision-making that cities need.’

But there were only two leaders of council in the 7 years before the 2012 referendum: Barbara Janke 2003-07 and 08-12 and Helen Holland 07-08!

GREENBALLS: GUESS WHO’S SAVING THE PLANET FOR US?

To get involved in the COP26 action and talk up climate change “business opportunities”, Business West ran a conference – ‘COP26 Green Zone – The Business of Net Zero’ today. The Reverend dashed down from some dull meetings at COP 26 in Glasgow to be the keynote speaker for the business boys but look who else turned up …

Skellett CC

When not lecturing stupid wealthy old white men on how to save the planet, Skellett is Chief Exec at Wessex Water. Last year Wessex dumped 197,213 hours of raw sewage into out waterways up from 107,435 the previous year.

One reader said, “Colin’s graph shows the increases not only in crap being released in our rivers but the expected dividend payment increase for our shareholders this year.”

JET SET TROUGH JOY

JET SET TROUGH JOY

The Reverend and the corporate land sales team he’s expensively assembled continue to impressively piss public money up against the wall while the rest of us are forced to tolerate austerity because “THERE’S NO MONEY”. The latest wheeze from the Reverend and his crew is another all-expenses trip to Cannes for that annual abomination, MIPIM: “the international gathering of property sharks” (surely “property professionals”? Ed).

A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST reveals that this year’s four day jolly to the Cote D’Azure for the UNACCOUNTABLE to shift our assets to the UNPALATABLE cost council taxpayers almost £12k.

Accompanying the Reverend at our expense was our dear old friend Colin “Head Boy” Molton, the £1,500 a day regeneration boss without a proper contract of employment; Nuala “Hoop” Gallagher, Director of City Growth, Investment & Infrastructure at the council and the Reverend’s handpicked RELIGIOUS LOONEY FRIEND from his Hotwells church for evangelical nutters, Jeremy “I’m no housing expert” Sweetland, the Director of Bristol Housing Festival, keen on shoving the poor into small, airless boxes to solve “the housing crisis”.

The £12k bill this little lot landed us with included rooms for each delegate at around £800 A NIGHT for three nights and a £200 TAXI FARE to get Head Boy from Nice Airport to Cannes following his premium £900 FLIGHT from the UK. Presumably because a man as idle and important as Head Boy can’t possibly get a bus to save us some money?

At the conference the group served up top nosh, drinks and hospitality at a variety of events and receptions on behalf of some very FAMILIAR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE NAMES doing some very good business in Bristol – YTL, Skanska and Arup. Schmoozing services were also provided to local outfits such as Business West, property company Savills and the Merchant Venturer front organisation, Invest in Bath and Bristol.

And the point of all this? Who knows? Any purpose and outcome of these expensive trips is, always, shrouded in mystery and not revealed to the plebs who foot the bill.

MAYORAL ELECTION: HUSTINGS FARCE

The absolute fiasco of SECRET and CLOSED hustings featuring only carefully selected candidates from the establishment political parties continues to blight the mayoral elections.

We have already reported in The BRISTOLIAN how BUSINESS WEST invited just the Tories, Labour and George Ferguson to some very hush-hush hustings at their Leigh Court Mansion in March where, no doubt, the Merchant Venturers issued their orders to candidates.

We also reported how, at least, one hustings on housing run by crappy homeless charity, ST MUNGOS, was kept secret to keep independent candidates and their opinions out of the way and tricky questions at bay.

Now we’ve uncovered a whole series of hustings where independent candidates, UKIP and TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Colaition) have been DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED by the organisers.

Among these was a hustings instigated by the TUC at the Unite Union HQ, Tony Benn House, on Victoria Street in early April. This turned into a major humiliation for the TUC, however, when the excluded candidates organised a PROTEST outside Tony Benn House (pictured).

tu protest web

“Who made the TUC gatekeepers of democracy”

Surely this protest marks a significant NEW LOW in this city’s fine trade union tradition? And maybe it’s something the union bureaucrats and bosses responsible need to think long and hard about. Once ordinary people are protesting about you isn’t it time you carefully considered your position?

Especially after the TUC’s shitty little BIASED and MANIPULATED hustings only managed to attract about 30 people from a trade union membership in the tens of thousands in Bristol. Are these self-appointed trade union bosses in touch with anyone in the city outside their FRIENDS in the local Labour Party?

On the plus side, it seems the teachers union, the NUT, learned from the TUC’s huge EMBARRASSMENT and avoided a further HUMILIATING protest against trade unions. They hurriedly arranged invites for ALL the candidates for their hustings at Tony Benn House a few weeks later.

Not so, however, from other so-called progressive organisations in the city who seem desperate to control any political debate and EXCLUDE any troublesome views that might fall to the left of Labour’s right wing candidate Marvin “Luther” Rees.

Hustings organised by the CREATIVE YOUTH NETWORK for young people; VOSCUR for community and voluntary organisations; ACORN, the direct action tenants organisation and even hustings on disabilities organised jointly by The National Autistic Society, Royal National Institute for the Blind, Mencap and the Bristol Centre for Deaf People all EXCLUDED legitimate mayoral candidates.

In the case of the disability hustings, it’s nothing short of extraordinary that organisations supposedly dedicated to preventing exclusion should OPENLY EXCLUDE people! The other organisations involved are, mainly, thinly disguised LABOUR SUPPORTERS obviously petrified of giving a platform to any of the many left wing critics of Marvin “Luther” Rees among the mayoral candidates.

Mayor Loser’s supporters appear to have been getting in on this act too. A hustings at the Analphoney art gallery organised by the RIDICULOUS POSH BOYS running the POINTLESS Bristol Pound project also FAILED to invite most candidates because there wasn’t “enough time”. Although it looked more like a last ditch effort to keep the wheels on Mayor Massive Defeat’s car crash campaign by banning all his more open and aggressive critics.

Welcome to progressive politics in Bristol where dissent will be quietly suppressed and democracy overlooked due to time constraints.

SECRET HUSTINGS

Leigh-Court-Header2A new phenomenon is emerging at this year’s mayoral election – THE SECRET HUSTINGS. Apparently, petrified mainstream candidates, scared of the Bristolian public – and some of the other independent candidates – and the questions they might ask, are meeting carefully selected audiences at UNDISCLOSED VENUES to answer questions.

The main victims of this process – so far – have been INDEPENDENT MAYORAL CANDIDATES Christine “Pete” Townsend and Paul “Mister Tea” Savile who are deliberately NOT invited to these hustings. Coincidentally, both have been raising difficult questions for the other candidates.

Townsend has been highlighting the dubious practice of SELECTION BY WEALTH AND CLASS in Bristol’s secondary schools while Savile has been addressing issues around street homelessness, particularly the council’s REFUSAL to open any of their buildings for temporary shelter to the growing number of people living on the streets.

This situation has already created one wholesale FARCE with Savile visiting FIVE different venues in search of a SECRET HUSTINGS on housing issues. The hustings were attended by the establishment-approved candidates (George, Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Tory) and a selected audience of polite and non-troublemaking housing “professionals” and “experts”.

Savile did eventually locate the meeting and even managed to blag his way in. But how many more wankers are there in this city prepared to run fiascos like this over the next two months under the guise of democracy?

The Bristolian also learns that Mayor Venturer, Labour’s Marvin “Luther” Rees and Tory, Charles “Thicko” Lucas attended another SECRET HUSTINGS at the Business West HQ at LEIGH COURT MANSION in February.

We understand the Merchant Venturer front organisation held a 45-minute audience with each candidate who were, no doubt, GRILLED on their acceptability to the city’s SHADY BUSINESS ELITE. Luther Rees, in particular, is very tight-lipped about this secret meeting and what he’s promised them.

Let’s hope he hasn’t got one public message for us and another secret one for the wealthy elite!