Tag Archives: Cabinet

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #2: IS IT RACIST?

HR meeting
The great white masters decide the fate of the black workers

The transfer of Bristol City Council’s lowest paid staff in security and cleaning to Bristol Waste to save the authority a few quid and prop up their cash-strapped waste company looks racist.

 One thing left unexplored by the council’s HR Committee last Thursday was the fact that, at least, 34 per cent of the staff involved are black and many have English as a second language. Although that’s not the full picture as ethnic data on this section of the council’s workforce is incomplete.

 Many observers see this as a text book case of institutional racism as well-paid white male bosses assure councillors that these voiceless staff are happy to be transferred over to Bristol Waste on poorer terms and conditions than the ones the bosses will continue to enjoy.

 Director of Workforce John “Bedwetter” Walsh – who gets by on £122,475 a year plus £20,835 pension contributions – didn’t mention to the HR meeting the make-up of this section of his workforce. Was he embarrassed to admit that he’s forcing one of the lowest paid sections of his workforce with one of the highest numbers of black employees on to second class terms and conditions?

 An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been produced for a Cabinet meeting on Thursday and it confirms that 34 per cent of this workforce is black as well as showing that data on ethnicity for this section of the workforce is incomplete. The assessment also contains plenty of weasel words that try to excuse management.

 For example, it claims any ‘potentially adverse impacts on people with protected characteristics’ are ‘indirect’. As if poorer terms and conditions do not directly affect those concerned? The EqIA also claims, ‘contractual terms and conditions (including pay and pension) are protected in law, and it would be unlawful for the new employer to seek to change these for any reason connected with the transfer.’

 Then comes the caveat, ‘unless they have a justifiable Economic, Technological or Organisational Reason for doing so’. In other words, Bristol Waste have loopholes on hand to set about attacking these workers’ terms and conditions from the day one.

 The assessment also explains that ‘Non-contractual elements – such as HR policies – would change to those of the new employer, which may be more or less generous than those currently in place’. Why so coy over whether these conditions are more or less generous? The council know. It’s a simple exercise for HR bosses to read Bristol Waste’s HR policies and compare them to their own. Why hasn’t this been done?

 On the question of whether these workers’ existing HR terms and conditions will be protected, we’re told ‘BCC and BWC may secure greater protection of noncontractual terms, subject to this being affordable within the overall business case for the proposal’. In other words, terms and conditions will be traded away on the basis of a mysterious business case that hasn’t been published.

 Last year the council published a worthy ‘Transforming race and equality at BCC’ document to help them tackle their ongoing problems with institutional racism. The report’s recommendations under the heading  ‘Corporate Leadership’ addressing Equality Impact Assessments say, ‘In the event of there being likely disproportionalities in relation to BAME staff, a corporately agreed mechanism should be established to explore the reasons; and to determine whether there may be ways of mitigating against this.’

So where’s Bedwetter’s corporately agreed mechanism exploring the reasons why black staff are being disproportionately affected by an outsourcing plan that’s attempting to save a few quid at the expense of workers’ dignity?

HOUSING CZAR ABDICATES

smith
Wolfie: in the news

The Reverend Rees’s highly regarded Cabinet Member for Housing has sensationally QUIT the council. Paul “Wolfie” Smith resigned from Rees’s cabinet on Tuesday and also QUIT as a councillor to take up a lucrative £90k (plus bonus) a year position as Chief Exec at Elim Housing Association. The resignation leaves the Reverend without a majority at Bristol City Council. 

According to social media, Wolfie was a great champion of social housing and has had some success over the last few years getting homes built and tackling homelessness. However, over the last year some increasingly erratic policies have emerged from Wolfie’s housing department where Jez Sweetland, who runs the Bristol Housing Festival and happens to be a prominent member of the Reverend’s Church at the Hope Chapel, Howells has become increasingly influential.

Harebrained initiatives emerging from Sweetland have included a plan to build 173 IKEA chipboard homes on the verge of the A4174 Airport Road and another madcap idea to build ‘Hope Rise’. Tiny modular flats for young people over the car park at St George Park. This week the council even started a queue jumping ‘super tenancy’ opportunity for these properties, directly offering a shared council home to applicants in exchange for voluntary work with vulnerable young people. A plan that is unlikely to comply with law.

Wolfie’s department also announced their intention last month to create the slums of the future. They will house 200 homeless people and families in the shoddily converted Parkview office complex in Hartcliffe. Homes that do not meet national space standards. The owner of the flats, Caridon, are also one of the country’s most notorious slum landlords.

Has Wolfie thrown in the towel? Has he quit while he was ahead? But how ahead was he anyway? Despite all the promises of council housing from the Rees administration and Wolfie’s regular assurances that his projections to meet a manifesto promise of 2,500 homes, 500 affordable, a year were ‘on target’, the stats say something quite different. In March 2016, there were 27,402 council homes in Bristol. By March 2020 there were 26,833. A net reduction of 469 council homes. 

Of course, Wolfie can’t be held to blame for the Tory ‘Right to Buy’ policy, which has led to this reduction in council homes. But he can be blamed for spending four years delivering half-arsed market solutions and supporting timid private sector responses to the city’s housing crisis. These solutions have simply failed to deliver and were never going to deliver the quantity of council homes required to turn around a housing crisis. 

Wolfie can also be blamed for entertaining Sweetland and his weirdo ideas for the last few years. The evangelical nutter is now left free to dominate the show with his Victorian Christian charity message and fill the city up with his cheap shit housing for the poor and vulnerable.

Are we in more of a housing mess than when Wolfie started? 

CARIDON IMPERIAL DEATH STAR ENTERS PARKVIEW ORBIT

Parkview-Bristol-1-1

On September 1, Bristol City Council’s Mayoral Executive will ram through a package to house many of Bristol’s homeless currently sheltered from Covid-19 in a series of inner-city hotels. They will be sent to a large office-to-housing development at Parkview (formerly the offices of Bristol City Council) off Whitchurch Lane in South Bristol.

These homeless, and any new homeless, are to be given places in 200+ alleged ‘flats’ in a converted office building at Parkview. Run by Caridon, a Croydon-based property company who will PROFIT from this scheme, it will be be known as ‘IMPERIAL APARTMENTS’.

Planning restrictions for an ‘office-into-home conversion’ do not hold the same weight as in residential properties, however. For example, they do not have to conform to normal health and safety regulations and cupboards or storage spaces can be turned into squeezed/minimal size ‘flats’ that do not even have a window.

Companies like Caridon – see this BBC investigation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT0pXJ8L_2g – specialise in EXPLOITING a new housing market devised by councils desperate for cheap housing in an ongoing housing crisis.

And who will deliver Caridon’s profits for their imperialist dream of providing’ sub-standard ‘accommodation’? The answer is of course the Bristol taxpayer, signed off by The Mayor and his Council Executive cronies at College Green on September 1. BCC will also offer Caridon the rent IN FULL as demanded by its Director Mario ‘Darth Vader’ Carrozzo, regardless of whether the residents can pay or not.

The flats run by Darth Vader’s Evil Caridon Empire will house the homeless, single parents, victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill, probationers etc; all together in one big happy family. Take a look at this Panorama documentary to see how well a very similar project, once again run by Caridon, worked out in Harlow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAuilFQYHKc 

BCC appear to have told Caridon to keep mum about their Bristol adventure in light of this bad publicity, as the Caridon currently provide no relevant information or links on their website.

ONE RULE FOR THEM …

Dim Labour cabinet member for women, children and young people, Councillor Helen “Oh My” Godwin has come up with an INTERESTING WHEEZE.

She’s demanding a new maternity leave policy from the council, which would mean that councillors have BETTER maternity benefits and pay than their council employee plebs. This is the same Oh My Godwin who told Full Council in 2016 that she wouldn’t support a cost of living increase in councillor expenses while people were LOSING THEIR JOBS!

No doubt it’s just a coincidence that her friend and Labour cabinet colleague Nicola “La La” Beech is just about to pop off and have a sprog? And if the new rules are passed then La La would be entitled to these ENHANCED maternity benefits through her £40k a year councillors wedge.

Isn’t it nice to see senior Labour councillors looking after themselves so well?

ARENA: LEGAL ADVICE BOMBSHELL

A friend of The BRISTOLIAN, who has had sight of the highly CONFIDENTIAL legal advice produced by Bristol City Council for the mayor regarding Tuesday’s arena decision, has been in touch.

This legal advice, which has only been made available to the MAYOR, his supine LABOUR CABINET and a small group of councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission, has been kept well away from us plebs.

And for good reason. The Reverend’s own legal team inform him that Bristol City Council would only have “50:50” chance of winning a legal action if the current arena contractors for Temple Meads pursue Bristol City Council in the courts for abandoning the project.

The likely financial risk to the council is in in the TENS OF MILLIONS the report says.  Further advice clearly says that the council should engage with the Temple Meads contractors to seek to reduce the RISK OF LEGAL ACTION before publicly announcing any decision not to proceed with the arena.

Will we get another fudged decision from the Reverend on Tuesday or will he brazenly embark on a course of action helpful to his new Malaysian corporate friends likely to cost us tens of millions in the courts?

RESHUFFLE KERFUFFLE

Bizarre Cabinet reshuffle from the Reverend Rees last month. The highlight of which was a BLATANT LEAK to the press of his decision to fire his Labour rival for Mayor and transport chief Mark “LAME DUCK” Bradshaw days before the official announcement.

Quite what the Reverend and his PR point man Kevin “Don’t mention the private school education” Slocombe thought they might achieve by publicly firing Bradshaw is anyone’s guess. Maybe it boosted the pair’s FRAGILE EGOS and helped them feel like they were actually in charge of something?

The Reverend also took the opportunity to PROMOTE his close friend, hapless incompetent Asher “The Slasher” Craig, to Deputy Mayor alongside yes-man Craig “Crapita” Cheney, the cabinet’s overpromoted finance man.

Slasher’s promotion came just days before another LEAK to the press appeared. This one claiming Close-It’s enormous £5k council tax DEBT, run up over a number of years and still outstanding when she was elected councillor last May and promoted to Cabinet in the autumn, was paid off by the local Labour Party!

The LEGALITY of any of Slasher’s financial decisions while having an undeclared debt with the council is being carefully studied. As is her new portfolio extended to include public health and public transport alongside her existing and disastrous responsibilities for demolished kids’ playgrounds, collapsing Neighbourhood Partnerships, underfunded leisure centres, closing libraries, decaying community assets and up-for-sale parks.

“Even those on the right wing of the Bristol Labour Party think she’s A TORY!” is how one insider described Slasher to us recently.

Meanwhile, the Reverend is taking on PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for the ongoing Arena non-appearance project and for elements of the TRANSPORT brief, particularly congestion. Effectively splitting responsibility for the city’s difficult and badly managed transport brief between himself and useless Asher the Slasher. Of course, neither have any EXPERIENCE whatsoever of transport.

The Reverend and  Kevin “Don’t mention the private school education” Slocombe are desperately touting this reshuffle as a “CONSOLIDATION OF POWER“. However, the press leaks; the Reverend’s new responsibility for two poisoned chalices and the promotion of an idiot – Asher the Slasher – look more like an administration UNRAVELLING.

There may be trouble ahead …

BUNDRED: GRAMMAR CLASS

OK. Here’s the Reverend’s new Chief Executive, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski’s long-awaited ‘Response to the Bundred Review’ going to cabinet next week.

The Bundred Review, you may recall, discovered that Bristol City Council was a financial basketcase where senior managers were running amok committing a variety of offences in order to massage our council’s accounts for their own benefit.

Many of us have been hotly anticipating clear and bold action from the Reverend and his well remunerated sidekick, Ms Big Wedge, to clear up this fiasco and nail the culprits once and for all. Alas, it looks like we may be disappointed.

One of Bundred’s many recommendations raised by Ms Big Wedge in her new report is:

“The Council should take steps to build on recent improvements in the quality of reporting and document management. Where necessary guidance should be issued, or training provided, to report authors emphasising the importance of clarity, transparency, analysis and advice (paragraph 121).”

Another is:

“Members should be less tolerant of poor quality reports than they appear to have been in the past (paragraph 120).”

OK then. Who’s gonna tell Ms Big Wedge the standard of English, grammar and syntax in her report is simply not good enough? Here’s a few random examples from the first two pages:

“To ensure that cross directorate saving proposal [sic] or proposals that covered [sic] more than one Directorate are achieved, each savings proposal has been allocated a named Strategic and Service Director lead as accountable officers.”

And:

“Further consultation will be required in respect of some areas of savings proposals and will commence when the General Elections [is there more than one?] have concluded. This has required Officers to consider further mitigations to assure delivery of the budgets in these unusual circumstances.”

And:

“In addition, Directorates will be challenged to explore alternative options for meeting the cost pressures faced within their existing resources or seek supplementary estimate [sic] to increase the directorate spending limit.”

And:

“This has now been put into implementation [sic] and should ensure there is a shared understanding and approach to council processes across the organisation that supports all Members.”

For fucks sake, “Put into implementation”? Isn’t there a word for that – ‘implemented’? Have the Reverend, Big Wedge or the council never heard of proofreading?

Meanwhile moving on to the subject of ‘clarity’. Try some of these for size:

“We have also reviewed, aligned and combined the monthly mechanisms for managers and their Service/Strategic directors to submit a holistic view of savings delivery from a financial and action focussed perspective.”

If anyone has the foggiest idea what Service/Strategic directors will be physically submitting and to who, please get in touch.

Or try this nightmare piece of prose from the depths of hell:

“Member oversight is a new element of this governance process that now includes a Delivery Executive. This involves attendance by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor (Finance, Governance and Performance) who is the chair of the new Delivery Executive. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the savings proposals, delivery and implementation and provides an additional challenge, enables further investigation of the detail, reviews any mitigating actions and provides a formal feedback loop to Cabinet with an overview of progress on savings delivery. Relevant Portfolio holders also attend these sessions, providing joint ownership and accountability for savings by both members and officers.”

This seems to be suggesting “member (ie, councillor) oversight” will be a matter for a “Delivery Executive”, which includes only one member out of 70 – the Deputy Mayor – plus possibly “relevant portfolio holders”. This meeting will then provide a “formal feedback loop”  to Cabinet members (although in order to be a “formal feedback loop” wouldn’t it have to return to the Delivery Executive where it came from?)

So Big Wedge’s “member oversight” stretches to around nine cabinet members if we’re generous and include those in her new-style “formal feedback loop”. The other 62 normal councillors who aren’t in the executive can presumably fuck off then?

Now try this bollocks for size:

“A one-off investment fund has been allocated to support savings related change activity across the council, this also includes funding a proportion of the change resource within the council. The resource is limited, making the threshold for allocation of this resource high, therefore promoting local ownership of service change and savings delivery, whilst mitigating against increased savings targets in future years for replenishment once this resource is fully used.”

We’ve no idea either. And what’s “mitigating against” all about? Meaning is so lost in there that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a straightforward error mistaking ‘mitigating’ for ‘militating’ or whether it’s the tautology ‘mitigating against’.

And finally (as we can’t stand any more of this half-arsed meaningless drivel):

“To ensure the achievement of long term improvements in the function, it will be necessary to take an end-to-end approach, combination of top down and bottom up initiatives, take along those involved in the execution of the operations; optimise the finance functions by removing waste and re-focus on core and value add activities.”

Excellent use of cliché, ambiguity and vague platitudes that could mean anything from Ms Big Wedge here.

Wouldn’t it all be so much simpler and provide a helluva lot more ‘clarity’ if she just fired the arseholes who fucked up the accounts in the first place and instead employed some people who can write reports competently in plain English and implement the proposed plans?

Bundred Response Recommendations FINAL-2

RAT AND SHIP UPDATE

MAX WIDE ‘BOY’ - There'll be hell toupee with him in charge...

MAX WIDE ‘BOY’ – Hell toupee when we see what he’s done …

So it’s farewell, then, to Max Wide “Boy”, the city council’s Business Change boss who leaves the organisation at the end of May after two years of hard graft SACKING PEOPLE in return for over £250k! What a deal that’s been for the city.

Former BT salesman, Wide Boy, arrived at the council just two years ago on a £130k a year wedge after a stint controversially PRIVATISING SERVICES in Barnet. His remit in Bristol was to deliver £64m of cuts by 2017.

His final report to the city’s cabinet suggests he’s actually delivered about £33m of these cuts by FIRING around 500 council staff and a further £18m may get delivered if his ‘EFFICIENCY SAVINGS’ pan out as planned. Meanwhile the £12.9m in cuts still outstanding will need to be found by a further 450 REDUNDANCIES according to the cabinet report Wide Boy published shortly before scarpering.

So well done Mayor Fucking Useless and Bristol City Council. You’ve paid someone a quarter of million pounds to sack a 1,000 people and run away before the disastrous results of this policy become clear.

MORE COUNCIL CUTS COMING?

MORE CUTS COMING? web

Sneaked in to the last Cabinet Meeting before the mayoral election was a paper harmlessly entitled ‘Change Board 6 Monthly Monitoring Report’, which just happened to drop in the fact that the council needs to make another £12.9m of CUTS by next April.

The paper meanders over twelve pages, explaining that £33m ‘savings’ have been made and another £18m are in the pipeline before dropping in that “the majority of THE REMAINING £12.9M SAVINGS ARE YET TO BE FORMALLY IDENTIFIED”! It then drifts on to explain that further cuts of £75.3m will be required 2017 – 2020.

But how exactly are these ‘savings’ of £12.9m over the next year going to be made? The main report itself forgets to say. However, on the very last page of the report under the final heading ‘HUMAN RESOURCES IMPLICATIONS’, it says:

“The progress set out in this paper is in line with the Section 188 notice issued in November 2013 … At that time it was estimated that there would be a potential reduction of 971 employees during the three financial years covered bythe MTFS … The organisation restructure that took place during the 2014/15 financial year resulted in workforce reductions of 523 FTE.

“Where further workforce reductions are required we will seek to reach agreement with the recognised Trade Unions on how to mitigate the need to make any further compulsory redundancies.”

No doubt, ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY, if you multiply the remaining redundancies available under this three year old notice (448) by an average wage cost at the council (£30,000) you come up with a figure not unadjacent to £12.9m!

With the mayoral election now really taking off, it will be interesting to see how many of the candidates will be committing to these LUDICROUS REDUNDANCIES and how many won’t. It’ll also be interesting to find out how any candidate rejecting these redundancies intends to make these cuts.

Staff at the council, meanwhile, are FLABBERGASTED that their bosses are proposing more redundancies. “The whole place is already overworked, understaffed and in meltdown, “ a worker told The BRISTOLIAN.

“If you want evidence just try phoning us up or accessing any service. It’s an ABSOLUTE FARCE, the public are simply ignored these days as a distraction.

“There’s no staff left to do anything already. Workloads are huge and unmanageable. More staffing cuts are impossible to make. Any incoming mayor who tries more cuts risks CRITICAL DAMAGE to already overstretched services.”

Over to you then mayoral candidates …

 

LAUGHABLE TAKEDOWN NOTICE FROM INCOMPETENT COUNCIL LAWYERS

We just got this off some third rate interim council lawyer, presumably just out of college?

Disclosure of Exempt information
Sanjay Prashar <sanjay.prashar@bristol.gov.uk> 5 November 2014 17:55
To: “Bristoliannews@gmail.com” <Bristoliannews@gmail.com>
Cc: Shahzia Daya <shahzia.daya@bristol.gov.uk>

Dear Sirs,

You have recently published an extract from a report to Bristol City Council’s Cabinet concerning AVTM/Metrobus.

The part of the report you have published is not for publication by virtue of paragraph of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006). This is because the information contained therein is information relating to the financial or business affairs of a particular person (including the authority holding the information) ie it is commercially sensitive information relating to the value of a contract yet to be awarded.

In the circumstances, publication of this information seriously jeopardises the project and the Council’s ability to deal with this matter in the best interests of the people of Bristol.

You are therefore required to remove this document immediately.

Failure to do so may necessitate the Council in having to take further legal proceedings.

To confirm, once the contract has been awarded then information that will assist the public in understanding the decision making process, will be published.

I do hope that you can understand why this information should not be in the public domain at this particular time and will assist us by removing it immediately. Please confirm by return that you will be doing this.

Yours faithfully

Sanjay Prashar
Interim Service Director Legal and Democratic Services
Bristol City Council
Parkview Office Campus
c/o City Hall
College Green
Bristol BS1 5TR
DX: 7827 Bristol
Tel: 0117 92 22839
Mobile: 07775227302
E mail: Sanjay.Prashar@bristol.gov.uk

Here’s our response:

The Bristolian . <bristoliannews@googlemail.com> 5 November 2014 21:47
To: Sanjay Prashar <sanjay.prashar@bristol.gov.uk>
Cc: “Bristoliannews@gmail.com” <Bristoliannews@gmail.com>, Shahzia Daya <shahzia.daya@bristol.gov.uk>

Hi Sanjay,

Could you confirm on what basis you will be taking your “further legal proceedings” please?

Obviously it is not by virtue of paragraph of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006) since this is NOT a gagging or confidentiality clause and it does not prohibit us disclosing information in the way you appear to be claiming.

Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006) is an exemption clause that simply allows the authority not to disclose the information as required under Part VA of the LGA 1972.

What’s that to do with us?

We look forward to your response.

Toodle pip!

And, er, here’s the dickhead lawyer not understanding how to use email and admitting he has to get his boss to write his letters for him!

Re: Disclosure of Exempt information
Sanjay Prashar <sanjay.prashar@bristol.gov.uk> 5 November 2014 21:58
To: “Bristoliannews@gmail.com” <Bristoliannews@gmail.com>
Cc: Shahzia Daya <shahzia.daya@bristol.gov.uk>

Who is this joker!
Shahzia-Could you draft a response for me to send please. I suspect it won’t make an iota of difference unless we can identify the perpetrators and take them to court.
Thanks
Sanjay

And Sanjay will be taking us to court for what exactly? We await the reply with interest …

***CORRECTION***

After further research it appears that Sanjay Prashar is the Service Director (and monitoring officer!) for Bristol City Council Legal Services and therefore the unfortunate Shahzia Daya’s boss. Yes, this is the oaf now in charge who replaces Liam “Malfoy” Nevin. Perhaps he should focus a little more on making sure the council’s delegated planning decisions are constitutional and a little less time making a fool of himself with crap threats?