Despite a promise to let councillors know, after a scrutiny meeting in June, senior council boss Stephen “Weak Man” Peacock has still failed to explain what a payment of £1.2m to Bristol Energy from his City Leap procurement fund was actually for.
The City Leap money was signed over to Bristol Energy by the council’s Section 151 Officer under the heading ‘Innovation Services’ in January 2020. At the precise time the failed council energy reseller had a cashflow crisis.
The Bristolian has obtained a copy of the contract between the city council and Bristol Energy for the £1.2m. It has an appendix where ‘Services Supplied’ should be listed but the page is blank.
To the untrained eye, this £1.2m, paid in an emergency to a collapsing firm, has all the characteristics of a public money ‘bung’ designed to keep a bellyflopping company afloat prior to an election later in the year. An election that, subsequently, never happened due to Covid.
Meanwhile, Weak Man, despite being unable to explain to councillors or the public what he spent £1.2m of public money on, has been promoted and given a pay rise! Now that Chief Exec Billie Jean Jackson has done Bristol a favour and fucked off to London, his interim replacement is … the inexperienced and underqualified Weak Man!
Is Weak Man being rewarded by Rees for bent payments rendered?
It’s getting murkier and murkier at Stepping Up, Asher “The Slasher” Craig and the Reverend’s scheme to promote more black people into management at the council.
The council-run project, run by generously remunerated Christine “Wonky” Bamford, paid through a Byzantine tax efficient route involving a procurement firm and a recruitment agency, has been quietly outsourced since March 2022 to Stepping Up Leadership CIC. A new firm that conveniently shares an address with genuine council firm, Bristol Waste.
The new company has two directors, “Wonky” Bamford and Asher the Slasher. The Slasher, as a member of the cabinet, has, therefore, effectively outsourced a council service to her own company with zero democratic oversight.
Instead, Bristol City Council’s departed Chief Chump, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson has personally signed off all the arrangements relating to Stepping Up for Slasher since the project’s inception.
Procurement information at the council reveals that Jacko has arranged no framework, no tender, and no competition for Stepping Up’s transfer out of the council “for technical reasons”. Instead, Jacko appears just to have let Slasher grab a council funded project and then procured its services back from her for a fee!
Since being called out on Twitter over the summer about this personal financial arrangement with council resources, the Slasher has, after calling her critics “Karens”, ceased any ‘significant control’ in the firm for now.
Even so, what a totally bent way for a council, its chief executive and a cabinet member to be carrying on with public assets.
“A cowardly power play against a random council estate mum”
SEND spy victim Jen Smith made a statement today to Bristol City Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board. As she finished she looked the council’s new underqualified and over-promoted chief exec, Stephen “Preening” Peacock in the eye, the statement speaks for itself:
Will Peacock manage to get a grip on an issue that his predecessor Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson failed to? Or will our latest Chief Executive chump let the SEND spying issue spiral further out of the control of the council?
Is he just another useless senior council boss: all fat wallet and no morals?
So it’s farewell, then, to Bristol City Council Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson. He’s off to the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond upon Thames to become their joint chief exec trousering £300k pa, the largest local authority salary in the country.
And what a legacy he leaves behind. £60m pissed up the wall on Bristol Energy; a £50m overspend on the Colston Hall; censures from the ombudsman for not bothering to reply to correspondence; a SEND service OFSTED say parents have lost trust in and a gobsmacking unlawful spying operation of parents with SEND children. Lucky old London managing to headhunt this useless money wasting fucker.
Before he left, Billie Jean delivered to indifferent staff the benefit of his wisdom. “I’m an economist by training,” he chuntered, “and specialised in economic geography. I started my local government career as an economic development officer in Birmingham. I’m fascinated by places – what makes the character of a place, why some places succeed economically and others struggle. And most importantly, trying to work out how best to improve the life chances of people who live in that place.”
Well, we’re no economists Mike, but we reckon that some places succeed because you spend £100m on a concert hall at the drop of a hat for them while other places that are far poorer get fuck all. If you want to improve the life chances of people who live in that poor place spend the £100m there you thick twat.
Inactive “activists” and non-campaigning “campaigners” star in desperately shite sham report that council’s top lawyer is pretending isn’t anything to do with him
A little late but, as promised by outgoing Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson, Bristol City Council has published a heavily redacted ‘fact-finding’ report into their SEND spying scandal.
This is the scandal of senior education bosses casually obtaining personal information from the internet, including wedding photos, on parents with SEND children. With no regard for the law, this personal information was then gleefully shared among City Hall bosses and third party organisations to undermine the local Parent Carer Forum and the parents it supports.
The education bosses even appear to have attempted a spot of what’s popularly called “doxxing” by obtaining what they considered identifying information from the internet on parents and then outing them to third parties.
Luckily for the officers involved in this potentially unlawful conduct, their names have been redacted in the report. However, in order not to protect the guilty and help you avoid some massive tossers, we’re happy to name some of the key arseholes in the council’s senior education team involved in the spy operation: Alison “Purvey” Hurley, Director of Education; Vikki Jervis, Principle Education Psychologist; Virginia Roberts, WSOA/SEND consultant; Gale Rogers, Head of Children’s Commissioning; Jess Baugh, Commissioning Manager.
A number of unnamed individuals in the council’s external comms team, managed by failed journalist Saskia “Hindley” Koynenburg were also involved. Information on these individuals welcome. Why should they be allowed to skulk in the shadows and fuck with us?
The report, itself, is a grim farrago of half-arsed backside covering attributed to Bristol City Council’s “Legal Services”. Largely because legal boss “L’il” Tim O’Gara may not want his name anywhere near such a political document that may cost some of the idiots involved their jobs.
O’Gara’s report is just ten slim pages. Eight of which are wholly irrelevant and dedicated to a nakedly political and obsessive attack on the Bristol Parent Carer Forum (BPC), which two parents at the centre of the scandal are involved with. The council’s main angle on the pair is that they were “activists” and “campaigners” against the council and its SEND team and this was a conflict of interest with their roles at BPC.
The obvious response to this is, so fucking what? And what right do council managers and directors have to spy on “activists” and “campaigners” anyway? Do residents of Bristol effectively forfeit basic human rights and their dignity if the council randomly labels them “activists” and “campaigners” on the basis of unreliable evidence gleaned off the internet?
Having dehumanised their SEND spy victims as “activists” and “campaigners” with no rights, the council’s report fails to identify anything resembling a “campaign” or “action” from either parent. Instead the parents’ only apparent action was to discuss the poor quality of Bristol’s SEND offer on social media with each other!
When did conversing with friends, acquaintances and relatives become “activism” and “campaigning”? Who made up this nonsense, which is basically cover for a crude state assault on the free speech of Bristol SEND parents on the internet? And a blatant attempt to stop dissent and criticism of a failing local public service so that the incompetents running it can pump out cheery fake news about the service instead and continue to bank fat salaries they don’t deserve.
Helpfully, the report clearly indicates that this “campaigning”/”activist” schtick is all a load of bollocks. Para 16 says:
Remarkably, the report is openly acknowledging that its “campaigning”/”activist” concerns may not even be true but concludes that doesn’t matter because some fantasists at City Hall think they might be true! A piece of Alice in Wonderland logic that opens the door for council bosses to unlawfully investigate citizens on the basis of false facts and fictional concerns. So that’s all right then.
Another purpose of all this meandering drivel seems to be that it allows O’Gara to avoid the actual purpose of his report, which should be an investigation into spying on parents by council bosses.
Why were an unholy alliance of council bosses so keen to prevent a meeting of councillors scrutinising the fatcats’ confusing and secretive “Billion Pound” City Leap plan last week? Who do these clowns really work for?
City Leap is the latest senior officer brainchild to emerge out of Bristol City Council and they’re spending £10m of our money on it. The money’s being spent on procuring a multinational corporation as a ‘joint venture partner’ in, er, wait for it … An energy business!
This time the business is aimed at cashing in on ‘net zero’ by, among other things, building and running unregulated neighbourhood heat networks across the city to “‘up the pace’ in reaching carbon neutrality targets”,
Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson; Exec Director for Growth and Regeneration, Stephen “Preening” Peacock and Energy Services boss David “Payday” White all told councillors at a scrutiny meeting last week that there was absolutely no role for them in City Leap until their secretive high stakes procurement process was finished in February.
The officers explained they would then generously allow councillors a couple of hours to rubberstamp their extraordinarily expensive done deal a few days before it goes to cabinet to get signed off by the Reverend, a Yale-trained corporate puppet.
The unscrupulous threesome explained that any attempt now at democratic scrutiny of this latest council energy scheme would have a ‘material impact on the procurement’.
Bizarre reasoning asserting that the council’s constitution and the right of councillors to scrutinise the executive like any normal functioning democracy should be suspended. On the basis that it might upset any multinational corporation lining up at the trough these officers are generously setting up for them.
All highly irregular. Surely any multinational that wants to work with Bristol City council needs to understand from the get-go that they’re working in a democratic environment where public scrutiny of their work is likely to be regular and detailed? And if they don’t like our democracy in Bristol? Well, they can fuck off to any of the many dictatorships around the world with their money can’t they?
Why are Bristol City Council bosses, whose jobs should directly involve upholding the constitution of Bristol City Council to the letter, creating an environment where the city’s democratic norms need to be ignored because corporate interests are waving some money around? Isn’t this exactly the time democratic scrutiny is needed?
A similar fiasco unfolded with Bristol Energy. Scrutiny and opposition councillors were persistently refused access to vital company information by officers. Councillors were unable to scrutinise what was going on at the company and the result was an estimated £50m loss to council taxpayers.
Is it acceptable for officers to set up yet another energy business shrouded in secrecy that can repeat exactly the same mistakes all over again?
Remember when Bristol City Council’s new Chief Executive, ‘the great communicator’, Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson was handed a “reasonably modest” pay rise of £2k in March?
A few months after promises that no such pay rise would be forthcoming when the Reverend’s bitch first got handed the lucrative new job in May 2020 without the fuss of going through a policy compliant recruitment or interview process.
Fast forward a year from this dodgy promotion and a report from the Local Government Ombudsman hits our inbox outlining “a serious failure in its corporate governance arrangements and oversight.” at Jackson’s council. This is due to a failure to implement agreed remedies for two separate complaints from 2019. One over waste collection and another about failures in a noise pollution complaint.
And Jackson himself was personally responsible for this latest city council corporate failure. The Ombudsman reports that Jackson ignored SEVEN items of correspondence from them sent between March and November 2020. In them he was asked to implement some simple remedies to the complaints from members of the public about the public services he’s directly responsible for. He ignored the letters and did nothing instead.
Paying £171,500 a year doesn’t buy you someone responds to their correspondence then?
Which local Academy Trust is
charging its schools at least EIGHT PER CENT of their core income for “central
services” – one of the highest figures in the country? Step forward the
VENTURERS TRUST, the hopelessly underperforming education wing of the Society
of Wealthy Old White Men (Surely Merchant
Last year the greedy COLSTON
TOENAIL WORSHIPPERS charged their eight schools eight per cent of their
general annual grant (GAG) – the funding each academy gets from the Department
for Education. These charges are for
‘BUSINESS SERVICES’ such as human resources, financial services, legal
services, educational support services, property services and, of course, “PR AND COMMUNICATIONS”. The kind of
lucrative work, incidentally, that the toenail trustees and their wealthy mates
However, while charging our schools and children TOP WHACK FOR MARGINAL CRAP, the Toenail Trust has been struggling
on a number of fronts. In OFSTED terms, THREE
of its schools are currently rated as INADEQUATE
and another “REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT”.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Trust, Anthony Browne, DISAPPEARED over the summer following an expensive spot of LEGAL BOTHER. Although the precise cost
of this little escapade is yet to be revealed.
We do, however, know that the trust’s EIGHT SCHOOLS were charged £1.53M
FOR CENTRAL SERVICES in 2017-18 and this was about nine per cent of the £17
million received from the general annual grant that year. Oddly, the previous
year, the schools had been charged less than HALF THIS AMOUNT, a comparatively small £633,000. Where did all
this extra public cash collected by WEALTHY
TRUSTEES WITH LAVISH LIFESTYLES go in this age of austerity?
The same accounts also show that the Toenail Trust’s chief executive, HILARY MACAULEY, personally trousered
£145-£150,000. Just under £150,000, which the Department for Education has said
should only go to leaders for “EXCEPTIONAL”
The enthusiasm with which our serially
useless senior council bosses are suddenly embracing advertising their
INCOMPETENCE is a new and novel innovation for our Counts Louse’s Third Floor
DEPARTMENT OF DUNCES.
Their public confessional follows a
report from Green Councillor and Audit Committee vice chair Clive
“Shakin'” Stevens into how former chief exec Anna “Big
Wedge” Klonowski walked away from Bristol in 2017 after just SIX
MONTHS’ OF INDIFFERENT WORK with £98k in her pocket. Shaky, was given
access to carefully selected top secret documents by dodgy council bosses and
has devised a personal “MOST LIKELY SCENARIO” regarding the
Shaky claims it was all down to SERIAL
INCOMPETENCE and council bosses are queuing up to cheerfully admit it. Not least
because their only other option would be to admit to UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY.
What Shaky alleges transpired is that Big Wedge’s colleague and associate,
Jackie “You’re Fired!” McGeachie – the former Tesco exec turned
jobbing senior local authority HR interim – “ACCIDENTALLY”
sent the wrong Chief Exec contract to lawyers in 2017, which allegedly entitled
Big Wedge to a big wedge and, er, nobody noticed it was the wrong contract
until it was too late.
However, Shaky’s “most likely scenario”, which we’re invited to believe over “the conspiracy theories”, raises as many questions as it answers. For instance, if the payment to Klonowski was an error, WHY AREN’T WE ASKING FOR IT BACK? And what type of contract was sent by Big Wedge’s personally appointed HR boss that allows someone to resign and scarper with immediate effect but contractually obliges the employer to fork out six months’ pay in lieu of notice? AN UNPRECEDENTED ARRANGEMENT Shaky fails to explain.
Of course, this mysterious ‘top secret ROGUE CONTRACT remains safely locked away from the public, despite, by Shaky’s definition, being an out-of-date generic document and not personal information relating to a named individual. Shaky also says he discovered evidence of “GROSS OBFUSCATION” or “A COVER-UP” from bosses over the payment. Only to meekly announce “they should be ashamed”. But why isn’t Shaky recommending IMMEDIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION against them? Why would anyone want bent and dishonest bosses to remain in post running our council?
Is it because these bosses might start revealing what really happened and who authorised paying Klonowski £98k of hush money that we weren’t obliged to pay?
More heat than light generated last month when councillors were finally allowed to publicly discuss the absurd £100K PAYOUT handed to Reverend Rees’s failed Chief Executive, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski in September 2017. The Reverend alleged at the time that Big Wedge resigned for “FAMILY REASONS” without notice and so she would not normally be entitled to any money whatsoever.
Councillors bombarded the Reverend with questions after council auditors, BDO, published a partial, if DAMNING, report on the affair. However, the questions were batted away by an embattled Mayor with TWO HALF-TRUTH EXCUSES: that there were no formal processes to follow for senior officer departures and that his legal advice said the pay-off was “contractural”.
NEITHER EXCUSE HOLDS WATER. The process for senior officer departures appears in the annual Pay Policy Statement and plenty of pay-offs have been approved by the HR Committee of councillors in the past. Under questioning the Reverend REFUSED to explain why this did not happen in this case beyond claiming that there was “NO PROCESS” to follow.
Meanwhile, the legal advice the Reverend relied on, labelled as “SURPRISING” by the auditors, remains shrouded in mystery. Despite demands by councillors, the Reverend WOULDN’T EXPLAIN why he didn’t get this advice through his legal department. He also POINT-BLANK REFUSED to release the request for this advice, the actual advice or, even, which of two firms of lawyers named in the BDO report provided the hookie information. The Reverend insisted that this was “THE LAW“.
A claim that is NOT TRUE. While the law allows legal advice provided to local authorities to remain confidential if they choose, it does not prevent them publishing it if they want to. Why is the Reverend SCARED SHITLESS of publishing anything to do with the advice he received or the circumstances surrounding it?
The only nugget of information the Reverend released during his pointless session with councillors were the names of the two chief officers advising him on this generous payout – “JACQUIE AND NICKY“.
Step forward Jacquie “You’re Fired!”
McGeachie – a former Tesco HR, now a local authority interim manager trading as
Jacquie McGeachie HR Consulting Ltd, charging £1,000 a day – and Nicky
“Chocolate” Beardmore, a local authority management failure from
Shropshire APPOINTED BY THE REVEREND as interim Head of Paid Service on
£1,200 a day in the autumn of 2017.
The involvement of McGeachie is especially intriguing as she was a COLLEAGUE
of Big Wedge’s – then trading as Elka Solutions Ltd – in Barnet in 2014 and Big
Wedge personally brought Jacquie McGeachie HR Consulting Ltd to Bristol when
she became Chief Exec in early 2017. It then looks as if McGeachie RETURNED
A HIGH-ROLLING FAVOUR by signing over a six-figure sum of public money to
Big Wedge as she departed.
After a FRUITLESS COUPLE OF HOURS querying the pay-off, councillors
agreed that the three-quarters of the auditor’s report not published could be
debated in public at the Audit and HR committees and again at Full Council.
We think this is pointless. Isn’t it time Inspector Knacker looked into how
Big Wedge ended up with £100k of public money in her personal bank account?