Tag Archives: Cumberland Basin

MANIFESTO WATCH: HERE COME THE TORIES …

Tory manifesto

Having had the grand global green sustainable smart city visions courtesy of the progressive parties, it’s time for the Tories to enter the election fray as their manifesto finally appears.

At just ten pages long, they’re doing us, at least, one massive favour. By way of comparison, the Green’s Squire Bufton-Tufton treated us to 36 pages of his Clifton drawing room progessive piffle. The Tories, in contrast, leave few populist cliches unturned in a short booklet that’s quite hard to find and called ‘Our plan to build back better in Bristol’.

Big ideas are thin on the ground here. Apart from wanting to scrap the mayor and save money by not pissing millions up the wall on energy companies, there’s nothing much in the way of grand schemes to catch the eye. Instead it’s just a list of local bugbears with a few law ‘n’ order shapes thrown in

The most noticeable of these is a clear threat of some social cleansing: “Use the Council’s powers to move van dwellers to permanent sites rather than allow informal sites to develop on local roads.”

They’re also quite keen on having an ongoing passive/aggressive conversation about your your safety. “We want people to be safe and feel safe where ever they live”; “We will listen to communities on how to make neighbourhoods safer for all” and “We will work with the Police Commissioner to ensure safer streets across Bristol.”

All of which actually makes you start wondering if you are safe? Especially when their seemingly endless safety concerns are washed down with a further mild threat/message from their thuggish looking ex-squaddie Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Mark Shelford. He promises with menaces to “drive down crime and make our streets safer.”

Although judging by Mark’s general tone and demeanour, it seems highly unlikely that our streets will be safer for anyone who wants to protest on them. The rest of the manifesto is lists, dog whistles and mood music clearly aimed south of Southville where the progressive manifestoes abruptly stop. 

In the Tories’s words it’s a manifesto that “delivers on the basics that matter to our residents, prioritises funding for our communities and doesn’t ignore the suburbs”!

This means public toilets will be reopened; libraries kept open; the Jubilee Pool saved; pavement parking tackled;  “more will be done to preserve and improve our local amenity such as the Western Slopes in South Bristol”; “licensing for all ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ across the city not just in certain areas” introduced; an “end to over-development of some of our key sites such as the Cumberland Basin and Hengrove Park” and “we will fairly distribute money across the City so communities have a real chance to improve their area rather than fighting over funding scraps.”

Will the public find this thunderously low key and ordinary municipal vision with a blatantly populist edge that promises to preserve services and protect communities more appealing  than the progressive ‘big project men’ and their weird ‘visions’ that can only be delivered through large faceless corporations seeking profit?

We’re overwhelmed with choice at this election aren’t we?

MANIFESTO WATCH: ‘CLIMATE EMERGENCY’ REQUIRES PUBLIC ASSET FIRE SALE ANNOUNCE GREENS

Green manifesto

The first of the manifestoes for the mayoral elections crashes on to the internet. It’s from the Green Party’s “Squire” Sandy Hore-Ruthven “Bufton-Tufton” who marked this auspicious occasion by standing on a street in Broadmead yesterday and reading out a poorly drafted script from an iPad.

His manifesto gets underway by claiming, “Sandy’s not a politician”! Something only a politician would need to say, before proceeding to unload the not-so-great man’s not-so-great plans for Bristol.

Bufton-Tufton’s effort is actually highly reminiscent of The Reverend Rees’s manifesto of 2016. Back then we said of Rees’s slightly deranged effort: 

The Labour manifesto consists of around 180  COMMITMENTS. These roughly break down to 78 UNCOSTED  PROMISES ranging from an arena – a snip at around £150m – to “Promoting the role of Bristol Credit Union as an ethical means of accessing financial services” – at a cost of, I dunno (and neither does he, Ed), £150k? So fuck knows how much this little lot would cost us in its entirety.

Our research team haven’t managed quite the same level of detail as they managed back in 2016 mainly because they lost the will to live halfway through that project. However, they assure us that Squire Bufton-Tufton has managed to come up with over 50 uncosted promises himself.

These range from some promises that appear at first sight to be costed: “Halve the price of bus fares for under-21s” and “Invest £600,000 in information, advice and guidance for young people this year”. To vague big-ticket items notable for a high risk and the lack of any multi-million price tag: “support the development of local and regional banking”; “address flooding risks”.

A large majority of Bufton-Tufton’s promises, however, are considerably more small scale: “Celebrate our local high streets with events and festivals led by our creative and arts organisations”; “revitalise South Bristol’s industrial estates”; “create a repair and reuse industry in the city”; “continue installing electric vehicle charging points”; “maintain bus shelters and install universal real-time information”; “invest in specific services for marginalised groups”; “introduce seamless ticketing across the West of England region”; “improve support for families and young people seeking asylum”; “protect and provide more allotments”; “introduce free bulky-waste collection on doorsteps”; “write a Mental Health Charter for Bristol”; “set up a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces available to help arts and cultural organisations”.

The list of shit Bufton-Tufton intends to deliver just goes on and on and on … Just like Rees’s 2016 manifesto. The detailed promises from which remain robustly undelivered five years later. Is history repeating?

What super-experienced expert Chief Executive Bufton-Tufton appears to fail to understand is that every promise he makes requires a substantial resource to deliver. Unless he thinks that the Council House is full of council officers hanging around doing nothing while sitting on a large pot of unspent money marked ‘vanity projects for incoming mayor’?

Let’s take just one example – “set up a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces available to help arts and cultural organisations”. This has actually been tried before and does not come for free. You need to identify the properties, set up a register; run a register; run an application process; complete due diligence; run an allocation process; survey the building to ensure they’re safe for public use; monitor the spaces; act as a good landlord; this list goes on. 

A highly conservative estimate of the cost over Sandy’s three years in office to run “a register of ‘meanwhile’ temporary spaces” would be £300k if you managed to do it with a couple of staff working their arses off unmanaged with few resources. Multiply that figure by 50 to cover Bufton-Tufton’s various promises and you have a spending commitments averaging, at least, £15m. Although the cost of say, “seamless ticketing across the West of England region” would probably cost more than £15m on its own.

This from a council that can’t afford lollipop ladies, public toilets, SEND provision and has had to outsource their own low paid jobs to their private companies to save a few quid.

So much for the undeliverable small stuff designed to attract the foolish voter who likes ‘a good idea’ and believes anything they’re told. But what of the headline items? The ones that tell us what Bufton-Tufton is really all about and where the money’s really going?

Bufton-Tufton’s big announcement is on housing. He promises to “build 2,000 new council homes by 2030 and “insulate every council house in Bristol by 2030, reducing carbon emissions and fuel bills by 40%”. There’s some debate as to whether the funding exists to both build the houses and retrofit the existing stock, which may be why Bufton-Tufton has downgraded to a cheaper option of insulating homes rather than the a full retofit extravanganza of heat pumps, solar panels etc. Let’s just hope he’s got his sums right on this or his legacy may be a bankrupt Housing Revenue Account for the city.

2,000 council homes is also a fairly small promise if you consider we’re losing homes at a rate of about 150 a year through Right to Buy. He’s actually promising just 500 homes to tackle a council house waiting list of 12,000 and a projected population increase of around 70,000, which makes you wonder why anyone would expend so much political capital on so little? Maybe it’s all about having a big swinging dick my-numbers-are-bigger-your-numbers game with the Reverend Rees during the election?

Also on housing, having explained we have a ‘housing crisis’, Bufton-Tufton proposes, to “charge a carbon levy of £75 per tonne of emitted carbon in all new domestic and commercial developments, to generate income to offset carbon emissions from new developments.”

We’re reliably informed this could cost somewhere between £3k – £5k on a new three bed house. Yes, in the middle of a housing affordability crisis, the Greens are proposing to put house prices up! Who thinks this shit up?

Another big issue is the Reverend’s proposed corporate redevelopment of the Cumberland Basin, which involves renaming the area ‘Western Harbour’ and moving the Brunel Way flyover and existing road into Hotwells to free up land with views of the Suspension Bridge so that corporate developers can cash in while trashing Ashton Park. 

Bufton-Tufton has very little to say about this. The man who’s assured interviewers he can take “tough decisions” weakly proclaims he will, “reappraise the Western Harbour development, consulting with residents and businesses first.”

Quite how yet another bloody consultation on a corporate road building scheme – few people outside the business community want – squares with his promise elsewhere in his manifesto to “oppose plans for major road building” isn’t explained. Although the absence of a simple “tough decision” contrary to multinational corporate interests screams out at you.

Of another harebrained council corporate scheme, designed to hand huge amounts of our public assets to the private sector with poor oversight and little discussion or useful scrutiny, Bufton-Tufton comfortably adopts one the council’s many examples of dubious Reespeak. Cheerily repeating news of the “£1 billion City Leap programme,” Bufton-Tufton promises, “We will accelerate the City Leap project and increase investment beyond the £1 billion currently committed.”

His explanation for this dodgy public asset firesale and corporate sell-out helpfully reveals Bufton-Tufton’s true ideological colours, “the climate emergency dictates that speed is more essential than public ownership,” he says.

There you have it. The Bristol Green Party in a nutshell. We must urgently give our public assets away as quickly as possible to corporations because “climate emergency”. Public ownership is now an unaffordable luxury according to the Green Party in Bristol

Anyone telling you this right wing, free market, corporate crap is in any way ‘left wing’ is a liar. We suggest you (don’t) vote accordingly.

ARUP PLANNING TAKEOVER

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More news drifts in regarding the slow but inexorable OUTSOURCING of the whole of the city’s planning system and its oversight to private firm Arup.

We already know that Arup have been, for some time, supplying agency staff to the council’s planning department to specialise in ‘MAJOR PROJECTS’. Then came the news that Arup were involved in developing the Reverend’s options for his ‘Western Harbour’ plans at the Cumberland Basin.

So it should come as little surprise to learn that Arup were also involved in drawing up BRISTOL’S LOCAL PLAN. Specifically, the private firm were responsible for SITE ALLOCATIONS and POLICY DEVELOPMENT for this detailed development blueprint for the city that WILL MAKE LOTS OF PRIVATE INTERESTS LOTS OF MONEY.

When will we get the chance to vote on a manifesto promising to hand our city’s planning system over to multi-national companies looking to make a profit?

ST MARVIN’S-UP-THE-CREEK NEWSLETTER #25

Encouraged by Ms Townsend and the usual suspects from parish’s OFSTED ‘Needs Improvement’ Dave Spart Academy, a small unrepresentative minority of the congregation, sacrilegiously opposed to free market innovation, sensible change and inclusive growth, are behind another silly whispering campaign from the pews.

They are opposing our shared congregational vision, in partnership with expert corporate developers and consultants from London, for competitively-priced chipboard homes and a cleaner air new road on the surplus scrubland of church-owned St Marvin’s Meadows. This is an innovative transformational future proofing project vital to our shared ‘One Parish Vision’, championed by my good friend and shadow Parish Committee member, Mr Sweetland, ably assisted by the good Christians of consulting firm  Arup on a highly competitive day rate.

This project will challenge the climate emergency, address the parish’s housing crisis and provide homes for decent Christian parishioners able to financially support our growing church and exploit fair admissions at St Snoot’s Academy, the parish’s OFSTED ‘outstanding’ high performing religious secondary school. As my mentor the Texan psychotic preacher and notorious anti-communist homophobe, the Pastor Righteous Loon says, “crisis and emergency are the Lord’s way to improve the bank balances of the worthy.”

The campaign opposing this, meanwhile, is promoting a number of JFK-style conspiracy theories. For example, we all already know that St Marvin’s Meadows is a flood plain but this will not be a problem according to Mr Molton, our parish’s regeneration services professional kept on a generous retainer to ignore problems such as this. Indeed, as Mr Molton very cleverly pointed out at one of our closed meetings in London with our secret investor team, “Floods never did Noah any harm.”

Campaigners’ complaints that moving the St Marvin’s bypass out of open countryside, better suited to inclusive climate emergency residential homes with sensational countryside views, and closer to St Marvin’s Meadows and nearby council housing are similarly without merit. As are complaints that this is in any way a “done deal”. Our friends at Arup and our secret investors have simply supplied us with an objective factual appraisal that is inarguably correct and the only sensible way forward if we want to solve parish’s housing crisis and stand down the climate from its emergency status.

However in order to better demonstrate this, I am setting up an objective and independent panel of myself, Mr Molton, Mr Sweetland, Parishioner Mr Savage – who you all know for running unsuccessfully for election to the parish committee on 58 separate occasions – and Parish Committee Chairman, Mr Jackson. Together we will independently appraise the option and confirm it is going ahead in everybody’s best interests. This should spell the end of any further noise on this matter from the back pews.

The Vicar

FULL FARCE BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL

FULL FARCE BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL

by CITIZENS ROBESPIERRE & MURAT ably assisted by Dr J.I Guillotin

November’s Full Council meeting saw an outbreak of ‘MARIE ANTOINETTE SYNDROME’ among entitled councillors in official foppery pitted against a SEETHING MASS of unwashed sans-culottes in the public gallery. Controversy began when Lord Mayor Jos Clark decided (without historical precedence in Bristol or nationally) to SUSPEND PUBLIC QUESTIONS to the Mayor due to “lack of time, because of the national election”.

The Lord Mayor had informed public questioners by email that they could NOT ASK QUESTIONS in the Council Chamber and that the Mayor would not offer any verbal answers. Instead, questioners would receive a written response within 10 working days. The BRISTOLIAN, analysed these questions and – lo and behold – many were POTENTIALLY EMBARRASSING to the Reverend Rees. Raising issues such as the gentrification of Cumberland Basin, jobs for Marvin’s evangelical pals and the contra-BCC policy of hiring trade unionist BLACKLISTING CONSTRUCTION FIRMS.

Chaos reigned in the public gallery as, first, questioners were told that THEY COULDN’T SPEAK OR GET ANSWERS. Then they were told that, maybe, they COULD ASK QUESTIONS BUT NOT RECEIVE ANSWERS and then, finally, they were told that the original ruling would stand. Breathless council flunkies dashed around the chamber with leaflets and ‘clarifications’ as each modification was made up on the spur in council back offices. Adding to the confusion, it also turned out that some questioners were unaware of this ARBITRARY DECISION until they arrived.

Next, onlookers in the public gallery were confronted by BRISTOL’S COUNCILLORS SWANNING IN to pose in Hawaiian shirts for a photographer. Why was this? It was supposed to be a tribute to Hawaiian shirt fan Cllr Mike Langley, who had recently died. Shirt-clad councillors posed with arms around each other before going off to their benches and delivering 40 MINUTES OF SPEECHES in memoriam to their deceased colleague.

Those who knew Mike – A GENUINE SOCIALIST – were confronted with the unedifying spectacle of Tory, Blairite Labour, Lib Dem and the rest competing to see who could deliver the most NAUSEOUS HYPOCRISY while shedding CROCODILE TEARS as most of them had hated Mike. One councillor even announced … ‘In the words of Mike Langley, Vive la Revolution!’ The whole SORRY SPECTACLE resembled one of French Queen Marie Antoinette’s ‘soirees’ where she and her courtiers would dress up to play peasant shepherds and shepherdesses while real peasants starved outside the gates.

After their PRIVATE FANCY DRESS PARTY, the public presence in the gallery was finally acknowledged by the Versailles Court and farce descended into ABSURDITY. When ‘no-question’ time was announced, ONE PLUCKY PROLE stood up and asked why procedure had changed from what was in the council constitution?

Lord Mayor Clark tried to shut down this unseemly interruption to her travesty in motion while security goons twitched in anticipation on the gallery stairwell. Their services were unnecessary, however, as the prole sat down after shouting – to thunderous applause from angry sans-culottes in the gallery – ‘YOU’RE A DISGRACE – YOU SHOULD RESIGN!

Rumours of scythes and pitchforks being sharpened in Bristol’s outlying suburbs cannot be confirmed.

HEAD BOY’S FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER HIGH RISE HELL

HEAD BOY'S FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER HIGH RISE HELL

Disquiet over the Reverend Rees’s plans to ‘transform’ the Cumberland Basin and its aging 1960s road system into ‘Western Harbour’, a GLOBAL CITY HIGH RISE HELL, in the shadow of Clifton Suspension Bridge is growing. A ‘public engagement’ on the gruesome plan, while everyone was away on holiday in August, led to an OUTCRY after it emerged that the Reverend was consulting the public on just THREE of the ten proposals he had received from his consultants, Arup. The remaining seven proposals remain SECRET.

The three proposals the Reverend deemed suitably “transformational” all involve DEMOLISHING the existing road system to “RELEASE LAND FOR DEVELOPMENT“. All three lack detail – just pink lines on a map indicating where any new road system may go – while potentially having A HUGE IMPACT on surrounding communities and the landscape around the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Concerns are also emerging about the involvement of The ENGLISH CITIES FUND (ECF) in any plans. ECF is a joint venture between HOMES ENGLAND, LEGAL & GENERAL and MUSE DEVELOPMENTS. Which raises questions about the role and independence of the Reverend’s semi-detatched £1,500 a day regeneration chief, our old friend COLIN “Head Boy” MOLTON, who will have had a major influence on any plans.

Head Boy was chief exec at HOMES ENGLAND – when it was the Housing and Communities Agency – until he joined Bristol City Council on a unique TAX EFFICIENT PAY ARRANGEMENT in 2017 and immediately cut a secretive, unminuted deal, on behalf of the council, with LEGAL & GENERAL. A deal handing these developers the land at Arena Island should the arena be cancelled.

Remarkably, this is the SECOND TIME Head Boy has been involved in cancelling an arena at the Arena Island site as he happened to be Executive Director of Operations & Development at the SOUTH WEST REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (SWRDA) in 2007 when they cancelled their plans for an arena on the site that they then owned.

Head Boy left the SWRDA in 2008 to become director at the South and South West Region of the HCA (now HOMES ENGLAND). By remarkable coincidence, with the winding up of the SWRDA by the Tories in 2011, the Arena Island site was transferred to the HCA. In early 2015, Molton’s HCA, handed the site to Bristol City Council to build an arena and then Molton PITCHED UP at Bristol City Council in 2017 to work for the Reverend. He immediately set to work CANCELLING an arena and negotiating his sweetheart deal with LEGAL & GENERAL to hand them the site for an unispiring, if highly profitable, mixed use development.

Head Boy is now being thrown out of the job he never went through a competitive recruitment process for at Bristol City Council. But will the man, who lists his address with Companies House as Donington Le Heath, Leicestershire, continue to take a personal, proprietorial interest in ANOTHER VALUABLE PIECE OF PUBLIC LAND in Bristol?

Watch this space.

ARUP’S PLANNING CONFLICT

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Another example of the Reverend Rees’s WEIRDO corporate free market Christian evangelical ideology appears with news that the CORPORATE PRIVATE SECTOR are moving into the city council’s planning department to deal with planning applications.

Corporate consultancy firm Arup, who specialise in picking up OUTSOURCED PUBLIC SECTOR work, will soon be, “processing a range of planning applications and associated work within reasonable timescales and will contribute towards housing delivery amongst other objectives.”

Will this contribution towards housing delivery include Arup overseeing the Reverend’s major development plans for the CUMBERLAND BASIN? The one where the company delivering the masterplan is, er, Arup!

The contract has been awarded with no political oversight or input from councillors.

CANTONESE KOWTOW WITH FRIED REES

The Reverend’s latest international junket in December to the Fortune 500 Global Forum in our human rights abusing twin city of Guangzhou in southern China raised a few eyebrows when the Reverend went armed with a top secret SALES BROCHURE.

Among the dazzling “opportunities” being offered to the high priests of global capital was a £2.5 BILLION chance to build the Rev an underground rail system (since recosted a month later for no apparent reason at £4.5 BILLION) and another MULTI-BILLION opportunity to create a corporate glass, steel and concrete tower block hell all over the Cumberland Basin.

The Rev’s brochure also offered some CHEAPER and more appetising deals such as building PROFITABLE homes for 5,000 economically negligible students and promoted the city’s high cost private rental sector as an excellent INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY for any circling vultures of global capital.

Just to be clear, the Fortune 500 Global Forum was a meeting of international corporate business leaders seeking Chinese investment into their unreconstructed corporate globalisation project on the model that spectacularly FAILED in 2007, crashed the banks and created austerity.

Some characteristics of this project include use of CHEAP flexible labour; SYSTEMATIC tax avoidance; ‘light touch’ and/or self-regulation; RIGGED ‘free’ markets, asset stripping, privatisation, rent seeking, environmental destruction, MASS TRANSFER of labour and capital across international borders and financial and economic DOMINANCE by hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds. All overseen by transnational and democratically unaccountable bodies.

Surely Labour should be protecting Bristol from the threats of international high finance not inviting them to set up shop here?