Tag Archives: Grant Thornton

ABANDON SHIP AT THE ARNOLFINI AS ‘PHONEY WAR CONTINUES!

Never more than one overpriced, underperforming art installation away from self-inflicted disaster, the elitist arty-farties of Harbourside’s ‘contemporary art’ gallery ARNOLFINI really have been surpassing themselves over the last year or so.

Not only did they manage to lose an entire ‘Executive Team’ in the space of a month, but their tenants – spread over three voluminous floors of their prestigious, cash-generating Bush House headquarters – all quit. If that wasn’t enough, they then uncovered a large black hole in the finances of around £360K – and promptly FIRED THEIR OWN AUDITORS, Grant Thornton!

Meanwhile, a deranged “recovery plan” to convert the top three floors of the Bush House bunker – at public expense! – into an “art hotel” predictably flopped.

At the height of last autumn’s crisis, the place had to be run by a sub-committee of posh twits from the Analphoney board of trustees. That was because centre director TOM TREVOR was frogmarched off the premises in October so that he could, er, “pursue a number of international curatorial projects”! Presumably he didn’t have a family to “spend more time with”, then?

Trevor was escorted out the door right after the other half of the “executive team”, finance chief and our old friend BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN, was herself ‘disappeared’ from the organisation without explanation last August.

Brenda, you may recall, is currently vice-chair of Bristol City Council’s financial watchdog, the Audit Committee. So despite an organisation apparently sinking faster than the Titanic on her watch, she got a job overseeing sound financial practice at the council! (But then again, between 2009-2013 she notched up a not-to-be-sniffed-at £1,958.53 in expenses from the council, which suggests a certain amount of flair…)

You may recall that Brenda – she of the £800k Clifton Wood mansion – was a candidate at the last election for George Ferguson’s INDYREDPANTS PARTY, promising that she was going “to shake things up” at the Council House. Well, she’s certainly managed to shake things up at the ‘Phoney!

Other victims of the mass clear out include colourfully-named former chair LOVEDAY SHEWELL. She quietly left after six years in the post in July 2012. Although oddly, despite the UK’s arty-fartie-bore-in-chief Sir Nicolas Serota describing the ‘Phoney as “one of a handful of the most significant cultural centres in Europe,” Ms Shewell has mysteriously left her time with the gallery off her extensive CV. Why could that be?

Meanwhile, that renowned patron of the arts, business genius and financial whiz – MAYOR FERGO himself – hastily quit his post on the board of trustees in December 2012.

Demonstrating, yet again, that George’s instinct for survival outstrips his business acumen by some way.

HOYTY-TOYTY’S PORK BARREL POLITICS SCAM

News is emerging that Green Cabinet member and Ashley Councillor, Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty, personally signed off a £62,000 payment for Bristol City Council to buy the “under threat” Lynmouth Road Allotments in his ward.

The allotments were put on sale by receivers Grant Thornton in September after Scout Enterprises, owners of the land, went bust. A brief campaign to save the land ensued – and then up popped Hoyty-Toyty to save the day!

He put in a sealed bid of £62k from Bristol City Council for the land on September 25 despite a reserve price of just £20k. The price Hoyty-Toyty was prepared to pay with our money is thought to be excessive as the land is protected by covenants and is of little value to developers.

Meanwhile Hoyty-Toyty, who wasn’t exactly shy about trumpeting how ‘he’ saved the day…

…has been rather more coy about exactly how much he spent to help voters in his own ward secure this land, admitting on Twitter only that the land “cost a ‘bit’ more than £20k.”

That ‘bit’ being three times more!

LOONYPANTS LOSING IT OVER AUDIT FINDINGS!

Web ExclusiveThe pressure is really beginning to show on George, MAYOR LOONYPANTS isn’t it? He’s now decided that the council’s external auditors GRANT THORNTON, the sixth largest accountancy firm in the world, are running “politically motivated smears” against him.

This unlikely scenario seems to result from Grant Thornton’s recently published audit findings (see also The BRISTOLIAN #4.8), which said,

Review of the Mayor’s declarations of interest found a number of organisations with which the Council have had interaction which have not been included within the related parties transactions note.
Or, in other words, MAYOR UNDERPRESSUREPANTS hasn’t declared all his interests as he’s legally bound to do. A subsequent light grilling of BARMYTROUSERS on Twitter regarding this tricky matter elicited the following response:

Now, we appreciate that large accountancy firms aren’t the most thorough or honest of organisations but would they really make this stuff up and risk their reputation just to smear a ridiculous little posh man from Bristol? And if it weren’t true and it’s “Everything declared, nothing to hide. End of story!” why has such a claim been made by this reputable source and included and signed-off in the audited accounts for 2012-13 of Bristol City Council?

What’s true? A set of formal, official on-the-record public accounts or the Saturday morning Twitter ramblings of a posh twit with a problematic relationship to the truth?

NO RED TAPE FOR REDPANTS’ PALS! MAYOR FERGO TO GIVE MERCHANT VENTURERS FREE REIN IN PARKS & LIBRARIES..?

Mayor George Ferguson’s old friends and colleagues in the rich posh boys’ club the MERCHANT VENTURERS seem to be doing all right out of his administration…

STEPHEN PARSONS, in his role as chair of the governors of BRISTOL CATHEDRAL SCHOOL, looks set to take over TWO FLOORS of the Bristol Central Library with few questions asked for his primary ‘free school’ project.

DAVID FREED, director of upmarket property developers DEELEY FREED, has been handed a sizable chunk of CASTLE PARK to concrete over. At least we now know what Mayor Redpants meant when he said he was going to get things done.

Nothing to see here, honest!

Nothing to see here, honest!

Meanwhile, Fergo’s extensive and highly involved business interests in the city have attracted the attention of the council’s official auditors, Grant Thornton. “[A] review of the Mayor’s declarations of interest found a number of organisations with which the Council have had interaction which have not been included within the related parties transactions note,” they say in their ‘Audit Findings for Bristol City Council’.

No doubt it’s all just a big misunderstanding that cash-strapped millionaire George will set straight when he’s able to take time out of his busy schedule.

Edited to add:

It seems that the audit report linked to above is now mysteriously ‘unavailable’ on the Bristol City Council website – so download it direct from The BRISTOLIAN website here!

Edited again to add:

It would now appear that the Council decided to change the document’s address on the BCC website (at around 6pm on a Friday afternoon!) as soon as it was realised that The BRISTOLIAN was linking to it.

You can find the document in question via this direct link, or you can click on the link at item 11 on the agenda of the Audit Committee meeting of 24 September 2013 here

ALLOTMENTS FOR SALE! WHO’S GETTING RICH OFF THE GREAT GREEN SPACES LAND GRAB?

Battle lines are being drawn in St. Werburgh’s between green-fingered local residents and sharp-suited corporate vultures over a blatant INNER CITY LAND GRAB following the announcement that the Lynmouth Road allotments will come onto the open market next month.

The one-acre parcel of land, with a guide price of £20,000, is being AUCTIONED OFF on 25th September by Clifton-based estate agent HOLLIS MORGAN. Its brochure notes that “there may be some long term development potential”, and suggests the possibility of vacant possession – which would only happen with the eviction of allotment holders. To rub salt into the wound, Hollis Morgan made the announcement just after National Allotments Week!

The Lynmouth Road site had been owned by training provider SCOUT ENTERPRISES (which readers with long memories may recall was heavily involved in compulsory workfare schemes, from Project Work through to Work Programme) before it went tits-up late last year.

Since then the ‘independent assurance, tax and advisory firm’ GRANT THORNTON has been in charge, and now its crack team of ‘recovery and reorganisation’ specialists – Richard Hicken, Nigel Morrison and Lynn Taylor – is ready to ASSET-STRIP THE ARSE OFF THE ALLOTMENTS.

Of course, this being Ashley ward, they face stern resistance from BS2’s mighty Green Party councillor duo SIR AUGUSTUS ‘THE DORK KNIGHT’ HOYTY-TOYTY and his sidekick ROB ‘BOY WONDER’ TELFORD. By “stern resistance” we do of course mean firm promises to “ensure it is referred to the relevant planning committee”, the possibility of a petition, and the submission of “strong objections” – TAKE THAT, THE MAN!

Meanwhile, the legal side of the St. Werburgh’s land grab is being handled by none other than VEALE WASBROUGH VIZARDS, the current home to baldy-headed former Bristol City Council lawyer-in-chief STEPHEN ‘MAHNA MAHNA’ MCNAMARA, and – as we may have mentioned before – best known for representing Catholic private school St. Benedict’s during a paedo priest scandal.

Whilst it isn’t known if McNamara is directly involved in this deal, he has certainly in the past been connected to what you might politely describe as ‘odd’ green-spaces-to-developers deals. One notable one also involved GEORGE FERGUSON before he bought won the Mayoralty and appointed the never-knowingly-overinformed Sir Hoyty-Toyty to become his ever-loyal Minister of Blue Peter Appeal Milk Bottle Top Collections.

So the Lynmouth Road allotment holders might be wise not to put too much faith in the likes of Hoyty-Toyty to draw a particularly deep line in the sand over their green space.