Tag Archives: Green New Deal

ONE SMALL LEAP FOR BRISTOL: ONE GIANT PAYDAY FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR?

Leap 82429

“We should never have been in the energy business,” is the Reverend Rees’s mantra regarding Bristol Energy. The deranged energy reselling wheeze delivered courtesy of a pair of hapless elected mayors and a supporting cast of idiot senior council bosses and greedy private sector troughers that has cost the city an estimated £50 MILLION during a long period of austerity and public service cuts.

But why, if we should never have been in the energy business, is the Reverend now setting up ‘CITY LEAP‘, a “billion pound” public-private vehicle to decarbonise the city? Or is “the delivery of a local interconnected, low carbon, smart energy system in Bristol that provides long-term social, environmental and economic benefits for its residents, communities and businesses” not “the energy business”? If not, what is it?

This latest Bristol City Council energy project, which, like the last one, is promising social, environmental and economic benefits to the city is also, like the last one, shrouded in mystery. Albeit an even more EXPENSIVE mystery with the best part of £10million already shifted to the private sector to pay for legal and procurement consultants who have finally delivered a shortlist of three multinational corporate ‘partners’ for the project.

But what is this project? So far, we understand, the council will be handing over their limited number of ENERGY ASSETS – mainly some half-finished city centre heat networks and wind turbines to a multinational company to “implement competitive heat retail and competitive heat generation across the heat network”.

In English that means the multinational will be making A PROFIT from public assets by charging the competitive rate they choose to supply energy from our public infrastructure. However, this is nowhere near a “billion pound” project, which makes some recent announcements from the council’s housing department rather interesting. 

They say, “Housing recently assisted the City Leap team with updating and revising documentation for the City Leap project, which included the INFORMATION ON OUR STOCK and the potential OPPORTUNITY for improvements to net zero. Housing will continue its liaison with the City Leap team and notes the significant benefits that having a pre-procured partner for project delivery and, potentially, investment could have on the rapid roll out of carbon reduction programmes.”

In other words Bristol City Council Housing Service intend to sign A CONTRACT IN ADVANCE with a multinational to retrofit all their council homes. Then should any large government grants for retrofitting council homes roll in to the council – such as through a ‘GREEN NEW DEAL‘ – they’ll roll straight out again and offshore to a corporation who can charge whatever they want and do whatever they want.

They’ll be no competitive tendering; no local opportunities; no local profit and little democratic control over any housing improvements or the public funds for them. This could, potentially, amount to tens, if not hundreds, of MILLIONS in grants.

Of further concern is another missive from the council’s housing department, “it is anticipated that the retrofit of domestic properties will be included in the program of works delivered by the City Leap Energy Partnership. The REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties is essential to the decarbonisation of heat and to achieving carbon neutrality.”

Is this a reference to privately owned homes? And what is this “REQUIREMENT to retrofit domestic properties”? A project that might well cost that magic “billion pounds”. But how will home owners be “required” to retrofit their homes? Will this have to happen through the council’s multinational partner? Do homeowners pay or do the government pay? Can homeowners be FORCED in to debt to meet this new “requirement”?

Will households in the city end up INDENTURED to some faceless multinational corporation so that the council can live the green dream while delivering an extravagant pay day to a lucky corporate? Is the plan, this time, that the council’s foray into the energy business dumps the inevitable huge losses directly on to us?

We think we should be told,

ON THE BUSES

Is there a city council news blackout about the large decline in bus passenger numbers in Bristol over the last year? Journeys are down 5.3 per cent compared to the same period last year and reveal the current administration, just prior to next year’s election, is bucking the
trend of increasing bus use in the city over the last ten years. Self-styled “city leader” and “change maker”, the Reverend Rees appears to have delivered significant change in at least one important area then.

The Metrobus, which the Reverend strongly supports, contrary to all common sense, as a “first step towards an integrated rapid and mass transit network” apparently, is among services showing
obvious signs of failure after just a year in service. Numbers on the M2 from Long Ashton Park and Ride are down. While the M1 service from Hengrove to the Centre has quietly had its service reduced from every 10 minutes to every 12 minutes due to a lack of passengers.

This must be classified as a significant personal failure for the Reverend who has twice taken on the
cabinet transport portfolio during his reign of error. Then there was that ‘State of the City’ address last October. Remember his announcement and the accompanying gushing PR about a “flat fare” scheme in partnership with First Bus? This turned out to be a nonsensical mess, resulting in a
variety of different fares and a price increase for the majority of passengers. Further compounded this summer when First hiked their prices again.

The Reverend’s current cabinet transport chief Kye “The” Dudd also remains silent on this failure.
Preferring instead to waffle on about a pie-in-the-sky ‘Green New Deal’ and the “billion pound City Leap” prospectus, his sell-off of public assets to the private sector.

The Reverend, meanwhile, is now cooking up a pre-election ‘Bus Deal’ with First. Another woolly agreement between Rees and the untrustworthy corporate sharks, that commits public money to various road ‘improvements’ so that First can attempt to further increase their monopoly profits from our pockets. Meanwhile any talk of an underground or any other proper rapid transit system for the city appears to have been removed from the Reverend’s talking points by mayoral spin doctor “Slo” Kev Slocombe.

Hopefully the next stop for Rees and Dudd will be the Job Centre.