Tag Archives: Helen Holland

SELLING OUT, CASHING IN

It’s not taken long for Labour councillors in Bristol to get their feet under the table and use their large new majority on the council to begin the enormous political challenge of, er, lining up LUCRATIVE CONTRACTS and work for their employers!

 Please step forward Craig “MR CRAPITA” Cheney, a junior employee of hellish public sector contractors and serial outsourcing cock-up artists CAPITA. He currently masquerades part time as ‘Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Performance’, wandering aimlessly around the Counts Louse accompanied by a chorus of whispers of “this one’s totally out of his depth isn’t he”?

 But now it looks like Mr Crapita has taken his first key decision. To appoint a new Treasury consultancy team from, er, CAPITA!

The Treasury team basically takes decisions around borrowing and investments at the council. Although why a private firm at a further COST to us now needs to do this work rather than the council’s highly paid “EXPERT” in-house finance bosses is not made clear by Mr Crapita, who is yet to publicise his self-serving, private sector career-enhancing decision.

Meanwhile on 24 November at the Counts Louse, the Rev Rees PERSONALLY HOSTED ‘The Big Conversation: Development by Bristol City Council’.

“Help shape the future development of Bristol,” gushed the publicity, squarely aimed at big money CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT INTERESTS who were promised ACCESS to not only the Rev Rees but the opportunity to “Join Cabinet Lead for Homes and communities Councillor Paul Smith; Cabinet Lead for Place Councillor Helen Holland; and Cabinet member for Transport, Councillor Mark Bradshaw.”

Among the agenda items was ‘De-risking the development process and the role of planning’. Presumably the aim being to simplify things for corporates wanting to BUILD SHIT quick for a FAST BUCK in Bristol? However, what really caught the eye about this event, held at the Counts Louse with Bristol Labour politicians and Bristol City Council bosses in attendance was that it wasn’t organised by Bristol City Council.

Instead, THIS INVITATION-ONLY EVENT to meet influential senior Labour politicians and council bosses for “TABLE DISCUSSIONS” was organised by a corporate lobbying firm, JBP. Who happen to specialise in … Wait for it … “complex planning and construction projects in retail, house building and major infrastructure development.”

How terribly cosy for all involved. Even more so when you realise that the JBP employee who organised the event at the council was one Nicola “LA LA” Beech. La La, when she’s not shilling for corporate development interests, also happens to be a LABOUR COUNCILLOR for St George Central!

It’s a small world isn’t it?

FILM FLAM

City office movies

A dull photo-op last month of old men in suits vacantly sat around in an open plan office while the Reverend Rees waffled aimlessly to journalists about homelessness signalled the launch of the Reverend’s big idea – THE CITY OFFICE.

The ‘BIG IDEA’ is to get bosses from business, public services and the voluntary sector together to solve the city’s problems. So 75 bosses gathered at the Counts Louse on 29 September to have their photo taken in front of the local press while pretending to listen attentively to the The Reverend as he tried to convince us all that this was all terribly exciting and the whole world was watching and waiting on his initiative with baited breath.

The City Office, itself, we were told, would be focusing on homelessness and rough sleeping to start with. However, the noticeable absence of any CASH TO SPLASH or even any new policy to launch meant we had to settle for a PR RELAUNCH of the ‘Bristol Street Aware’ campaign. An initiative started by corporate retailers in Broadmead last year to clear rough sleepers off their doorsteps by ‘signposting’ them into unpopular homeless hostels run by the charity St Mungos.

This lack of money and ideas for the homeless starkly contrasted with the Vicar’s decision five days later at his cabinet meeting to hand over £692k to a Southville-based consultancy firm to continue running the BOTTLE YARD FILM STUDIOS in Hengrove. This is the film studio that’s already receiving about £1m in public money every year according to the council’s published expenditure accounts. The studios appear especially popular with BBC producers looking for cheap, publicly subsidised deals.

The Reverend and his Cabinet decided to HAND OVER MORE PUBLIC MONEY – grabbed from a restructured loan deal relating to the shadowy Hengrove Park housing development – to the city’s creative industries despite this council owned film studio and its firm of consultants providing NO MEANINGFUL ACCOUNTS or BUSINESS PLAN to support their large financial demands on the public purse.

The Rev and his cabinet have therefore handed over money earmarked for one of the city’s most deprived areas on the basis of UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS by council bosses that this studio will make a £100k surplus next year and – an even more UNLIKELY CLAIM – that it is generating £16m for the city’s economy every year.

Naturally The Reverend’s house-trained Cabinet agreed to this nonsense with no questions asked. HRH Helen of Holland, the cabinet member responsible, gushed that the EVIDENCE-FREE PIFFLE supplied by senior council bosses was “A GOOD NEWS REPORT“. While Deputy Mayor Estella “Tinkerbell” Tinknell only seemed bothered about “developing our media profile as a VIBRANT FILM AND MEDIA CITY“. Presumably regardless of the cost or the fact most of us couldn’t give a toss about “media cities,” whatever they are?

Moreover, the true cost of the council’s latest publicly funded creative industries VANITY PROJECT was carefully hidden by the Rev’s senior bosses who neglected to explain properly that a further £0.6m is also required to buy the studio’s FREEHOLD. That’s a total of £1.3m being poured in then. The same senior bosses also forgot to explain if there’s any RISK attached to their expenditure, projected to gain a paltry income of £100k a year from the studios. Is this the world’s first risk-free business?

The average whelk stall wouldn’t be run like this, let alone a MAJOR PUBLICLY FUNDED PROJECT. But who cares if we’re keeping creative industries bigwigs in the style to which they’ve become accustomed and we’re “developing our media profile as a vibrant film and media city”?

Meanwhile, as the Vicar shovels our cash into creative industries vanity projects, the homeless can make do with a grotty little PR relaunch and photo op can’t they

PARANORMAL PLANNING NEWS

Bristol Arena by night (Populous Arena team)

Paranormality at Bristol’s arena

Oh my aching sides … The DEFERRAL two weeks ago of planning permission for George’s deranged arena plan due to a complete lack of any transport planning was rather predictable wasn’t it?

How exactly did Mayor Congestion think he was going to get 12,000 people in and out of one of Bristol’s most CONGESTED areas without either a sizeable car park or some coherent public transport provision?

Less predictable, however, was the response of our old friend, Labour’s council leader HRH HELEN OF HOLLAND. Speaking about the transport planning shambles, she told the planning meeting, “I don’t blame the officers for that – the answers are just not out there.”

Really? So where are these bloody answers then if they’re “just not out there”? Should we get Mulder and Scully in to investigate this PARANORMAL EPISODE? Or maybe launch an expedition to find the LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS in case our arena transport plans are buried there? Or perhaps the little green men from Mars flew down and abucted these plans?

Because, of course, none of this fiasco can possibly be the fault of useless sad sack, INCOMPETENT COUNCIL BOSSES can it? After all, they only devised and promoted the arena development. What blame could possibly be attached to them if there’s not a basic transport plan?

The poor dears, struggling by on SIX FIGURE SALARIES and looking forward to a pay rise for being skilled experts in their fields, can’t be expected to produce plans at, er, a planning meeting for a multi-million pound development can they?

Not according to their Bristol City Councillor bosses anyway.

REVEALED: EMAIL PROOF OF BRISTOL HOUSING BOSSES’ FAILURE TO FIND SAFE HOME FOR VICTIM OF SADISTIC ABUSE

Web ExclusiveWe’ve had so many inquiries from concerned councillors regarding the horrifying domestic abuse story we highlighted on Friday that we’ve decided to publish an urgent email sent, on behalf of the victim, to Bristol City Council housing boss PAUL SYLVESTER on Thursday that has gone unheeded and unanswered. We hope this shows just how potentially serious the situation is.

Letter received by Bristol City Council housing boss Paul Sylvester on 7/11/13 about his department’s failure to rehouse domestic abuse survivor (click to see full size version)

This email didn’t come out of thin air. It was a follow-up email to one sent last Monday to Sylvester’s boss NICK HOOPER, the leader of the council Labour group HELEN HOLLAND, and the globetrotting couldn’t-give-a-toss MAYOR GEORGE FERGUSON. It clearly outlined that a vulnerable domestic violence victim had been subjected to death threats the previous week and was in need of urgent rehousing. It has not even been acknowledged, let alone acted upon.

Indeed, on Friday evening Nick Hooper was issuing DENIALS to councillors that he had any idea what the issues we were raising were about. This means he either does not bother to read his correspondence or – that if he does – he sees nothing worth remembering when DEATH THREATS are issued to a working class Bristolian woman. How many of these cases is he ignoring a week?

It makes you wonder what’s going on with domestic violence policy at Bristol City Council. The victim applied for rehousing three months ago, has never been allowed to have a conversation with one of Hooper’s housing officers to discuss her situation, and every week is listed as about 30th in line to get rehoused. How bad must it be to be first in line?

The email has been redacted to avoid the victim being identified. After you have read this, we urge you – again – to get calling, get tweeting and get emailing to demand that posh, well-paid men at Bristol City Council start DOING THEIR BLOODY JOBS!

And ask yourselves – what are the chances that The BRISTOLIAN discovered the only person in the city suffering from domestic abuse who is having trouble getting rehoused?