In the week that the ridiculous Guardian newspaper ran a story funded by a bank – ‘Meet the man who was part of a social housing revolution‘ – featuring Paul ‘Wolfie’ Smith, the Reverend Rees’s housing supremo who ran away, a new banner appears on Hengrove Way. The latest attempt to sell glamorous new build flats next to a dual carriageway?
Buy-to-let flats? How revolutionary. By strange coincidence, the other side of Creswicke Road, overlooking this new banner lies the Reverend’s new corporate chipboard housing project courtesy of Ikea:
The 3 bedroom homes here are currently listed on Rightmove at a price point of £275K.
“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?
An update on our notorious high-living slum landlord friends, Caridon, who took over ‘Imperial Apartments’, a cheap, shoddy conversion of the old Parkview council offices in Hartcliffe.
Caridon won a small lottery when they managed to rent 216 of their shitty little apartments, mostly studio flats, to the council. A policy promoted by defective housing department bosses over the summer who thought this was a great spot run by great people to dump the city’s homeless.
Alas, it transpires the council has only let 150 of these pokey little rabbit hutches in the middle of nowhere to the desperate and vulnerable. While the daft contract BCC housing officers signed with Caridon (publicly available online) states clearly that if BCC can’t let the spaces, then they still have to pay the rent in full. This is, we understand, £695 a month per empty studio flat. That’s about £45k a month being shovelled directly to the repulsive boss of Caridon for doing fuck all except owning a property.
An outcome that the pair of clowns who created this mess, Bristol HomeChoice Fuhrer Paul “Speer” Sylvester and his snooty boss from London, Housing Director Julian “Luvvie” Higson, assured everyone could not happen. They would expertly manage this obvious risk, they assured us, by “raising interest from people in the local community” and holding “a daily morning meeting to monitor progress”!
Wouldn’t it be fun to attend one of those morning meetings now to hear all the vain and self-serving excuses from Speer and Luvvie for their wholly predictable failure (surely sub optimal progress in a challenging environment? Ed)? A failure that will come as no surprise to the huge number of ordinary Bristolians without any high-earning housing management expertise who told them in the summer, “this is a totally shit idea on every level that you should have no part of”.
In further bad news, it appears that overpaid pillocks Speer and Luvvie have contracted the council to pay for all these apartments, whether full or empty, on a rolling contract with no fixed end in sight. And the pair even negotiated an option to take up a further 199 apartments on the site in January. Will our amazing housing business experts be taking up this exciting offer? Will their contract let them refuse? Do these chumps have the foggiest idea what they signed us up to?
Meanwhile, Health and Safety responsibility in this disastrous deal remains highly ambiguous. Officially, it’s Caridon’s lookout. But we all know how well a very similar relationship of this nature went at Grenfell Tower don’t we?
Speer and Luvvie’s Daily Progress Meeting when the first tenant on Caridon’s watch carks it will be interesting.
Who’s this irate councillor
looking concerned in the pages of the Nazi
Post? Step forward Paul “Wolfie” Smith, Labour’s cabinet housing
supremo. He’s “SHOCKED” and has “LAUNCHED A BLISTERING ATTACK”
on the University Hospitals Trust Bristol, who run the BRI, for leaving 20 of
their 36 flats on Eugene Street empty “WHILE PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING IN THE
The homes are currently empty as the hospital was refused planning permission for A MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK on the site by the council in March and are now appealing against the decision. However what the fuming councillor isn’t telling us is that the homes in question were sold for A FAST BUCK to the hospital by the council in 2008 for, er, “REDEVELOPMENT PURPOSES“.
And who on Earth was running the council in 2008 selling off our
council homes? Step forward our dear old friends in the angry and irate LABOUR PARTY. Then under the clueless
leadership of one of Wolfie’s old colleagues Peter “HOPELESS” Hammond and his deputy – one of Wolfie’s current
colleagues – prize-winning councillor HRH
HELEN OF HOLLAND.
As it emerges that they’re going to miss their affordable housing target of 800 homes by 2020, the Reverend and his housing sidekick, Paul “Wolfie” Smith are now resorting to DESPERATE MEASURES and cheerleading some pretty shabby development proposals through the planning system.
In June a Bristol City Council planning committee waved through permission for a 15 storey tower block on the Bath Road at Totterdown. THE HUGE AMOUNT OF CONCERN in the local community over a development that doesn’t meet the requirements for tall buildings outlined in the Local Plan – a policy revised just months before by the Reverend’s administration – was overlooked by a Labour majority Planning Committee, apparently IN A HURRY TO JUST GET SHIT BUILT.
The Reverend’s Housing Czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith took to social media before the planning meeting to give the development a PR BOOST, announcing, “Great to see Hadley group commit to at least 30% affordable housing and up to 50% for their proposed development on the old garage site on the Bath Road”.
Although developers, Hadley, had actually committed to just 20 per cent affordable housing and the council had agreed to SUBSIDISE a further 10 per cent (with possibly a bigger bung to come) with public money. This is despite the development being unsuitable for families and children, not least because it’s on one of Bristol’s busiest roads and has NO OUTDOOR PLAY AREA.
Meanwhile over at Hengrove Park – where the council’s vision of 1,500 homes on a public park was thrown out by planners just a few months ago because it didn’t comply with the Neighbourhood Plan – A NEW PLAN has appeared proposing just 50 houses less, which still doesn’t comply with the Neighbourhood Plan.
Residents in Hengrove and Whitchurch are UP IN ARMS at the poorly revised plans, which look set to be forced through by another Labour majority planning committee seeking affordable housing numbers rather than decent development. However, if the committee passes the plans, the community are promising a messy Judicial Review. And we all know Bristol City Council’s record at Judicial Review is ABYSMAL.
Keeping his manifesto promises was always going to be challenging for the Reverend Rees, not least because we calculated at the time that it contained about 78 UNCOSTED PROMISES in all. However, what we couldn’t predict was how the Reverend would smash through any BARRIERS TO FAILURE quite so spectacularly.
Top of the list must come his promise to “COMPLETE THE ARENA“, which has now been downgraded to, “I will cancel the existing arena project I promised and instead support a global corporation’s efforts to build an arena in Filton named after an obscure dead bloke who owned our local privatised water utility scam”.
Meanwhile in terms of the Reverend’s highly contested housing promise – “WE WILL BUILD 2,000 NEW HOMES – 800 affordable – a year (by 2020)” – his housing guru, Paul “Wolfie” Smith continues to carefully calibrate the spin with the line that his PROJECTIONS are on target … Even if the actual number of houses being built isn’t!
Then there’s the recycling promise. The Reverend’s recently promoted former waste boss, The Former Socialist Known as Kye Dudd simply CHANGED THE TARGET and hoped no one would notice. We will “increase recycling, setting a target of 55% for all waste by 2020,” thundered the Reverend’s manifesto in 2016.
Fast forward to 2019 and we find The Former Socialist Known as Dudd’s waste overseer, Bristol Waste managing director Tony Lawless telling the Nazi Post, “We are delighted to see Bristol is on track to meet its ambitious RECYCLING RATE OF 50 PER CENT BY 2020.”
The comment came after the Reverend’s council managed to announce in January a measly ONE PER CENT increase in recycling rates since 2015 to 46%. Nothing like enough of an increase to reach 50 per cent, never mind 55 per cent, by 2020 as promised in their manifesto.
Have Rees and Dudd changed their promise in a vain attempt to claim they have courageously fallen a little short of a hugely ambitious target and hope we’ll not notice?
The SICKEST PLAN YET for helping the street homeless in the city has been quietly launched by the Reverend’s ‘Housing Czar’ Paul “Wolfie” Smith and the team of bureaucratic scumbags running the council’s housing department.
We hear that the council has quietly handed a contract called a SOCIAL IMPACT BOND to a brand new consortium – Social Impact Bristol Ltd (SIB Ltd) that’s been set up by charities, St Mungo’s, Second Step and Bristol Drugs Project – to support 125 street homeless over the next THREE YEARS.
The devil, however, is in the detail. Because SIB Ltd is funded with a LOAN from Resonance, a “social impact investment company” and Resonance, in turn, obtained the cash for their £112,500 stake in SIB Ltd from “HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS” seeking a return on their investment.
These investors will get this return when SIB Ltd achieve certain carefully listed “OUTPUTS” or targets from their homeless clients and are rewarded with CASH by the council. SIB Ltd then use the cash to repay Resonance’s loan with interest. This will be passed on to the “high net worth individuals” so that they receive the all-important “RETURN ON INVESTMENT”.
This sicko scheme, marks the start of the financialisation and securitisation of street homeless people for profit in Bristol. It has already been tried by St Mungos in London and been deemed a “SUCCESS“! For who?
Will it be a similar “success” in Bristol and usher in a new golden age of PROFIT to local high net worth individuals directly from homeless misery? And how many homeless clients/victims will be FORCIBLY MANIPULATED through this system designed to make a profit for the wealthy?
All was not well in the department of endless lies and cover-ups run by Bristol City Council housing boss GILLIAN “Irma Grese” DOUGLAS after our last issue.
We hear Ms Grese was less than pleased at our REVELATION that her department was slyly signing off eviction threats to homeless families who had fallen behind on a dodgy service charges demanded by Grese’s favoured landlord for the city’s most vulnerable – Connolly & Callaghan (Bristolian 40).
We’re reliably informed that an especially sour-faced Grese marched long suffering managers and supervisors into a meeting room and began waving a copy of The BRISTOLIAN above her head while screeching, “THERE’S BEEN A LEAK, THERE’S BEEN A LEAK.”
The scene, we’re assured, was “completely and utterly hilarious and it was hard to keep a straight face as this ludicrous Scottish banshee whined her dismal song of the thoroughly EXPOSED.”
Meanwhile, over in HR, President Assad look-a-like, HR Director Mark “BASHAR” Williams has been telling anyone who will listen (which isn’t many) that, “The BRISTOLIAN has been giving me sleepless nights.”
No, we’ve no idea why either. But if your caring, sharing BRISTOLIAN is inducing nervous breakdowns in pointless Bristol City Council middle managers, who are we to complain?
Heard a boss whinging about The BRISTOLIAN? Get in touch.
It was with great sadness that The BRISTOLIAN heard last week about the passing of Martin Connolly, former owner of Bristol’s CONNOLLY & CALLAGHAN property speculators – or “a family-run property business, creating homes that make a difference to people’s lives” as their online spin-waffle goes.
We are told he died of a heart attack, no doubt brought about by the sheer volume of cash being emptied into his bank account by Bristol City Council’s “strategic directors” for all the neoliberal landleeching that C&C is doing for it. Surely The Reverend Mayor could have been more considerate to the health of BCC’s favourite outsourced “emergency housing provider”, and avoided the shock that such a vast increase in his profit margins would cause him?
The BRISTOLIAN would like to remind readers of some of the qualities and contributions Mr Connolly brought to us in his long and illustrious career. Where does one start? Is it in the rip-off prices and spurious service charges he charged and his “family run-business” CONTINUES to charge BCC to house the homeless?
Is it the mothers evicted from C&C properties at Carpenters Place, Knowle West, in 2016? Is it the financial collapse of the “charity” he funded called Bristol Housing Foundation (BFH) in 2013? Or is it the ongoing sale of community space at Hamilton House on Stokes Croft by C&C to build luxury apartments?
“But we don’t stop there”, as the marketspeak on the C&C website attests, so perhaps the crowning achievement of Mr Connolly’s “strong social ethos” and will to “provide shelter for the vulnerable” had to be that North Street homeless hostel in 2016 where the basement was running with raw sewage, the bedrooms overrun with vermin, where exposed electric cables dangled, and holes in the outside wall were so big you could stick your arm through. Now that’s what you call really making a difference to people’s lives.
DISCLAIMER: In case of confusion we must establish that, despite his name, Martin Connolly bears NO relation whatsoever to James Connolly, the revolutionary socialist, trades unionist, syndicalist and Irish freedom fighter murdered by the British army in Dublin, 1916.
Labour housing czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s efforts to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park continue to go badly awry as his planning team persist in their attempt to dump 1,400 homes in a field in south Bristol and call it “planning”.
Some progress was made when Wolfie’s planners caught up with the rest of the sentient universe and agreed that a public road access to their development was REQUIRED from Hengrove Way, the only major arterial route to the site.
However, planners then decided that this route must STOP one third of the way into the development to prevent “rat-running” between Hengrove Way and Whitchurch Lane. However, this will also PREVENT vehicle access to two thirds of the proposed homes from the road with the best capacity to handle the traffic. Planners, when asked where they think they are preventing rat-runners going, deliver the BLANK LOOK of someone who’s spent about as much time in south Bristol as the average Japanese Puffer Fish.
Concern for rat running then DISPELS less than a mile away where an existing residential road and ‘rat-run’, Bamfield, will provide vehicle access for two thirds of the development. Is the plan to prioritise the quality of life in the NEW DEVELOPMENT by reducing traffic there at the expense of an EXISTING residential area already handling supermarket traffic for Asda, school run traffic for Perry Court Primary School and existing “rat-runners” going home to Hengrove and Whitchurch?
How Bamfield, a residential road, is supposed to cope with even more traffic is NOT EXPLAINED. While enquiries regarding how many vehicle movements the new development might generate go UNANSWERED by planners who are, apparently, near the end of their “masterplanning” with NO CLUE how much traffic their development might generate.
Throughout this process, planners have remained DEAF to concerns regarding traffic issues in the area. Instead, the council’s mantra is that the new housing is a major benefit that residents have been calling for. A view CONTRADICTED by the council’s own Quality of Life Survey, where concern over traffic and transport dwarfs housing issues by about four to one.
So far, planners’ only real response to impending TRAFFIC HELL, reduced air quality and increased pollution is to enthusiastically draw little blue lines all over their plans indicating where their cycle lanes will go. This is for an area where their own data shows ZERO PER CENT of people cycle to work and any new roads will be cycle-friendly 20mph anyway.
Another “benefit” planners are keen to highlight is the £10MILLION proposed spend on park facilities and landscaping for the open space they haven’t concreted over. Although the reality is that residents are losing huge amounts of open space to housing and roads while any benefit from more park facilities is QUESTIONABLE while the council is proposing to close the existing Hengrove Play Park on Mondays and Tuesdays.
It also appears that there will actually be £10million worth of landscaped PSEUDO PUBLIC SPACE as the land will be turned over to a dodgy Carillion-style private management firm, procured by a skint council, to run. The level of maintenance and upkeep of this space is therefore likely to be LOW with ZERO community or democratic oversight once the council signs our land away to the private sector to manage.
The latest highlight of this public-private pseudo public space LANDSCAPING BONANZA is an optimistically named “village green”, planned to be built over the popular Family Cycling Centre. However, any traditional sound of leather on willow may be a little subdued by the main road into the development running DIRECTLY THROUGH this village green.
It’s obvious that this development is being pursued at a RAMPANT PACE by Wolfie in order to chase numbers for a manifesto pledge on housing numbers. While it might – if we’re lucky – support the housing needs of the rest of the city, it provides little that’s much use to locals who’ll have to live with the predictably DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES of it all.
Wolfie needs to get back to the drawing board or accept responsibility as the architect of a new Hartcliffe (another public housing development full of bold promises where there was never any money for the services and facilities to fulfil them).