Tag Archives: Housing

WEALTHY CASH IN ON THE HOMELESS

WEALTHY CASH IN ON THE HOMELESS

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?

Is this the best we can do?

GOTCHA! YOU NAME ‘EM, WE SHAME ‘EM!

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.

ON THE DEATH OF MARTIN CONNOLLY, LANDLEECH & PARASITE

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.

HENGROVE PARK LATEST

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).

A HARPY NEW YEAR FROM CONNOLLY & CALLAGHAN!

Word reaches The BRISTOLIAN that Bristol City Council’s Housing Department are issuing EVICTION NOTICES TO HOMELESS FAMILIES that they have emergency-housed in rented flats owned by private property vultures Connolly & Callaghan. This is in order to try and recoup some of the enormous payouts that ROBBER BARONS Connolly & Callaghan are demanding from BCC as ransom.

BCC Housing Department are currently sending out THREATENING LETTERS to homeless families in Connolly & Callaghan properties who have fallen behind on what’s euphemistically termed a ‘service charge’. But there’s no precedent for people on BCC’s homeless list being compelled to pay charges for electricity, gas etc – and by rights, if the council insists on using the C&C shark pool as its ‘emergency accommodation’, THEN THEY SHOULD COVER THIS COST THEMSELVES.

C&C are already raking in £545 PER WEEK, PER FAMILY in their COUNTS LOUSE HOLD UP, and instead of BCC telling these GANGSTER SWINE where to get off, management came up with this sneaky ruse to swindle it out of the daily survival benefits and minimum wages of the TRAUMATISED RESIDENTS that they put in there!

The BRISTOLIAN has obtained a copy of the draft letter BCC are sending out:

What next? Is interim BCC housing manager Dorian ‘Grey’ Leatham going to carry through on these questionable legal threats and EVICT FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN just so they can be MADE HOMELESS ALL OVER AGAIN? All while C&C waltz off with their ILL-GOTTEN GAINS to the Cayman Islands and then come back greedy for more?

And what do Paul ‘Wolfie’ Smith and The Reverend have to say about this FUCKING OUTRAGE going on right under their noses and on their watch?

STAY TUNED: this story is only going to get bigger…

HENGROVE HOUSING HORROR

Reverend Rees’s housing tsar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s promises to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park have collapsed on first contact with the public.

The recent first round of public consultation in Hengrove found Wolfie’s Major Projects Team openly admit they will be providing NO FACILITIES as part of the development because “THEY ARE ALREADY HERE“. So don’t move there expecting anything other than McDonalds, KFC and Premier Inn to service your needs.

The only public investment planners are agreeing to will be a GP surgery – somewhere – which is already urgently required in the Whitchurch/Hengrove area due to CHRONIC over-subscription of the existing GP service – and more primary school places.

 However, there will be NO NEW SCHOOLS. Instead, existing primary schools in the working class area – highly regarded for their leafy and spacious grounds – will be extended and expanded. Conveniently REMOVING playing fields and open space from the schools and leaving more prime development land for corporate developers to transform into high density rabbit hutches (surely exciting sustainable housing in the ‘Bristol Vernacular’ style? Ed.).

The highlight of this major development shambles, mainly designed to place large sums of cash into corporate developers coffers, however, is the plan to SHUT the recently opened Family Cycling Centre on the old Whitchurch Athletics Track and build a main access road over it!

Not only does this plan DEMOLISH one of the few public facilities still allowed in the area, it also demonstrates Bristol City Council’s real level of commitment to so-called “sustainable transport” and “active travel” once the hard cash for corporates is on the table.

 The council’s current Quality of Life Survey lists the number of commuters cycling to work in the area as ZERO PER CENT while 60 per cent use their car. And car use will only increase once Wolfie throws up 2,000 extra homes with car parking spaces. Why would anyone want to promote cycling here?

Residents in and around Bamfield in Whitchurch are especially up in arms since their residential road is set to become the MAIN VEHICLE ACCESS to all this new housing. Thousands of vehicles will be encouraged to drive down Bamfield every day and then drive directly over the ex-running track to access Wolfie’s new “community”. Locals predict traffic chaos and say the level of congestion and pollution likely to be generated by this plan is “HUGE“.

 Meanwhile, the obvious road access to the development, directly off Hengrove Way – a MAIN TRUNK ROAD specifically designed for heavy traffic – will be buses only and blocked to private cars!

 Who thinks this shit up?

WOLFIE’S GATEKEEPING SCAM EXPOSED

Bristol City Council’s gatekeeping policy on trial

Earlier this month, The BRISTOLIAN revealed that Bristol City Council was reintroducing the ILLEGAL practice of “gate keeping”, one that it had already been reprimanded for in July 2013 by the LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN. The hush-hush policy aims to exclude certain categories of recently-made homeless from the assistance which a council is under a legal obligation to provide – all, of course, to allegedly “save money”.

We can reveal that BCC’s Housing Department Manager GILLIAN “Irma Grese” DOUGLAS and her boss, NICK “Pooper” HOOPER are the six-digit salary (and former “Dirty Thirty”) criminals responsible. In early September Pooper directed unterscharführer Irma to do his dirty work for him, which she promptly did. Telling the entire BCC Housing Department – by word of mouth ONLY so there was NO WRITTEN EVIDENCE – that from now on they were to EXCLUDE young Bristolians recently made homeless.

For example, if an applicant was a teenage single mother kicked out of her home, then she would have to go back to her parents and get a 28 DAY NOTICE TO QUIT and would not be helped until she had brought that “evidence” back IN WRITING.

The BRISTOLIAN can also reveal that word of this unauthorised scheme – drawn up by TWO OF HIS SUBORDINATES – landed on the desk of BCC’s Housing Czar, PAUL “Wolfie” SMITH, thanks to two concerned housing activists. In addition, it was revealed that not only were teenagers being excluded but also adults.

Wolfie responded that he was “very concerned” and would “investigate”. In addition he added that this would “at last” provide him with the evidence he needed to DRIVE OUT Pooper and SS unterscharführer Irma from BCC.

Well Wolfie, September is now finished and we’re still waiting for ANY ACTION AT ALL. Rumours are circulating that the latest BCC “gate keeping” policy introduced by two sociopathic apparatchiks on their own initiative is not only continuing, but has also been EXPANDED.

 Wolfie had better get cracking, as The BRISTOLIAN is amassing compelling evidence of this and MANY OTHER UNCONSCIONABLE FAILURES by the Director of Housing that it will reveal in due course and, of course, PASS ON TO THE OMBUDSMAN.

** STOP PRESS – two Broomhill EPH evictions 11AM 16.08.17, including an illegal one of a very ill young woman **

PRESS STATEMENT

The Real Reasons Why Broomhill Elderly Peoples Home (EPH)
Was Placed Under Occupation
<

This statement refutes the spurious claim made by Director of Housing Cllr Paul Smith of Bristol City Council (BCC) in the Bristol Post, August 10 that the remaining guardian-tenants at Broomhill EPH were ‘standing in the way’ of the council’s noble mission – allegedly by occupying the building, preventing its demolition, and the building of 10 social housing units. This is a deceitful manipulation of the facts, which we will now present.
Background Information

Following the crash of 2008 and subsequent austerity, many supposedly unviable BCC public buildings fell into disuse, including schools, care homes, leisure centres, fire stations etc. Later on BCC leased these buildings to two ‘Property Guardian Companies’ – Camelot and AdHoc, under the knowledge that these companies would, on a temporary basis, house renters (known under the legally ambiguous term of ‘guardians’) therein.

BCC then promptly forgot about the buildings, their occupants, and their original plans for demolition, while Camelot and AdHoc took advantage of the situation to make a fortune out of charging rent to hundreds of people priced out of Bristol’s private renting racket in sub-standard-to-outright-dangerous BCC owned properties.

However, following the Roynon v Camelot case in Feb 2017, which established that all guardians potentially had the full rights of tenants, BCC terminated its contract with both Camelot and AdHoc with effect from Christmas 2017, with the understanding that the companies would evict all residents by this date.

Points and Demands

It is in this context that we wish to make the following seven points:

  • As owner of the properties concerned, Bristol City Council has a duty to properly re-house all the guardians it left to the tender mercies of Camelot and AdHoc. Because there was no provision made, despite assurances given by Cllr Smith to the contrary, for protecting all guardians during the transition back to BCC control. This is simply unacceptable and a blatant reneging of BCC’s word.
  • Also the tenant legally evicted today was the whistleblower who first brought this scandal regarding Camelot’s behaviour out into the open so that BCC could take action against the corporate criminals operating on its property. Is it Cllr Smith’s moral duty to now wash his hands of him and let him be kicked out into the street, from a BCC owned property?
  • In the case of the second tenant, she is a young woman who is recovering from a serious illness, and in addition she was kicked out illegally. Camelot are being told as a legal warning that she has a right to go back in as this goes to print. BCC simply cannot tolerate these cowboy evictions on its conscience.
  • While some of the ‘guardian’ properties are clearly best demolished due to their age or unsuitability, in the current housing crisis it makes more sense to bring the remainder up to standard again and use them as temporary homeless shelters, but this time regulated under direct BCC control and not ‘leased’ out again to third parties of any description.
  • In relation to point 5 above, Broomhill EPH was selected for occupation as being a prime example of such erroneous BCC policy. Broomhill is a relatively modern and sturdy building, yet is scheduled for demolition and supposed replacement by 10 ‘social housing’ units at some indefinite point in the future. Why is ‘cash-strapped’ BCC not questioning the time taken and money required for such a task, while the necessary repairs and refurbishing required for 40-50 quality units of homeless accommodation could be carried out in the building as it stands, and for just a fraction of the cost and time. Why is this not being done?
  • Finally, under the 1996 Housing Act, in the case of a publicly owned building scheduled for demolition, if an evicted tenant has not made him/herself ‘intentionally homeless’, then the local authority that owns the building has the legal duty to assist him or her in finding alternative accommodation.

In addition, we make the demand that any properties that BCC keeps in operation as homeless accommodation must NOT be leased to either private profiteers or to the many so-called charities that use the discredited ‘guardian licensee’ contract or its equivalent.

ILLEGAL BCC GATE-KEEPING POLICY REINSTATED

Word is spreading that rogue bullshit jobbers (ie. middle management) in Bristol City Council’s Housing Department re-introduced the illegal practice of “gate-keeping” last week, presumably to restrict Bristol’s homeless access to public services they’re entitled to under the pretence of “saving money”.

Obviously aware that the council had already been reprimanded for this practice by the Ombudsman back in 2012, our very own bullshit jobforce (on huge salaries at taxpayer expense, and including members of the Dirty Thirty) went around all of BCC’s front-line housing staff in person and told them that they were to refuse all help to young Bristolians turfed out of their family homes, under the pretence that they “do not qualify as homeless” until they “can provide proof in the form of a legal notice to quit (28 days) from their families”. As if this is going to happen! Never mind, because the undeserving poor can just sleep on the streets until they get them.

So the question must be asked: Is Housing Director Paul “Wolfie” Smith aware of such illegal, clandestine shenanigans amongst his subordinates? Or are they simply doing whatever they want? And what is Nick “Pooper” Hooper’s role in all of this? Is the high priest of BCC’s bullshit jobbers still in charge of “administrating” the Housing Dept, or has he, as rumoured, been moved on to blight another department?

Maybe another visit by the Ombudsman can give us the answers to all of this and more…