Tag Archives: John Newman


Web ExclusiveJust days after putting 28 staff on notice of redundancy, troubled charity HorseWorld’s managing director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen and chairman of trustees John L Newman are obviously feeling the same extreme levels of worry and fear as those whose jobs are actually on the line. How else could one explain their movements these past couple of weeks?

You’ll recall, by way of background, that serial bungler Owen managed to lose millions of pounds of the charity’s money since joining just a few years ago. He then spectacularly failed to get his flawed planning application – backed by three trustees with professional property development interests – past clued-up councillors.

So this January kicked off with them handing notice to dozens of their low-paid staff that they probably won’t have a job in a few weeks’ time. It’s to the credit of the hard-working animal lovers who actually keep HorseWorld going that despite all the stress and uncertainty caused by their idiot bosses they have simply been getting on with caring for horses and donkeys.

Meanwhile, their esteemed MD? Gone ski-ing. Yes, an expensive week-long skiing holiday for Mister-80k-Per-Annum-Plus-Shiny-28k-Audi Mark Pinnochiowen.

Rome, burning? Pass me my fiddle!

And the Chairman of Trustees? Surely he’s around to field the flak and take the concerns of staff to heart? Well, er, no actually. He’s said to be sunning it in Barbados, returning in a few weeks’ time.

The need for these hard-pressed holidaymakers to pack their cases and ship out suddenly might just explain the careless and hurried approach to their redundancy announcement two weeks ago.

Having ordered the affected 28 in a meeting that they were not to go public, or involve unions, and to keep the whole thing in-house, word naturally leaked out and found itself in your humble ‘Smiter’.

Cue a boardroom panic, a quick purchase of Employment Law For Dummies, and lo and behold, the next day a press release was issued (which even the Evening Bristol Post was highly sceptical of), claiming the charity is consulting on redundancies with ALL staff (except the MD, presumably).

So, to recap: first scare the life out of 28 people. Then extend the fear to roughly sixty. While they quake and tremble in the wake of your redundancy process fuck-ups, what do you do? Leave the country. Simples.

Can it be long before these muppets start offering expensive consultancy packages on crisis management?


More scandal from Whitchurch’s beleaguered equine charity HorseWorld…

HorseWorld M.D. Mark Owen: management skills of the back end of a panto horse

HorseWorld M.D. Mark Owen: management skills of the back end of a panto horse

Web ExclusiveFull-of-himself HorseWorld boss Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen has been serving up the Kool-Aid to his demoralised staff and forcing them to write to Bath & North Somerset Council…

Why? He wants them to support his INSANE PLANS to knock down the current visitor centre so that he can flog off the land to housing developers – and, err, build an ugly gurt shed of a new visitor centre!

The scheme – which would see 125 houses squashed into a village of only 460 dwellings – could be the last roll of the dice for Owen, who took hold of the reins in 2008. Desperate to justify a 2013 pay rise that many would call OBSCENE – even if it were for the MD of a well-performing charity, let alone one that’s lost over a million quid in just two years – Owen’s attention has been fixed on getting planning permission for his madcap plans. His vain hope? That this might improve the ‘Visitor Offer’ and thereby solve the BUDGETARY CRISIS he himself created during his flimsy tenure.

It’s not a view shared by locals – 615 letters objecting have already been received by BANES, along with representations against the development from both Whitchurch and Compton Dando Parish Councils, plus Bristol City Council and the Whitchurch Village Action Group.

Particular concerns have been the added strain on local schools, services and roads, Owen’s back-of-a-fag-packet estimates of increased visitor numbers and memberships, building into the greenbelt, and a lack of environmental features.

But ever the resourceful spiv, Owen hatched a cunning plan to win over the BANES Planning Development Committee, which meets this Wednesday (23 October) to consider his planning applicationDEMANDING staff must write to the council with letters of support for his plan! No ifs, no buts, that letter had to be penned. Only they mustn’t say they’re connected to HorseWorld, lest they undermine their case.

A swift look at the council’s planning website reveals a large proportion of those 110 letters ‘supporting’ Owen’s plans are, in fact, from the charity’s paid employees, volunteers and even trustees. They don’t reveal themselves as such, no doubt in the hope that the council will be hoodwinked into thinking they’re independent-minded people.

Those supporters deftly avoiding any mention of their connection to HorseWorld include finance supremo Nikki Bridges (remember her from The BRISTOLIAN #4.7?), Director of National Equine Welfare Jerry Watkins and his wife Dawn Parker-Watkins, human resources boss Becky Hopkins, trustee Marg Stenner, visitor centre coordinator Sharon Crewe, marketing and communications manager Samantha Greatbanks, education worker Kim Pounsberry, training groom Kayleigh Macleod

Meanwhile, those HorseWorld trustees who’ve supported Owen every step of his disastrous way – like Andrew Dowden, Ernie Hemmings and John Newman – remain desperately tight-lipped.

It couldn’t be that any of them work in the construction or financial investment industries with the chance of CASHING IN on Owen’s greenbelt concrete fantasy, could it..?