Tag Archives: Judicial Review

Downs Committee Statement March 21st 2022

The vile Merchant Venturer creatures on the Downs Committee: selfish; anti-democratic; unaccountable; dishonest; rude; arrogant; ignorant; misleading and stupid …

Here’s the full statement from Green Councillor, Christine Townsend made to the Downs Committee today:

As stated in January this committee must be served by the Nolan Principles, current composition prevents this. The Society of Merchant Venturers is an unincorporated, undemocratic, invite only, private members’ club whose position derives from ongoing environmental extraction and the historic horror of the TST [Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade] that saw human exploitation, kidnap and murder for private gain. The legacy of the TST is structuralised throughout present day society and personified in Merchant Venturer presence on this committee. Despite Freed claiming that the Merchant Venturers will
follow the Nolan Principles, the statement he then read out in January ran contrary to each and every one of them: –

Selflessness – Fighting members of the public in a prolonged, unwinnable judicial review, funded by the public purse to ‘save face’ is not in the public interest.

Integrity – Merchant Venturers are on this committee by way of this undemocratic, unaccountable private members club and, by definition, are here to represent and promote that organisation’s interests

Objectivity – Freed attempts to blame Downs for People for the cost of the judicial review. But it was the Merchant Venturer dominated sub of the Downs Committee, not Downs for People, that prolonged the case even though they will have known it was hopeless. They did not concede until they were almost on the steps of the courtroom. Downs for People were pursuing the case in the public interest to safeguard the Downs, mainly at their own expense.

Accountability – This committee has repeatedly failed to engage with scrutiny from members of the public, ignored email requests for information and has to date failed to make public the amount of public money wasted attempting to fight an unwinnable judicial review. As I stand here as a democratically elected representative there remains zero public information about the total sum wasted on this failed venture.

Openness – it is not acceptable that members of the public are needing to resort to making Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulation requests to get basic information. It was necessary for Downs for People to get a disclosure order via the court to have sight of the 20 year licence they were challenging, the judge was unimpressed with the Committee’s behaviour. Needing to approach the Information Commissioner to access requested information is shameful and the antithesis of the Nolan Principles.

Honesty – Freed’s statement references ‘the court case’ the process was a judicial review – accurat language use matters. Freed referred to the history of the Downs and claims that ‘at a time when the others were making a fortune out of developing houses all around it….they bought the land specifically to stop that from happening’ This statement is factually incorrect, the Merchant Venturers purchased the land in the 17th century and sold leases for development pocketing the money and quarried large parts for private capital gain. The idea that Merchant Venturers act in a manner that benefits anyone other than themselves is ludicrous and is demonstrated in other aspects of their ‘work’. The public words of their ex-head teacher John Whitehead stated that the instinct of the Merchant Venturers is ‘self-preservation’ days after the felling of their statue mascot the enslaver Edward Colston.

Leadership – Whilst Freed promoted historical inaccuracies, myths about the history of the
involvement of the organisation with the Downs and private profit made from it, described a judicial review as a ‘court case’ the rest of the Merchant Venturers sat back silent, this is not leadership this is complicity.

‘The Merchant Venturers need to remove themselves from our governance structures, getting out of Bristol’s democracy – removed if necessary.’

Turds of turd hall
Why are these unaccountable wealthy bastards allowed to spend public money on themselves as they see fit?

Public statement to today’s Down Committee Meeting by Cllr Christine Townsend, Green Party, Southville Ward:

The Nolan Principles cannot be served with the current governance set-up of this committee despite the elected members being bound by them as the Society of Merchant Venturers are not. Nor does the Society of Merchant Venturers make any financial contribution. The Committee’s secrecy, incompetence and extravagance have, cost the Bristolian tax-payer hundreds of thousands of pounds and must now be dealt with.

The recent Judicial Review illuminated how public funds were used to defend the indefensible. The settlement demonstrated that the Committee’s licensing decisions were, as they had been warned, contrary to the purpose of the Victorian piece of legislation that this committee is bound by. Society of Merchant Venturer members led on these decisions.

The Society of Merchant Venturers have sought to involve themselves in the democratic process and influence decisions in this and other arenas which has been well publicised in recent years. The time has come for a complete overhaul of how and why public money can be used by private individuals to further their own views, interests and ideological positions. The elected representatives of the people, including the Lord Mayor, must step-up and address these now pressing issues that run contrary to the democratic society in which we are told we live.

Officers administrating this committee do so as servants of the people paid from the public purse. Yet the contortions exercised in relation to the Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations questions from Downs for People do not reflect this. Your agenda today does not include the minutes from the Governance Task and Finish Group that previous paperwork indicates apparently met on December 13th. Nor could I find a record of a meeting stated as scheduled for September 8th – Why is that? Where are these minutes? This is unacceptable.

Councillors on this committee cannot claim the role of the elected mayor lacks transparency,
openness, avoidable loss of public funds and democratic decision making, whilst simultaneously dragging their feet with inaction and inertia in relation to this committee – that would be hypocrisy of the highest order.

The Society of Merchant Venturers need to hand over the Downs and remove themselves from our governance structures, getting out of Bristol’s democracy – removed if necessary.

Only those of us with a mandate to represent the people can be in position to make decisions over how our public spaces are managed and how much public money is spent on them. It is the people who have been paying for the upkeep and development of public space, not the Society of Merchant Venturers.

REWARDING FAILURE

REWARDING FAILURE

During a rambling speech to long suffering parents of SEND children in June, council Education and Social Services boss, Jacqui “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” Jensen, admitted there was  “A KIND OF MIX BETWEEN PARALYSIS AND PANIC” in her SEND department. A department that she was paid £150k a year to run with a kind of mix between efficiency and professionalism.

During the same speech she also made the barking mad claim that the humiliating Judicial Review she lost to SEND parents forcing her to reverse the unlawful cuts she had made in her department was, in fact, a  “A TECHNICAL PIECE OF CONSULTATION“.

So what is the council’s response to this shambolic performance from their very own VILLAGE IDIOT? Er, a pay rise! At an HR Committee meeting less than a month after this exercise in absurdity by a senior council boss in front of parents, councillors agreed to accept a recommendation from Jensen’s subordinates that “the annual salary for this appointment be set at the maximum of the range for the Executive Director – People role”. The maximum range being £165k. Or a £15K PAY RISE.

What would a council boss have to do to not get a generous pay rise?

CARRY ON UP THE SEND

CARRY ON UP THE SEND
The doc prescribing another dose of paralysis and panic

A BIZARRE AND RAMBLING SPEECH from city council social services director, Jacqui “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” Jensen, to Bristol’s long-suffering SEND parents at an event in June achieved little beyond richly demonstrating that Jensen is not up to the job.

As an opening gambit, Jensen admitted that the judicial review launched and won by SEND parents last year to reverse the council’s unlawful cuts to special needs budgets – cheerily implemented by Jensen two years ago – created “A KIND OF MIX BETWEEN PARALYSIS AND PANIC” in the SEND department. A department that she’s paid a fortune to run competently.

SO WHAT ARE WE PAYING JENSEN BIG MONEY FOR EXACTLY? Couldn’t we just get someone in off the street on minimum wage to create “a kind of mix between paralysis and panic” in the council’s SEND department? Jensen then went on to make the weird claim that the judicial review, won at great cost in time and money by Bristol parents, was, er, “A TECHNICAL PIECE OF CONSULTATION“.

Who knew? When did the council start doing public consultations at the High Court with the expensive help of a judge, solicitors and barristers working together to deliver a multi-million pound bill to council taxpayers at the end? Is this a new best value approach to consultations from our council tax?

“Not good enough,” heckled one frustrated parent at Jensen. We agree.