Here’s today’s greeting for our hapless mayor. It’s appearing at College Green opposite his office:
Got a message for Marvin you would like to see at College Green? Line 1 – 17 characters; line 2 – 18 characters.
Here’s today’s greeting for our hapless mayor. It’s appearing at College Green opposite his office:
Got a message for Marvin you would like to see at College Green? Line 1 – 17 characters; line 2 – 18 characters.
Taking some much-deserved time off from wandering aimlessly around the city lying and bullshitting to long-suffering residents (surely spearheading a modern and professional election campaign? ed.), the Reverend Rees has taken an especially large dump and evacuated a stinking pile of an election manifesto on to the public. And yes, we’ve read it all and our research team are now in recovery.
Yet again, we’re treated to the, now, traditional Labour shopping list of promises off the back of a fag packet. We’ve counted a total of 91 of these promises and hardly any of them are costed. Starting with the unfeasibly bonkers plan to “deliver a mass transit system … in the form of both an underground and an overground” because, we’re assured, Marvin’s “laid the foundations for a mass transit system.”
What foundations has Marvin laid? A demented assertion in a couple of interviews and some orange lines on a Google Map? Where, for starters, is the feasibility study for an underground he promised three years ago? He’s, literally, done nothing about this plan he can show anyone. Why would anyone sane believe a word of it? And how much will it cost?
Another tactic from Marvin is to promise again things he promised in his 2016 manifesto. So having failed to deliver ‘2,000 homes a year, 800 affordable’ as plastered on billboards all over the city in 2016, this time we’re assured the Reverend will be “building over 2,000 homes a year, of which 1,000 are affordable, by 2024.”
Another gem recycled from the 2016 manifesto, “Complete and open Hartcliffe Way recycling and reuse centre”. Why hasn’t it been completed already as promised five years ago? Why believe it in 2021 if it was patently untrue in 2016?
Or how about this one? “We’re delivering on our 2016 promise to get an arena built”. The only thing Marvin delivered on this subject was the exact opposite by cancelling getting an arena built. Who believes they’ll be an arena open in Filton by 2024 then?
In all, there’s 14 pages of this crap. Some appears stolen from the Greens in a blind panic: “Provide free travel for apprentices and students under-25”. Some is appearing in everybodies’ manifesto as the essential uncosted promise du nos jours: “Deliver a London-style one-touch integrated ticketing system so that your ticket can be used across different types of public transport.”
Some is peculiarly clueless: “Deliver a Green Spaces and Allotments Strategy which encourages local food production in every ward to help tackle food poverty”. As if local food production has something to do with low cost food.
Similar economic illiteracy abounds throughout. Another big idea is, “work with the City Funds to deliver the economic priorities in the One City Plan”. Why the fuck get a small charitable grant making trust run by your evangelical looney mate to deliver an economic plan for the eighth largest city in the UK? It makes zero sense. Who thinks this shit up?
We’ll conclude with the Reverend confirming his five years of useless failure in style with the promise to “Expand the Community Toilet programme and introduce an app that provides their location”. In other words he’ll not be bringing back the public toilets he closed. Instead he’ll spend our money on useless private sector provision with a pointless tech solution thrown in.
That just about sums the Reverend’s politics up.
Here’s Monday’s greeting for our inadequate mayor appearing at College Green opposite his office:
Got a message for Marvin you would like to see at College Green? Line 1 – 17 characters; line 2 – 18 characters.
From our Violent Disorder Correspondent
The violence which surrounded the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest on Sunday 21 March catapulted Bristol into national headlines. The predictable outrage and condemnation by politicians and business leaders was magnified by gruesome statements (now unmasked as lies) coming from Avon & Somerset Police of officers with ‘punctured lungs’ and ‘compound fractures’. Meanwhile, the reason for the demonstration, a Tory Bill to repress protests, and the numbers of protestors injured by police in full public order kit, armed with shields, clubs and pepper spray was usefully obscured
After the initial ‘outrage’ news items, journalists began focusing on feature articles which attempted to contextualise the ‘Bridewell riot’. One well-read article ‘A city of protest: Bristol’s history of resistance’ on the BBC website began with the questionable premise that the city was somehow historically exceptional. It claimed that “The city’s counter-culture identity reaches back through the centuries”. This somewhat ludicrous claim was followed by some of the worst historical analysis we have seen for a while. Claiming dubious validity by referencing Mayor Marvin Rees’s controversial History Commission, the article continued by quoting a University of Bristol academic who was “investigating the city’s heritage of protest”. They stated:
There is a long history of protest in Bristol and a radical self-identify is more prevalent here, but why Bristol and not other cities is a difficult point. Bristol has always been a city of protest with an alternative identity that pushes back on those mainstream or established narratives. Protest is very richly woven into the city’s history and I think the people of Bristol today are influenced by that narrative of protest.
Apart from not making much sense (radical self-identify?), failing to explain what period they were referring to and vaguely talking about ‘narratives’ they also claimed that Bristol had “always been a city of protest with an alternative identity”. This begged some questions. What is this so-called alternative identity that Bristol has had for centuries? And isn’t protest woven into the fabric of many cities? Ok…give them a break you might say…let them get into some detail. They did and it got worse.
Centres of protest like Stokes Croft or St Paul’s are a stone’s throw away from more affluent areas like Clifton, where you also have a high student population where people are very interested in a different way of living.
This statement tells us more about the bubble where this academic hangs out than making much sense. Bristol’s centuries long ‘alternative identity’ is reduced temporally and spatially to the last 15 years and to Stokes Croft (which most Bristolians regard as a street rather than an area) with the added bonus of ‘edgy’ St Pauls. A different way of living? Bristol University? Yes, maybe a route to top jobs and wealth for public school and middle-class kids, but hardly a hotbed of counterculture.
Rounding off their contribution, the ‘expert on protest’ jumped to the late eighteenth century claiming “the Bristol Bridge riots in 1793 as the first notable clash with the establishment in the city”. Writing off almost all the 1700s in Bristol suggests social peace in the supposed ‘deferent century’. In reality, as most local historians know, Bristol was riddled with confrontations between crowds and the ‘establishment’ in the ‘riotous century’. From ‘moral economy’ food riots led by women who reduced prices by force, to turnpike riots and wage riots led by the Kingswood colliers and East Bristol Weavers, ‘collective bargaining by riot’ was a fairly normal method of direct action in a deeply undemocratic society.
At this point the article began to really lose its way, Exposing more about the current politics of the BBC and some of the contributing historians than teaching us any coherent history. The following timeline was offered as a guideline to the exceptionalism of protests in Bristol:
(BBC) Timeline of protests in Bristol
1793: The Bristol Bridge riots
1831: Queens Square Reform riots
1963: The Bristol bus boycotts
1980: St Paul’s riots
2011: Stokes Croft Tesco protests and riots
2019: Extinction Rebellion protests
February 2020: Greta Thunberg climate change rally
June 2020: Black Lives Matter protests
As anyone knows who has looked at the history of protest in any city, anywhere in the world, deciding what to include and exclude in a timeline is very difficult as there is so much protest, in so many different forms. Even if we concentrated on one form, say riots, the list would fill several pages and that would be unfinished. Looking at the above timeline, there are huge glaring gaps and massive omissions. So nothing happened over the 132 years between the 1831 ‘reform riots’ and the Bristol Bus boycotts of the 1960s? Really? The number of struggles connected to protest wiped out by the timeline in this period alone is truly remarkable: labour history, women’s history, enfranchisement, education, housing, healthcare, socialism, poor laws, anti-fascism, LGBT history, unemployed marches, communists, soldiers strikes, anti-war demonstrations, prisons etc etc.
As for riots, clearly only those that ‘count’ are to be counted. If the one-day event in St Pauls in April 1980 is alright, why not the two nights of rioting in Southmead that followed immediately after? Or the three nights of rioting in Hartcliffe in 1992 in response to the killing of two residents by police? Or perhaps the Sidney Cooke paedophile riot at Broadbury Road police station in 1998 led by local women? And the Poll tax riots of 1990? If the so-called Tesco’s riot of 2011 gets a tick, why not the massive wave of rioting and looting that occurred a few months later in August 2011 across England?
Is the history of protest being sanitised on the basis of social class and to some extent ethnicity? When St Pauls rioted in 1980 it is justified, when Hartcliffe did, it must be condemned, ignored or belittled. After all, what have working class people got to get angry about? This stinks of liberal politicos and academics with a social-democratic narrative trying to control the historical agenda of what is acceptable protest and what isn’t. This becomes clearer later in the article when we are informed:
Protests like the Bristol Bus Boycott were organised with clear aims and strategies which minimises demonstrations turning into something different.
I guess the ‘something different’ was a reference to the Bridewell ‘riot’ on the previous Sunday. A pattern is beginning to emerge, sensible, peaceful, organised, Bus Boycott campaign good….Anti-police bill demonstration bad. This assumes, of course, that peaceful protest works? Does anyone remember the massive CND demonstrations of the 1970s and 80s when millions marched legally, sensibly and peacefully to try and stop the introduction of first-strike nuclear weapons and the potential for mass destruction? Failure. Or the Stop the War marches of 2003 when millions marched legally, sensibly and peacefully to stop the invasion of Iraq? Failure. Compare that with hundreds of thousands breaking the law by refusing to pay the Poll Tax, storming city councils and famously rioting in London in 1990 which finished off the ‘Community Charge’ and led to the fall of the Thatcher cabal of right-wing nutters. Or thousands of miners going on strike, shutting power stations down and physically confronting the police in the 1970s which brought the anti-Union Tory government down. Or the Black Lives Matter protestors solving a century-long festering sore by pulling down the Colston statue after years of failed petitioning and peaceful protests.
If you think the historical debate is irrelevant to the protests around the Police Bill then fair enough. However, Bristol’s elected Mayor disagrees with you. In a Facebook video addressed to the city the day after the first protest at Bridewell Marvin Rees stated:
I absolutely condemn the violence we saw in Bristol last night. It was a display of selfish, self-indulgent, self-centred violence by a group of people who were looking for any opportunity to enter into physical confrontation….We have a history of politically significant protest, like Chartists and Suffragettes protesting for emancipation, trade unions striking and campaigning for jobs and rights at work. This was not that. Last night’s action was politically illiterate and increases the likelihood of the policing bill passing. The riot is not worthy of being mentioned alongside the very legitimate debate about the bill…..We won’t allow these people to hijack our city’s story.
Despite the obvious fact that the violence outside Bridewell meant that the ‘legitimate debate’ about the ‘Policing Bill’, which had been hardly publicised, was suddenly all over the media and forced politicians to start commenting on it, there were some more worrying signs in Rees’s statement. Odd as it seems, Rees appears to have appointed himself judge of what is ‘acceptable’ protest both now and in the past, and guardian of the ‘city’s story’ (whatever that is). Several commentators have noticed this Orwellian turn from the present to the past (and we suppose to mapping out the future) and the contradictions inherent in his statement. My advice is if you are going to set yourself up as the judge of ‘acceptable protest’ then at least read some history.
If the Suffragettes are ‘good’ then is Rees suggesting that mass campaigns of criminal damage, arson and bombing are the way forward for the Anti-Policing Bill protesters? If the Chartists are ‘good’ then would planning for an armed Republican insurrection and forming your own organised and armed force to deal with the Police on demonstrations be useful strategy and tactics for the protestors? If Trade Unions are good then would Rees support mass strikes over Bristol City Council redundancies due to austerity measures?…. Like fuck he would. It looks to me like Rees has either swallowed a sanitised, social-democratic historical narrative or that he really doesn’t know what he is talking about.
There may be an explanation to Rees’ turn to the historical and that is his flagship committee. The ‘We are Bristol (University)’ History Commission set up in the wake of the pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June last year. Perhaps this has spurred him to learn about some ‘radical history’. The irony, of course, is that it was a ‘bad protest’ that forced the Mayor to take the issue of the city’s contested history seriously after years of ignoring it. Will the ‘We are Bristol (University)’ History Commission try to become the arbiter of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protest history whilst itself being the product of what it would call a ‘bad’ protest?
For many of us who spent years challenging the sanitisation of the history of Edward Colston by City elites the move by Rees and his ‘academics in tow’ to now sanitise and ring-fence the history of protest in Bristol when faced by a real and vital protest movement is both ironic and dumb, but also boringly predictable.
Green party Mayoral candidate re-writing history! See his tweet – some hilarious comments
The Bristol 24/7 article demonstrates how desperate the bosses, state & middle class are to de-escalate the situation so we’re all peaceful –
– quote “Teams of officers with riot gear were poised well out of the way…”. Yeah like 75m away hiding in the NCP carpark next to Bridewell (with spotters on the roof), also 6 vanloads nearby in Deep St.
People gathered at College Green last week to protest a part of the ‘Police Crackdown Bill’ that targets the Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma community. The bill gives the Police new powers to fine and imprison people, simply for residing in a vehicle at the side of the road. It also gives Police the power to confiscate the homes of people they ‘suspect’ will commit trespass at some point in the future. The bill effectively bans and criminalises anyone who lives nomadically – whether through culture, choice, or necessity.
The protest began peacefully with people sat on the grass around tents and placards. The atmosphere was relaxed and calm as speeches were made, people danced, and others laid flowers and lit candles for Sarah Everard at the memorial to her. From here, ‘Chloe’ takes up the story. This is her full statement:
My name is Chloe. I was at the ‘Kill the Bill’ peaceful protest on College Green last Tuesday. My grandad was part of the Traveller community. I wanted to go along to show my support for the Gypsy, Traveller, and Roma communities threatened by the bill. I also wanted to take flowers to the Sarah Everard memorial. I have been working so much lately, I haven’t had the chance to go. I went with my friend Sophie. We are both shop workers from Knowle, Bristol. I am 25, Sophie is 22.
We placed our flowers and stood there reading the messages. Although it was sad, I felt so moved by the memorial and all the flowers and messages people had left there.
We had been there for about 20 minutes when a gang of riot Police ran up to us from behind. They started smashing up the memorial. They were kicking and stomping on the flowers and teddy bears. They were so angry. It looked like they were trying to make a point.
My friend Sophie took a step towards them and said: ‘Please don’t… this is a memorial for Sarah Everard’. The Police Officer said: ‘F*ck Sarah Everard’, and hit her over the head with his baton. The force knocked her off her feet, and her head hit the ground with a thud. As she was laying on the ground, he kicked her in the stomach. I started screaming and a second Police Officer hit me in the face with his riot shield and I fell to the ground. Blood was pouring from my nose.
I couldn’t see Sophie at this point, there were too many legs in the way. I struggled to get to my feet. The last thing I saw was Sophie being dragged off by her hair – completely unresponsive.
I was hysterical and crying at this point. Everything seemed a blur. I eventually found Sophie and she was conscious, but very confused about where we were and what we were doing there.
The next day, we phoned the Police to report what happened. The Officer told us we were lying, and said: ”You’re lucky we’re not arresting you for criminal damage”.
My view of the Police has completely changed. They acted like terrorists. The Officers should be punished for what they did to us, but I don’t think they will”. [Statement Ends]
We showed this statement to Bristol Mayor – Marvin Rees. He has refused to condemn the violence meted out to Chloe and Sophie, and said in a statement: ‘Police in Bristol have shown they are capable of managing protests well and with sensitivity’.
We also sent Chloe’s statement to all four Labour MP’s in Bristol; Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire, Karin Smyth, and Darren Jones. Each one refused to criticise or condemn the actions of the Police. Not one of them offered any kind of sympathy or regret at the way Chloe and Sophie were treated.
An unelected, unaccountable group of corporate chancers calling themselves the ‘Bristol City Leaders group’ have heaped praise on the Police saying: ‘We have complete confidence in the way Police have acted’. Despite many not actually living in Bristol, they have taken it upon themselves to speak for all of Bristol, as they proclaim: ‘The protestors are nothing but thugs who demean us all’.
We showed Chloe’s statement to five members of the shady ‘Bristol City Leaders group’, who some say is just a rebrand of the Merchant Venturers. These include: Ben Lowndes (Social – Communications Consultancy), Oona Goldsworthy (Brunel Care), Professor Steve West (Vice Chancellor – UWE), the Bishop of Bristol – Vivienne Faull, and Andy Forbes (Principal of City of Bristol College). We asked if they would consider retracting and disowning the group statement. They all declined. They also refused to add their names to growing calls for an independent inquiry.
Bristol City Council’s ‘Women’s Commission’ recently led a campaign called ‘Bristol, a zero-tolerance city’ which encouraged bystanders to ‘report violence against women, and raise awareness of gender-based violence through staff training’. We showed Chloe’s statement to several members including Vice-Chair Anna Smith, who is also CEO of women’s charity ‘One25’. Shockingly, Anna Smith declined to condemn the Police, and refused to include ‘One25’ in a list of organisations calling for an independent inquiry.
We showed Chloe’s statement to a serving Police officer in the Avon & Somerset Police. This is his reply:
”I can honestly say, in over 30 years service I have never witnessed such violence and brutality as this week. The total lack of professionalism and disregard for rules and procedure is astounding. Chloe’s statement is sickening to read. I am amazed she isn’t seriously injured. Their actions were deplorable. I watched the footage from that night. I saw a Police officer punch a woman in the face without any provocation. He was twice her size and strength. There is no justification in the way she was hit. Just mindless thuggery.
I watched the footage of a man taking repeated blows to the head. Even as he lay on the ground dazed, the officer continued to reign down blows of his riot shield. That is what would be classed as inappropriate use of the shield. He was out of control.
It sounds hard to believe right now, but there are some good people in the Police. Our job is extremely difficult at the best of times. We rely on the consent of the public. It’s not just a phrase, our job would be impossible without it. What makes me angry, is the fact that in the 80’s, the Police had a very toxic relationship with some parts, and some communities in this city. Since then we have worked bloody hard to repair that relationship and gain the trust and good will of those communities. Now it seems all that hard work has gone down the drain in the space of 7 days. I think there needs to be a proper inquiry, and Superintendent Mark Runacres needs to go.
The Police officers responsible for violent conduct should be sacked and prosecuted for assault. Some serving officers are a danger to the public. They should not have been recruited in the first place. Senior Police at the A&S are well aware of this”. [Reply ends]
Cleo Lake – Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, led calls for an independent inquiry into Police conduct. Via social media she said: ”I advocate the need for an urgent meeting & dialogue between Police and protestors to find a way forward if possible, in addition to the independent inquiry into the latest Bristol Protest. We must absolutely condemn the level of unnecessary Police violence witnessed in our city. We must have policing by consent. To all those peaceful protesters battered, I’m sorry this has happened to you. It is not, and will never be ok”. A link to Cleo Lake and Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement is below.
Bristol Lib Dems defended the right to peaceful protest, and called for an inquiry into how the policing was handled. Their statement reads: ”We have seen violence from a minority of protestors. However, the response by Police officers was disproportionate and excessive, which is also unacceptable”. This is an excerpt. Link to full statement below.
A group of 16 Labour council candidates published an open letter saying: ”We are deeply concerned about the videos circulating on social media which appear to show police using excessive force against protestors. Of particular concern are the reports of multiple journalists being intimidated and in some cases assaulted by the police. We condemn all violence. We absolutely condemn uses of excessive force. These incidents need to be fully, independently investigated and those responsible held to account”. This is an excerpt. Link to full statement below.
Bristol Women’s Voice have added their name to calls for an independent inquiry, saying in a statement: ”BWV are deeply concerned by the images of violence at the protests over the last week and horrified by the experiences of aggression we have heard about from women who have contacted us directly.
We condemn all violence – this is never the way – and we support the call for an independent inquiry into police behaviour”.
Discrimination and prejudice experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities has been called ‘the last acceptable form of racism’. Possibly the most sinister part of the ‘Police Crackdown Bill’ empowers the Police to confiscate GRT homes at the mere suspicion of future wrong doing. If GRT families are suddenly made homeless, the state has a legal obligation to remove their children and place them into care. People who remember ‘Dale Farm’ know it is not simply a case of buying some land and setting up camp. England has some of the strictest planning laws in the world. With GRT people unlikely to satisfy Local Authority criteria to get a Council house – they could be in for a long wait for housing and the return of their children.
Cleo Lake and Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement:
Sandy Hore-Ruthven’s official statement:
Bristol Lib Dems official statement:
Labour council candidates open letter:
At the end of last week Labour Councillor for Avonmouth Jo “Hippy” Sergeant quit the Labour Party. Before running for the hills she fired off a letter revealing the Reverend and his council’s Labour Group as a misogynistic bullying hell.
Now, this week an entire ward committee has quit the party. Here’s what they say:
To members of Lockleaze Labour Party
We are writing to you to let you know that we, the committee of Lockleaze Labour Party, have taken the decision to resign. We feel that we have no other choice.
In October 2020, a meeting was to held to select two candidates to stand as councillors in elections to be held in May 2021 as both our longstanding councillors Gill Kirk and Estella Tincknell were retiring. The process was overseen and approved by the Bristol Labour Party Campaign Forum which was responsible for the selection of candidates.
There were six excellent local candidates. The two candidates selected by due process were Alfie Thomas and Anna Lart Greene (see attached photo). Both are in their twenties, committed to the local area and able to speak up for local people on Bristol City Council. However, our chosen candidates were blocked by the South West Labour Party Regional Director and no one from Regional Office has talked to us about reasons for doing so.
Instead, Regional Office took over the selection process. They have not met their timetable for the selection of candidates which means that we still do not have Labour Party candidates in place for May’s election, despite campaigning officially starting on March 15th. Therefore, our position as committee members is not tenable.
We regret the decision we have had to take but have been given no alternative.
Lockleaze Labour Party Committee,
Do Rees and his right wing regional office cronies think Bristolians will vote for any old crap put up by the disorganised bent shambles that now passes for our local Labour Party?
Plans and sales literature have been published of the new 3 bedroom homes at William Jessop Way, Hartcliffe near Bridge Learning Campus that we are now invited to call ‘Jessop Park’. According to the blurb these homes are “ideal for first time buyers and growing families”. And the cost to first time buyers and growing families” in south Bristol? A snip at just £307,950!
The development by Keepmoat Homes is on former council land and the Reverend Rees gushed to the press when his plans for the land were announced: “We are delighted to be involved with a project that addresses one of our city’s most urgent priorities – building more housing, particularly affordable homes in areas that need it the most. We want to make Bristol a city where everyone has a safe roof over their heads, and we cannot do that without developments like this.”
Look out for much more ridiculously expensive “developments like this” on council land when the council’s housing company Goram Homes in partnership with private developers gets building near you.
You’ll be delighted!
What do you get if you combine a committee of snooty academics from the University of Bristol with a committee of time-serving Labour Party Hacks? THE BRISTOL HISTORY COMMISSION!
This ongoing FARCE, set up by the Reverend Rees in the wake of the Colston statue dethroning, has lurched from PR COCK-UP to PR DISASTER and now seems to be aiming to achieve all-out city-wide LAUGHING STOCK status.
The Commission got off to bad start with lots of people from across the city when its newly appointed Chair – who no one had ever heard of – University of Bristol History Professor Tim “OWN GOAL” Cole, decided, after a phone call with the CPS over the summer, that his Commission would COLLABORATE with the Avon & Somerset Police and become part of the criminal justice system.
Own Goal, we learn, UNILATERALLY made the dubious decision – of questionable academic ethics – that his commission would be part of the PUNISHMENT for protestors who hauled down the Colston statue and got conditionally cautioned by police for criminal damage. Prof Own Goal agreed to oversee a questionnaire where protestors would set out their reasons for their actions. Remarkably, most members of the commission only learned of Own Goal’s dodgy decision when they read about it in the Guardian on 18 September!
Own Goal’s next brilliant wheeze was to get some interns in to do the commission’s work for them because all these very important people are “TOO BUSY“. Own Goal personally advertised the internships – exclusively for University of Bristol post grads – at £10 PER HOUR funded by his Brigstowe Institute who, we’re told, receive money from, er … Wait for it … the MERCHANT VENTURERS, the city’s loathsome Colston cultists and dodgy statue enthusiasts!
Own Goal’s ad immediately came to the attention of #shitjobwatch, who monitor “very precarious or exploitative University of Bristol jobs”. They described the four internships as a “FIRST CHOICE” example of such practices. What does History Commission member and head of the South West TUC Nigel Costley have to say about that then?
And finally, when is Own Goal going to get off the phone to the Guardian, get his arse in gear and answer the simple set of questions about his commission sent to him last August by the Bristol Radical History Group?
Has Own Goal got any answers?
A row has broken out among Bristol’s Labour councillors over the Reverend Rees’s efforts to freeze council rents this year. The result is that crucial budget papers for the Housing Revenue Account were pulled from a Cabinet meeting at the last minute this week. Could a WAFER THIN voting majority at the Council House mean that the Reverend finally has to take some notice of his long-suffering backbenchers rather the unelected City Office business wankers and evangelicals he usually surrounds himself with?
The Reverend, having already made a song and dance in the local press about his generosity in freezing rents to help the poor, has been left high and dry by these backbenchers. The row directly pitches the LONG TERM VIABILITY of our council housing stock against short term electoral needs. The Reverend and his supporters are keen to push through this freeze believing it will ATTRACT VOTES when elections finally happen.
Another section of his party is more concerned that the freeze will create a HOLE in the Housing Revenue Account and will affect the council’s ability to build new homes; renovate old homes and meet their targets to retrofit homes to meet climate change targets. The cost of retrofitting, alone, is conservatively estimated at £0.5 BILLION
The £1.8m cost of a freeze for this year reduces the council’s ability to borrow to meet their housing commitments in the future. LESS rental income means LESS ability to borrow money. We’re told that this £1.8m actually amounts to over £50 MILLION less to spend on our council housing over the next 30 years.
There is also evidence from around the country that other authorities that have not raised enough money through rents have been forced to PRIVATISE their housing stock or seek out private ‘partnerships’ to support building and renovation plans.
As well as an effort to hoover up votes with POPULIST PLOYS, is the Reverend also trying to further lever open the door for a CORPORATE ASSAULT on our council housing through his mysterious City Leap public-private partnership programme that’s been eyeing up our city’s council housing assets?
Watch this space.
News that the Reverend Rees has decided to ‘co-source’ (that’s the same as out-sourcing but with ‘out’ replaced with ‘co’ to fool the very gullible indeed) security and cleaning jobs at the council out to one of their badly governed and unaccountable private company arms, Bristol Waste, has been met with dismay from just about everyone. Even the city’s number one raving proto-fascist, Richard “Bunter” Eddy, Tory Councillor for Auschwitz (surely Bishopsworth? Ed.) has criticised the move.
Our man on the picket line, “I’m all right” Jack Stalin, tells us, “The only possible reason for doing this is, in the long term, to cut the terms and conditions of low paid cleaners and security staff and outsource the council’s risk to a third party who can operate public services without being accountable to the public. The simple fact is that these low paid staff will be forced on to Bristol Waste contracts where terms and conditions are not as good as at the council.
“They also lose any democratic oversight of their terms and conditions. Instead, they’re now part of the private sector and subject to the whims of the council’s shadowy unaccountable company directors, corporate bean counters and highly paid consultants who want to squeeze every last penny out of the workforce while awarding themselves fat fees as a reward for their ‘efficiencies.'”
Is the council’s new “Build Back Better” post-Covid plan to put all their staff on crap “Built Much Worse” contracts? How many Labour supporters in Bristol voted for this latest piece of right wing toxic Tory shit from the Reverend Rees?
Unison, the GMB and the Unite unions have all raised a formal dispute with the council about this latest assault on the lowest paid by the highest paid. It’s one of ELEVEN separate disputes the unions now have with our shambolic Labour-run council. Security staff, meanwhile, have already managed to collar Rees and ask “How would you like it”?
They got no useful response from this bosses’ lackey, we’re told.