Not much information emerging from the Rev Rees on the scale of cuts in public services he’s proposing over the next year*. Instead the inane egoist seems to be focussing his PR efforts on boasting about how many ‘hits’ his ridiculous Canadian TED Talk is getting on Youtube and his fantasy plan for an underground network in Bristol.
What we do know is that of the £11.7m of savings planned for delivery in 2021/22, only 46% were achieved.Leaving around £5.5m to be brought forward to this year. We also know around £29m of ‘efficiencies’ and ‘transformations’ were announced in this year’s budget. That’s a total of about £34.5m cuts to be made to public services this year then.
But what will be cut? Council documents, carefully hidden from view, have identified “six key areas for service reviews”. They are: property and capital; be more business-like and secure more external resource; improving efficiencies; digital transformation; reducing the need for direct services and, er, redesigning, reducing, or stopping services.
Property appears on these cuts lists every year and delivers nothing; the council being “more businesslike” is a hollow joke and that last time they tried digital transformation it delivered a £30m deficit senior bosses tried to hide from the mayor and public.
It’s therefore likely all the cuts will come from “improving efficiencies”, euphemism for staff cuts; reducing the need for direct services, which means trying to stop the public accessing services they’re entitled to (see SEND) and redesigning, reducing, or stopping services, which means scrapping services altogether.
So the Reverend’s plan is to fire staff, bully council taxpayers into not taking up services and cut anything else that’s not nailed down to save £34.5m
No wonder he wants you to look the other way at his stupid TED Talk.
*Since this article was published Bristol City Council has published a press release acknowledging they may need to make £31.1m next year. What they didn’t mention was an annex to a finance report to cabinet that suggested these cuts might be as much as £87.6m!
Remember last year when the council’s useless pillock of a Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, and his ludicrous arselickin’ sidekick, Facilities boss, David Martin “Bore-Mann”, threatened to sue Councillor Gary “Meathead” Hopkins and Councillor Richard “Bunter” Eddy for defamation after they said what they thought at a council meeting?
Bunter described comments by Bedwetter and Bore-Man at a HR meeting to discuss the outsourcing of council cleaners and security to Bristol Waste as “worthy of Dr Goebbels and the Third Reich”! While Meathead waded in telling them “I don’t believe a word of what’s been presented to us by the management side.”
Months later, with the Reverend safely re-elected, Bedwetter and Bore-Mann suddenly announced, to much hilarity, that they were suing this pair of robust critics of the Reverend for defamation.
Legal letters had been dispatched we were solemnly informed.Then we heard, er, absolutely nothing.
Until a recent article in the Nazi Post explaining Bunter might be sued again for comparing women’s rights campaigners to “fascists”during the recent debate about keeping Bristol’s strip clubs open.
Tucked in at the end of this article, was an explanation of what happened to that last libel action: “Both members denied any wrongdoing and the matter is understood to have been resolved recently by agreement with no further action.”
No sign of a retraction. No sign of an apology. No sign of damages. No sign that Bristol City Council bosses aren’t Nazis. Looks like it’s perfectly OK to call council bosses Nazis then.
The pastors at the Reverend Rees’s church, the Hope Community Church in Hotwells, are Chris and Alice Bond. A quick search on the Hope’s website uncovers a sermon from Alice on the subject of gay marriage.
The Hope Church therefore refuses to wed or bless gay couples. Maybe all well and good? Everybody’s entitled to their views no matter how hate-filled or obnoxious they may be. Similarly, people are entitled to attend a church where obnoxious views are promoted.
However, Chris and Alice Bond also share a seat on the Western Harbour Advisory Group. A group set up personally by the Reverend to support his controversial proposed corporate redevelopment of the Cumberland Basin.
Oxford educated Chris Bond is also the chair of governors at Hotwells Primary School. Our question is, should open homophobes be sitting on public bodies?
The Reverend’s bizarro press conferences making national headlines raises questions about the state of our local press. The Reverend boasted about his “open press conferences” to the Mayor’s Migration Council website as recently as May: “my motto is: ´ask me anything,” he chirped with a straight face.
Not quite. It’s since emerged that Local Democracy Reporters at the Post could not attend these ‘open’ press conferences “by agreement” with whatever moron was running our local newspaper at the time.
Middle class community rag, The Bristol Cable, then waded in, explaining that they’d never been allowed to attend the ‘open press conferences’ since they began two years ago. Although, for some reason, they didn’t tell anyone or consider their ban newsworthy.
It gets worse. Bristol 24/7 hackette, Ellie “Copy Typist” Pipe, attended the press conference on the 8 June. She watched Rees’s dreadful council tax funded PR Saskia “Hindley” Konynenburg attempt to bully newbie Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook on camera for asking the Reverend a mild question about his pointless climate change lecture trip to Vancouver. And Ms Pipe didn’t notice anything worth reporting!
The story finally came to light two weeks later when citizen journalist Jo “Vexatious” Booth, saw the blatant act of bullying on Youtube and posted the clip to Twitter. Cue viral story and the Reverend and Koynenburg making national headlines for their bullying antics.
Bristol journalists really need to get their shit together and stop allowing themselves to be easy pushovers for the Reverend and his PR team.
How many stories have these idiots allowed to be buried over the last six years?
Rumours emerge that council staff are less than happy that the Reverend has seized a £900k underspend from last year’s budget to reinstate £400k of funding to his personal office that was scrapped by councillors at this year’s budget meeting. The other £500k will be tucked away in the Reverend’s slush fund (surely ‘Reserves’? Ed).
The £400k will be spent hiring new staff to bow and scrape around the lame duck Reverend so that they can carry on spying on what local residents are saying about them on Twitter and continue bullying the press into complying with the Reverend’s deranged stateside worldview.
Meanwhile. a memo is doing the rounds at the council telling staff there is a recruitment freeze.This means that any staff not up on the privileged third floor servicing the Reverend’s personal needs will simply have to work harder to make up for a management imposed recruitment freeze.
A holding statement regarding the spying by council education bosses and External Comms officers on parents with SEND children was put in to cabinet today by councillors.
The statement from senior councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Commission seemed intent on keeping its powder dry for the People Scrutiny Commission on Monday. When councillors with direct knowledge of SEND issues may have the opportunity to grill some of the moral and mental inadequates directly responsible for the spying as well as the authors of the council’s unreliable fact finding report.
The suspicion is that OSMB councillors know that a cabinet meeting dominated by the Rev Rees, who can talk his personal brand of tedious drivel long as he likes and take any decision he likes, may not be the ideal forum to address the issues at stake. However, the OSMB statement still makes a few useful points.
Firstly, they completely distance themselves from the council’s flawed fact finding report and dump responsibility for that hot mess firmly on the officers:
It is therefore an officers’ report not an OSMB report, and its conclusions are those of Legal Services not of OSMB members.
OSMB also express some serious concerns about the director-level oversight of the spying. The direct responsibility of Education Director Alison “Pervy” Hurley and People Director Hugh “Cares?” Evans, both banking a small fortune in public money to, at least, get the basics right and leave an accountable paper trail behind them for their actions.
OSMB also has strong concerns about the statement in the report that there was “no formal written decision to authorise the gathering of these social media posts”. Although the officers’ report concludes that there was no legal requirement to undertake a DPIA, this has been concluded in retrospect and only after concerns had been raised in the public domain. There does not seem to be any evidence of the officers involved in the collation of social media posts considering whether a DPIA was necessary beforehand. There is also no evidence of any of the officers considering whether the action they were taking, (i.e. searching through personal social media of parent-carers of children with Special Education Needs) was morally or ethically appropriate.
Full steam ahead to next Monday then. When some of the dodgy officers responsible for spying might have to show-up and explain themselves.
Book your tickets early.
*******A meeting of Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission will take place on Monday 12 September at 5.00pm for councillors to discuss this absurd report and next steps. People are encouraged to ask questions, make statements and, if possible, to attend and jeer at any spying director or manager scum in attendance (that’s if they have the balls to attend – look out for last minute sick notes). Details on asking questions and putting in statements are here under ‘Public Forum’.
Gossip from around the Nazi Post’s city centre flexible workdesk regarding their new editor Pete “Swindon” Gavan.
“When former editor Mike Norton was in charge, everything was at the whim of Norton and how his relationship with Kevin Slocombe (the mayor’s PR assistant) was going. If they fell out, a minor put down by Marvin to a reporter was front page news.
“If Norton and Slocombe were mates, Esme Ashcroft [former Post political editor] was prevented from investigating Marvin’s deal with YTL, conducted in the Far East, for an arena at Filton. Esme left because of it. Now though, it seems the new boss isn’t taking any shit. He don’t care who Slocombe is.”
Neither does anyone else in the city. What’s the big deal about pound shop spin doctor Slo Kev anyway? We watch events with interest …
Yesterday, a report was set to go to Bristol City Council’s cabinet to agree a large capital spend to tackle the city’s crisis in school places for SEND children. Imagine the surprise when the agenda item disappeared off the agenda at middayyesterday prior to the meeting at 4.00pm.
The council later claimed that the item was pulled due to the spiralling costs of building work. Had these costs spiralled in the five days since the report was first published online?
Another theory is that the item was hastily pulled to avoid the public making statements and asking questions about SEND that could have included queries to the Reverend Rees about his dodgy SEND spying scandal. Has an urgent item of SEND expenditure been pulled to save our thin-skinned mayor from embarrassment and, possibly, legal complications?
Here’s one statement from a parent that got pulled when this agenda item got pulled at remarkably short notice. Read it and make up your own mind about what’s going on:
The Decision Pathway Report says: ‘Whilst this report puts forward a positive story about the council investing capital funds to deliver much needed capacity within the SEND sector, it is often the case that the reaction to such proposals is mixed. This should not deter BCC from proactively sharing this news ahead of the Cabinet decision in August and we’d recommend taking a positive stance on talking about the amount being invested and the impact it will deliver. Preparations can be made to put reactive lines in place to respond to likely counter’s [sic] from external commentators and we’d recommend ensuring a comprehensive stakeholder comms plan is in place to cover individual projects and ensure those impacted are fully aware of the proposed investments.’
This section has been added by a PR officer on 14 June 2022. Send families form the majority of external commentators in this context. These are families who have had the most traumatic of experiences. If nothing else is obvious to Cabinet, the need for an additional 450 Send places shows how many children and young people have been suffering and for how long.
To tone police and minimise the response from ‘external commentators’ shows that disability discrimination truly is an acceptable form of discrimination by the council and administration. Its external comms department is party to victimising the families of those with protected characteristics for speaking out and advocating for their needs.
Appendix D [pictured below] says there will be ‘reputational risk’ if the council is unable to name education settings in EHCPs. This is because ‘sufficient provision is not yet in place’. It says the key consequences of this ‘could result in increased complaints to the council and/or a judicial review’. The Key Mitigations state:
‘Communications plan required. External Communications Team engaged. Workshop to develop comms strategy to be held’. It is dated 27 July 2021. In addition, there are two restricted items, a first for council Send papers.
The One Page Business Case paper says that the lack of specialist provision results in: ‘CYP educated out of area, CYP needs not met, BCC not meeting legal duty, More expensive placements being used, Judicial reviews, Negative reputation, Political pressure, EHCPs cannot be finalised.’ All papers show the extent of the specialist places crisis and the impact of this, such as the LA ‘not meeting legal duty’ and ‘EHCPs cannot be finalised’.
These are things that families have been speaking out about for years. And yet, for speaking out they are ‘critical commentators’ with External Comms running a workshop to deal with it. This workshop was to develop a strategy to protect the council’s reputation against families using the entirely legitimate legal action of Judicial Review, against an LA not meeting its statutory duty.
Leaked emails by The Bristolian last month revealed that council staff, including at director level were monitoring the social media of Send parents and compiling lists of individuals and organisations they considered to be ‘critical’. This included cross referencing personal accounts and delving through photographs and sharing the data with third parties. The External Comms team just keeps popping up like some kind of Council Black Ops whenever something happens the LA doesn’t like.
The papers named above potentially indicate the council is in breach of Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights [Freedom of Expression]. It supports residents’ concerns about unlawful covert surveillance taking place – as far back as July 2021 – as well as possible Victimisation under the Equality Act 2010.
Public Forum statement to Bristol City Council Cabinet 02 08 2022 (unpublished)
A gushing and not altogether clear media release arrives. From the pen of the massively overspent Bristol Beacon (formerly the Colsunall. Ed) we’re first treated to some introductory corporate word salad about “core values” and “sustainability, diversity and creativity” before the main event. An excitable announcement from the Beacon’s useless management, who have managed to spend £104m on a £54m concert hall refurb project that’s resulted in the venue being valued at, er, zero.
The big news from this whacko state funded culture gang is that their worthless venue is going into a “corporate partnership” with local TV production firm, Plimsoll Productions. Plimsoll will produce two videos to showcase and “raise awareness of the work done by Bristol Beacon” and they will collaborate with Bristol Beacon on a number of creative projects in local communities.
What this work might consist of isn’t made very clear. Neither is it very clear how much we’re forking out via the Beacon for Plimsoll’s “expertise in video production and storytelling”. And neither have the Beacon managed to tell us that one of the non-executive directors of Plimsoll Productions is the Reverend Rees. The man signing the £100m cheque for the 1000 seat venue’s inane refurb!
How nice that the Reverend has managed to get himself a paying gig out his own overspent crackpot culture project. No conflict of interest there at all.
According to the Reverend Rees’s diary, yesterday he had a meeting with celeb author-for-hire, Tom Bromley. According to his website, Bromley is an “Internationally bestselling ghostwriter of fifteen titles, books and celebrity memoirs on subjects from sport to music, business to politics.”
Look out for this latest piece of self-promoting drivel from the Reverend coming your way in all good bookshops’ remainder bins soon …