The city’s political class and self-styled ‘leaders’, with strings openly being pulled by the Society of Merchant Venturers, continue to undermine any chance of memorialising the city’s links to the slave trade. Any site proposed for a memorial over the last seven years has been knocked back by the mayor who has chosen to prioritise boozy food halls and gastropubs as his legacy.
One way to get around the mayor and the city’s ragbag of crap ‘leaders” intransigence is to get a site for a memorial agreed in the forthcoming Local Plan. Potential sites available in the centre include: the Old Seaman’s Chapel (SA403) on Royal Oak Avenue on the corner of Queen Square and Prince Street, ideal for an abolition museum and history centre; 16 Narrow Quay (SA404), the empty space between Arnolfini and the YHA, ideal for a memorial garden and The Grove Car Park (BDA0801) by the Thekla, a, potentially large space to develop.
Details of the sites are in the document and all you need to do is respond to the forthcoming Local Plan consultation and request that each site is designated for “Community Facilities, in particular a museum exploring the history of slavery and it’s abolition from a Bristol viewpoint.”
Simple. Go tell the city’s useless self-serving ‘leaders’ what you want!
Last night the Reverend Rees delivered his final State of the City speech from the University of Bristol’s shithouse Wills Building. Here’s a response:
Marvin, your State of the City speech seems to be a list of things that haven’t been delivered or resolved in your time in office.
Most of the key infrastructure projects that previous Labour council’s failed to invest in remain uninvested in but with a tab left to be picked up by the next administration.
There’s no funded mass transit proposal. It’s stalemated due to a lack of agreement between two bickering Labour Mayors who have prioritised their own personal animosity and egos above the needs of the city and region.
The city continues to have deep divisions along race and class lines despite all the talk about diversity, equity and inclusion and tackling the “issues”. Where are the measurable outcomes showing improvement?
But then you did watch the Colston statue come down and spot a self promotional media opportunity rather than a chance to trigger a real attempt to tackle the city’s long standing divisions.
Congratulations Marvin, you built some homes (the vast majority at market rates with many being bought by private landlords) and yet still managed to miss every housing target you set yourself.
The housing waiting list has increased to 20,000 families. The highest it has ever been, despite officers actively discouraging residents from going on the list “because it’s a waste of time”.
Homelessness remains noticeably present everywhere, except, maybe, in the Bearpit, despite your promise to solve it.
The vast majority of the 14,000 homes with planning permission are not being built and you try to blame a minority opposition party for this failure to deliver.
Still no arena, public or privately funded, anywhere. And tens of millions in public funds sunk into an elitist city centre cultural venue because of a binding legal contract signed on your watch. All while deprived suburbs lose community/cultural facilities.
City Leap has potential but so far isn’t unlocking any private investment and is falling behind its real investment plan, never mind this unsubstantiated £1bn you constantly quote at the press.
Goram Homes also has some potential but your planning delays means it’s falling massively behind schedule.
Bristol Waste is a basketcase with a revolving door board of directors. A direct result of poor corporate oversight. Your political interference in its business planning, meanwhile, has undermined any efforts to reduce costs.
Elsewhere, your council is still complicit in developing SNCIs despite declaring an ‘Ecological Emergency’ and creating plenty of photo-ops of Labour politicians standing in fields saying how important green spaces are.
There’s still no real plan for achieving net zero despite declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’.
Then there’s the poorly implemented CAZ, almost as if it was designed to fail and disrupt.
You are creating only one Liveable Neighbourhood and this is being poorly implemented and poorly consulted on with middle class neighbourhoods getting disproportionate input while poorer neighbourhoods are ignored.
Local CiL projects, especially transport and parks, are not being delivered partly because staff are being taken away to work on “headline grabbing” strategic projects.
The budget gap is currently larger than the Bundred one under Ferguson and there’s still no realistic plan to address it beyond service reduction and selling off council property.
SEND?!?!! Say no more. Your “Deputy” Mayor hasn’t a clue what she is doing just like the chain of useless Labour education leads before her. Our kids and, increasingly, their parents are paying the price of this serial incompetence.
The Dedicated Schools Grant is effectively in special measures and your administration is just crossing it’s fingers and hoping the government doesn’t pull the plug on this ever growing debt.
Basically Marvin, you have left behind a stinking pile of crap and then have the nerve to lecture the councillors who will have to clear up your shit about how the city should be run!!!
Great news just in. Our four-jobs mayor, the Reverend Rees, has now declared his fifth job!
He’s now picking up an honorarium from 17 Rooms, part of Centre for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York. An honorarium is payment for services rendered and Rees has registered it as a pecuniary interest under ’employment’ .
This latest little income uplift fits alongside being chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) City Regions Board (1.5 to 2 days a week), chair of Core Cities and a non-executive director at TV company Plimsoll Productions.
We know he gets £83k as mayor (plus a councillor allowance of £14k) and that his LGA allowance is £17.5k. However, the rest of his pay is undisclosed.
This new Brookings Institute/Rockefeller gig seems to involve the Reverend pursuing his Atlanticist interests and promoting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. A self-interested US-led global free market template for the ‘free world’. A long way from Bristol.
You have to wonder when the Reverend finds any time to be the executive mayor of Bristol?
Who’s this “rude old git” getting thrown off the Cross Harbour Ferry? Step forward Mayor No More George Ferguson! It seems the daft sod in the stupid trousers recently shouted at the driver of the ferry, “get on the boat, you’re holding people up” as the driver waited a while for some more passengers.
“I’m not holding anyone up,” came the retort from the worker for the Harbour’s well-run ferry company, “you’re holding everyone up now because I’m not driving this boat ’til you get off it.”
Cue foot-stamping and “do-you-know-who-I-amming” from the red-trousered nobody before the other five people on the boat finally told George he was ‘a rude old git’ and could he get off the boat! The failed mayor (and ferry boat operator) finally did get off, muttering darkly that he would get the Harbour Master to shut them down.
Unlikely, as the Harbour Master is a thick lazy cunt and shutting a ferry down would involve some brains and effort.
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.
Unlike our own pathetic version of a ‘socialist’ Mayor here in Bristol, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo of the tiny town of Marinaleda (population of less than 3000) in Andalusia, Spain, gets up every morning to take control of yet another piece of privately-owned but idle property with his fellow townsfolk, or redistributes produce to those in need by immediate requisition from city supermarket chains. And he also succeeds, simply by using the principle of “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs”, relentlessly using militant direct action and leading by example from the front.
In a poverty-stricken region of Spain with 35% unemployment – the people of Marinaleda have only 5% due to local initiatives. The once idle, privately owned land is now owned communally (seized originally through land occupation) and farmed collectively. They also now have their own democratically-run primary and secondary schools for the kids, their own community radio station, and best of all, the hated local police force are not allowed into town.
Now compare and contrast with the wealthy metropolitan city of Bristol where you can’t get a council house for love nor money: but in Marinaleda you get a full grant to build your own high quality council house to any specs you like, getting expert help and the building materials for free, and then afterwards you pay onlythe equivalent of £13.50 a month! ___________________________________________________________________
IN FEBRUARY of this year, two activists from Bristol (Y and Z) travelled to Marinaleda on spec, hoping to interview this inspiring character. “We were starting to despair of the mayor having any time for us,” said Activist Y, “as he was so busy with his work for the community”. However, the day before their arrival they finally managed to contact him on the phone, where according to Activist Z, “he said only two words: ‘Diga me’ (tell me), and once he’d heard what we were about, he boomed out just one extra word: ‘Venga!’ (come!)”.
Below is the transcript of their interview with a very different sort of Mayor:
Activist Y – How did the Marinaleda socialist project start?
Mayor Gordillo – It started with a struggle against unemployment. Fighting land ownership was the best way forward for solving unemployment, because in rural Andalusia just 2% own 50% of the cultivatable land and we realised that we were not going to get anything through charity. We had to seize the initiative by taking direct control of the land and the means of production. So we fought continuously for 12 years and did many things from hunger strike to occupation to get the land back. King Juan Carlos and those other rich scum haven’t forgiven us, because for the first time in the history of Andalusia we managed to get back our land and to keep it. So there we were, the forgotten poor, facing off against the government, the judges, the police and the landowners, and we got our land back.
Activist Y – What approach was in your opinion the most successful?
Mayor Gordillo – The success came from fighting; each struggle never stopped until we got a victory no matter how small it was. That made people motivated enough to struggle on for the following success and then the one after that. It helped people to forget what they hadn’t been able to get, and to remember what they had gained.
Activist Y – What problems have the community encountered, and how have they resolved them?
Mayor Gordillo – The problem is that when people start getting land and the government or the landowner concedes a few crumbs from the table, they start feeling like masters – without actually being masters. Peasants who didn’t have anything before now have some rights, but it can breed complacency. Another problem is the concept of work. If one person has a wage and another hasn’t one at all, this creates division. The other problem is maintaining people’s unity amidst a constant barrage of consumer culture. We have been gaining ground slowly, recently discussing with people for example how we can possibly pay the [central government] taxes, or whether we could even stop paying them at all, so this is how the battle continues. But the capitalist system is always a thief, and is exploiting us more than ever before.
Activist Y – Have the ideas of Marinaleda had any influence across the region, or even into any other parts of Spain?
Mayor Gordillo – In some places yes, but I wish we had more influence across Spain and in the world, and that people paid proper attention to what we say instead of seeing us as a freak show. It’s terrible how the public is deceived – they don’t seem to realise that by buying things, they get bought. But people like us who don’t buy this con and who’d rather spend our lives fighting don’t have to follow that life. Through struggle, you learn not to be afraid of anything.
Activist Y – How do you plan out the allocation of land and housing in Marinaleda?
Mayor Gordillo – Those who don’t have a home receive the materials to build them. 350 houses have been built in this way in the town centre. They are each 90 metres square, and each has a further 100 square metres of courtyard. A typical council house here has three bedrooms. Except that they cannot sell it, the house is effectively owned by its residential household, who pay 15 euros a month into the community housing fund.
Activist Z – In my city we have many homeless people, so if someone became homeless here, how would you support that person?
Mayor Gordillo – There should not be anyone without housing or food, but if somebody ever needs it, they’ll get it. We can provide all of our people with economic assistance – I don’t think there’s anyone homeless in Marinaleda.
Activist Y – How does wages and money work here?
Mayor Gordillo – Same as everywhere in the world. The ideal was to have our own currency and our own bank, but money works the same as in any other country. What we earn here is more than the standard [over double the Spanish minimal wage], and way over what people generally earn for labouring in the countryside of Andalusia. There are no poor people, but there are no very rich people either. In terms of indirect taxes for sustaining what we have, everyone pays the same. There are no direct taxes that are charged on wealth, as everyone in the village is more or less on the same level economically.
Activist Y – Do you have a TV station for the town?
Mayor Gordillo – We had one, but we had to close it in the end. TV is only good in that it gives you a voice, and that’s very important because mainstream media is run by big capital. Most Spanish channels serve as the voice of the rich. There is no public TV in Spain. We do still have a radio station.
Activist Y – In Bristol, our mayor pretends to be a socialist but he is really just another self-serving careerist and blind follower of the market ideology. For a ‘wealthy’ city, there are many homeless people and much poverty, while the council hires inefficient private companies and high-fee charging consultants to make things worse. The council runs along happily under the model of ‘austerity’.
Mayor Gordillo – There are far too many people who call themselves socialists, but in reality they are capitalists. These things do not sit well together, or at all. Energy, water and housing should be expropriated and turned into public assets. Small businesses can be kept private, but large businesses and the means of production must always be made public, run directly by the workers. TV and radio too. Austerity is driven by the endless search for low production costs. The cheapest labour costs for capitalism currently come from Africa and Asia. Take Amancio Ortega – the richest man in Spain – his textile companies are in Bangladesh and India. There he pays a euro and a half for 10 hours labour without paying any taxes, then he sells on at a huge profit in the US and Europe. Austerity is just a tool to drive the working class everywhere down to the same level of total exploitation and misery. Ortega is a multi-millionaire. If a person gets very rich, then he is a thief. He does not get rich through his own work, but by stealing. Under capitalism the workers always fail, while the idle rich always succeed.
Activist Z – What solutions do you think we could achieve in Bristol? Is there a message we can take back to our own council, or even better to the people they are supposed to represent?
Mayor Gordillo – You won’t get socialism by accepting how things are. You can only achieve what they always tell you is impossible through direct action – by struggling for it, just as we are doing here. Every single city, town or village in the world has the land and resources that can sustain it. Get out there and take back control!
This transcript was translated from the original Spanish recording by two Bristolians: Activist Z (see above), and Activist X, a native speaker.
News reaches us that Massive Attack member Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja is seriously considering running for Bristol Mayor as an independent next year. In 2012 Del Naja publicly backed George Ferguson for mayor but was reputed to be less than impressed with George’s performance. However, our source tells us Del Naja is “absolutely livid” at the Reverend Rees, particularly with his attack on the Bearpit and Bristol’s graffiti culture as well as the failure to deliver an arena.
It’s thought Del Naja will run on a ticket demanding freedom for Palestine; an arena for central Bristol and the decriminalisation of weed. We understand Del Naja will be supported in this bold bid by fellow Bristol Sound pioneer, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. He’s been penciled in to become Del Naja’s political assistant, replacing “Slo” Kevin Slocombe, on £95k a year, should Del Naja scoop the big prize next year. Sources close to Del Naja say, “Geoff’s undoubtedly a people person who oozes diplomacy. He’s the perfect fit for a role bringing our divided city back together.”
Our source assures us Del Naja is “very serious about this. He’s even shelved an exciting new world music project happening later this year with Damon from Blur and has got Banksy working on some ideas for flyers.”
“Let’s just say a mayoral run is much more likely than a new Massive Attack album next year.”
A surprise YouTube video announcement was made today as a hitherto unknown ‘Dave’ stepped forward and declared himself as interim elected Mayor of Bristol, declaring his intention to ‘restore democracy’ to the benighted city.
‘Far too long have we’ve languished under the oppression of the dictator in charge of Bristol City Council,’ said Dave. ‘The state of crisis in the city is intolerable. I call on BCC’s departmental managers to immediately transfer their loyalty to me, and in return I’ll grant those who do a pardon once I take office.’
Consternation at this announcement ensued at College Green, where the Revd. Rees shortly appeared with his response in a fanfare in front of the Counts Louse, flanked by his redoubtable deputy Asher Craig. ‘I will not stand down to this impostor,’ he said. ‘I alone was elected to implement Tory austerity in Bristol, not this “Dave”. I’ve done the job Tessa [Theresa May] gave me well. It’s nothing but an unconstitutional coup organised by my persecutors: those allegedly-homeless racist vagabonds in the Bear Pit and disgusting anarchists working together.’
Dave however claimed to have rather received the tweeted support of other council Mayors including the new Mayor of South Kensington Council, Steve Bannon, and from Bristol’s Merchant Venturers via Mayor-No-More George Ferguson. ‘This proves that not only UK councils but also the international business community is solidly behind me,’ he said. ‘Donald Trump added his tweet of support this afternoon.’
Bristol’s city centre homeless were asked for their opinion of the crisis. ‘Can you give me your coat?’ said a shivering man in a blanket down Broadmead. ‘I’m fucking freezing to death out here.’
The selection process for the Labour mayoral candidate in 2020 continues to be gripped by BUREAUCRATIC INERTIA. As nobody, it seems, in the entire Labour movement still has any idea how the trigger ballot process they’re proposing to use to decide if the Reverend runs again or not actually works or when it might take place.
However, we do now have some idea about the Labour-affiliated organisations who will DECIDE whether the Reverend Rees gets a free run at re-election next year or whether he will need to go through a proper and, likely, very tricky ONE MAN ONE VOTE selection process within his own party.
We’re reliably informed that 25 Labour WARD BRANCHES made up of members have a vote each in the trigger ballot; 15 SOCIALIST SOCIETIES have a vote and 77 TRADE UNION AFFILIATES have a vote. Members, many of whom oppose the Reverend, are therefore outgunned THREE TO ONE by the votes of faceless trade union bureaucrats. If this ballot ever happens, the result seems a foregone conclusion.
Meanwhile the Bristol Labour Party, encouraged by Momentum campaigners, has forged ahead with an “open” selection process for its candidates for councillor. Although all might not have gone quite to plan after a well-organised LGBT LOBBY helped out by right wing DARREN “DIPSHIT” JONES SUPPORTERS in Bristol North West managed to get two female socialists and opponents of Rees’s Tory austerity agenda REMOVED from the councillor list for “transphobia”.
Naturally, the usual ragbag of Blairites, social climbers and former Lib Dems who tend to make up the majority of Labour’s council candidates have all been waved through for selection as candidates.
The question on the lips of many Labour members in Bristol – “How the fuck do we get rid of the Reverend Rees”? – remains UNANSWERED by the Bristol Labour Party less than 18 months before the next mayoral election.
Members have been told that any selection process for their mayoral candidate in 2020 will be subject to a ‘TRIGGER BALLOT’. A process where affiliated organisations such as constituency parties, trade unions and other largely mysterious and unknown Labour Party interest groups get a vote to decide whether there should a selection process or whether the Reverend Rees should get another shot at mayor UNCHALLENGED.
Many local Labour members are unhappy with the trigger ballot process, claiming that a decision on whether to have a selection process should be ONE MEMBER ONE VOTE and not left to the Labour Party’s labyrinthine bureaucracies and rule book to decide.
Unfortunately members appear to have LOST that battle already. Instead, local members are left scratching their heads at the nature of this ballot they do not want after trigger ballot rules, largely used to challenge sitting MPs, were CHANGED at the last Labour Conference. Now, nobody seems sure what that means for a mayoral trigger ballot in Bristol.
Local Labour members have been told that the local party and its regional office is “seeking clarification on what the changes to the trigger ballot process mean for the Mayoral selection”. But the clock is now running down FAST.
Will the Reverend get returned to office due to administrative incompetence and bureaucratic inertia against the wishes of the majority of Labour members in Bristol?