Tag Archives: Overview and Scrutiny Management

ARENA: LEGAL ADVICE BOMBSHELL

A friend of The BRISTOLIAN, who has had sight of the highly CONFIDENTIAL legal advice produced by Bristol City Council for the mayor regarding Tuesday’s arena decision, has been in touch.

This legal advice, which has only been made available to the MAYOR, his supine LABOUR CABINET and a small group of councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission, has been kept well away from us plebs.

And for good reason. The Reverend’s own legal team inform him that Bristol City Council would only have “50:50” chance of winning a legal action if the current arena contractors for Temple Meads pursue Bristol City Council in the courts for abandoning the project.

The likely financial risk to the council is in in the TENS OF MILLIONS the report says.  Further advice clearly says that the council should engage with the Temple Meads contractors to seek to reduce the RISK OF LEGAL ACTION before publicly announcing any decision not to proceed with the arena.

Will we get another fudged decision from the Reverend on Tuesday or will he brazenly embark on a course of action helpful to his new Malaysian corporate friends likely to cost us tens of millions in the courts?

COUNCILLORS WANT COMPANY SECRETS

Councillors, with bugger all to do since the Reverend Rees decided he didn’t want them scrutinising his work in detail any more, are finally ASKING QUESTIONS about the council’s two companies – Bristol Energy and Bristol Waste.

Councillors from all parties have been querying whether, in legal terms, Bristol Waste – a so-called ‘TECKAL COMPANY’ that can be selected to deliver council services without going through a procurement process – should be treated in the same way as a Council directorate for audit purposes. In other words, should there be FULL PUBLIC ACCESS to the company’s income and expenditure accounts like any other council department?

The Reverend and his panicky bosses have, so far, responded by trying to SHUT COUNCILLORS UP. They claim that a secret “independent review” of the companies has required Bristol Waste to establish its own audit committee while Bristol Energy had already established an audit committee. This is enough oversight argue the Reverend’s gophers.

Councillors, however, concerned at mounting LOSSES and excessive SECRECY at the companies, are reputed to be less than happy with the Reverend’s response and his insistence on constant secrecy for his failing companies. Especially as, at present, only ONE COUNCILLOR, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, is permitted to attend Shareholder Group meetings and only as an observer.

Shareholder Group meetings are where the finances and management of these companies are discussed. But, “due to the commercial sensitivity of the matters discussed”, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is then BANNED from SHARING any information with other councillors.

Many councillors, permanently out-of-the-loop and concerned at the LOSSES and the general CONDUCT of companies they’re responsible for, are now saying that it’s “too limiting to maintain a situation whereby only one non-executive Council member is given access to information.”

How much longer can the Reverend keep his “commercially confidential” company bandwagon on the road? It increasingly looks like pressure is mounting from both the public and councillors for exactly the kind of TRANSPARENCY the Reverend promised us during his election campaign.

Watch this space.