Reverend Rees’s housing tsar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s promises to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park have collapsed on first contact with the public.
The recent first round of public consultation in Hengrove found Wolfie’s Major Projects Team openly admit they will be providing NO FACILITIES as part of the development because “THEY ARE ALREADY HERE“. So don’t move there expecting anything other than McDonalds, KFC and Premier Inn to service your needs.
The only public investment planners are agreeing to will be a GP surgery – somewhere – which is already urgently required in the Whitchurch/Hengrove area due to CHRONIC over-subscription of the existing GP service – and more primary school places.
However, there will be NO NEW SCHOOLS. Instead, existing primary schools in the working class area – highly regarded for their leafy and spacious grounds – will be extended and expanded. Conveniently REMOVING playing fields and open space from the schools and leaving more prime development land for corporate developers to transform into high density rabbit hutches (surely exciting sustainable housing in the ‘Bristol Vernacular’ style? Ed.).
The highlight of this major development shambles, mainly designed to place large sums of cash into corporate developers coffers, however, is the plan to SHUT the recently opened Family Cycling Centre on the old Whitchurch Athletics Track and build a main access road over it!
Not only does this plan DEMOLISH one of the few public facilities still allowed in the area, it also demonstrates Bristol City Council’s real level of commitment to so-called “sustainable transport” and “active travel” once the hard cash for corporates is on the table.
The council’s current Quality of Life Survey lists the number of commuters cycling to work in the area as ZERO PER CENT while 60 per cent use their car. And car use will only increase once Wolfie throws up 2,000 extra homes with car parking spaces. Why would anyone want to promote cycling here?
Residents in and around Bamfield in Whitchurch are especially up in arms since their residential road is set to become the MAIN VEHICLE ACCESS to all this new housing. Thousands of vehicles will be encouraged to drive down Bamfield every day and then drive directly over the ex-running track to access Wolfie’s new “community”. Locals predict traffic chaos and say the level of congestion and pollution likely to be generated by this plan is “HUGE“.
Meanwhile, the obvious road access to the development, directly off Hengrove Way – a MAIN TRUNK ROAD specifically designed for heavy traffic – will be buses only and blocked to private cars!
Who thinks this shit up?
Council property boss Robert “Spunkface” Orrett, brought in to the council in 2012 for his “PRIVATE SECTOR EXPERTISE” has ceased to run the world’s most useless council department that specialised in draining us of public money.
Last year, Spunkface’s department – responsible for all the council’s buildings and its lucrative land and property portfolio – posted an inexplicably HUGE LOSS of £7.7million due to his failure “to achieve savings”. This ABJECT FAILURE went on to comprehensively fuck up the whole of the council’s accounts. This year, Spunkface, already facing losses of – at least – £2.6million in more unachieved savings, has finally quit.
Perhaps the Reverend Rees was no longer prepared to tolerate Spunkface, who – when not losing enormous amounts of public money – is best known for his crude COVER-UPS of “mismanaged” cash in his Facilities Management Department’s markets and security operations?
We understand that Spunkface has now taken up a role locally at YTL PROPERTY alongside his former boss at the council, Barra Mac Ruari, the posh urbanist twit mate of Mayor No More Ferguson. YTL is Merchant Venturer, Colin Skellett’s development firm that bought the huge Filton Airfield site for development after an extensive marketing exercise by, er, Colin Skellet’s Local Enterprise Partnership!
Housing Tsar, Paul “Wolfie Smith” was handed responsibility for the council’s Property Services over the summer, mainly to act as nursemaid to the latest multi-million pound Broadmead corporate makeover.
But did Wolfie finally pull the trigger on Spunkface and put our city out of the misery he imposed?
Earlier this month, The BRISTOLIAN revealed that Bristol City Council was reintroducing the ILLEGAL practice of “gate keeping”, one that it had already been reprimanded for in July 2013 by the LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN. The hush-hush policy aims to exclude certain categories of recently-made homeless from the assistance which a council is under a legal obligation to provide – all, of course, to allegedly “save money”.
We can reveal that BCC’s Housing Department Manager GILLIAN “Irma Grese” DOUGLAS and her boss, NICK “Pooper” HOOPER are the six-digit salary (and former “Dirty Thirty”) criminals responsible. In early September Pooper directed unterscharführer Irma to do his dirty work for him, which she promptly did. Telling the entire BCC Housing Department – by word of mouth ONLY so there was NO WRITTEN EVIDENCE – that from now on they were to EXCLUDE young Bristolians recently made homeless.
For example, if an applicant was a teenage single mother kicked out of her home, then she would have to go back to her parents and get a 28 DAY NOTICE TO QUIT and would not be helped until she had brought that “evidence” back IN WRITING.
The BRISTOLIAN can also reveal that word of this unauthorised scheme – drawn up by TWO OF HIS SUBORDINATES – landed on the desk of BCC’s Housing Czar, PAUL “Wolfie” SMITH, thanks to two concerned housing activists. In addition, it was revealed that not only were teenagers being excluded but also adults.
Wolfie responded that he was “very concerned” and would “investigate”. In addition he added that this would “at last” provide him with the evidence he needed to DRIVE OUT Pooper and SS unterscharführer Irma from BCC.
Well Wolfie, September is now finished and we’re still waiting for ANY ACTION AT ALL. Rumours are circulating that the latest BCC “gate keeping” policy introduced by two sociopathic apparatchiks on their own initiative is not only continuing, but has also been EXPANDED.
Wolfie had better get cracking, as The BRISTOLIAN is amassing compelling evidence of this and MANY OTHER UNCONSCIONABLE FAILURES by the Director of Housing that it will reveal in due course and, of course, PASS ON TO THE OMBUDSMAN.
The Real Reasons Why Broomhill Elderly Peoples Home (EPH)
Was Placed Under Occupation <
This statement refutes the spurious claim made by Director of Housing Cllr Paul Smith of Bristol City Council (BCC) in the Bristol Post, August 10 that the remaining guardian-tenants at Broomhill EPH were ‘standing in the way’ of the council’s noble mission – allegedly by occupying the building, preventing its demolition, and the building of 10 social housing units. This is a deceitful manipulation of the facts, which we will now present.
Following the crash of 2008 and subsequent austerity, many supposedly unviable BCC public buildings fell into disuse, including schools, care homes, leisure centres, fire stations etc. Later on BCC leased these buildings to two ‘Property Guardian Companies’ – Camelot and AdHoc, under the knowledge that these companies would, on a temporary basis, house renters (known under the legally ambiguous term of ‘guardians’) therein.
BCC then promptly forgot about the buildings, their occupants, and their original plans for demolition, while Camelot and AdHoc took advantage of the situation to make a fortune out of charging rent to hundreds of people priced out of Bristol’s private renting racket in sub-standard-to-outright-dangerous BCC owned properties.
However, following the Roynon v Camelot case in Feb 2017, which established that all guardians potentially had the full rights of tenants, BCC terminated its contract with both Camelot and AdHoc with effect from Christmas 2017, with the understanding that the companies would evict all residents by this date.
Points and Demands
It is in this context that we wish to make the following seven points:
- As owner of the properties concerned, Bristol City Council has a duty to properly re-house all the guardians it left to the tender mercies of Camelot and AdHoc. Because there was no provision made, despite assurances given by Cllr Smith to the contrary, for protecting all guardians during the transition back to BCC control. This is simply unacceptable and a blatant reneging of BCC’s word.
- Also the tenant legally evicted today was the whistleblower who first brought this scandal regarding Camelot’s behaviour out into the open so that BCC could take action against the corporate criminals operating on its property. Is it Cllr Smith’s moral duty to now wash his hands of him and let him be kicked out into the street, from a BCC owned property?
- In the case of the second tenant, she is a young woman who is recovering from a serious illness, and in addition she was kicked out illegally. Camelot are being told as a legal warning that she has a right to go back in as this goes to print. BCC simply cannot tolerate these cowboy evictions on its conscience.
- While some of the ‘guardian’ properties are clearly best demolished due to their age or unsuitability, in the current housing crisis it makes more sense to bring the remainder up to standard again and use them as temporary homeless shelters, but this time regulated under direct BCC control and not ‘leased’ out again to third parties of any description.
- In relation to point 5 above, Broomhill EPH was selected for occupation as being a prime example of such erroneous BCC policy. Broomhill is a relatively modern and sturdy building, yet is scheduled for demolition and supposed replacement by 10 ‘social housing’ units at some indefinite point in the future. Why is ‘cash-strapped’ BCC not questioning the time taken and money required for such a task, while the necessary repairs and refurbishing required for 40-50 quality units of homeless accommodation could be carried out in the building as it stands, and for just a fraction of the cost and time. Why is this not being done?
- Finally, under the 1996 Housing Act, in the case of a publicly owned building scheduled for demolition, if an evicted tenant has not made him/herself ‘intentionally homeless’, then the local authority that owns the building has the legal duty to assist him or her in finding alternative accommodation.
In addition, we make the demand that any properties that BCC keeps in operation as homeless accommodation must NOT be leased to either private profiteers or to the many so-called charities that use the discredited ‘guardian licensee’ contract or its equivalent.
The first thing to do with leeches is to CUT THEM OFF from their blood supply. However, the leeches are everywhere, even in the brain of the host, in this case the Bristol Homes Board (BHB). So here’s some steps to make sure we get decent social housing without getting ripped off.
1. Stop talking about affordable housing. FUCK IT OFF. It’s vague nonsense manipulated by private companies. To solve the housing crisis, WE WANT SOCIAL HOUSING at rents set by the council, not housing associations, not charities, not ‘property guardian companies’, not housing activists or Green Councillor Landlords in ACORN. Our money comes back to us, not into the pockets of private companies, NGOs or so-called charities.
2. No representatives or consultants from building companies, property speculators, letting agencies or landlords anywhere near the BHB. They are NOT FIT to sit at our public table or even communicate with us. Their interests are different to ours. When (and if) we want them, we’ll ask them to tender on OUR TERMS, begging at our table for contracts like the hungry dogs they are.
3. All tendering processes rigorously monitored by NON-PARTISAN legal and construction experts who are vetted with full disclosure of any business/financial interests. If they have conflicts of interest, consultancies, dodgy connections, blah blah, kick ‘em out. The role of these ‘chosen ones’, pure as the driven snow, is to protect the people from corruption and robbery. Give ‘em a big stick.
4. All proposed public projects and bids costed by these experts. As part of the tendering process conditions and rates of exploitation of workers in participating companies MUST be declared, along with PROFIT MARGINS.
5. Anyone or company discovered doing anything DODGY before, during or after the tendering process is immediately BANNED from any future tenders and legal action must follow. Thieves who take public money, whether corporate or individuals, must be PUNISHED SEVERELY to teach all the leeches to behave.
6. Housing quality, safety and longevity is central to social housing projects. Find building experts you TRUST; give experienced leftist brickies, roofers, electricians etc. the job of monitoring quality and all on-site activities. Employ POLITICALLY MOTIVATED surveyors, engineers and architects with no private consultancies who’ll take a job to serve the public for life. FUCK OFF ANYONE ELSE. Set up training schemes so the numbers of trustworthy people increases. Create a culture of serving the public rather than leeching.
7. Make the BHB, transparent and democratically accountable (sorry Marvin). LISTEN to people who already experience social housing, tenants associations etc. FIND OUT the problems. BE CLEAR about what you will deliver from your discussions with them. Invite them to observe meetings of the BHB. INVOLVE trade unions and fuck off any company that tries to impede union organisation.
The BHB should be building QUALITY SOCIAL HOUSING for the city. Then the cardboard shit that companies build for private sale becomes a joke and hopefully a thing of the past compared to the brilliant new social housing. The BHB should consist of non-compromised experts we can trust, our political representatives, bodies representing existing social housing tenants and trade unions.
And if the leeches start squealing because it’s getting too hot for them … it’s better they burn and not us.
The Committee for Public Safety
Bristol City Council has very, very quietly released limited membership details of its BRISTOL HOMES BOARD, tasked with spending a headline figure of £160m of our money to resolve the city’s housing crisis.
Naturally the equaliser, the Reverend Rees, has opted for a 75 per cent male, all-white board (except himself) stuffed with incompetent TIME-SERVERS and serial QUANGOCRATS to spend this large wedge of public money.
Alongside the Reverend and his sidekick, Labour housing boss, Paul “Wolfie” Smith, you’ll find Alison “THREE JOBS” Comley, a senior city council boss and direct subordinate of Rees and Smith, hardly best placed to speak truth to power. Especially as she’s up to her neck in the council’s £30m unlawful budget scandal and is yet to be cleared.
Alison is joined by luminaries such as Stephen “What Crisis?”Teagle from Galliford Try Partnerships, a front for the corporate that runs house builders, LINDEN HOMES. Last year, Linden saw profits rise 21 per cent to £74.3m while its average house cost a mere £338,000. The company also boasts to shareholders that it has a LANDBANK of 14,250 plots. Doesn’t sound much like a crisis for them does it?
Also on the board is Knightstone Housing Association boss Nick Horne “Blower”. He was last seen sat on his useless lazy arse as a board member for West of England LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP (LEP) while, directly under his nose, BAE sold their Filton Airfield land to YTL Homes UK. YTL is run by Colin “Tory Boy” Skellett who also happened to be the Chair of er, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership! This blatant CONFLICT OF INTEREST clearly passed Nick by, even though the LEP was given a key role in marketing and developing the airfield for sale with the public money he was overseeing!
Nick also waved through TWO PAYMENTS from the LEP to board member George Ferguson’s Beer Factory and Bristol Brewing Company totalling £62k. A further £92k was paid to a company owned by one of Ferguson’s political donors, Alasdair “Sorearse” Sawday. What were these handouts for? Who knows? Because NO MINUTES exist of these board decisions and no documents indicating Ferguson’s interests were ever published by Horne’s LEP!
Also getting rewarded for serial incompetence and moving across from the useless board of the LEP to oversee millions of pounds of our money for housing in Bristol is Business West bigwig James “Licker” Durie. Not only is he unlikely to raise any difficult questions about any handouts to wealthy locals, he’s also a notorious salaried lackey for the MERCHANT VENTURERS.
Making up the numbers on the Rev’s quietly appointed board are a couple of posh public schoolboys turned voluntary sector luvvies – David “HAPPY CAMPER” Ingerslev from multi-million homeless charity St Mungos and the CEO of Elim Housing Association, Alistair “HEAD BOY” Allender. No doubt Head Boy can bring his street-level experience from Birkenhead School, “a top performing independent day school for boys and girls aged 3 months to 18” and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he studied Natural Sciences to bear?
Further INEFFECTUAL luvvie input on our Homes Board will be supplied by Bevis Watts “The Fuck”, Managing Director of Triodos Bank. He’s a serial quangocrat who boasts the pie, booze and cash giveaway to the wealthy that was the board of the Green Capital, Bristol 2015 Ltd, on his CV!
Adding a healthy dose of surrealism to the whole affair, the board also has a ‘Head of Multi-Channel Fulfilment’ at the table – Debbie “Fulfil Me” Franklin from the Andrews Property Group, a local LETTINGS AGENCY, no less. Career bureaucrat David “The Loaf” Warburton from the Homes and Community Agency quango is also along for the £160m public money ride
The small amount of hope we can invest in this board lies with the final two members. Geraldine Winkler, a housing solicitor with the Avon & Bristol Law Centre and Tom Renhard, a member of tenants union ACORN. He also sits on the board of the Avon Pension Fund for some random reason and we note with concern that Renhard was funded by local authority bosses’ union UNISON to help him get on to this pension board. It’s unclear, too, whether Renhard was a personal appointment by the Vicar or whether he was chosen directly by Acorn members.
As always, it’s just as interesting to note who ISN’T on the committee – seasoned troublemakers or gobshites known to be prepared to stand up to a committee of pie-munching land dealing wankers who forget to keep minutes. And It’s further worth noting that there was no sign of a competitive application process to join this board disbursing £160m of our cash. Instead membership is entirely courtesy of the political PATRONAGE of the Reverend Mayor Rees well away from any scrutiny by councillors and public.
The last “PUBLIC MEETING” of this board took place on 29 June. Despite being “public”, no reports were issued and the board was, instead, treated to a series of Max Wide “Boy” style verbal briefings and crappy Powerpoint presentations that will never be seen again. Already, we have to ask, are these board members doing their jobs properly?
There may be trouble ahead …
Emergency summits in London, failed evictions at Speedwell
Fast on the heels of Property Guardian Company CAMELOT’s unfolding disaster where two of their ‘guardians’ successfully WON a case at Bristol County Court that established them with tenants’ rights, and accompanied by further peasants’ revolts at four Scamalot-run properties (three in Bristol, one in London), The BRISTOLIAN has learned that an emergency meeting was convened in London, with Scamalot’s CEO Joost Van Gestel (aka ‘Dr. No’) flying in specially from Belgium.
Van Gestel ordered a ‘shake-up’ of the multi-national company’s UK branch, most especially in the South-West, and enacted a so-called ‘phoenix’ clause. This allows them to exploit a legal loophole and dissolve one of their two companies (Scamalot runs two EXACTLY for this purpose), absolving themselves of all debts or liabilities, say to property owners/energy suppliers – yet simultaneously transferring all ‘guardian’ contracts and rent payments etc over to the other company!
After being summoned before Dr. No and his fat cat friends, we can speculate that Scamalot’s SW Area boss PAUL ‘FAT SLOB’ LLOYD fell first into the ‘shake up’ piranha pool (his profile and pic have ominously disappeared from the Camelot UK SW area website page). And there has indeed been a renewed frenzy of dodgy Scamalot activity in the Bristol area recently – led by a raft of new operatives, some sent down from London and others being locally recruited 18 year old (zero hours, minimum wage?) school leavers.
What all Scamalot employees have in their famed lack of talent and competence, the new team can certainly make up for with industrious mania, as their first target was not the now written-off rebel stronghold of Broomhill EPH, but the presumed ‘easier option’ of YET ANOTHER Scamalot-run BCC property, Speedwell Fire Station. Here, Scamalot snoopers tried illegally to gain entrance to tenants’ rooms WITHOUT DUE 24 HOURS NOTICE, but once confronted by outraged residents who knew their rights – and despite the intruders furthermore having the cheek to call in a wholly unwarranted police intervention, they were forced to back off.
What the intrusion turned out to be was to try and find an excuse to ‘fast-track’ the planned eviction of rebellious Speedwell tenants under a ‘notice to determine’. This had been served specifically on Speedwell tenants who are currently withholding their rent because of Scamalot’s failure to carry out essential repairs ordered by BCC Environmental Health, such as dealing with kitchen rats, electric shocks off water fittings and exposed asbestos. But it seems that Scamalot had already forgotten the county court judgement made against them in February, because a notice to determine can only be served on licensees and NOT tenants! Bravo! FIRST FUCK UP for new Team Camelot!
The BRISTOLIAN demands that Housing Director Paul Smith sticks by his PROMISE to PROTECT all tenants of Scamalot that are being persecuted for exercising their rights on BCC property.
You’re in the boozer and someone you don’t know proposes a business idea to you.
“Hey mate, a dicky bird told me you got an empty garage. You know it could be broken into by squatters or vandals and you wouldn’t want that, would you? I’ll tell you what, my security company can protect your property. Pay me a fee for protection and I’ll fill your garage with people who need somewhere to live. I’ll call them ‘property-guardians’ and they’ll pay me rent. If the garage gets any leaks or if the door gets broken off then my handy-man Jim’ll fix it for a fee which you pay me. Whaddya say? A win-win for both of us, and and everything’s sweet!”
If someone suggested this across a pub table you would just laugh (or punch them) in their face. “You take over my property, charge me for the privilege and then extort rent from others staying there? Hahaha. You’re a fucking Del Boy taking the piss.”
But this is exactly the business model used by over forty companies, operating across the UK as ‘Property-Management’ enterprises. Ironically the brain-child of some ‘entrepreneurial squatters’ in Amsterdam, Property-Management companies and their ilk have become as common as flies on shit in contemporary, austerity-ridden Britain.
After the economic crash of 2008, property prices fell – leaving empty offices, factories and warehouses all over the UK. In Bristol it was estimated that half the city-centre office space was ‘To Let’ in 2010. As the recession continued the Tories came to power and began a brutal set of cuts to local government budgets that led many councils to close down fire stations, police stations, elderly people’s homes and council offices to save money. Any attempts to build social housing were halted, and some councils (like Bristol) even began to sell their own social-housing stock off to raise money. This process continues today.
As well as this, the Tories also attacked welfare benefits, reducing them or even forcing people off them altogether. As wages stagnated or fell, particularly for the young, rents began to rise as the demand for housing grew, while middle-class kids with ‘Trustafarian’ inheritances gentrified the inner-cities.
This triple whammy of high rents, no available social housing and plenty of empty buildings should be the perfect environment for ‘squatting’, an immediate and traditional solution to a housing crisis for the less well off. After World War 2, and once again in the 1960-70s, working class people took over empty buildings to solve their housing problems.
However, in 1994 and 2001 the law was tightened up, making ‘squatting’ more difficult and in 2012, thanks to the Tories (again) – squatting in residential buildings became a criminal offence subject to arrest, fine and imprisonment. This meant that empty commercial properties became the only remaining possibility for the homeless, creating the perfect environment for a new swarm of parasites to emerge from the neo-liberal swamp…‘Property-Management’ companies.
IT’S A FUCKING SCAM
These cheapskate corporations offer ‘security solutions’ for big property owners, providing ‘guardians’ to protect ‘vulnerable empty properties’ from ‘squatters’. But this is complete bollocks. Instead, their business model is based on taking over privately or public owned buildings and letting them out to people desperate for accommodation at a lower rent.
Costs are minimal, run through a single office, a website and a maintenance worker or two to do (or not do) minor repairs. With no normal business liabilities like rent, mortgages, insurance, loans or maintenance and on average twenty ‘property-guardians’ paying rent to them in each building, they can just rake it in. Add to this ‘cash cow’ the fees levied on the real owners for ‘security services’ and repairs, the stage is set for MASSIVE profits!
However, vital to the entire con was to get round tenancy laws – which after a long series of protests and legal battles in the 20th Century provided tenants with environmental and health & safety regulations, and also protections against illegal evictions, threats and extortionate rent increases. So ‘Property-Management’ companies hired lawyers to find loopholes in the web of laws protecting tenants. Central to this tactic was to never mention the three terms, tenant, landlord or rent in any contract. Instead the tenant became a ‘property-guardian’, the landlord became ‘the property management company’ and rent became a ‘fee’. On top of this, the tenancy agreement mutated into a ‘licence’.
The typical property-guardian ‘licence’ issued by a property-management company is an interesting document indeed. You’d expect a ‘security company’ hiring ‘security guards’ to have contracts with their employees that clearly stated their duties in the building, such as – clear guidelines on their power to deal with intruders, how to interact with police, fire and ambulance services etc etc. Instead, what you do find on the front page is ‘This is not a tenancy’, followed by pages of weird and wonderful ‘rules’ aimed at getting round tenancy law, interspersed with illegal threats of fines and evictions for not following them. In order to keep the so-called property-guardians isolated from the outside and from each other the following ‘rules’ are common:
- The Guardian will not hold meetings, parties or other similar gatherings in the property
- The Guardian will not permit any other person (other than other Guardians) to stay overnight in the property
- The Guardian will not display any sign, poster, document or sticker without property-management company’s consent
- The Guardian will not attempt to contact the owner of the property
- The Guardian will not speak to the media about the owner, the property-management company or the property
- If the Guardian becomes aware that anyone else is doing something prohibited by this clause, the guardian will inform the property-management company immediately he Guardian will notify the property-management company if they cease to be employed
- The Guardian will not seek to claim housing benefit, job-seekers allowance or any related benefit without the prior consent of the property-management company
Apart from sounding like regulations issued by a crazed fascist-dictator, these rules are in place to prevent Guardians from organising by creating a climate of fear, to isolate and ‘gag’ them and to hinder contact with a local authority who might uncover the shit conditions they’re living in. In Bristol, property management company Camelot used its gagging clauses to threaten tenants with eviction if they spoke to the local council or their political representatives! It was also these draconian rules which allowed Camelot to get away with putting Guardians in Bristol City Council properties without licences for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) for several years. HMO’s are there to ensure residential properties meet certain health and safety standards, particularly in relation to fire. It seems many property-management companies like Camelot (and City Councils) ignore HMO’s to save money whilst putting the Guardians at risk.
Not satisfied with flouting laws which are there to protect tenants, property-management company ‘licences’ are also full of extra penalties and ‘administration’ fees which along with the ‘damage security payment’ (the deposit in other words), add up to hundreds of pounds of extra costs for the ‘Property-Guardian’.
In the final paragraph of the endless pages of loopholes and threats in the ‘licence’ come the two statements which give the whole game away:
- It is hereby expressly acknowledged by all parties that the Guardian has NO security responsibility as defined in the Private Security Industry Act 2001
- The Guardian expressly acknowledges that they only have the powers of an ordinary citizen and they will not assume the powers of security officers or the police or any governmental authority
So the ‘Property-Guardian’ is NOT there for security purposes and has no powers as such. So despite all the pseudo-legal flannel in the licence it’s fairly obvious the Property-Guardian is actually just a tenant paying rent to a landlord. The disguise these companies use to hide this obvious relationship is compounded by the use of corporate legal devices to protect them from legal challenges and compensation claims by tenants.
SLUM LANDLORDS (ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY)
Camelot has used (at least) four different companies to run their ‘property-management’ operations in the UK. Typically, this involves creating asset-less corporate entities in the frontline of dealing with ‘property-guardians’, and to protect the owners and core business from claims if, say, a building burned down, killing and injuring the residents. It was precisely this kind of slum landlordism that the tenancy laws were brought in to deal with in the 1960s and 70s and which these companies are flouting.
Property-management companies profit from the numerous empty local authority buildings – particularly elderly peoples’ homes and to a lesser extent schools, fire/police stations and public offices, all produced by austerity. In Bristol, Somerset and Gloucester in 2017 there are more than 40 local council owned properties ‘run’ by property-management companies, bringing in millions of pounds of rent from ‘Guardians’. Like leeches sucking blood from an injured animal they have exploited ‘cuts’ to local government spending and the concurrent housing crisis. And they have done all this whilst unbelievably harping on in the media that they are some kind of charity ‘helping the homeless’ out of the goodness of their hearts!
However, on Friday 24th February 2017 a groundbreaking legal judgement was made in Bristol County Court, where Guardians were established for the first time as tenants and NOT licensees by the judge ruling on a dispute between two aggrieved guardians and Property-Management Company Camelot. This a massive victory.
The BRISTOLIAN says:
Paul Smith (BCC Housing) must now DISMISS ALL Property-Guardian companies from their contracts with Bristol City Council AND FIRE THE BCC OFFICIALS like Chris Woods and Rupert ‘Spunkface’ Orett who signed them up in the first place. He must ALSO DEFEND ALL TENANTS (as Guardians are NOW ESTABLISHED IN COURT to be) on YOUR PROPERTY, allowing them to FORM CICs or self-managing collectives wherever possible and if this is their wish, or rehouse them if not. Furthermore, we call on BCC to introduce a CITY WIDE RENT-CAP on the runaway private sector, START A MASSIVE REGENERATIVE SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT, and REPOSSESS all BCC properties leased to Property Management Companies
It’s not taken long for Labour councillors in Bristol to get their feet under the table and use their large new majority on the council to begin the enormous political challenge of, er, lining up LUCRATIVE CONTRACTS and work for their employers!
Please step forward Craig “MR CRAPITA” Cheney, a junior employee of hellish public sector contractors and serial outsourcing cock-up artists CAPITA. He currently masquerades part time as ‘Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Performance’, wandering aimlessly around the Counts Louse accompanied by a chorus of whispers of “this one’s totally out of his depth isn’t he”?
But now it looks like Mr Crapita has taken his first key decision. To appoint a new Treasury consultancy team from, er, CAPITA!
The Treasury team basically takes decisions around borrowing and investments at the council. Although why a private firm at a further COST to us now needs to do this work rather than the council’s highly paid “EXPERT” in-house finance bosses is not made clear by Mr Crapita, who is yet to publicise his self-serving, private sector career-enhancing decision.
Meanwhile on 24 November at the Counts Louse, the Rev Rees PERSONALLY HOSTED ‘The Big Conversation: Development by Bristol City Council’.
“Help shape the future development of Bristol,” gushed the publicity, squarely aimed at big money CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT INTERESTS who were promised ACCESS to not only the Rev Rees but the opportunity to “Join Cabinet Lead for Homes and communities Councillor Paul Smith; Cabinet Lead for Place Councillor Helen Holland; and Cabinet member for Transport, Councillor Mark Bradshaw.”
Among the agenda items was ‘De-risking the development process and the role of planning’. Presumably the aim being to simplify things for corporates wanting to BUILD SHIT quick for a FAST BUCK in Bristol? However, what really caught the eye about this event, held at the Counts Louse with Bristol Labour politicians and Bristol City Council bosses in attendance was that it wasn’t organised by Bristol City Council.
Instead, THIS INVITATION-ONLY EVENT to meet influential senior Labour politicians and council bosses for “TABLE DISCUSSIONS” was organised by a corporate lobbying firm, JBP. Who happen to specialise in … Wait for it … “complex planning and construction projects in retail, house building and major infrastructure development.”
How terribly cosy for all involved. Even more so when you realise that the JBP employee who organised the event at the council was one Nicola “LA LA” Beech. La La, when she’s not shilling for corporate development interests, also happens to be a LABOUR COUNCILLOR for St George Central!
It’s a small world isn’t it?