Tag Archives: Procurement

NO LOOKING BEFORE WE LEAP

Why were an unholy alliance of council bosses so keen to prevent a meeting of councillors scrutinising the fatcats’ confusing and secretive “Billion Pound” City Leap plan last week? Who do these clowns really work for?

City Leap is the latest senior officer brainchild to emerge out of Bristol City Council and they’re spending £10m of our money on it. The money’s being spent on procuring a multinational corporation as a ‘joint venture partner’ in, er, wait for it … An energy business!

This time the business is aimed at cashing in on ‘net zero’ by, among other things, building and running unregulated neighbourhood heat networks across the city to “‘up the pace’ in reaching carbon neutrality targets”,

Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson; Exec Director for Growth and Regeneration, Stephen “Preening” Peacock and Energy Services boss David “Payday” White all told councillors at a scrutiny meeting last week that there was absolutely no role for them in City Leap until their secretive high stakes procurement process was finished in February. 

The officers explained they would then generously allow councillors a couple of hours to rubberstamp their extraordinarily expensive done deal a few days before it goes to cabinet to get signed off by the Reverend, a Yale-trained corporate puppet.

The unscrupulous threesome explained that any attempt now at democratic scrutiny of this latest council energy scheme would have a ‘material impact on the procurement’.

Bizarre reasoning asserting that the council’s constitution and the right of councillors to scrutinise the executive like any normal functioning democracy should be suspended. On the basis that it might upset any multinational corporation lining up at the trough these officers are generously setting up for them.

All highly irregular. Surely any multinational that wants to work with Bristol City council needs to understand from the get-go that they’re working in a democratic environment where public scrutiny of their work is likely to be regular and detailed? And if they don’t like our democracy in Bristol? Well, they can fuck off to any of the many dictatorships around the world with their money can’t they?

Why are Bristol City Council bosses, whose jobs should directly involve upholding the constitution of Bristol City Council to the letter, creating an environment where the city’s democratic norms need to be ignored because corporate interests are waving some money around? Isn’t this exactly the time democratic scrutiny is needed?

A similar fiasco unfolded with Bristol Energy. Scrutiny and opposition councillors were persistently refused access to vital company information by officers. Councillors were unable to scrutinise what was going on at the company and the result was an estimated  £50m loss to council taxpayers.

Is it acceptable for officers to set up yet another energy business shrouded in secrecy that can repeat exactly the same mistakes all over again?

COMING SOON: What the fuck is City Leap anyway?

WHISTLEBLOWING IN THE WIND

Freewheelin

How many wrongs must a boss investigate

Before they substantiate a claim?

How many thefts must an auditor ignore
With their head in the sand?

Yes, and how many times must the public pay
Before they’re finally paid?

The answer, my friend, is whisleblowin’ in the wind
The answer is whistleblowin’ in the wind

(With apologies to Dylan)

An interesting document emerges from their Audit Committee about whistleblowing at Bristol City Council last year.

It reveals that eight decent workers stepped forward between April 2020 and March 2021 with serious allegations that met the legal criteria for formal whistleblowing. These criteria are

– a criminal offence has been committed;
– someone’s health and safety is in danger;
– there’s a risk or actual damage to the environment;
– there’s a miscarriage of justice;
– the organisation is breaking the law;
– you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing;

So far so good but then we learn from the council’s report that the result of seven of these complaints was that the claims were “unsubstantiated” while the other one was “not considered a whistleblowing matter”. Which raises the question of what is it doing in a whistleblowing report then?

Five of the eight complaints emerged from the Growth and Regeneration department, run for much of the year by the second highest paid local government officer in the country. That’s our dear old friend, Colin “Head Boy” Molton, and the complaints about his department included allegations of, er fraud, corruption, perjury and drug abuse!

However, we are told that in a couple of cases that “control issues [were] identified, and internal audit review commissioned,” which sounds just like something has been substantiated doesn’t it? 

The question that needs to be asked here, then, is what was done to substantiate these whistleblowing claims and who was responsible? For example, if you don’t investigate a complaint then it will remain unsubstantiated won’t it? 

Or if, as the council often does, a claim of wrongdoing is investigated by the manager directly responsible for the matter in question, an investigation will fail to substantiate perfectly reasonable and evidenced claims.

Alas, the report put before the Audit Committee contains no detail about how these whistleblowing complaints were dealt with other than to announce they were all “unsubstantiated” and therefore no boss at the council appears to have done anything wrong (again) in any of the cases.

It’s nothing short of risible that this is the case for eight separate whistleblowing claims and this does nothing to encourage whistleblowing at the council. Why bother to potentially ruin your career to get a sentence in an obscure report stating your claims are “unsubstantiated” without explanation?

”Yes ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?”

ARCHITECTURE HACK’S BUSINESS KNACK WITH A PLAQUE

PLAQUE ATTACKED

The Reverend’s FAILED EFFORT to put a ‘corrective plaque’ on the statue of Colston to highlight the dodgy merchant’s leadership role in the slave trade was managed by Peter “Arse” Insole, the council’s architectural officer. Initially Arsehole let local historian Madge “The Doc” Dresser devise some words for the new plaque with the help of children from COTHAM GARDENS PRIMARY SCHOOL (formerly Colston’s Primary).

However, left entirely UNSUPERVISED to do what the hell he liked, Arsehole soon went over to the dark side and allowed the Merchant Venturers and their arselicking friends in Clifton to DRASTICALLY REWRITE The Doc’s plaque until it became a MEANINGLESS PIECE OF MUMBO JUMBO that the Reverend finally had to bin as not fit-for-purpose.

Now it’s come to our attention, that in order to assist the Doc with her pointless work with local children, Arsehole PERSONALLY PROCURED a specialist private education firm, MYERS-INSOLE LOCAL LEARNING COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY. And, by amazing coincidence, the SECRETARY and DIRECTOR of the firm, according to Companies House, just happens to be, er, Peter Insole while the only other director is one Ruth Myers, Arseholes partner! How convenient for his personal bank account that Arsehole’s RIGOROUS PROCUREMENT PROCESS should throw up his own firm as best placed to do the job.

Although it’s a shame that it’s not only against all known council rules for Arsehole to procure his own company for his own financial benefit but also against the law.

COUNCIL CORRUPTION – OUT OF CONTROL?

Paul Arrogant: “procurement rules are for the little people”

Big shout out to PERFORM GREEN LTD, the lucky recipient of a number of lucrative IT contracts with Bristol City Council. The main one being a contract with the council’s brand spanking new snooping operation (surely state-of-the-art CCTV Traffic Control Centre? Ed.).

This lucky company have scooped £248k so far this year for their selfless public service efforts. Big shout out too to PAUL ARRIGONI, appointed a director of Perform Green Ltd last November, just six months after starting work with the firm in May 2016.

And what remarkable progress this star employee’s made. Unbelievably, since he began employment with the firm, their earnings from the city council have LEAPED from around £5k a month to £28k a month!

But hang on, Paul “Arrogant” Arrigoni? Wasn’t he the Service Director, Business Change and ICT at Bristol City Council until April 2016 when he scarpered in DISGRACE? The man at the centre of the Bundred scandal after his useless Business Change department missed their savings target by a cool £30million and then created an UNLAWFUL BUDGET in 2016 to disguise the losses?

Indeed, so perspicacious was Arrogant in covering his tracks while at Bristol City Council, he even went to the effort of REWRITING an Internal Audit Report for councillors in autumn 2015 assuring them all was well with his savings efforts when it wasn’t.

Adding to this sense of OUTRIGHT CORRUPTION at the heart of Bristol City Council and its endless merry-go-round of bent bosses filling their boots, we’re reliably informed that NO procurement process was undertaken before Perform Green Ltd were awarded their six-figure sum control centre deal with the city council.

Shouldn’t someone be calling Inspector Knacker? (He may even be spending some time at Arrigoni’s control centre …)

Councillors procure a buffet

Adding to the sense of surrealism surrounding city council procurement deals, comes the COUNCILLORS of the Business Change and Resources Scrutiny Commission.

While their legal boss Sanjay “Under” Prashar, his lawyers and procurement oafs are running up and down to London spending TENS OF THOUSANDS to justify handing a local contract to an organisation in London, the committee members held an all-important Procurement Scrutiny Enquiry day.

What was that for then? Er, to “look at ways to improve Bristol City Council’s procurement process for local small businesses and social enterprises”!

Obviously this day of mutual backslapping, pompous speeches, empty promises and fluffy PR rounded off with a FREE BUFFET is far more useful to our councillors than doing their jobs and dragging Sanjay and his oafs in front of their committee for a bollocking.

Council officer arses could then get KICKED and loads of money SAVED in relation to an actual unfolding local PROCUREMENT DISASTER that these councillors are directly responsible for overseeing.

Can’t have that can we?