Tag Archives: Property Services

DODGY PLANNERS LATEST

More news on the Cheltenham Road library luxury apartment redevelopment, which is going ahead on land that used to be owned by Bristol City Council with no affordable housing whatsoever.

A letter written in 2011 by Peter Westbury, the Planning Coordinator, Development Management, to the then applicant,Chatsworth Homes, confirmed that the development could be implemented without further consent “on the basis of work undertaken on 12 October 2011”.

The letter explained that sufficient work on the development had been carried out within the three year period the application was valid to allow it to proceed without any further planning consent being required.

This is odd, because the building was still operating as a library on 12 October 2011, which also happened to be one day before the planning consent expired. What work was done on the development to negate the need to reapply for planning permission as the law requires?

Looks like another sorry chapter in the old story of Bristol City Council granting planning permission and then stretching the rules to increase the value of something they want to flog off.

Is that the Ombudsman we see on the horizon?

DORMER TRAUMA PROPERTY BOSS GETS TUTU TIRADE

RESULT! Our councillors – at last – stand up, refuse to do any favours and demand EXEMPLARY LEADERSHIP and the very highest standards of CONDUCT and INTEGRITY from their senior staff rather than the “anything goes for us” culture they’ve assiduously developed for themselves over many years.

A planning committee last night REFUSED their Property Assets boss, Rich “The Builder” Fear planning permission for his appalling and intrusive loft extension that breaks local planning regulations in Knowle.

Rich the Builder thought a PAINT JOB and a bit of FAKE ROOF added to his unlawful carbuncle – that a planning inspector has already ruled should be pulled down – would be enough to persuade a planning committee to let him keep the large-shed-plonked-on-a-roof-style extension he’s subjected his long-suffering Knowle neighbours to.

Alas not. Even shrinking violet Labour Councillor Olly “Mediocre” Mead piped up for once, telling planning officers and Fear, “You can put me in a TUTU and I’d no more resemble a ballerina than that resembles something that is appropriate for the area. It’s not reasonable to add bits of FAKE ROOF

Hear! Hear! Send in the wrecking ball and invite Fear the pisstaker to resign.

ANOTHER AFFORDABLE HOUSING SCAM

Sisters Uncut at Cheltenham Road Library

 Funny business at the Cheltenham Road Library site. The library building, occupied by Sisters Uncut last month, was recently FLOGGED by Bristol City Council to MD Homes for an unknown sum, somewhere in excess of £2.5 million. Some say it may even have been sold for as much as £9 million.

The council advertised the site for sale to developers claiming it had PLANNING PERMISSION for the “erection of 36 self-contained flats over an underground parking area”. But has it?

Permission for the flats was originally granted to the council’s development partner,  Chatsworth Homes, in 2008. They were given the prime Cheltenham Road site in exchange for a new library they were supposed to deliver in Bishopston as the developers of the notorious BRISTOL NORTH BATHS site on Gloucester Road.

Alas, Chatsworth went BUST in 2015 owing Bristol City Council £3.4m in loans and leaving us to pay a further £1.5m to complete their BOTCHED and BANKRUPT development. We’ve therefore paid £4.9m for the new library that Chatsworth were supposed to be giving us for “free”.

Now it gets murkier … Chatsworth only managed to get planning permission for luxury flats at Cheltenham Road WITHOUT any affordable housing because they were providing a library as a community benefit instead. Since the new developers, MD, AREN’T supplying a library shouldn’t they have to meet affordable housing commitments instead?

That’s notwithstanding that the planning permission for the site granted in 2008 was only for THREE YEARS. Although MD Homes have quickly applied for “a non-material amendment” to this out-of-date permission requesting minor changes to the windows on the property. This amendment was conveniently waved through in a matter of weeks in February by council Planning Officer, Thomas Wilkinson, who forgot to mention anywhere that the permission was SIX YEARS out of date!

What’s going on here? Are we about to get another luxury development of flats with no affordable housing courtesy of our dubious planning department working alongside the council’s notoriously bent Property Services department?

CASHMAN TO CASH IN?

Cocking up and cashing in?

The next senior council boss touted to make that lucrative move from the public sector to the private sector is one of Bristol City Council Property boss, Spunkface Orrett’s minions, Stephen “CASHMAN” Ashman, Building Practice Manager.

Cashman, we’re told, has been frantically rushing around making a business case, largely by ‘CREATIVE INVENTION’, to outsource huge amounts of maintenance work on council properties to Integral, a corporate that specialises in outsourced ‘hard services’.

It’s also rumoured that Cashman will be handsomely ‘LOOKED AFTER’ by Integral going forward. So we suggest councillors get off their lazy backsides right away and launch a corruption investigation into this dubious little weasel.

They might also like to take a look at Cashman’s decision last year to DISMISS a recommendation that major maintenance was undertaken on the boiler supplying the Register Office on Corn Street.

Cashman decided to IGNORE the advice, with the result that the boiler has now been condemned with replacement costs that are described as ‘significant’. Temporary heating and sticking plaster solutions are currently being used while someone dreams up an excuse to get the necessary capital spend approved by councillors in the current climate.

Has there ever been such a buffoon making significant spending decisions and cocking up massively at a time when accuracy, honesty and prudence are the order of the day?

PROPERTY BOSS IN UNFORTUNATE ALIEN OTHERNESS SLIP-UP

‘An awkward sense of ALIEN OTHERNESS’!

Unfortunate news just in. Seems idiot senior Bristol City Council property boss, Richard “The Builder” Fear, is going to have to pull down a HIDEOUS and PRICEY high spec loft extension he stuck on top of his well-appointed period gaffe in Haverstock Road in upmarket Knowle!

Tragically, it seems, this member of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and leading council property “expert” FORGOT to obtain planning permission from his own council for what he laughably describes as an “upscale dormer window”. Does Fear, brought in by the city council three years ago for his alleged private sector expertise, think the rules don’t apply to him?

Alas, they do and he’s now lost an APPEAL to the Planning Inspectorate for retrospective planning permission for his outsize pretentious carbuncle, which not only fails to meet any traditional definition of ‘dormer window’ we’ve ever encountered but fails to comply with a host of planning regulations too.

What a terrible shame. Just imagine what it’s going to cost the OVERPAID council management twerp – who thinks rules are for the little people – to remove his unsightly mess from Knowle’s heritage skyline? There will also be little to cheer Fear in a HIGHLY CRITICAL report from the Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector, David Morgan, doesn’t mince his words over Fear’s abysmal extension that taste forgot. “The maximised proportions,” summarises the inspector of this “strident and bulky structure create an awkward sense of ALIEN OTHERNESS“. Ho! Ho! The Inspector then helpfully lists all the planning rules and regulations Fear has ignored before roundly rejecting Fear’s absurd claim that it’s a “Permitted Development”. Oh dear!

Perhaps once Fear’s dismantled this ANTI-SOCIAL MESS that’s fucking up the view in Knowle, he could take a similar approach to his day job?  Why not start dismantling the endemic culture of CORRUPTION and INCOMPETENCE in the council’s Property Service Department?

A clear-out at a department that currently has an inexplicable £9 MILLION DEFICIT while being involved in a variety of scandals such as with property Guardians Camelot would be most welcome.

But we won’t be holding our breath.

RUNNING ON EMPTY?

Why’s there a rolling item on the council’s Resources Scrutiny Commission agenda action sheet that never gets resolved? It’s a request from the committee for the “revised business case for Park View” and it’s been OUTSTANDING now for months.

Park View is, of course, the council’s large suite of offices at Hengrove that’s surplus to requirements since the council decided to base all their operations at the Counts Louse and the Temple of Doom TWO YEARS AGO to save money. Staff who have recently visited the Park View, offices, capable of holding thousands, tell us, “the place is DESERTED. There’s barely 100 people working there.”

What’s going on then? Perhaps it’s time the property boss directly responsible, our old friend Robert “Spunkface” Orrett, explained what he’s doing and why we’re forking out for an empty office block?

Come on Spunkface show us yer Park View business case! (And feel free to include a resignation letter with it).

LEGAL VICTORY FOR GUARDIAN-TENANTS AGAINST SCAMALOT

The BRISTOLIAN is pleased to announce that Property Guardian Company CAMELOT, who, last month, were roundly defeated in Bristol County Court by Judge Ambrose and forced to recognise guardian Greg Roynon as a tenant, have also CAPITUALTED in their second ‘licensee or tenant’ court case, accepting by implication that he is a tenant, paying costs and a £1000 in compensation as well.

Happy days reign for the fearless ex-serfs at the captured castle of BROOMHILL EPH. And the rebellion is spreading, so at Speedwell Fire Station more ex-serfs are REFUSING to pay rent until repairs are carried out, while in Wandsworth, London, another Camelot property has been CAPTURED by its guardian-tenants. Watch this space for more hacking and slaying of the Scamalot beast.

The BRISTOLIAN demands that in light of the judgement above, Bristol City Council TERMINATES its contract with CAMELOT forthwith, and recognises all existing guardians as being interim TENANTS on its property. And as regards the Camelot/Meridian sub-let at Brentry (see below), it is also OBLIGED to similarly PROTECT all Meridian employees – who are only in this situation thanks to the scandalous, immoral behaviour of all parties concerned.

*We’ve learned today that Camelot will not be appealing the judgement against  them and that one half of the scam, Camelot Property Management Ltd, have gone bankrupt! They filed for insolvency on Monday: https://m.thegazette.co.uk/notice/2744127

WHINY TWAT SEEKS PRIVATE SECTOR MOVE?

Whiny twat: working seven days a week to fuck up our city

Whiny council twat, Barra Mac “NUGGET” Ruairi, jerking himself off under the title ‘Strategic Director of Place’ and struggling by on about £130k a year for hacking our public services apart was forced by the Rev Rees in November to attend a public meeting in Henbury about the cuts.

Many who attended openly EXPRESSED THEIR FRUSTRATION at clowns like Mac Nugget filling their boots at our expense while cocking up everything in sight.

Mac Nugget replied, “I’m an exec  leader with SIGNIFICANT SALARY who moved from Sheffield to serve the city – seven days per week – genuinely doing my best. I work with £100million contracts, miles of roads, planning, 38 refurbished schools. It’s a significant job with over 1,000 staff. We need qualified people to deliver this kind of work.

“I chose to work in public but could work in the PRIVATE SECTOR. We have trouble recruiting as the private sector take our staff. We don’t just work 37 hours per week but put in as much time for the city as we can.”

Mac Nugget was noticeably light on detail about any of his ACHIEVEMENTS. So here’s some of the things he’s been working seven days a week to achieve:

An arena over two years behind schedule, 20 per cent plus over budget that doesn’t have anyone to build it; a Metrobus bus scheme that nobody wants with no one to run it that’s also over budget; unnecessary concreting over of bluefinger land and allotments at Stapleton for the Metrobus; destruction of hundreds of trees for the Metrobus scheme; endless traffic congestion that continues to get worse; collapsing city docks infrastructure that has culminated in the ongoing closure of Princes Street Bridge; cancellation without notice of vital bus services like the number 51 last year; occupation of council properties by guardian companies that don’t comply with his own council’s licencing and health and safety rules or the law; the proposal to build a five metre wide road through Victoria Park; an inexplicable £9m deficit in his Property Services Department run up between March and June last year; an ongoing failure to deliver smart ticketing on public transport.

Then there’s the risk of failure to the major infrastructure projects he’s managing. Such a failure is currently listed as ‘LIKELY‘ by Bristol City Council

Please private sector take this useless twat. He’s all yours

PROPERTY-MANAGEMENT COMPANIES, MY ARSE! SLUM LANDLORDS MORE LIKE …

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’.

LICENSED TYRANNY

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

SCAM-A-LOT TELLING PORKIES (AGAIN)?

 

‘Happy’ Property-Guardians pose at Coombe EPH with Camelot ‘Guardian Manager’ Mark Hurley (left) and Paul Lloyd Camelot ‘Regional Director’ (second right)

After a series of articles in The BRISTOLIAN and elsewhere uncovering the disgraceful and illegal conditions that Guardian-Tenants were living in Bristol City Council properties run by scam landlords CAMELOT, the so-called ‘security company’ has finally responded.

Late last year SCAM-A-LOT hired a PR company EMPICA from Canary Wharf in London to deal with the ‘truth crisis’ in Bristol and their expensive clanking PR machine has finally manufactured some ‘post-truth’ news in a Bristol Post article.

Several cringingly staged photos in the Post show unamed Guardian-Tenants ‘happily’ drinking tea with Camelot Guardian Manager Mark Prize Wanker’ Hurley and Regional Director Paul ‘Porky Pie’ Lloyd at a Bristol City Council property Coombe EPH in Westbury-On-Trym.

There’s just one slight problem… it’s fake!

The BRISTOLIAN can exclusively reveal that the Guardian-Tenant pictured, Kofi Jamoa (far right) claims that at the time of the photo he:

  • wasn’t living in Coombe EPH
  • in fact wasn’t living in a Camelot property at all
  • he wouldn’t live in a Camelot property again after the way he was treated by them
  • was paid £1,500 by Camelot to do staged interviews with the BBC and the Bristol Post

So who are the other pretend Guardian-Tenants in the shot and where do they live? How much were they paid by Scam-a-lot? Readers of The BRISTOLIAN, lets name names!

And so ends another desperate, pathetic and expensive attempt to spin a story by the lying bastards at EMPICA and SCAM-A-LOT.