Another bad day for the Merchant Venturers. How much longer must the city put up with a slave trade clown show running our public services?
The fight at St Monica Trust against fire and rehire and cuts to pay and conditions continues. Management have refused to meet for negotiations and so the workers have been left with no other option but to stand up for themselves and strike.
Five days of strike action have been announced starting tomorrow, Wednesday 29th June.
* Wednesday 29th June at 7.30am for 24 hours
* Saturday 2nd July at 7.30am for 24 hours* Tuesday 5th July at 7.30am for 24 hours
* Sunday 10th July at 7.30am for 48 hours (ending at 7.30am Tuesday 12th July)
We will be holding pickets on these days which you are encouraged to come along and support. They will run at the 4 homes on each of the strike days at the following times:
* 7:00am – 3:00pm
* 8:00pm – 10:00pm
At these addresses:
* Sandford Station Retirement Village, Sandford, Winscombe, BS25 5AD
* Cote Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3TW
* 6 Charlton Rd, Bristol, BS10 6NG
* Trajectus Way, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 2GL
If you’d like to know where your support is best placed, check out the public pledge sheet and put your name down for some of the slots. Green ones are the best priority to go to then yellow then orange, but your support is welcome at any!
Public day of action – Saturday 2nd July
On Saturday, following the 7am pickets, there is a rally in support of the strikes at the Greenway Centre in Southmead which is a short walk from the Westbury Fields site. We have a Facebook event page with all the info here: Facebook Event
The rally will start at 11:30am in the sports hall with a variety of speakers from the trade union movement including UNISON’s regional secretary, Joanne Kaye. They will give short speeches in support of the action and share stories of other workers who are standing up and fighting. This will be followed by some food.
A minibus with around 15 spaces will be put on to transport members from Sandford Station. Striking members will be prioritised but if you want to be on the reserve list should there be extra space then contact Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know if you’ve got a space by the end of the week.
The current cost of living crisis will have an impact on our ability to undertake effective strike action. It’s going to be vital that we’re able to support our members, many of whom are low paid. We have a healthy fighting fund but the more available, the longer and harder we can fight.
Union branches are encouraged to donate to our strike fund. You can make your own request to your branch committee or use this letter from our branch secretaries to make the request. We’d of course welcome donations from any other groups or individuals if you can afford to. Donations can be made by transfer to the following details with the reference SMT and will be split between the two branch hardship funds.
Account name: UNISON South West
Account number: 49021079
Sort Code: 60-83-01
Jack Horwood (he/him)
Area Organiser | Press & Digital
UNISON South West
Care workers at the St Monica Trust, the notorious Merchant Venturer-run care home operation, have announced the dates of their first wave of strikes:
They will be on strike for 24 hours on June 29, July 2 and July 5
They will be on strike for 48 hours 10 – 11 July
The workers are going on strike as the management of the care homes attempt to ‘fire and rehire’ them by ripping up existing contracts and replacing them with worse ones. The wealthy Venturers plans include substantial cuts to pay by reducing night and weekend enhancements; slashing weekly hours and removing paid breaks.
Details on picket lines, strike funds etc to follow
Victory to the workers! Down with the capitalist scum Merchant Venturers pigs!
The St Monica Trust, one of the city’s most notorious “providers of retirement accommodation and care in a range of different settings” has started an all-out assault on their low paid care workers who worked throughout covid for the wealthy charity in appalling conditions.
The Trust is pretty much a front for the racist slave trade cult, The Society of Merchant Venturers, who manage a “substantial endowment on behalf of the charity” as well as providing six trustees to the charity. Among these trustees are some of the cult’s most notorious scumbags, including former Masters such as Ross “Arsehole” Ancell and Tim “Dross” Ross as well as former chair of Green Capital Andrew “The Pie Man” Garrard.
These institutional racists’ are using the despicable practice of ‘fire and rehire’ on their hard-working low paid care workers. Their plans include substantial cuts to pay by reducing night and weekend enhancements; slashing weekly hours and removing paid breaks.
The wealthy toerags also propose targeting other terms and conditions including sick pay and are looking to change shift patterns, which will play havoc with childcare arrangements by making long days almost impossible.
Finally, different jobs will be merged into a generic “customer service” role with people expected to do work they never signed up for and perform tasks they aren’t trained to do.
The Venturers, who proudly list Cullum “Cunt” McAlpine, a notorious trade union buster as a member, have also been highly resistant to recognising and working with trade unions over their scurrilous plan. They have been especially keen to identify any workers who may be members of a union.
Rest assured, unions are planning a robust and public response to this right wing anti-worker, anti-union pile on from the racist scum Venturers and any of their revolting little helpers at St Monica’s Trust.
The vile Merchant Venturer creatures on the Downs Committee: selfish; anti-democratic; unaccountable; dishonest; rude; arrogant; ignorant; misleading and stupid …
Here’s the full statement from Green Councillor, Christine Townsend made to the Downs Committee today:
As stated in January this committee must be served by the Nolan Principles, current composition prevents this. The Society of Merchant Venturers is an unincorporated, undemocratic, invite only, private members’ club whose position derives from ongoing environmental extraction and the historic horror of the TST [Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade] that saw human exploitation, kidnap and murder for private gain. The legacy of the TST is structuralised throughout present day society and personified in Merchant Venturer presence on this committee. Despite Freed claiming that the Merchant Venturers will
follow the Nolan Principles, the statement he then read out in January ran contrary to each and every one of them: –
Selflessness – Fighting members of the public in a prolonged, unwinnable judicial review, funded by the public purse to ‘save face’ is not in the public interest.
Integrity – Merchant Venturers are on this committee by way of this undemocratic, unaccountable private members club and, by definition, are here to represent and promote that organisation’s interests
Objectivity – Freed attempts to blame Downs for People for the cost of the judicial review. But it was the Merchant Venturer dominated sub of the Downs Committee, not Downs for People, that prolonged the case even though they will have known it was hopeless. They did not concede until they were almost on the steps of the courtroom. Downs for People were pursuing the case in the public interest to safeguard the Downs, mainly at their own expense.
Accountability – This committee has repeatedly failed to engage with scrutiny from members of the public, ignored email requests for information and has to date failed to make public the amount of public money wasted attempting to fight an unwinnable judicial review. As I stand here as a democratically elected representative there remains zero public information about the total sum wasted on this failed venture.
Openness – it is not acceptable that members of the public are needing to resort to making Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulation requests to get basic information. It was necessary for Downs for People to get a disclosure order via the court to have sight of the 20 year licence they were challenging, the judge was unimpressed with the Committee’s behaviour. Needing to approach the Information Commissioner to access requested information is shameful and the antithesis of the Nolan Principles.
Honesty – Freed’s statement references ‘the court case’ the process was a judicial review – accurat language use matters. Freed referred to the history of the Downs and claims that ‘at a time when the others were making a fortune out of developing houses all around it….they bought the land specifically to stop that from happening’ This statement is factually incorrect, the Merchant Venturers purchased the land in the 17th century and sold leases for development pocketing the money and quarried large parts for private capital gain. The idea that Merchant Venturers act in a manner that benefits anyone other than themselves is ludicrous and is demonstrated in other aspects of their ‘work’. The public words of their ex-head teacher John Whitehead stated that the instinct of the Merchant Venturers is ‘self-preservation’ days after the felling of their statue mascot the enslaver Edward Colston.
Leadership – Whilst Freed promoted historical inaccuracies, myths about the history of the
involvement of the organisation with the Downs and private profit made from it, described a judicial review as a ‘court case’ the rest of the Merchant Venturers sat back silent, this is not leadership this is complicity.
Bristol City Council is using council tax money and government public health handouts for Covid to, er, promote nightclubs!
£15k from the Covid Outbreak Management Fund and £15k from the council’s Growth and Regeneration budget were used last year to pay the council’s ‘Night-time Economy Advisor’.
This year the money will come from the government Covid cash and from the council’s private sector partner, Sound Diplomacy, “an international consultancy” who are going “to develop a framework to capitalise on the cultural, social and economic benefits that night-time industries offer the city”.
Other partners in the Sound Diplomacy project include Master of the Merchant Venturers David Freed’s Deeley Freed; Merchant Venturer Marti Burgess’s Lakota nightclub; Motion nightclub; the University of Bristol; the Bedminster and City Centre BIDs and PfP Capital Limited
So who’s likely to benefit from the public money handouts that are likely to emerge from this corporate night time industry framework then?
Watch this space
All white! What a lovely picture of THE SOCIETY OF MERCHANT VENTURERS sat on their racist arses sporting self-awarded medals at Venturers Hall, Clifton. But what’s the problem with this private membership club for evil old farts with lots of money? Well, over the last few years, the venturers or their members have:
- Prevented a corrective plaque going on the statue of their hero, Edward Colston, explaining his role in the slave trade, his religious chauvanism, his political party affiliation and how many children he murdered for money.
- Venturer’s Trust chair Anthony Browne mysteriously quit in 2019 soon after potentially defaming anti-racist Colston campaigners.
- Used their unelected role on the council’s Downs Committee to unlawfully allow Bristol Zoo to use the Downs as a car park. Then used a large undisclosed six figure sum of council taxpayers money to unsuccessfully defend their actions in court.
- Provided a character reference for Alistair “Pervy” Perry in 2016, at the trial of this former Colston Girls School Headteacher, where he was convicted of indecently assaulting a girl
from his church group in Weston-super-Mare.
- Until 2016, arranged sick celebrations for children at their schools of Edward Colston’s life. Hosted by the Bishop of Bristol at the city’s cathedral.
- Public sector looter, First Bus boss, Trevor “Grubby” Smallwood, received an Honorary Doctorate from UWE for “entrepreneurial and charity work”. In 2009 Smallwood had to
pay £2.7m in Corporation Tax after attempting to dodge the tax via a trust fund he temporarily based in Mauritius. Coincidentally in 2014, UWE vice Chancellor Steve “The Chiropodist” West, became a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers.
- Appointed Gillian “The Sewage Queen” Camm, a former Director of Wessex Water, as their “Master” last year. Returning to our turd metaphor, Ms Camm earned some of her wealth by tipping shit in our rivers.
Is it time for this gang of self-serving amoral tossers to take Colston’s advice – “Go and do thou likewise” – and drown in the docks?
Public statement to today’s Down Committee Meeting by Cllr Christine Townsend, Green Party, Southville Ward:
The Nolan Principles cannot be served with the current governance set-up of this committee despite the elected members being bound by them as the Society of Merchant Venturers are not. Nor does the Society of Merchant Venturers make any financial contribution. The Committee’s secrecy, incompetence and extravagance have, cost the Bristolian tax-payer hundreds of thousands of pounds and must now be dealt with.
The recent Judicial Review illuminated how public funds were used to defend the indefensible. The settlement demonstrated that the Committee’s licensing decisions were, as they had been warned, contrary to the purpose of the Victorian piece of legislation that this committee is bound by. Society of Merchant Venturer members led on these decisions.
The Society of Merchant Venturers have sought to involve themselves in the democratic process and influence decisions in this and other arenas which has been well publicised in recent years. The time has come for a complete overhaul of how and why public money can be used by private individuals to further their own views, interests and ideological positions. The elected representatives of the people, including the Lord Mayor, must step-up and address these now pressing issues that run contrary to the democratic society in which we are told we live.
Officers administrating this committee do so as servants of the people paid from the public purse. Yet the contortions exercised in relation to the Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations questions from Downs for People do not reflect this. Your agenda today does not include the minutes from the Governance Task and Finish Group that previous paperwork indicates apparently met on December 13th. Nor could I find a record of a meeting stated as scheduled for September 8th – Why is that? Where are these minutes? This is unacceptable.
Councillors on this committee cannot claim the role of the elected mayor lacks transparency,
openness, avoidable loss of public funds and democratic decision making, whilst simultaneously dragging their feet with inaction and inertia in relation to this committee – that would be hypocrisy of the highest order.
The Society of Merchant Venturers need to hand over the Downs and remove themselves from our governance structures, getting out of Bristol’s democracy – removed if necessary.
Only those of us with a mandate to represent the people can be in position to make decisions over how our public spaces are managed and how much public money is spent on them. It is the people who have been paying for the upkeep and development of public space, not the Society of Merchant Venturers.
Rhianne Graham’s defence continued today with a character reference from her employer followed by Blinne Ni Ghralaigh, defending Rhianne, reading an agreed statement from Gloria Daniel. Gloria is a black Bristolian.
We think that the old white men zealously prosecuting and hearing this case in the alleged ‘public interest’ – an interest that remarkably coincides with the dying interests of a narrow wealthy white establishment – need to consider this statement very carefully. And then, maybe, they need to consider whether defending some shitty old monument to wealth, slavery, white power and the British establishment is really the best use they can make of their rather sad, empty, self-important little lives:
“My father was born in Barbados in 1934. He arrived in England in 1957 at the age of 23. He was recruited by London Transport in Bridgetown, Barbados. He was required to sign a one year contract with a penalty of £95 if he did not complete the full year.
My family name, Daniel, is my father’s name. It is a plantation name. My father carries this name as my grandfather’s grandfather was an enslaved person ‘owned’ by Thomas Daniel.
Thomas Daniel laid claim to my grandfather’s grandfather. He was the son and main heir of Thomas Daniel, the fifth largest sugar importer into Bristol before 1800. The younger Thomas Daniel became an elected member of Bristol Common Council in 1785 at the age of 23 and the Sheriff of Bristol between 1786 and 1787. In 1796 Thomas Daniel became an Alderman, a position he held for the next 30 years. In 1797 he became Mayor of Bristol. He had a role in the council for over 50 years in total.
Thomas Daniel was a member and Master of the Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV) and a founding member of Bristol’s West India Committee, which was specifically set up to petition parliament against the abolition of the slave trade. He was also a president at various times of the Colston Society, the Dolphin Society and the Anchor Society.
Because of his political influence in the city, Thomas Daniel earned himself the nickname of the ‘King of Bristol’. His business interests included sugar importing and sugar brokering, iron importing, banking and investing in Bedminster coal mines and the Bristol Copper Company. He was a leading investor in the Bristol Dock Company as the official representative of the SMV, becoming the warden of that organisation in 1805. He owned and part-owned approximately 25 ships which sailed between Bristol and Barbados.
Continuing in his role his father had carved out as a creditor, the firm of Thomas Daniel and Sons became dominant mortgage providers for planters in Barbados and the Windward Islands.
Like many of the mercantile elites in Bristol, he ensured the safeguarding of his West India interests through his presidency of various societies (including the Colston Society) among other roles to ensure his place in wider Bristol political society.
After the Act of Abolition in 1833 was passed, compensating slave owners for the loss of their ‘property’, Thomas Daniel and his brother made over 52 claims for 6,900 enslaved people and 27 of these claims were successful.
The successful claims were for approximately 4,424 people including my grandfather’s grandfather. His name was John Isaac and I understand that he was around five years old at the time. The claims may also have included his parents.
Thomas Daniel and his brother John received over £130,000 in compensation which was divided between them, with Thomas Daniel receiving compensation for a further 200 enslaved people that were personally ascribed to him. This made him one of the largest claimants of compensation money given to British slave owners, the third largest in the country.
There are several ways of working out inflation rates to compare what the figure equates to today – in terms of purchasing power the figure allotted to Thomas would amount to over £7 million today – however the real figure of compensation to get one’s head around is that the total amount of the “bail out” to slave owners of £20 million constituted approximately 40 per cent of the GDP at that time.
It is too traumatising for me to think of the individual sum that was configured for John Isaac and each and every other enslaved human being. However, it is important to understand the “apprenticeship” scheme that accompanied the compensation which meant that formerly enslaved people who had been given their so-called freedom were then required to continue to work for free for a further four to six years (depending on the class of worker) before being entirely free. Anyone under the age of eight was emancipated immediately but John Isaac’s parents, if they were still alive, would have remained enslaved under the apprenticeship scheme.
Professor Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, describes Barbados as the most ruthlessly colonised country with it taking, at one point, on average seven years from transportation to the colony for enslaved people to be worked to death.
British tax-payers including the British African/Caribbean diaspora who were invited to work in post war Britain, also contributed to repaying the interest on the government loan (raised by the Rothschild Syndicate) obtained to pay the compensation through their taxes until 2015, This means that my father, his brothers, his children including me, and his children’s children, including my own nephews and nieces, would have contributed towards the compensation for the ‘freedom’ of his great-grandfather, my great, great grandfather.
When I heard that the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston had been toppled I felt a huge wave of relief. The world had witnessed the public execution of George Floyd and we had finally arrived at a place in history where people would no longer tolerate the continuing dehumanisation of black people.
I am aware that George Floyd’s great, great grandfather was an enslaved man, like my own. He or his forebears would have been transported to America on a slave ship, such as those occupied by the Royal African Company under Edward Colston. In the words of Malcolm X, referring to the unassuming rock said to mark the point of arrival of European settlers in what we now know to be America, ‘we did not land on Plymouth Rock, the rock was landed on us’.
The ancestors of George Floyd did not choose to go to America, they were taken there by force and their descendants have lived with the racist legacy of that trade.
The fact that the statue of a slave trader had remained up for so long, and without contextualisation, was in my view profoundly shameful. I am aware the Colston Society was disbanded after the statue came down. I do not believe that would have happened otherwise.
The statue being felled and dragged through the streets of Bristol to a watery grave centred the global conversation on the birthing role Britain played in the transatlantic slave trade. It has not only removed a statue that caused a huge amount of hurt to the community, it has also served to educate people about the role and about Colston himself.”
The trial will continue tomorrow if The Bristol Recorder and the Crown Prosecutor are shameless enough to turn up and continue with this morally repugnant fiasco masquerading as justice.
The Colston Four trial resumed today after a three day weekend. No doubt allowing The Recorder of Bristol Judge ‘Ded’ and Crown Prosecutor Sir William Scrotesack QC some rest and recuperation before continuing, this week, to waste our time and money prosecuting decent people for doing what their beloved establishment, which rewards them so well, was too racist, reactionary, weak and ineffectual to do themselves.
The day started with defence brief, Blinne Ni Ghralaigh, calling her client, defendant Rhianne Graham, to give evidence. After providing some background about how she ended up in Bristol, Rhianne told the jury she had found it strange there was a statue of a slave trader in the middle of the city.
She explained to the jury she was inspired by suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst, who committed criminal damage in the name of a cause. Before saying she saw nothing admirable in a murderer glorified in Bristol as a philanthropist.
The jury was also told how a newly-worded ‘corrective’ plaque was created for the statue but never put up after the Merchant Venturers interfered in the process and ‘dumbed it down’. They objected to the fact that the plaque mentioned children dying on Colston’s ships and correctly stated that Colston was a Tory.
“Democracy had well and truly broken down around that statue,” Rhianne told the jury and that, for over 100 years, people had asked for the statue to be removed only to be ignored. “Somebody should have been listening,” she said.
Rhianne finished her evidence to the defence by agreeing she took a length of rope to the Black Lives Matter Protest to provide it to the people of Bristol should they wish to pull the statue down, which, it appears, they did.
Under cross-examination from Scrotesack QC, Rhianne repeated she took 30 metres of climbing rope with her to the BLM protest to provide it to people should they want to remove the statue and agreed she did not have permission to bring the statue down.
She also told Scrotesack QC that she didn’t see the toppling as violent, any more than bringing down the Berlin Wall was violent and that “the only people defending that statue was a small group of the wealthy elite who had an interest in defending Colston.”
Following Rhianne, former Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cleo Lake, gave evidence and told the jury she felt “a great sense of relief” and “overjoyed” when the statue was toppled. She also told the court prosecuting the defendants was “embarrassing”.
Finally, Massive Attack entered the fray today with a thread on Twitter about establishment denial and inertia in Bristol over Colston and the disturbing role of the Merchant Venturers in the city: