Tag Archives: Whitchurch



An alliance of LABOUR and GREEN councillors – taking a break from pre-election climate emergency PR fisticuffs for the benefit of the gullible Guardian-readers of Bristol West – have granted planning permission for 1,400 homes on Hengrove Park, THE LARGEST PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IN SOUTH BRISTOL. Their reason for this crap decision is that old chestnut for foisting sub-standard shite on us – “THE HOUSING CRISIS”.

The development means the LOSS, not only, of a huge amount of PUBLIC OPEN SPACE and PLAYING FIELDS but of 850 TREES on the land. The poorly connected new housing estate is also likely to bring TRAFFIC CHAOS to local residential roads as more car users are poured into a working class suburb where a rapid transit system isn’t even AN UNLIKELY PROMISE from the Reverend Rees.

This is also the suburb already earmarked by the same climate emergency obsessed councillors as an ideal location for a NEW RING ROAD designed to CHOKE CHILDREN in south Bristol in order to get traffic out of the city centre to improve air quality there. The new road will also help get punters to an EXPANDED AIRPORT at Lulsgate.

Residents in Whitchurch and Hengrove are “LIVID” at the loss of their park and the planned destruction of their neighbourhood and local social media pages are full of lively chat about THE SELL-OUT COUNCILLORS and the scheme’s political architect, the Reverend Rees. The usually quiet and undersubscribed pages have leaped to life and are full of RIPE LANGUAGE on the subject of the city’s politicians. Popular terms include “wankers”; “arseholes”; “hypocrites” and “tossers”.

Hengrove and Whitchurch are unlikely to be returning any Labour or Green politicians to power any time soon, then.



Is Bristol’s Labour Group at the council, led by the Reverend Rees, attempting to commit some weird form of RITUAL POLITICAL SUICIDE before the local elections next May? What other explanation is there for the STUPID DECISIONS and CRAZED OUTBURSTS emanating from the Reverend Mayor and his daft councillors?

The Reverend has already pissed off loads of communities throughout the city who are unlikely to vote for him or his party next year. These include WHITCHURCH where he’s proposed running a ring road through the community past a primary school; HOTWELLS, ASHTON and SOUTHVILLE where he wants to build his corporate high rise wet dream on their doorstep; STOKE BISHOP where he’s allowed their open space to be fenced off by Cotham School; TOTTERDOWN where his councillors voted through, contrary to the Local Plan, a hideous 15 storey tower block on the Bath Road; KNOWLE where he’s backed another tower block and WINDMILL HILL and BEDMINSTER where the Reverend’s been unable to get any grip on unruly private developers at Bedminster Green.

Then there’s the Reverend’s thicko cabinet sidekick, Kye “The” Dudd’s treatment of the FLY PROBLEM in Avonmouth. The Dudd has courted voters by variously accusing residents of planting dead flies to create a FAKE PROBLEM; blaming the flies on DOMESTIC WASTE left on St Andrews Road and, even, claiming there’s NO FLY PROBLEM and that fly levels in Avonmouth are the same as other areas of Bristol. A claim recently rubbished by the BBC who did their own tests for their ‘Inside Out West’ documentary slot.

Remarkably, things now seem to be TAKING A TURN FOR THE WORSE for Labour. At September’s Full Council, the Reverend, behaving like the last officer standing on a Pacific island as GIs storm the beach, raged about “SABOTAGE” by opposition councillors before burnishing his ANTI-UNION CREDENTIALS by refusing to allow his council to be involved in the Climate Strike on 20 September. The Reverend’s Labour colleague, Tom “Charming” Brooks, then PLUMBED FURTHER DEPTHS while responding to a petition from 3,979 voters calling for a moratorium on 5G rollout.

Rather than calmly quote scientific sources to rationally dispute the petitioners health claims, the Horfield councillor launched into a DEMENTED RANT instead. The petitioners were “naive people who had been taken in by MALICIOUS MISINFORMATION” and “conspiracy theorists fuelled by
fake news and misinformation” and were “PEDDLING PSEUDO-SCIENCE using technical sounding words to confuse people”. However, Brooks dismally failed to cite ANY EVIDENCE to support his insults. Instead, he argued, he was right because he had “the ability to Google and was also as an engineer working in risk and safety”.

Lib Dem, Green and, even, Tory councillors were much CANNIER and CALMER towards this large group of potential voters. Explaining they accepted Public Health England’s view on 5G for now but agreed the health situation should be monitored as the technology was rolled out.

That’s another 4,000 votes down the pan for Labour next May then



As it emerges that they’re going to miss their affordable housing target of 800 homes by 2020, the Reverend and his housing sidekick, Paul “Wolfie” Smith are now resorting to DESPERATE MEASURES and cheerleading some pretty shabby development proposals through the planning system.

In June a Bristol City Council planning committee waved through permission for a 15 storey tower block on the Bath Road at Totterdown. THE HUGE AMOUNT OF CONCERN in the local community over a development that doesn’t meet the requirements for tall buildings outlined in the Local Plan – a policy revised just months before by the Reverend’s administration – was overlooked by a Labour majority Planning Committee, apparently IN A HURRY TO JUST GET SHIT BUILT.

The Reverend’s Housing Czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith took to social media before the planning meeting to give the development a PR BOOST, announcing, “Great to see Hadley group commit to at least 30% affordable housing and up to 50% for their proposed development on the old garage site on the Bath Road”.

Although developers, Hadley, had actually committed to just 20 per cent affordable housing and the council had agreed to SUBSIDISE a further 10 per cent (with possibly a bigger bung to come) with public money. This is despite the development being unsuitable for families and children, not least because it’s on one of Bristol’s busiest roads and has NO OUTDOOR PLAY AREA.

Meanwhile over at Hengrove Park – where the council’s vision of 1,500 homes on a public park was thrown out by planners just a few months ago because it didn’t comply with the Neighbourhood Plan – A NEW PLAN has appeared proposing just 50 houses less, which still doesn’t comply with the Neighbourhood Plan.

Residents in Hengrove and Whitchurch are UP IN ARMS at the poorly revised plans, which look set to be forced through by another Labour majority planning committee seeking affordable housing numbers rather than decent development. However, if the committee passes the plans, the community are promising a messy Judicial Review. And we all know Bristol City Council’s record at Judicial Review is ABYSMAL.

Watch this space.



A sneaky item put to the vote at the end of this year’s council budget meeting may have caught a lot of councillors napping. Our politicians were asked to approve the seemingly innocuous proposal “For the West of England Combined Authority Mayor to submit an application to the Housing Infrastructure Fund to facilitate housing growth.”

However, this £250million application has fuck all to do with building any actual houses but does include funds that will go directly towards the detailed planning of two new controversial road schemes – the Callington Road Link in Brislington and South Bristol Ring Road around Stockwood and through Whitchurch.

Councillors voted 58 – 7 to approve the submission of the bid to the government and kick-start a new road building programme in the city for the first time in a generation. Obviously, most Tory and Labour councillors who love retrograde crap voted for the idea. The Lib Dems voted against and most Greens, as usual, confused about what they’re here for, abstained.

However two Greens voted for renewed road building, Ashley Ward’s Jude Brew and Clifton Down’s Clive Stevens. What were they thinking? Here at the Bristolian, we don’t parade much in the way of green credentials but even we know building roads is the height of Thatcherite bollocks.

The vote may prove embarrassing – and hopefully career threatening – for some other councillors south of the city too. Barry Clark “Son”, Labour councillor for Hengrove and Whitchurch had told his constituents prior to the vote, “I live near to Asda Whitchurch and like you understand the issues that this road development would cause. I am also against it and actively doing what I can to get it stopped.”

Except actively voting against it when given the opportunity to get it stopped?


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?


Word reaches us that the ongoing saga of bizarre management decisions at much-loved equine charity HorseWorld continues apace, with sector regulator the CHARITY COMMISSION now in the midst of an investigation.

We understand that a number of people have raised the alarm with the Com- mission over SHENANIGANS at the Whitchurch charity, whose well-paid managing director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen has sacked dozens of staff and closed down the visitor centre since his pie-in-the-sky redevelopment scheme fell at the first hurdle in November.

However, it seems that our old chum Pinocchiowen may have friends in high places, given TEPID responses from the CC which has been at pains to claim that despite being a regulator it is not able to, err, regulate. Instead it’s telling people to talk to the trustees… The very same people who have consistently backed Owen.

Don’t they want to fix HorseWorld?


Web ExclusiveA sad day for HorseWorld today, with news coming in on what was meant to be the last day of a “consultation” into the options open to the Whitchurch equine charity to secure its financial future: it seems that the VISITOR CENTRE WILL DEFINITELY CLOSE this Friday 28th February.

Sources tell us that embattled managing director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen “didn’t even have the balls to do the deed himself”, preferring instead to send out a staff representative to spread the bad news to employees.

It is understood that today’s dark announcement confirms the decision to shutter the visitor centre made at a meeting last week of the charity’s trustees “in a SECRET LOCATION”. As one angry source told us:

[The trustees] usually meet at HorseWorld in the visitor centre cafe, but that’s a no-no for them now, of course, lest the staff actually get to meet the trustees who NEVER visit the place and, worse still, have a chance to influence their daft decision making…

As the GMB union’s Rowena Hayward – who has been acting for those facing redundancy – notes, staff “feel very pressurised, very stressed, very anxious…and VERY LET DOWN” about how the situation has been handled.

Meanwhile word reaches us that a wide variety of people connected with HorseWorld’s important animal welfare work – including staff, former volunteers and financial supporters – “have had SEVERE PRESSURE put on them, in various ways, to keep shtum and not whistle-blow these last couple of weeks.”

Taken together with recent efforts to prevent critical media coverage, it gives the impression of a coordinated effort to silence dissent in the lead up to today’s sad news – though ITV West was able to screen a news package on the threat to jobs, with papers including the Bristol Post and The Week In joining The BRISTOLIAN in shining a light on the running of the charity.

With the curious decision to close the visitor centre – and so lose a valuable point of contact with the public, and an important revenue stream – now rubber-stamped and announced, it seems likely that those who until now kept quiet will instead voice their concerns publicly.

One question remains:

Why are those at the sharp end of HorseWorld’s animal welfare work – both human and equine – the ones currently bearing the brunt of bad business decisions, and not those in senior management who actually made them?


HorseWorld boss Mark Owen: full of pony

HorseWorld boss Mark Owen: full of pony

Web ExclusiveTrustees of troubled charity HorseWorld meet tomorrow (Wednesday 18 December) to consider what they do next after the SPECTACULAR FAILURE of MD Mark Owen to persuade local councillors to give him the green light to fill Whitchurch’s green belt with lots of unaffordable posh houses.

Faced with a CRISIS of Becher’s Brook proportions, the trustees have important decisions to make that will decide the futures of many staff and still more animals.

Under Owen’s watch in the last five years HorseWorld has shipped millions of pounds – but frittered away hundreds of thousands on consultants working on his ill-judged master plan. This came crashing to the ground at the first fence last month when BANES councillors showed that they could think for themselves and act in the best interests of local people who didn’t want posh houses and a big arena, thank you very much, by voting against Owen’s plans.

And when they voted against his harebrained scheme to knock down the visitor’s centre and sell off prime land to profiteering property developers, they didn’t do it by half-measures.

Comments from councillors considering the application included:

…10% affordable housing was not good enough…

…information about visitor figures was not clear…

…not convinced the proposal would solve HorseWorld’s problems…

…10% affordable housing was not enough, it should be 35%…

…not convinced there were very special circumstances outweighing the need to protect the Green Belt…

…information about transport issues was incomplete…

…worried about transport issues…

…HorseWorld, with 100,000 visitors a year, should already be successful…

…not convinced about the commercial viability of HorseWorld…

…concerned about the impact of a new housing development on the local primary school…

So that would be a resounding ‘no’, it would seem.

Since then Owen has FURIOUSLY STOMPED around the local press fuming that his failure to get the nod for the plan means the charity will close. ‘It’s unsustainable,’ he whines. Well, insiders retort, it’s certainly unsustainable to retain this INCOMPETENT TWAT on £80,000 per year (plus 28k company car).

Owen’s HorseWorld business model has long been seen to be redundant, and now he should be too.

So is this the moment when trustees finally ditch the hapless Owen so he can spend more time playing guitar in his pub covers band?

At the meeting Owen is expected to plead with his trustee bosses for CLEMENCY. His latest ruse will be to tell them they can overturn the BANES decision on appeal, and he has already started a petition. A bit late in the day for petitions, but you can expect some (non-local) people – including staff – to sign it. ‘Think of my mortgage… err, I mean, the horses!’

Alongside this petition strategy is the key part of his new vision – the immediate closure of the existing visitor centre, home to 24 horses, donkeys and ponies, and employer of several low-paid staff. Retain the rest of the charity land as a small scale sanctuary for animals, he’ll urge, but scale down the operation. ‘Oh, and keep me as MD, pretty please!’

There is of course another option for trustees. It’s not one which Owen will recommend to them, but maybe like the BANES councillors did, THEY’LL PROVE THEY HAVE MINDS OF THEIR OWN…

  1. Flog the Audi;
  2. Sack this expensive failure and his overpaid management cronies; and
  3. Move to a different model that puts long-suffering animals and hard working charity staff first.

It’s an option that would allow HorseWorld to continue working, but in creative co-operation with the local community, not against it.

Nobody in their right mind would believe councillors who overwhelmingly rejected an application by 10 to 2 votes would just overturn the decision on appeal. But are HorseWorld trustees in their right mind?

The acid test will come at this week’s meeting…

PS: For over a year Owen has been telling anyone who’ll listen that if HorseWorld failed to get planning permission he would RESIGN. He hasn’t.

What Mark Owen tells the Charity Commission - not quite what he tells BANES...

What Mark Owen tells the Charity Commission – not quite what he tells BANES…

I say 62, you say 43, let's call the whole thing off!

I say 62, you say 43, let’s call the whole thing off!

But then he’s been telling everyone he employees over sixty staff (most notably going with the figure 62, as shown on the HorseWorld website here and here, and in submissions to BANES Council – see page 92), when official figures submitted the Charity Commission claim the true figure is 43.

Pinocchiowen indeed.


Web Exclusive…And so we return to the ongoing saga of attempts by INCOMPETENT CHARITY BOSSES at HorseWorld in Whitchurch to persuade Bath & North East Somerset Council to let them knock down their visitor centre, sell the land to property developers, and then build a new visitor centre.

Apparently that will suddenly make them all financial geniuses and not the same dunderheads who created a massive black hole out of the generous donations and bequests from animal lovers keen to see abused donkeys, horses and other equine beasts rehomed.

Last month you may recall that all three planning applications were withdrawn at the eleventh hour – could The BRISTOLIAN‘s detailed reporting on how HorseWorld bosses made staff write letters of support to the council have had anything to do with the committee members’ irritation?

Well, this afternoon (Wednesday 20 November) is crunch time: all three apps are back in the room. Indications are that the BANES committee might be minded to slip it through – especially if they read the awesome puff piece in the Bristol Post earlier this month by its Business Editor Michael Ribbeck, which all but suggested the fall of western civilisation if this new development doesn’t go ahead.

Most amusingly of all was the elaborate plucking of ‘facts’ out of thin air, conjuring with made-up statistics, and general air of the reporter having HUFFED TOO MUCH GLUE whilst glumly waiting for the next round of redundancies.

A little taste:

The planning application also includes plans for 90 homes which would be built on green belt land if the application is approved by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Err, no, Michael – the application is for “up to 118 dwellings”. Despite the norm for an affordable element of 35%, HorseWorld is trying to get away with an allocation of just 10% at the site. That means potentially more than 100 RICH MEN’S HOMES plonked in the middle of Whitchurch instead of meeting local young people’s need for housing they can actually afford.

And the extra kick in the balls? HorseWorld wants to have subsidised on-site staff accommodation counting towards that meagre 10%!

Let’s keep going…

There have been eight objections to the scheme on the grounds of the traffic it will create and the loss of green belt land. However, the council has received almost double the number of letters in support of the redevelopment.

As we pointed out in great detail, there have been 615 letters or emails objecting to the proposals, with 108 (from 72 individuals or businesses) in support. The majority of supporters had non-local addresses. One-third of the supporters were directly linked to the charity (though most failed to declare so).

HorseWorld saw visitor numbers hit the 100,000 mark in 2011…the eventual aim is to increase numbers by around 35,000 a year.

As Highways Development Control has noted, “the anticipated increase in annual visitor numbers…from 100,000 to 134,000 per annum, ‘based on research’, no information has been submitted in order that those assumptions can be checked/verified.”

In other words, the Bristol Post-annointed ‘Communicator of the Year’ HorseWorld loves to spin a good yarn, to tell a tall tale – but can’t really back up any of its claims. And as for Ribbeck and the Post, well, who needs facts when you’ve a full tin of Evo-Stik Impact and a carrier bag on your desk.

Anyway, if anyone is in Barf tomorrow and at a loose end, do pop in to the Brunswick Room at the Guildhall for the Development Control Committee meeting; kick-off is at 2pm.

Though this might not be the end of the matter – even if BANES passes it through though, it looks likely to face objections from Bristol City Council…


Web ExclusiveFollowing a tip-off last night The BRISTOLIAN can report that the ‘interestingly’ managed charity HorseWorld will not be seeing its planning applications for a massive housing development and new visitor centre go before the BANES Development Control Committee today – thanks to the sensational LAST MINUTE DUMPING of the matter from the agenda.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s DCC is still meeting this afternoon… Only without any discussion of the controversial concrete-in-the-greenbelt scheme that HorseWorld boss Mark ‘Am I In This Month’s BRISTOLIAN Again?’ Owen seems to think is the only way to reverse the financial rot that set in during his five year tenure as Managing Director.

A council source told The BRISTOLIAN:

The applications have been withdrawn – this was done by officers not the applicant. There is further information to be obtained, and issues to be clarified…

Just what could that “further information” be? What “issues” need to be “clarified”? Could it be that the recent revelations in your lovable ‘Smiter’ have been read down yonder..?

It’s expected that Owen’s DOOMED PLANS will be resubmitted to next month’s DCC meeting on 20 November.

In the meantime, questions continue to be asked about a number of aspects to Owen’s development proposals, not least the ‘SECTION 106 CONTRIBUTIONS’.

‘Section 106’ obligations are legally enforceable requirements on a piece of land that a local authority negotiates with an owner. When major development like what’s planned for the HorseWorld land is in the pipeline, it’s meant to ensure that the developer bears some of the financial strain on local services, such as education, roads and health facilities.

And as you can imagine, 125 new houses in a village of barely more than 1,300 people can definitely be seen as major.

So given the FINANCIAL STRAITS that HorseWorld is in, offering £1,008,254.52 in s106 money (‘HorseWorld Trust Financial Viability Statement’) seems pretty impressive (though as some have noted, s106 negotiations are often skewed in favour of the developer).

Certainly, as some of the submissions in support of HorseWorld’s plans suggest, more housing for local people – something of a hot local potato at the moment – would be a great idea.

As HorseWorld marketing assistant Amy Williams noted (whilst simultaneously forgetting to mention who she’s employed by):

Housing is very much needed in the area and will allow the existing listed buildings to be converted and preserved. The site for the housing fits inperfectly with the existing built up area surrounding it. Well done HorseWorld for a well thought out plan!

Well done indeed! And well done Amy for describing so well the need for affordable housing for Whitchurch locals whilst she herself lives in a £200,000+ house in, err, Staple Hill!

Amy’s boss, Communications Manager Samantha Greatbanks – an actual Whitchurch resident – echoes the sentiment:

I feel that for my generation these houses will provide a new place to live that is close to home.

Admirable sentiments from someone living in a half-a-million quid property!

Still, it will be great that with 125 new homes in Whitchurch young locals not born with a silver spoon in their mouth will be able to find homes in their own village and not be forced out by stupidly high house prices, isn’t it?

Erm… Well it seems that HorseWorld isn’t that keen on the idea. Its million pound s106 offer is only on the table if it’s allowed to provide just 10% affordable housing on the site – a mere dozen homes for ordinary Whitchurch people.

That’s contrasted with the not-much-less-meagre demand – carried unanimously – of the BANES Development Control Committee for 35%.

And when you consider that around 110 new dwellings would attract roughly 300 new residents with well over a hundred extra motor vehicles between them, and increase demand for school places by at least a hundred, just how far will that £1,008,254.52 stretch?

Does Mark Owen and the charity bosses who approved his perks and company car and salary hikes – whilst the horse-loving staff at the sharp end survive on little more than minimum wage – really think the people of Whitchurch are so witless?