Category Archives: Bristol

The Village of Chillage

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

What’s your poisson? Best April Fool’s pranks of the day

A couple in particular have tickled me today.

First off there was Bristol Culture with its ‘Costa Coffee takes over Brunel’s Buttery‘ story – just all too believable! I worked myself into a proper rage before I realised…

Then there’s arthouse video specialists Criterion, who went with a pair of Arnie-themed chain-yankers – firstly with a picture of Akira Kurosawa visiting Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Kindergarten Cop, and then the exciting news that that very film would be getting the full on three disc special edition treatment (“New audio commentary featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Can Teach Us”).

Any other decent ones you’ve come across?

Protected: xxx-2

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You’re Shit #001: The (ex) landlord

Hey, we’re on a roll tonight – got this email yesterday from our last landlord, nearly a week after I asked why we’d not got our deposit back…

Hi KRS,

Thanks for the e-mail. I don’t know why but I haven’t received this until today.

There is no problem with the deposit. It will be with you shortly. It always takes a week or two to be transferred, and key exchange and end of tenancy inspection was [REDACTED].

As a gesture of goodwill there will be no charge for the oven cleaning, general cleaning, or waste disposal from the outside shed.

Thank you,

[REDACTED]

A beautiful touch, that passive-aggressive bit at the end.

Just to flesh it out a bit for you, the oven was cleaner than when we moved in; and unlike when we were due to move in there was no need to pay a professional cleaner to scrape the shit off the floors.

And the “waste” in the shed? That would be the microwave destroyed by the leak in the kitchen ceiling, initially reported to the landlord a month into the tenancy, but never properly repaired.

When I say “leak”, that’s actually shorthand for “seven or more leaks”. Above every available kitchen workspace, over the toaster, the fridge, the freezer and the aforementioned microwave (RIP). Oh, and the unswitched, circuit-breakerless four-way the landlord plonked on the worktop.

Did I mention how the landlord even tried to drag us in to an insurance fraud to pay for the roof repair?

Or the rotten floors (which we had pointed out before we’d even done a second viewing, d’oh!) that the landlord has promised to get fixed, but which – can you guess? – were never properly fixed?

Or the bodged macerator that vented out a delicious shit-burp after every flush?

Still not had the deposit back yet…

Bristol: A tale of one city, two worlds

The LLF spotted these two contrasting jobs on the Bristol City Council website…

Festivals, Community Arts and Film Manager

  • Reference: 23103
  • Department: Corporate Services
  • Working Hours: Full time
  • Employment Type: Permanent
  • Salary: £35,430 – £38,042
  • Closing Date: 08 February, 2012
  • Location: Council House

 

In community arts, our work ranges from promoting dance projects to opening up empty shops as temporary arts venues – and to achieving benefits in terms of health, community development and regeneration, as well as helping grow Bristol’s headline artists of tomorrow. Our festivals team is behind small and large events across the city – none larger than our annual Harbour Festival, which in 2011 celebrated its 40th year with crowds of over 250,000. Our events licensing team has made Bristol the official ‘street party capital of England’ with more external events here than any other city council area (over 400 last year alone). Our film office team are the people who make it easy for TV and film crews to film in the city, bringing in millions of pounds to the local economy.

Social Worker

  • Reference: 23100
  • Department: Children and Young Peoples Services
  • Working Hours: Full time
  • Employment Type: Permanent
  • Salary: £25,472 – £30,851
  • Closing Date: 08 February, 2012
  • Location: Redfield

 

This is an exciting opportunity for a qualified Social Worker to join a well-established and experienced team working in the fields of long-term, short-term, kinship and private fostering. You will be required to supervise and support foster carers, undertake fostering assessments and annual reviews and present your reports to the fostering panel.

It’s always good to see what priorities we’re subject to.

Just what is Junket Janke hiding? The mystery of Bristol council’s Eurocities 2010 gravy train

For some reason Bristol City Council has been dragging its feet over a Freedom of Information request relating to a trip to Zaragoza for the Eurocities conference back in early November by council leader Barbara ‘Junket’ Janke, her £72,000 per year ‘director of place-making’ Mike Bennett, and possibly other hangers-on.

With the suspicion that this little four day jaunt to sunny Spain cost a pretty penny or two and serves little to no purpose at a time when the city council is threatening massive cutbacks to services and jobs across Bristol, it seems curious that the council has not been keener to wheel out its no doubt entirely valid and deep-ranging justifications – I am sure we are all waiting with excitement for old favourites like “value for money”, “strategic partnerships” and even “post-industrial destination economy”.

But, despite being legally obliged to respond within a month, the council still has yet to even acknowledge the original FoI request, so requester Steve Woods has politely resubmitted it:

Dear Bristol City Council,

I have not yet received a reply, or even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, to my FoI request for information on the visit of Barbara Janke and the Director of Place to the Eurocities 2010 conference
in Zaragoza, Spain.

A full reply should have been received by 6th November and Bristol City Council is therefore in breach of the law by not having responded within the stipulated term.

I set out below verbatim the text of my original request for your information, just in case it has slipped into oblivion down the back of the municipal filing cabinet.

“Dear Bristol City Council,

I understand that the Leader of the Council, Barbara Janke, and the Director of Place recently attended the Eurocities 2010 conference in Zaragoza, Spain.

My queries under the FoI Act are as follows:

1. Did any other representatives of Bristol City Council attend this conference, apart from those mentioned above?

2. What was the overall cost (registration, travel, accommodation, etc.) to the City Council of its representatives attending the Eurocities 2010 conference.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods”

Can you please advise by return just what the current position is with this request, as well as when I can expect a reply.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods

Exuding the sense of opaque entitlement often found with a certain kind of ‘knowledge economy’ technocrat, somewhat cantankerous servant of the city Bennett – formerly the chief self-facilitating node at Bristol Media – has not even mentioned the Eurocities event on his blog since October (before it took place!), much less than offered any insights on what ‘the team’ learned there to us, the Great Unwashed of the city… Could this be because he and Babs got up to some unsavoury Spanish practices of their own at the taxpayer’s expense out there?

The youth are revolting! #dayx2 – DON’T CHAT TO FEDS!

Banner at Trafalgar Square from today’s London end of the #dayx2 anti-cuts protest, screencapped from excellent vid by The Gabber:

Plenty of great, inspiring, take-no-shit-from-cops action across the country.

Here in Bristol around 2,000 people played cat-and-mouse with police, streaking across town from College Green, through the University precinct, into Broadmead and Cabot Circus, taking over roads and streets… I hear there was something of a kettle towards the end, but for the most part it was a highly mobile and militant mob which one step ahead of attempts to contain it. Well done people!

UWE occupied – momentum builds for Wednesday’s nationwide student walkout protest against fees & cuts

No, this isn't UWE, it's the Wills Memorial Building at the University of Bristol. Nice image, though - from isnotnecessary.wordpress.com

 

A group of students has occupied part of the University of the West of England (UWE) campus at Frenchay in Bristol.

The occupation has taken place in protest at rising fees and cuts at the University. Spokespersons for the protest say that it is in solidarity with staff and students across the country as well as for future generations who will be squeezed by the cuts.

On Wednesday 24 November there will be protests led by students – at universities, colleges and schools – across the country.

In Bristol the action timetable for Wednesday looks like this:

11am – University of the West of England Walkout begins across all campuses
12am – University of Bristol Walkout begins
12:30pm – All students (school, college, university) from across the city to assemble opposite Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
1:15pm – March to Wills Memorial Building

Links & contacts:

See you on the streets!

“Andy Coulson is guilty” says Roy Greenslade

So I went to the ‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘ event at the Watershed I mentioned earlier. Bit of a curate’s egg, really – some interesting panelists, but very little chance to actually talk about blogging, the social web or much else. Frankly it was not worth the seven quid I paid to go.

Ex-Mirror editor-turned-Guardian media pundit Roy Greenslade had a stab at being a bit quote-worthy on former News Of The World boss-turned-Tory spin king Andy Coulson and his involvement (or otherwise) in the hacker scandal*:

Just go to Coulson now… The only reason anyone can get hot under the collar about Andy Coulson is because The Guardian have exposed him. Because they have exposed him, because The Independent have taken it up as a big cause as well.

Now that’s a perfect example of the way in which the other press, self-interestedly, because they either support the Tories, or they support Rupert Murdoch, covertly, allow this to go forward.

But there’s plenty of stuff on the net about Coulson, plenty of material available, and I think that… By the way, we haven’t dropped the Coulson thing, none of us have dropped the Coulson thing. I mean, I know the guy is guilty. Is that being tweeted?

I know, I know, I know an editor must have known. I do, I do, I did say on a public platform recently that it is either a case that he knew, and therefore is lying, or it is a case that he didn’t know, and is therefore the most incompetent editor Fleet Street has ever known. Is that being tweeted? Because that’s the truth of the situation.

So he’s either a liar or incompetent, and therefore he shouldn’t be director of communications of our Prime Minister’s office. And we will pursue this.

I think that the line-up went something like this…

Chair/moderator:

Panel:

2nd table:

Download Greenslade’s Coulson soundbite | Download audio of whole event (approximately 2hrs/107MB)

I’ve been mulling over tonight, and will back up a few thoughts tomorrow if I get the chance.

* The scandal being so many papers – tabloids and broadsheets alike – were/are at it.

ETA:

I’ve been out of the blogging saddle awhile, so that I’ve been tweaking this post so much I’ve given it jogger’s nipple, soz.

Bristol Festival of Ideas: What’s The Blogging Story (tonight, Watershed)

Afternoon there.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Things have been rather hectic on the home front, happily so I hasten to add. The reasons why would be clear to anyone who’s endured the photos I periodically throw onto my twitfeed, so I won’t compound the saccharine assault here with further explanation.

Anyhow, I think i shall be getting back into the blogging in coming days. Plenty to rabbit on about – a new Evil Empire, rather a lot of new films (thanks to my eBay penny bid DVD strategy), a vast backlog of screengrabs, local shenanigans, the usual stuff really.

If you are of a blogging persuasion, you may be interested in the Festival of Ideas event at the Watershed tonight. Terrible name (‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘), greatly overpriced (seven squiddlies!), with the wrong names too high up the marquee (Greenslade, Belle de Jour).

But Sarah Ditum from Paperhouse and Anton Vowl from Enemies Of Reason will be speaking, so I think it could be moderately interesting. I may see you there.

Need free legal advice in Bristol? Check the Advice West website

A nifty website that provides info on all sorts of free advice providers across Bristol and surrounding has been launched recently:

Advice West

Bristol EDO Decommissioners: Anti-war crime activist trial begins today in Hove

The trial began today of the EDO Decommissioners, a group of people from Bristol who wrought an estimated £180,000-worth of damage on a factory involved in production of bomb release clips used by the Israeli Defense Force to deliver lethal munitions into densely populated areas during Operation Cast Lead, its offensive on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

The five-strong group from Bristol which carried out the “citizens’ decommissioning” on the night of the 17th January last year is joined in court by three Brighton people who did not take part in the damage. The Decommissioners argue that their actions are lawfully excusable on the grounds that they were preventing Israeli war crimes. One of them, James ‘Elijah’ Smith, has been on remand since the action – seventeen months in gaol without a conviction.

The trial is taking place at Hove Crown Court
in East Sussex, just the other side of Brighton to the Moulsecoomb-located EDO MBM factory which was the subject of the defendants’ actions, and is scheduled to last seven weeks.

Operation Cast Lead led to a United Nations investigation, culminating in the Goldstone Report, which was highly critical of the IDF’s conduct of the war:

We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza.

The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force.

There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity.

The Gaza war was marked, amongst other things, by IDF use of white phosphorus.

Bristol City Council in asset stripping scandal!

News reaches the BunKRS that there’s a bunfight brewing over a possibly ill-judged decision to hire out of the Council-owned and managed City Museum for the launch party of a modern art showcase – featuring a striptease by noted burlesque star Dita Von Teese!

Furious emails have been bandied back and forth between “independent public policy professional” Helen Mott of the Bristol Fawcett Society and various council officers after she spotted a mention of a less-than-fully-clothed performance in Bristol on Dita’s website (whilst cruising for research purposes, no doubt). Disgruntled ex-council leader and current Labour group gauleiter Helen Holland has already scented the sweet smell of party political catnip and has spent the past few days stirring things up.

Asks Ms Mott, “What will be next, a private party at the Council House where the Black and White Minstrels are invited to perform?” Well, if the Tories’ Bunter Eddy has his way

The ‘strip show’ – which was to take place on Friday 30th April – appears to have been cancelled, though the exhibition is still set to start on Saturday 15th May. [ETA: It seems that the launch party will still be going ahead, just postponed.]

So far the LibDem leadership seems to have kept themselves out of the firing line, leaving the likes of Paul Taylor (head of the chief executive’s office) and licensing manager Pauline Powell to soak up the bullets, but with general election madness in the air, how long before it turns into another Coconutgate or Astley Fiasco? Especially as Powell has already dropped deputy leader Cllr Simon Cook in the shit by admitting he had been briefed about the issue before the two Helens got on the case…

ETA:

That bloody Barlow got his story up two minutes before mine, the swine! He’s also the one suggesting that Ms von Teese’s performance has been postponed, not cancelled.

BristolBloggerGate: Newby’s numbers 15 and a half MILLION out!

The salad days of research funding riches have failed to materialise at the University of Liverpool – whose estimable vice chancellor Sir Howard Newby (formerly of this parish whilst cost-cutting at the University of the West of England) may be familiar to readers due to his involvement in the silencing of critical blogs – where a deficit of rising £14 million has emerged.

As the Times Higher Education puts it:

The University of Liverpool was more than £15 million out in its financial forecasts for the past academic year, accounts reveal.

The university had expected to end the year to July 2009 with a surplus of £2.3 million. However, when the accounts were collated an overall deficit of £13.2 million emerged.

…Liverpool’s financial statements say most of the deficit was due to lower than budgeted research income.

Of course, heads must roll, so naturally Michael Yuille*, the director of finance on whose watch this occurred, has helpfully fallen on his sword – which should help insulate the capo di tutti capi from the fallout from this… for the time being, at least.

Though, as THE notes “about 200 staff, most of whom were in non-academic positions, took voluntary severance last year at a cost of £3.98 million.”

A spokesman for the University and College Union at Liverpool questioned whether senior staff pay may be partly responsible for the state of the university’s finances.

Some 112 members of staff earned more than £100,000 last year, up from 88 the year before, and the university paid senior staff £324,000 in compensation for loss of office.

As an avid bean counter himself, Sir Howard has continued to exercise the passion for trimming personnel at Liverpool which he first showed such flair for whilst running UWE, though clearly not at the highest reaches of the organisation. Perhaps someone knows of a management consultancy that might be able to help?

* Students will no doubt be ecstatic to learn that the number-troubled Mr Yuille appears to have scored a new job… At the Student Loans Company.

Stokes Croft versus Tesco

Right, so I’ve missed out on all the excitement, but anyhow, here’s the story so far on the campaign to prevent the old Jesters building on Cheltenham Road from getting turned into another Tesco Express…

8th February

11th February

12th February

13th February

14th February

20th February

15th March

16th March

17th March

18th March

19th March

20th March

23rd March

Related links

I leave the last word to Al Shaw from Redland People/Trym Tales:

“…I am surprised that on the official press release by Avon and Somerset Constabulary announcing the eviction the force find it necessary to assist Tescos in their PR campaign by quoting a Tesco spokesman uncritically in connection with the company’s desire to open the controversial store.

“It’s one thing for the police to enforce the decision of a court (which is part of their job); when they act as a mouthpiece for a huge company which is widely disliked and criticised by people from a range of social and economic backgrounds, it seems to me that the force has stepped over the wrong side of a line and manifested a poitical bias.”

[Edited to add links.]