Tag Archives: Bristol City Council

Forget-Me-Knot #005: Wr06 txv

Wr06 txv

A reminder to myself to complain to Bristol City Council AGAIN – this time because I’m annoyed at BCC vehicles – like the van with the registration WR06 TXV – habitually parking either on the pavement or on double yellow lines.

The BCC van with the registration WR06 TXV managed to pull off the impressive feat of parking half on the pavement and half on double yellow lines when I thumbed this note – outside Wilder House on Wilder Street, home of BCC’s Parking Services Team.

A Bristol City Council-cleaned storm drain!

Blocked drain

This is a picture of a storm drain in St. Paul’s. I photographed it on Saturday.

It is on the corner between two streets. Cars regularly park over it, so rubbish accumulates over its grille, and it gets blocked up. When it gets blocked up in wet weather, it causes flooding across both streets and the pavement.

I reported it as being blocked up nearly three weeks ago. I was assured it would be dealt with as a matter of priority (it was very wet around that time).

I haven’t seen any council workers or contractors anywhere near it since then. I tried to contact the council over the weekend, but could not get through. I finally managed to get through this morning. I was told that it was ‘down on the system as having been dealt with’. I suggested otherwise. I have been assured that ‘they will definitely come out and deal with it’ in the indeterminate, but definite, future. We shall see. The frost is settling in now, and the mud and dirt and rubbish is nicely solid in the slots of the drain cover. Perhaps with a rain-frost combo we might get a tasty bit of black ice over the road, causing a fatal crash or two. I’m sure that would gee up any clear-up work necessary :)

Ticked off by Council Tax

Today I got a reminder from Bristol City Council for Council Tax arrears. It claims that I owe them £71.85, and if I don’t pay within a week, I have to pay the whole whack outstanding for the year – £309. And if I don’t pay that within a further week, it’s back to court, with £103 costs loaded on top.

Seeing as I’ve already had to go to court over Council Tax, I’d rather not go through the whole rigmarole again. That time it was because they fucked up the Direct Debits and took two full monthly payments out within a week, throwing out my budget and costing me money. I cancelled the DD because there was every likelihood the numbskulls would try and take another payment from me and impoverish me yet further. Doing that earned me a place before three self-important JPs with faces like slapped arses and not a little supercilious air about them. Apparently my being poor meant that I had no right to be articulate, or else my articulateness meant I had no right to be poor. They were a little muddled on that finer point of jurisprudence (not case law I had ever encountered before, I must confess), but they composed themselves enough to tie me into some ridiculously inflated payment plan which consigned me to the cheaper brands of biscuits for many months.

Anyway, this time round I got right onto the council straight away to try and sort things out. As far as I know, I’ve paid the right amount or more every month this year; the right amount involved odd pennies, so I tend to round up to the nearest £5. That way I’m never in arrears. How sensible! Well, perhaps not.

I ring up Local Taxation on 0117 925 0981. I negotiate the menu system. I learn that there are long queues, and opt for an automated callback (estimated to be a wait of between 20 and 32 minutes). A mere 38 minutes later, the phone rings, and I am back in the system. Only another two minutes of robot voices, and I am connected to a real person. Her name is Lucy. She sounds weary, but is polite. I explain my concern over the letter. I give her my account number. She checks. “Yes, it does seem that you have paid for this month.” But what about the arrears it says I owe? It’s such a strange amount, especially as I should be in credit. “Well, because you pay more than you should, the system gets confused, and misallocates the money. If you pay the exact amount in future, there won’t be a problem. But if you pay more, just phone us to let us know and we can make sure the system knows that you are all paid up.”

How reassuring!

Bristol City Council – Beacon Authority.

Stokes Croft 3, gentrifiers 1

Okay, so we lost the battle over Lakota, but it seems like the groundswell of dissent in the area over the massive changes to the cultural and social makeup of our area proposed by developers is finally being heeded by the council… In quick succession the plans to put up apartment blocks and student flats on the sites of Clockwork and the Attic Bar and adjacent to the Bell have all been thrown out!

For more info on this and other developments, stay tuned to the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft and the St. Paul’s Unlimited Community Partnership websites, and check my Nu.Bristol pages.

PS An interesting little vid with Chris Chalkley of PRSC, SC resident Keval Shah and Hogge from the Cube talking about the area and the challenges it faces:

Not sailing, but sinking

Vinyl on a junction box in Dean Lane pastiching Bristol Shitty Council’s logo. Check out Bristol Streetart too – Knautia’s found another, slightly different, design by the same person/people.

Shirley not!

This past weekend saw the Jamaica Street Studios open up their doors for an open day, celebrating the living art and culture of Stokes Croft and its people. Chris Chalkley of PRSC very kindly has sent round a round robin email complete with pictures from the weekend, and lumme if in one of them it looks like not just one but both Ashley ward councillors! See what you think…

Can it be true? Has the wanderer not only returned, but actually spent time in sunny Saint Paul’s? Or are these actually agency doppelgangers, hired in for the day? Answers on the back of a council expenses claim as soon as possible, please…

(Picture courtesy of People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, which is in no way responsible for this blog!)

BCC to stimulate local economy by introducing 450 workers to the employment market

A reorganisation could lead to the loss of up to 450 jobs at Bristol City Council, a spokesman has confirmed.

The authority wants to save £17m annually and has decided 35 of its 52 office buildings are to be sold off.

The council also hopes that as many as three in every 10 of its remaining 16,000 employees will work from home.

Councillor John Bees, in charge of transformation, said he believed the actual redundancy figure would be 100.

He said: “By 2012 the council will look, feel and operate very differently.

“This will be the most radical change to the way the council is organised and operates in over a decade and will make an enormous difference to the lives of everyone in our city.

“Tinkering with the organisation or doing nothing are simply not options.

“We cannot deliver the kind of services that the people of Bristol expect and operate effectively as one council without a real shake up of the way we work and I believe we are now ready to make that change.”

(BBC Bristol)

Don’t panic, though – I’m sure none of this ‘transformation’ will involve losing any of our Very Important six-figure salaried ‘strategic directors‘ who are so vital to ensuring we, the people of Bristol, receive such high quality services as in the fields of education, housing and social care.

Desperately seeking Shirley

The ongoing saga down here in St.Paul’s of our absentee councillor, Shirley Marshall, continues:

Shirley Marshall. Check. Huge suitcase. Check.

Cllr Shirley Marshall attended full council last night. Full marks to her. Unfortunately, her card was spoiled when she was seen leaving the council house with a very large suitcase. Perhaps the suitcase contained a bumper crop of council papers – perhaps she’s off on another ‘holiday.’ We don’t know, but perhaps Jon Rogers, Gary Hopkins or – heaven forfend – Cllr Marshall herself would care to enlighten the residents of Bristol who are giving her £11,000 a year to represent them.

Tip o’ the titfer: Bristol IndyMedia

Bye bye Lakota, hello yuppies

Just got back from the council committee meeting. They voted for demolition of Lakota and the Coroner’s Court. One committee member voted against, another seemed to have absented himself under instruction from the chair. A further three said they did not think the development proposals were very strong, or expressed reservations about going against conservation findings made by the council itself, but still voted to demolish.

There were passionate contributions from the floor, both in favour and against. Roughly speaking those against demolition focused more on conservation and historical interest, which may with the benefit of an hour or two of hindsight seem a tactical error, whilst those in favour presented it as a benefit to the local community in terms of housing and employment. It was precisely this area that I feel the proposals were weakest – go figure. There were also a handful of paid consultants and silent suits lurking around, and the council officers presented pretty strongly for demolition, despite admitting that the development did not meet various criteria.

Oh well, lengthier post mortems to follow, which seems appropriate for a mortuary. PRSC put up a strong presence in the room, as well as there being various concerned local residents and civilians such as myself, so I imagine the fight is not yet over.

Illusions of ten grand

Over at The Bristol Blogger there’s a rather interesting story developing.

BB noticed that ten grands-worth of donations were made to Bristol North West constituency Labour Party by Bristol Labour Group. Because BLG is an unincorporated association, it seems that no accounts need to be published; so the riddle is, where did the £10,000 which the BLG funnelled into BNW originally come from?

As BB notes:

Due to boundary changes, the Bristol North West seat, currently held by Labour’s Doug Naysmith, is likely to be a marginal seat at the next election and the Tories appear to be throwing considerable resources into the area for their well-connected parliamentary candidate Charlotte Leslie.

Now it seems the Labour Party are doing the same for their London-based Oxbridge lawyer candidate, Lambeth councillor Sam Townend (Blogger Passim). No problem there really. If the Tories have the mysterious Lord Ashcroft throwing money at marginals why shouldn’t Labour do the same?

Well the difference is, although we might not like it, at least we know who the Tories’ money has come from. We don’t with this Labour donation…

…while everything may well prove to be above board in this particular case, the process that Holland is running for donating money to Bristol’s Constituency Labour Parties is easily open to abuse. How do we know – given the current climate in the Labour Party – this unincorporated association isn’t being used as a conduit by an individual donor wishing to hide their identity?

The story got even more interesting on Tuesday when BB started asking questions about the use of supposedly unpartisan council officers by the council’s Labour group:

The purpose of this office and the staff is to provide support services to Labour councillors on Bristol City Council – who are apparently known as ‘the Bristol Labour Group’. However, legally, this office and its staff can only work on council business. The staff and the facilities provided by the taxpayer should not be used for either private purposes or for working on party political or campaigning activity, such as say, fundraising and party donations.

Obviously then this office and its staff, despite sharing a name and address, can’t have anything to do with ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ that gave a cash donation to the Bristol North West Constituency Party can it? Because that would mean that council officers and council facilities would have been used for party political activities and party fundraising matters.

Crikey!

But it gets even juicier… One of the Labour group’s support officers, Laura Protheroe, is apparently the partner of Labour councillor Fabian Breckels, whilst the other, ‘political assistant’ Roger Livingston, seems to have got himself into something of a pickle by way of an indiscreet email:

> Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:20:58 +0100
> From: roger.livingston@…
> To: Member of the public@…
> Subject: Re: Letter from your constituent Xxxx Xxxxx

>
> If you bGoogle “Xxxx Xxxxxx” with the quotes she appears to have signed every green petition going. Can’t quite link her direct to the Greens. But need to be on the safe side.
>
> Happy to draft a reply. (My own view is that I don’t believe man has caused global warming – I think it’s got more to do with the sun. And I’m still not convinced ANYTHING we do will make a difference. Al;so am anxious that this huge diversion of cash towards anti-global warming measures might have been better spent on the poor – who are still right on our doorstep.) However….. will draft reply.
>
> Could do with with the PLP briefing on global warming – could you send it to me?
>
> Roger

Yes, that’s a (‘non-political’) council officer apparently discussing with a Labour Party councillor doing background checks on the political affiliations of a member of the public who has contacted their elected representative.

Yes, that’s a council officer apparently debunking climate change scientific theory in a mere 23 words.

Yes, that’s a council officer apparently pressing the wrong button and sending his rather impolitic musings to the very member of the public he is talking about in such an offhand manner!

You couldn’t make it up, etc.

Anyhow, BB continues to dig away, but if you have any useful information I’m sure s/he would be grateful for your assistance. Especially if you know where the ten grand came from.

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Never fear! Batmarsh & Rogering are here!

Batmarsh & Rogerin

Reassuring news for those of us concerned about the recent licensing trials and tribulations of St. Paul’s Carnival here in Bristol:

Local LibDem crimefighting duo Shirley Marshall and Jon Rogers (rumoured to have been the stunt doubles for Del Boy and Rodney in the Batman & Robin episode of OFAH, filmed in front of the Coroner’s Court) have assured us in the latest arse-scratching edition of ‘Ashley Focus’ that they are – deep breath – “asking questions”. Phew!

libdem questions