Category Archives: Bristol Shitty Council

Still bitter about that council tax court hearing…

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).

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Bristol City Council ‘consultation’ on care services: “Keeping things as they are is not an option”

In line with central government’s desire to strip away services which provide a safety net for the most vulnerable amongst us whilst financially benefiting the richest in society, Bristol City Council is “seeking your views on the future of care services in Bristol”.

Hey, groovy! It’s a meaningless consultation exercise with predetermined parameters!

Reductions in funding for local services, coupled with the fact we are living longer – mean keeping things as they are is not an option. The changes being proposed reflect the demand for people to make their own choices about tailoring their care (personalisation). This will see the council becoming more of a commissioner of care services rather than a provider.

Consultation runs until the end of Feb and looks at day and residential care services.

Join the online debate on ASK Bristol

Cabinet Member Jon Rogers is reading all your comments and has joined the online discussion.

Perhaps it is less a case of “becoming a commissioner of care services” and more about providing “don’t care services”?

Of course, any similarity between the Liberal Democrats (party of national government) and the Liberal Democrats (party of city government) is of course a coincidence. It’s some other bugger’s fault cuts ‘have to be made’!

If you want to add your voice to the (obviously not pre-determined) consultation on either day care or residential care, you have until the end of February.

Obviously whatever necessary changes are ultimately put into effect it will be for the good of Harry, England and Saint Geo- sorry, I mean Bristol and the nation. Sacrifices have to be made, and if that means your Aunt Nelly has to get bashed about a bit in a private ‘home’ run by some carpetbagger who once threw a bung sideways at some snivelling party apparatchik’s election campaign, so be it. Think of the national interest!

Just make sure you and your loved ones never get sick, laid off or unable to pay your rent. Otherwise they’ll be going the same way as Aunt Nelly.

ETA:

Reminds me of the “there is no fifth option” warning trotted out during the trial of welfare-to-work prototype Project Work in the 1990s. There is always another option – where there is the political will backed up by action.

…But when will we get the Festivals, Community Arts & Film Manager fly-on-the-wall documentary?

Following on from last week’s post noting that Bristol City Council is advertising for a new arts boss (“helping grow Bristol’s headline artists of tomorrow“) for ten grand more than the salary offered to social workers overseeing foster care, with somewhat accidental synchronicity this Tuesday the Beeb started screening Protecting Our Children, a new series following social workers around Bristol.

The first episode – Knowle West was it? – was pretty hard viewing. Bristol 24-7 has a guest post by one of the social workers who appears in the programme.

Whatever your feelings about social workers, it is certainly interesting to see how they work.

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?

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.

Bristol’s Big Freeze: The word on the blogosphere

I thought I’d collect together all the local blog posts on the recent cold snap that I can find in one handy spot for your reading pleasure…

Aurea Mediocritas (Tony D)

Bristle’s Blog From The BunKRS

Bristol 24/7

Bristol Blogger

Bristol Traffic

Charlie Bolton’s Southville Blog

The Enemies Of Reason (Anton Vowl)

Eugene Byrne

Green Bristol Blog (Chris Hutt)

People’s Republic Of Stokes Croft

Stockwood Pete

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything out in the comments below, cheers 🙂

And wrap up warm!

Bristol’s Big Freeze: What would the good people of St. Petersburg do?

When the local authorities fail to get to grips with the snow and ice, it seems that people in St. Petersburg get out onto the streets and clear it themselves, whilst wearing masks mocking their governor Valentina Matviyenko.

Let’s hope conditions in Bristol don’t descend to the level of the Siege of Leningrad, or else we’ll all be chopping up panelling in the council chamber for firewood and going on frenzied flesh hunts through the zoo.

Whether we should be doing this whilst wearing Jan Ormondroyd or Babs Janke masks is up for debate.

Bristol’s Big Freeze: Snow joke in St. Paul’s – council abandons inner city Bristol (again)

I see that Councillor Jon Rogers (Executive Member, Transport & Sustainability) has been getting stuck into tackling ungritted pavements in Bristol. He spent forty minutes last night with local blogger Chris Hutt, gritting footpaths around Queen’s Road.

That’s Queen’s Road. In Clifton.

I look forward to seeing Councillor Jon Rogers (Ashley Ward) doing the same in St. Paul’s in the near future. Because the council he helps lead certainly doesn’t look like getting down to it anytime this side of summer.

Meow! What’s prompted this rather uncharitable assessment of Cllr Rogers’ Blitz-style, everyone-pitch-in-together gesture?

Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you…

You could be mistaken for thinking that Britain had been visited by the horsemen of the Apocalypse judging by the institutional paralysis that the recent snow visited across our fair isles has caused. The failure of local authorities to adequately prepare for what has been, in all honesty, a fairly mild few days of snow and frost is both sadly expected and wholly needless. The weather was predicted accurately, the UK is a socially advanced state with a multi-layered and complex infrastructure, and the resources to deal with any big freeze are available.

But then the capacity to deal with a problem is no guarantee that the problem will be dealt with, certainly not in Bristol.

The snow began before Christmas, and then eased off. Gritting took place in the mornings, and Bristol rumbled on. Come the 5th January, though, and the people whom we pay to run our city on our behalf failed us. The snow began light, but continued through the day. It then continued through the night, heavier and heavier. We awoke on Wednesday morning to a chocolate box cover, a twinkly cityscape beneath a fluffy white blanket. It looked beautiful; it was not to last. There had been no widespread gritting this time, so roads had quickly become impassable. Bus services across the entire city were cancelled. Schools and workplaces were forced to shut down. Things ground to a halt.

A little personal side: I visited my parents in their small village over Christmas. They told me of similar inertia on the part of their own local council. The whole village had been ignored by gritting lorries, so my father rang up the council. ‘Why hasn’t our village been gritted?’ ‘We’re prioritising main roads, sir,’ came the reply. ‘But there’s a main road through the village!’ ‘I mean bus routes, sir.’ ‘But there are two bus services that use this road!’ ‘Ah, I mean main bus routes, sir.’ Or, to decode the municipal gentility, ‘Fuck you, prole – we’ll grit where the fuck we want.’

I live in St. Paul’s, which is in Ashley Ward. We’re not important enough to be gritted. I mean, sure, Stokes Croft has been gritted, leading up to Cheltenham Road and the Gloucester Road – a main artery into and out of the city. But what about the Frontline – Grosvenor Road and Wilder Street – which links the Easton end of the neighborhood with the city centre end? Nada. The same with Portland and Brunswick Squares, which are our interfaces with Cabot Circus and Broadmead. And you can definitely forget any of the side roads, the residential streets zigzagging across our densely packed ends.

Now, fair enough, priorities have to be made. I can understand that there are primary routes which need to be kept open before other roads can be dealt with. But the whole of St. Paul’s has – again – been ignored, and regardless of the potential for catastrophic accidents.

For example, the corner of Cave Street and Wilder Street. Cave Street leads off Portland Square, and gives way to Wilder Street. It inclines down onto Wilder Street, and visibility is restricted by Balloon Court to the north and Cave Court to the south. The junction has (obviously) not been gritted, and is now a dangerously slippery ice rink. All day long since Wednesday cars, vans and trucks have been caught out by the conditions on that junction, many sliding right across the road, some spinning out completely, often only narrowly avoiding other vehicles or – even more frighteningly – pedestrians. At least one car has slid across the entire width of Wilder Street and crashed into the fence enclosing the car park opposite. And let’s not even get onto the subject of pavements – because the council certainly hasn’t. I’ve lost count of how many people have fallen flat on their arses on the corners of Wilder Street and Brunswick and Cave Streets.

It seems that it is only going to be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured in St. Paul’s – or worse. Much worse.

So, because it seems unlikely that Bristol City Council will get round to protecting local people by gritting in St. Paul’s, I’ve been getting on with it myself. This afternoon after work I made a start, taking two hours to drag back four bin loads of salt from the grit store opposite McDonald’s, which seems to be the nearest to us (obviously, there are no grit bins actually in St. Paul’s*). There is now a rudimentary path on the eastern pavement of Wilder Street between Cave Street and the entrance to Cave Court flats, a well-gritted corner on Brunswick Street, as well as other patches through the ice across the mouth of Brunswick Street, at the entrance to the cemetery and on the path between Bond Street and Brunswick Square.

Passersby were keen to pass on their opinions of the council and its policy (or lack thereof) on gritting as I was doing this. One particularly angry local man walking back into St. Paul’s with his family talked of big public meetings, liability for preventable accidents, putting politicians out of office and those kinds of thing. He was particularly unimpressed that our local councillor was out gritting in Clifton whilst St. Paul’s people slipped on untreated pavements and roads. As we were talking his son slipped flat on his back trying to negotiate a particularly icy corner of Brunswick Square.

With an absentee, race jibe councillor on the one hand, and another, Clifton-preferring councillor on the other, one wonders what it would take for St. Paul’s to get noticed by its own representatives. I suspect that Jon Rogers’ new Facebook page will not be what local residents are looking for.

* Don’t believe me? Then check out this map of grit bins in relationship to St. Paul’s. It’s based on the Bristol City Council’s own map of grit bins across the city, and St. Paul’s Unlimited Partnership’s map of St. Paul’s.

Local elections 09 – Bristol City Council gets LibDem overlords, no new Green

The minority LibDem leadership in Bristol City Council has been converted into a LibDem majority after yesterday’s local elections. The Green’s targeting of Ashley ward wasn’t enough to unseat sitting LibDem Dr Jolly Jon Rogers, despite Shirley Not’s CoconutGate race shenanigans threatening to complicate matters.

I’ve been busy on other matters lately, so here’s some handy links to other Bristol bloggers on the elections:

As a postscript, he’s the sum of all the politicking I’ve been subjected to in the trenches of St Paul’s…

Election campaign results from the BunKRS

Leaflets-through-the-door count (alphabetical):

  • BNP (Euro) 1
  • Green (BCC) 1
  • Labour (Euro) 2
  • No2EU (Euro) 1
  • UKIP (Euro) 1

Leaflets-seen-in-windows etc count (alphabetical):

  • All parties (BCC) 0
  • All parties (Euro) 0

Canvassers for BCC elections:

  • 0

Conversations about BCC elections with local neighbours:

  • 0

Conversations about BCC elections with others in Bristol:

  • 1

This is all down my ends of Ashley ward. Seeing as we were supposed to be some kind of battleground, I was surprised there was no doorstep business from Greens or LibDems, and only one leaflet from either! The nearest to any kind of canvassing was a Green who buzzed my flat asking to be let in to the block on a Sunday to deliver leaflets, but they didn’t knock on the door to talk or anything.

Yellow lines, don’t do it

Parking not allowed

Parking's fine here, though!

So yesterday loads of cars parked along Brunswick street got tickets. Some were parked on the CEED side, invariably half on the road, half on the pavement. Others were on the Wilder Court side (the end one of which was parked on the corner with Wilder Street).

There were some very unhappy local residents!

Today one of said unhappy local residents stopped a pair of PCSOs (or, as I understand Acksuall Constables call them, Plastic Pigs) to ask where they should park, having been ticketed yesterday. As she politely but assertively pointed out, there are no yellow lines past the corner, and she hadn’t been parked on the corner. The PCSOs (9288 and 7071), whilst keen to point out that “we weren’t here yesterday, it wasn’t us”, then indicated where in their opinion it was okay to park and where it was not. Oh, and they added that “there’s been a lot of complaints about the parking around here…”

😮

The lady drove off, and then the PCSOs decided to do a bit more ticketing, perhaps on the grounds of being consistent (a first around here, I would aver).

Slightly undermining that particular inference is that just down the round at the end of Wilder Street, right outside the Wilder House Parking Services HQ, was a sandwich van (Gert Lush’s Daihatsu Hijet registration WR51 KZE), parked half on the pavement and half on double yellows. I guess it is hungry work, slaving over spreadsheets of parking tickets and permit receipts.

Pep talk & Shirley

My absentee councillor, Shirley Brown née Marshall, has broken cover and spoken to the Evening Post about her ‘moment of race jibe madness’!

Nearly six years after she was voted in, Shirley Brown remains Bristol’s only black councillor.

In a city that has had a large African Caribbean population for more than 50 years and now has a significant proportion of residents from backgrounds across the globe, she does not think that is good enough.

Shirley, 48, intends to spend the two remaining years of her second term as Liberal Democrat councillor for Ashley ward trying to improve the situation.

“It is really important for more African Caribbean people and more black and minority ethnic people in general to become engaged with the political process and I will be working on that,” she said.

She has had huge support from the people of Easton and St Paul’s, and never more so than when opponents criticised her for spending too long in America in the early months of her marriage to Byron Brown.

“People really rallied round me – but seeing what I went through does make some of them reluctant to put themselves forward for public life,” she said.

During her first term on the council, from 2003-2007, mother of three Shirley said she spent up to 60 hours a week on council work, attending more than 30 meetings every month.

But a couple of months after she was re-elected, and shortly after the death of her father, the then Shirley Marshall collapsed at work in Easton and was taken to the BRI.

Although it turned out not to be a stroke, as suspected, Shirley took it as a warning sign that she was burning herself out.

She went to America to recuperate and it was while she was there that her friend Byron, whom she had met when he was visiting Bristol on a council exchange, proposed.

Four days later, the pair wed and three days after that Shirley came back to Bristol. Early in 2008, she returned to the US for an extended honeymoon and soon began to attract criticism for picking up her £11,000 council allowance while she was across the Atlantic.

The Lib Dems felt this was unfair, given that councillors from all parties have had long illness absences that have not drawn so much attention.

In her defence, Shirley contended that she was continuing some of her ward work by email and her fellow Lib Dem Ashley councillor Jon Rogers was covering the rest.

She now has an unexpected opportunity to repay him for that, as Jon is a cabinet member following the surprise elevation of the Liberal Democrats to control of the council last week.

Shirley said: “Jon and I work very well together and now he is an executive member it will mean I will be covering ward work a lot more.”

…She played an active role in many events for Abolition 200 – the 200th anniversary of the Bill to end the slave trade – and is a supporter of the Legacy Commission, which will carry on some of that work.

She was therefore horrified that an Asian Conservative councillor, Jay Jethwa, spoke out at the council meeting last week against continuing funding for the commission.

“I could not believe she was saying that,” Shirley said. But the Tories were equally incredulous at the Lib Dem’s response, in which she called Councillor Jethwa a coconut, and made an official complaint.

Her boss, Lib Dem Councillor Barbara Janke, was not impressed either and has told Shirley to apologise, which she did.

As well as the council, Shirley has her paid work helping young people with personal development and working with women’s groups, as well as speaking engagements and motivational seminars.

There is also her faith. She is a preacher, although she has cut back on her work since her illness…

I await this renewed interest in ward casework with bated breath.

The Bristolian is back!

The Bristolian is back!

I got given a copy of the back-from-the-dead Bristolian earlier!

They don’t seem to have a website at the moment, but tentative steps and all that, I’m sure things will be moving along nicely once people know it’s back in business.

This inaugural issue carries stories on:

  • the LibDem Council House coup d’état;
  • the cancellation of a new primary school in favour of a car park for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club;
  • expensive Council jargon;
  • Sustrans and the Cycling City money-go-round;
  • and (of course!) the good old recession.

They do ask that if you have “any leaks, sleaze, gossip, slander, news, views or anything else your fellow Bristolians should know about” to get in touch – email BristolianNews AT Gmail.com

Look out for it in shops, pubs, market stalls, community centres and newsagents!

In the meantime I’ve scanned & PDFed it so you can download your own full-size A4 printable copy – the pic above is for illustrative purposes only 😉

» Download The Bristolian #1