Cutz: this week in Bristol & beyond

13 11 2010

This newsletter is a comprehensive compendium of all the cuts news and action happening in Bristol and the surrounding area. It is a direct cut and paste job from the e-mail we receive, we do not edit it and we are not involved with its production. Kudos to those who compile it. If you want to discuss the content go to Bristol Indymedia. If you don’t have something like this in your areas, make it happen!

(Not all links are on here as is was messing up the formatting for some reason as you can see below)

P R O T E S T

GLOUCESTER MARCH
Gloucester’s march and rally against the cuts is tomorrow. The march to Kings Square kicks off from Gloucester Park at 10:30 prompt.

GREEN SPACE
Campaigners fighting Bristol City Council’s plans to sell off green space for a bit of fast cash are calling a protest next week. It’s at 1pm, Tuesday 16 November on College Green, Bristol – ahead of a full council meeting at the Council House at 2pm. They hope as many people as possible will attend as a “show of strength”.

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/protest-park-campaigners/article-2872144-detail/article.html
http://savestockwoodsgreensites.blogspot.com/2010/11/dont-sell-bristols-green-spaces-council.html

BRISTOL STUDENTS
Students in Bristol say there may be days of action locally on 23 and 24 November about tuition fee hikes. They will focus on occupations, ‘lobbying’ or lobbing MP’s, outreach to the public and encouraging high school students to join in to defend their futures. More information when we receive it.

http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/697833

STUDENT CAPITULATORS
Students involved in the rioting at Tory HQ on Wednesday have been condemned by some patsy student committee run by University of the West of England (UWE). Colin Offler, Student Representative Council (SRC) President at UWE, says the actions of a minority had ruined an otherwise successful protest.

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Riots-ruined-protest-say-students/article-2873527-detail/article.html

RIOT NEWS
A couple of interesting eye-witness reports on the student rioting this week. London Class War describe scenes around the Lib Dem HQ. “The blood had clearly drained from their faces,” they say of the Yellow Tories at the windows and trapped in their offices by demonstrators. “If Clegg had been there we think he’d have been dragged out by a lynching mob,” they continue. Elsewhere Ian Dunt provides some intelligent insight on Yahoo News of all places.
http://bit.ly/8Xa0bM
http://y.ahoo.it/KHSrF

STUDENT FILM FOOTAGE IN TORY HQ
http://www.flickr.com/photos/asifkhan/5163666447/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/asifkhan/5163734529/

VODAPHONE
A variety of activists picketed and shutdown the Vodafone shop in central Bristol in protest against corporate tax evasion and government cuts again last Saturday.

http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/698160

TAUNTON
Over 250 campaigners took to the streets of Taunton on Saturday to protest about Somerset County Council’s £43m cuts which will cost 1,500 jobs .

http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/news/Undefined-Headline/article-2848146-detail/article.html

U N I O N S

BBC
There’s another BBC strike on Monday 15 and Tuesday16 November. There will be a picket line at BBC Bristol on Whiteladies Road from early on Monday morning, 15 November. Try from 8am onwards.

UNISON
Strong rumours are circulating that Bristol’s Unison Health Branch, that looks after workers in hospitals, clinics and healthcare in Bristol, have been instructed not to join the Bristol and District Anti-cuts Alliance by the union’s regional office.

MORE UNISON
Lucky Unison members this week received a glossy publication – ‘the six hundred thousand’ – about “600,000 public service jobs at risk”.

The introduction by Unison President Angela Lynes cheerily explains how she “wants to make a difference” before cutting to the chase and announcing “Unison disagrees with the depth of the cuts”.

This explains a lot. Presumably then, Unison members who are losing their jobs, experiencing pay cuts or having their terms and conditions rewritten without any protest whatsoever from Unison are simply victims of cuts that aren’t too deep in Unison’s view? Unfortunately the union hasn’t, as yet, published their list of unacceptable “too deep” cuts and acceptable “shallow” cuts. Why not?

Rounding-up the publication, Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis – a man so out of his depth his membership should club together to buy him a rubber ring and armbands for Christmas – supplies a rambling conclusion to this maifesto of capitulation. “We’ll stand together,” he says, “to protect not just our members but the vital services you provide.”

Alas, Dave neglects to say how he intends to do any of this. Does he have a strategy for his million members?

EDUCATION
Education Secretary, Michael Gove has scrapped the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, which sets national standards and pay for non-teaching staff in schools. This paves the way for these staff to be openly attacked by cost-cutting management and subjected to dodgy locally negotiated deals.

http://www.bristol.gov.uk/item/committeecontent/?ref=wa&code=wa028&year=2010&month=11&day=18&hour=14&minute=00

E V E N T S

‘LIFE BEFORE THATCHER’
Bristol Radical History Group are putting on three weeks of talks, films, music and chat on the 1970s from Sunday 14 November to Tuesday 7 December. Look out for anything from the highly-charged 1976 West Indies Cricket Tour to Italian Autonomism to Grunwick and Dagenham to the Asian Youth Movement. Timely stuff!

http://www.bristol.indymedia.org/article/698859?&condense_comments=false#comment50446

B R I S T O L

LOCAL AUTHORITY
As predicted here and elsewhere, the cuts announced by Bristol City Council last month were inaccurate. The council has now admitted it will have to make at least £70 million of spending cuts over the next four years, not the £50m announced last month. Council leader Janke admits more job losses are on the way but refuses to provide any details.

This new announcement throws the council in to chaos as a round of scrutiny meetings for councillors to discuss the cuts have already taken place. These discussions are now obviously out of date and, as yet, the council has given no indication of where these new cuts might fall.

By 2015 the total budget for Bristol City Council will be just £330m budget. The same as it was in 1998.

YELLOW TORIES SPEAK
Bristol’s Yellow Tory leader, Janke, finally managed a statement to the press on these cuts a day after they were announced – unattributed – in the Bristol Evening Post. “There could be more job losses after the first year. We’re looking at the numbers all the time, it’s a rolling programme,” she vaguely explained.

YELLOW TORIES SPEAK AGAIN
Some obviously shaken Yellow Tories in Bristol described the Evening Post’s entirely accurate report as a “a total non-story” and “sloppy reporting”. They were joined by Bristol City Council’s head of PR, Peter Holt, who Tweeted that the factually correct story was “sloppy reporting”. Anyone else seen this new PR textbook that suggests you publicly insult and lie about one of your key clients?

LABOUR
Bristol City Council’s Labour Group leader, Helen Holland, has issued a mild statement of condemnation about the her council’s cuts. She says, “they will have a disastrous effect on services to the most vulnerable people in our communities”

STAFFING
Staff and trade unionists at Bristol City Council are complaining that – once again – they have only heard about the new potential cuts to their jobs through the local newspaper. A Unison member told us, “Our employers, the council, have told us nothing about these new £20m cuts. We have had no communication whatsoever. We only know what we’ve read in the papers. Last month, when cuts were announced in the local newspaper, staff were directed by the paper to a website where they found out their jobs were under threat. This time they haven’t even bothered to insult us with that. Senior management and their councillors treat us like shit.”

CULTURE
Councillors have slammed Bristol’s new cultural strategy – “Can Bristol afford to undervalue its cultural ambition? A provocation” – that we reported on last week. They say it’s too complicated for the man on the street to understand and no will know what it’s on about.

The council’s director for culture Kate Davenport, however, says: “It’s not written for the person on the street. Within the cultural sector, people love it and say what a fantastic document it is.”

In other words some well-paid vested interests like it because it guarantees their salaries for the next few years. This meaningless report cost the council tax payer £2,500.

MORE CONSULTANTS
The next consultant’s report due out on Bristol City Council’s endless conveyor line of them – despite the fact that the council cutting back on consultants – is on the urgent subject of markets. The cost of this one was a mere £9,965.

WORLD CUP
Bristol East’s Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the Government to support Bristol’s bid to be a host city for the 2018 World Cup. Bristol West Yellow Tory MP Stephen Williams and Bristol North West Tory MP Charlotte Leslie have signed the motion too. Along with the rest of the city’s political class, none of them are able to tell us where the £30m plus to fund the tournament will come from.

BRISTOL CITY FC
Cuts are appearing in the most unlikely places. Bristol City will be offloading high earners like David James after losses of £11.8m for last year says the Daily Mail. Manager, Keith Millen, has to reduce his wage bill and England shotstopper James is the top earner. Defender Nicky Hunt, midfielder Kalifa Cisse and ex-QPR defender Damion Stewart, all signed by Steve Coppell before he quit in August, are heading for the door too.

MILLEN CONFIRMS
City boss Keith Millen confirmed to the Evening Post on Tuesday that they are now a selling club.

BUSINESS
Meanwhile City’s tax-avoider Chairman, Steve Lansdown, flew in from Guernsey last week to meet 70 bosses from Bristol firms who support Bristol City FC’s campaign to go ahead with a £92-million stadium on greenbelt land. Hosted by Bristol West Yellow Tory MP Stephen Williams, who claimed the stadium was “absolutely crucial for the city’s economic future”, it was claimed the stadium would create a total of 6,000 permanent and short-term construction jobs.

This is rubbish. According to the club’s own estimates 380 short-term construction jobs may be created. While in the long term, around 750 jobs may be created by the stadium and its hotel, fast food outlets and the supermarket on their existing Ashton Gate stadium site.

750 low-paid, low-status, insecure service industry jobs are hardly the stuff of bright economic futures. Although the episode does give an idea of what this ConDem “business-led recovery” is really going to be all about.

WILLIAMS
Maybe the reason that Bristol’s Yellow Tory MP has so little shame about grabbing photo-ops with Lansdown and supporting his grubby little tax avoidance business schemes is because Williams, prior to becoming an MP, worked for corporate accountants KPMG? His job? Advising telephone company Orange how to avoid tax!

MORE WILLIAMS
You can read in sordid detail about Williams’ outright election lies on student tuition fees on Bristol Indymedia.

HIGHER ED
An informal vote at the Bristol North Yellow Tory AGM on Thursday was overwhelmingly in favour of government higher education proposals. About 75 per cent were in in favour. 25 per cent opposed or abstained.

MPs RENT
Williams voted for caps on housing benefit this week. Earlier this year he was complaining to the BBC that the new rent limits for MPs expenses would make it difficult for him to afford to live in London. The rental allowance for an MP is £17,400 a year. The local Housing Allowance for a single person on housing benefit will be £13,000. How the hell does he expect people on benefits to live in London then?

BUSES
Bristol’s Yellow Tory transport boss, Gary Hopkins, claims, “A major new operator could be running commercial buses in Bristol within two years, leading to cheaper fares”. His evidence for this is his naive belief in the power of markets and the fact that some new operators might be “interested in the tendering process” he’s set-up. Intelligent observers argue regulation is the key to bringing fares down, not pseudo-competition from a cartel.

LIBRARIES
Bristol Labour Councillor Ron Stone – possibly the only councillor in Bristol who uses a library – has slammed city council plans to cut the library budget. “We’ve all heard debate about the new structure. In reality my local library shuts on Saturdays due to the inability of the existing staff to cover and we’ve got issues with regular closures in other areas. There’s still a huge group of people who rely on the libraries and don’t want the internet but they’re not getting the service at the moment.”

Proposed £200,000 cuts to the libraries service will involve the introduction of a supermarket style self-service checkouts for books.

PUBS
A new pressure group, the Bristol Pubs Group, is calling on Bristol City Council to urgently adopt a new policy to save local pubs. They say pubs in Bristol are shutting down at an alarming rate and some neighbourhoods have no boozers left at all.

MORE HIGHER ED
More commentary from Eric “Out to lunch” Thomas, the University of Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor, on the new Higher Education funding settlement. “Much work has been done and continues in order to reduce our operating costs. The combination of our Academic and Support Process Reviews, along with the voluntary severance and early retirement schemes, are all contributing to ensuring we are in the best position to navigate this significantly challenging financial landscape,” booms the man with the extravagant taxpayer-funded expense account

Our chap in the senior common room explains: “Academic and Support Process Reviews? This is corporate-speak for their redundancy programme, which is laying off huge numbers of staff, especially in admin and IT. Meanwhile they are creating more managerial jobs to ‘manage the change’.”

FoI
A Freedom of Information request has been submitted to find out how much it cost to send Bristol’s Yellow Tory leader, Barbara Janke, and her part-time £72,000 a year ‘Place Manager’ to Zaragoza for the Eurocities 2010 Conference to discuss ‘identity’.

PLANNING GAIN?
Latest figures reveal Bristol City Council has £15m worth of Section 106 monies unspent and lying dormant in bank accounts. The money is provided by developers who have obtained planning permission for new schemes. Some of the money has remained unspent for up to15 years.

EDUCATION
The recent purchase of St Ursula’s – a loss-making Catholic private secondary school in Bristol – which had gone into administration, cost Bristol City Council £1.95m. The cost was disclosed after a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC. The city council explain away this extraordinary outlay by saying the school could be considered a “strategic reserve” with regards to potential provision of secondary schools in Bristol.

CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE
Tolls for the Clifton Suspension Bridge are to be doubled. The Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust says an application will be made to the Department of Transport before Christmas to raise the toll from 50p to £1.

HOUSING BENEFIT
Cuts to housing benefit in Bristol will mean pensioners and people in low-paid jobs will not be able to make ends meet. “Those already on low incomes such as pensioners, those with disabilities, carers and people in low-paid jobs will struggle to find the extra money they will need to keep a roof over their head,” says homeless charity, Shelter. Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said a two-bed household in the city was set to lose £52 a month.

B A T H

HOUSING
According to a study by the Chartered Institute of Housing, 1,860 housing benefit claimants will be worse off in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) when new rules limiting payments come in. More than a third of these claimants – 34 per cent – will be in employment. Claimants living in two-bedroom homes in Bath could lose up to £17.26 a week when the changes go live next October.

SOCIAL CARE
Next week politicians in BANES will start slashing their budget for the care of elderly people. A new charging policy will see at least 350 people paying more for home care, the price of meals on wheels will increase by 33 per cent and around £200,000 worth of voluntary sector grants will be axed. The community learning budget will also be cut by £125,000 while ‘efficiency savings’ are set to save £307,000. The council say there will be “some redundancies”.

LOCAL AUTHORITY
Politicians met in Bath this week to discuss £5.8 million of savings and income generation in the planning, transport, environmental services, tourism, leisure and culture directorate at B&NES. Cost-cutting proposals included getting volunteers to work in libraries and the Victoria Art Gallery. Councillors also discussed reducing the opening hours of recycling centres and cutting back on floral displays. The directorate has already cut 10 per cent of its staff this year and is expected to ditch more in 2011/12.

ACADEMIES
Schools in Bath are moving ahead with plans to become independent academies. Hayesfield School and Beechen Cliff School have now launched a consultation exercise into whether they should take advantage of the Coalition Government’s academy legislation. Both are already working together as the Bath Education Trust and are asking their governing bodies to make a decision next month. Hayesfield head Erica Draisey says the school could reopen as an academy by April next year.

MORE TAX
B&NES is also looking to make more money through parking and bus lane fines. They will increase use of CCTV cameras and automated number plate recognition technology along bus lanes and in car parks.

S O U T H G L O U C E S T E R S H I R E

CURRY
A Kingswood curry house has named a new dish after the new local Tory MP Chris Skidmore. Our Restaurant Correspondent says the curry, “is thick, nasty and leaves a bad taste in your mouth”.

F O R E S T O F D E A N

FIGHTING TALK
ConDem plans to sell Forestry Commission land to the highest bidder continue to run in to militant opposition in the Dean. Cinderford district councillor Graham Morgan has said, “I predict another Warren James-style uprising, with fences being torn down. You’ll see me at the front of the barricades.”

Morgan is referring to Warren James a miners’ leader who led a 2000-man revolt against the enclosure of the Dean in 1831 and got transported to Australia for his troubles.

A Facebook group called Stop The Forest Of Dean From Being Sold Off has been set up and there is a national online petition.

N O R T H S O M E R S E T

BEACH LAWN
Cash-strapped North Somerset Council is introducing charges for the hire of the Beach Lawns and Promenade at Weston-super-Mare. The public space currently hosts events like the Helidays helicopter display, classic car and community shows and the popular Carters Steam Fair. It’s also used for major events such as T4 on the Beach, Weston Beach Race and the annual Armed Forces Day celebration plus lots of smaller charity events. Charges will be £1,000 if the event has an entry fee and £500 if the event is free.

LIBRARIES
North Somerset Council libraries are resorting to holding a giant book sale in Weston-super-Mare to raise cash. The sale is at the Winter Gardens on November 26 and 27 from 10am to 4pm with prices of books starting from 10p. They say they are offering our items for sale that are no longer in demand.

S O M E R S E T

EDUCATION
Compton Dundon Primary School near Somerton, Somerset with just nine pupils could be under threat of closure to save money.

G L O U C E S T E R S H I R E
1,000 jobs – a sixth of the workforce – will go as Gloucestershire County Council tries to save £108 million in the next four years. The measures are being branded as ‘The Big Community Offer’ in which buildings and assets worth millions will be given away to the public and community groups to run their own libraries, adult care centres and youth clubs. They proposals will be discussed by the council’s Cabinet next Thursday

B U S I N E S S

BABCOCK
Local MPs are warning that Babcock Marine, the West’s biggest firm, is facing a “huge trough” in its workload because of cuts to Plymouth-based defence contracts. The threat of redundancies to the highly-skilled workforce are real and probably inevitable with Plymouth’s naval fleet being cut from twenty warships and submarines to, potentially, just one.

ROK
Exeter-based builders Rok are going into administration after recently revealing half-year losses of £3.8 million. Their auditors have now uncovered serious failings in its plumbing, heating and electrical business. The company employs more than 2,000 people.

BRISTOL ROK
The company has offices at Pill and St Werburghs in Bristol and has multimillion-pound contracts with Bristol City Council and the Bristol-based insurance firm AXA. They are halfway through a five-year contract worth £3.75 million with Bristol City Council to refurbish 14,500 in the north of the city and they are currently working on improvements to council tower blocks in Easton. ROK was also the contractor appointed to build twelve new council properties in Lawrence Weston in a contract worth £775,690. They also had a five-year, £35m contract to upgrade homes in South Gloucestershire for Merlin Housing Society.

ROK REDUNDANCIES
Administrators have already announced the loss of 711 jobs in the first wave of anticipated redundancies in the wake of Rok’s collapse.

DAIRY
Dairy farmers in the West have attacked supermarkets for using cut-price milk to attract shoppers. Farmers say that price wars have lowered the average price of semi-skimmed milk to about 55p per litre at supermarkets. Meanwhile, farmers receive around 25p per litre of milk although some receive even less and are paying more than that to produce it. Studies suggest farmers need to receive 30p per litre to stay in business.

A400M
New arrangements around the procurement of the over budget, behind schedule Airbus A400M military transport plane have been announced. The untried and untested plane that has finally managed – just about – to get off the ground will replace the popular Hercules. The UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey will now purchase 170 A400Ms between them instead of 180. The UK has cut its order by three planes to 22. Germany will take 53 planes instead of 60 and forgo special technology that allows for low-level flights.

The overall cost of the project remains broadly unchanged from the deal reached in March where a price increase per plane of 11m euro (£9.5m) was agreed. The A400M’s wings are made in Filton near Bristol where more than 800 people are employed. The landing gear comes from Messier-Dowty, whose Gloucester factory keeps nearly 1,000 aerospace engineers in work. The project is three years late and at least 5bn euro (£4.3bn) over budget – or perhaps double that according to some calculations.

C S R

EDUCATION
The University of the West of England’s (UWE) teaching grant will be cut by 80%, Bristol University’s by 34% and Bath Uni’s by 53%, based on Commons library figures.

HOUSING
Government figures suggest 8,200 claimants in Bristol will be hit by changes in the way housing benefit is paid with most losing about £572 a year. In Bath & North East Somerset, 1,860 claimants face losing out with the majority hit by around £676 worth of cuts. North Somerset has 3,980 claimants, facing a £468 reduction, tmuch he same as South Gloucestershire’s 4,820 claimants. The cuts are “hardly draconian”, the ConDem Government say.

LAW
The Observer’s Nick Cohen asked Richard Miller, the legal aid manager for the Law Society: “would I be guilty of journalistic hyperbole if I wrote that on basic questions of access to shelter and a minimum income the poor would soon be outside the rule of law”?

“Oh no,” he said. “You wouldn’t be exaggerating at all.”

TRANSPORT
The Government intends to drastically cut the Bus Service Operators Grant which refunds bus companies up to 70% of the tax that they pay on fuel. This will mean that bus fares will rise by at least 10-15% on top of what the operators would raise them by anyway. Prepare for bus fares to go up by around 20% in the New Year then.

BENEFITS
All work-related benefits are to be merged into a single Universal Credit “to make work pay”. This new ConDem benefit reform will affect at least 45,350 claimants in Bristol, 11,070 in Bath and North East Somerset, 15,940 in North Somerset and 15,780 in South Gloucestershire.

SIGN ‘O’ THE TIMES
NEWS FROM THE SWRDA: “This site is now closed and unfortunately will not be maintained in the future. To view the latest information and news please go to the South West RDA Corporate website.

E C O N O M Y

SEVERN CROSSING
A row is brewing between the Welsh Assembly and the West’s MP over who should receive the proceeds from Severn Crossing tolls when the bridges return to public ownership in 2017.

TOLLS UP
Meanwhile, Severn bridge tolls are to rise by 20p to £5.70 in January.

OECD
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says the UK is heading for a “moderate downturn”.

DEFICIT
Government hopes that economic recovery will be spearheaded by manufacturing and exports took a dent this week when official figures revealed the UK was running a record trade deficit in the three months to September.

Know about people, politics and policy in Bath, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire or beyond? Then contribute to CUTZ and help make it the regional leader for cuts news.

In a trade union? Know what’s happening in workplaces in the west? Write and tell us. Remember: silence and secrecy are the bosses’ best weapons …

Being made redundant? Problems at work? Being cut? Contact BRISTOL IWW – “’til the government falls”. bristoliww@riseup.net or Tel: 07506 592180

Got any news about cuts in Bristol, Bath or beyond? Send stories, rants, gossip, informed speculation and the rest to Cutz, the brashest and best cuts news in the west: bristol_citizens@yahoo.co.uk

SUBSCRIBE by email and get all the news with all the links. Email bristol_citizens@yahoo.co.uk

Twitter: @bristol_citizen

Comment to make? Something to say? Cutz is also available at
http://www.bristol.indymedia.org for discussion.

Big thanks to all our contributors – you know who you are (and who yer not)

COPYRIGHT IS FOR WIMPS! Please edit, copy, paste, reproduce, send and forward as you see fit.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: