Posts Tagged ‘George Ferguson’

Dominic Cummings Wants to Take Housing Out of the Hands of Local Authorities

June 28, 2020

I was at a Zoom meeting Friday evening of my local constituency Labour party, Bristol South. The evening was devoted to a discussion of how the party should respond and formulate proper policies following the Keir Starmer’s national policy review. The areas under discussion that evening were housing and local democracy, and health and social care after the Coronavirus. Many members that the way to restore proper health and social care would be to give power back to the trade unions, and proper wages and career prospects to the women and men working in our NHS and care sector.

Local democracy is rather more complicated, however. As has been shown by the news over the last couple of days, many local authorities are now in dire financial straits thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Tories did promise that they’d give them all the funding they needed to cope, but it’s been a typical Tory promise: the funding hasn’t materialised. The result is that a number of local authorities are facing bankruptcy. Wiltshire in the West Country is one, and Bristol may well be another. Bristol has fared better than most, as the much-maligned elected mayor, Marvin, did manage to sort out the financial mess and serious budget deficits left by the previous elected mayor, George Ferguson. It seems under Red Trousers there was serious financial mismanagement. This really doesn’t surprise me, as Ferguson announced one year there would be tens of millions of cuts, but that we shouldn’t be afraid of them. Before he became an independent, Ferguson was a Lib Dem, but he may as well have been a Tory.

It’s unclear what the proper spheres of national and local government are. Andrew Marr has published a book on this very issue, but I stopped reading it and put it away due to the flagrant anti-Labour bias on his TV show. I guess I’ll have to dig it out and start reading it properly, as this could become a major issue in the next few years. It is a major problem how we can get the British public involved in both national and local government, so that they don’t feel ignored and marginalized by the authorities.

And there’s a serious problem for local authorities on the horizon. Apparently Dominic Cummings wants to take housing out of the hands of local authorities. This is extremely alarming, given the closeness between the Tories and developers, as shown by Jenrick’s scandalous conduct over at Tower Hamlets. As Mike and the others have revealed on their blogs, Jenrick allowed Tory donor Richard ‘Dirty’ Desmond to develop Westferry in London against existing planning regulations or the wishes of the local authority after Dirty Des gave the Conservatives a £12,000 bung. After twelve years of power, we’re back to John Major and New Labour levels of sleaze and corruption again. It’s feared that if the Tories do take it housing into national government, they’ll just let off a free-for-all of development.

The Labour party in Bristol is trying to encouraging the renovation of older properties as well as the construction of new housing. Not only does this also provide accommodation, but it also employs more people. There are also problems with the current planning legislation in that developers can convert old commercial properties into residential housing in areas around music venues. This has been done in the old office blocks surrounding the Bristol pub, the Fleece and Firkin, which has been a centre for live musical performances in Bristol since the 1980s. The problem is that at the moment the developers don’t have to do anything to protect the homes’ prospective residents from the noise, so that they complain instead about the music venue. The local authority in Bristol is trying to bring in some of the continental legislation that protects existing music venues by insisting that the developers must install double glazing and so on when they build flats and homes in such areas.

The party on Friday was expecting the Tories to make the announcement they were taking housing away from local authorities today, but wondered if they actually would after the scandal with Jenrick. I haven’t heard that they have. But it’s clearly something they would dearly love to do. If that happens it will lead to housing and building development that isn’t wanted by the existing residents of an area, and the further destruction of local democracy.

This is an area which needs to be very closely watched and guarded.

Kipper Councillor Says Bristol Elected Mayor ‘Looks Like Scruffy Little Asylum Seeker’

May 4, 2015

I found this story in today’s Bristol Post , ‘UKIP councillor claims George Ferguson looks like a ‘scruffy little asylum seeker’ through the Hope Not Hate site. Michael Frost, who became UKIP’s first ever councillor in Bristol, representing Hengrove, made the remark when speaking on community radio. He was on BCfm radio’s Politics Show.

He apparently said that “I think the way he presents himself, to dignitaries and places that he has to go and people he has to see, he looks like a scruffy little asylum seeker, who’s got dressed in a pound shop. I’m appalled by his appearance.”

Ferguson himself laughed off the remark, but observed that it was insulting to asylum seekers. He also said that Frost should ask himself, if foreign heads of state really thought he was that scruffy, why he got such good feedback.

Tim Malnick, a Green councillor, who was on the show with Frost, was also offended by the comment. He said he was sorry, but the metaphor of an asylum seeker as scruffy was ‘stereotypical’.

Frost apparently has responded in turn, by describing Malnick as ‘looking like an asylum seeker’.

The story can be read at: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/UKIP-councillor-slams-George-Ferguson-looks-like/story-26438061-detail/story.html

Frost, according to the article, is also a candidate in the parliamentary elections for UKIP for north-west Bristol. Let’s hope the people there have the good sense not to elect him. He sounds utterly crass and charmless. He makes a comment he should realise would be inflammatory and seen as racist, and when he’s criticised for it, he makes the insult again.

As it stands, a lot of people in Bristol do think Ferguson is scruffy. Ferguson strides about in red trousers, including for funerals, when he adopts a ‘dark claret’ pair. Many of the people I know, especially the older generation, feel that this especially shows a lack of respect, and Ferguson should wear a more conservative colour.

The elected mayor is also far from my favourite local politician. He’s a former Lib Dem, who suddenly decided he was an independent, when it came to standing in the elections for mayor. He seems to be a supporter of all the neo-liberal twaddle about cuts, and last Christmas pushed through £90m of them. He denied that they would have much of an impact, however, and told Bristolians that we ‘shouldn’t be afraid of them.’

However I or anybody feel about Ferguson and his wardrobe, Frost was wrong to compare him to an asylum seeker. It shows the contempt for immigrants and the global poor characteristic of the Kippers. And it also shows the party’s contempt for their opponent’s views and general insensitivity when Frost repeated the insult about the Green councillor. It both shows that Frost doesn’t think he’s said anything wrong, and that he just doesn’t care if he has and has no reservations whatsoever about showing his contempt for those who do.

The ward he represents, Hengrove, is just down the road from me. It’s like Stockwood, the other area of south Bristol that John Langley, the porn star, hopes to win for the Kippers. Both areas are normal suburbs. Their populations are mostly White, but there are some Black and Asian people there.

I raised the issue of the large numbers of people voting for the Kippers in Hengrove, when Mike and I met the local Labour candidates for my part of Bristol. I was worried, as this has never been an area, which showed much support for the NF or other goons from the Fascist right. She said that from her experience of talking to people on doorsteps, the driving motivation for them voting for the kippers was job insecurity.

Presumably, the people there have, or had, bought into all that nonsense UKIP had spouted about not being like ‘LibLabCon’, and having some alternative economic views. This has led a lot of their prospective supporters to imagine that they were somehow a centrist party. I’ve even reblogged material from the Angry Yorkshireman, that showed that most of their members were almost as left-wing as Labour regarding nationalisation and state intervention.

Except that the party isn’t. It’s been described as ‘the Tories on steroids’. They are even more committed to deregulation and privatisation, including the NHS, as the Tories. They are also very firmly in favour of destroying the remaining shreds of the welfare state and basic workers’ rights like sick pay, paid maternity leave and paid holidays.

As for international relations, while they object to immigration and the EU, they have no objection to international agreements like the TTIP, which would be used to lock in the privatisation of the NHS, and allow big business to sue national governments if they pass legislation harming their profits.

Like Veolia did a few years ago when they used a similar trade agreement to sue the Egyptian government, when it raised the minimum wage for its people.

The Kippers don’t represent the workers, and they don’t represent the small businesspeople, who would lose trade if we were taken out of European Union. Any trade we did then, would have to go through the tariff barriers intended to stop the EU being flooded with cheaper produce from elsewhere in the world. Which would then also mean us.

No, the Kippers stand solely for big business, as well as racial bigotry, Islamophobia, anti-feminism and a bitter hatred of gays. And the people of Bristol are very well aware of it. I was talking to one of my uncles today about the election, and he described Farage as ‘that Britain for the Whites guy.’

Exactly. And Michael Frost’s comments bear out this image of racial hatred and intolerance. Bristol is a large, multicultural city, and hopefully the Kippers and their intolerance will not find much support on Thursday. Frost’s comments show you why they, and not asylum seekers, should be kept out.

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson Goes on Homeless Sleep-Out

March 3, 2014

Mayor George Ferguson

Bristol’ Elected Mayor, George Ferguson, surveys the great city his administration is wrecking

The Western Daily Press this morning carried a small piece about Bristol’s elected mayor, George Ferguson. Ferguson had been on a sleep-out on the streets to call attention to the plight of the homeless. He stated that it was shaming there were so many people forced to sleep rough in the city, and was going to give money from the Mayor’s Fund to organisations for the homeless.

Well, it’s something. It’s a better attitude to the homeless than that of the Tory grandee, who said of them ‘Oh, the homeless? They’re what you step over when you’re coming out of the opera’. However, on it’s own it’s not enough. Ferguson has launched £90 million worth of cuts in the city, vainly trying to reassure Bristolians that ‘they shouldn’t be afraid of them’. This will have an immense effect on poverty within the city, as more money is taken out of the local economy and available services are pared back even further to the very minimum. Fortunately, he has not implemented the government’s bedroom tax, though there’s no guarantee he won’t in the future.

The cuts aren’t, of course, all Ferguson’s fault. Local governments across the country have seen their funding from central government slashed. The local news has covered the debates on Gloucestershire and Somerset councils about cuts, and Bristol is, in that respect, no exception. Fergus is nominally an independent, but he was previously a Lib Dem. Despite his resignation of his party membership, he still clearly shares their Neo-Liberal ideology and enthusiasm for cutting spending. And this is damaging the city. While his support for the homeless is very welcome, I believe that there will only be real progress, both here and across the board, with a complete change of attitude towards funding and expenditure. And I don’t see how that will be done without Ferguson leaving as well.

Mass Sleep-Out in Bristol and Cheltenham against the Bedroom Tax 2013

February 23, 2014

I found this video on Youtube of protestors at a mass sleep-out last year on the 25th August against the government’s ‘Under-Occupancy Charge’ or ‘Bedroom Tax’, as it is better known. It’s footage from the ITV West and BBC Points West coverage of the demonstration. As far as I can see, all the report is about the protest in Bristol rather than Cheltenham. It was held on College Green at the foot of Park Street, which lies just in front of the Council House, Bristol Cathedral and the Central Library. The protestors pointed out that the Tax could amount to £100 per month, which some people would find unaffordable. As a result, they would lose their homes. They hoped that their protest would influence Bristol’s elected mayor, George Ferguson, so that they he would not implement in here in Bristol. They also had the wider goal of campaigning against its implementation nationally.

Their fears are being realised, if not in Bristol – yet – then certainly elsewhere in the country. Two of Mike’s friends are being evicted from their homes in the Welsh town in which he lives, because they cannot pay the Tax. These people are decent and hard-working. they are ‘strivers’, not ‘skivers’. And there will be far too many more like them.

Here’s the video:

Homelessness In Bristol

January 19, 2014

I put up a piece earlier this week on Rachael Kiddey’s presentation on the archaeology of homelessness in Bristol, along with links and videos on the archaeology of homelessness in Indianapolis, under Dr Larry Zimmerman and Dr Welch, and York back here in the UK, also led by Kiddey. Since I put it up, there was a report on the local BBC news evening news programme, Points West about homelessness in the city. It’s doubled over the last year.

Well, as the American comedian Bill Hicks used to say, ‘Well, pull me up a chair!’

Some of this will be due to the Coalition’s cuts and destruction of the welfare state. Some of it is also no doubt due to budget cuts by Bristol council itself. The city is now governed by George Ferguson, its elected mayor. Nominally independent, he was previously a Lib Dem and seems to have ditched his formal party membership in order to get elected. As part of his image, he strides across Bristol and the world clad in red trousers, though for funerals these are claret, rather than the shade he usually adopts. Under him, this situation will get worse. Just before Christmas he announced his plans for another £90 million worth of cuts, though told the press that ‘people shouldn’t be afraid of it’. As more services are cut, so more people will find it difficult to cope, with some eventually ending up on the streets.

I’ve found a couple of videos on Youtube on homelessness in Bristol.

In this video below by Jake Dix, the producer and director talks to the manager of one of the homeless shelters, a spokesman for the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, and a group of squatters. The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft is a co-operative, that has a number of subsidiary firms. One of these produces pottery from the fragments of old crockery. It has a policy of employing recovering drug addicts. As for the squatters, these have been occupying a building that was derelict for forty years.

This video on Bristol City Homelessness Advice Centre in Phoenix Court by ‘PublicEnquiry’ in itself isn’t really very interesting. It’s just footage of people coming and going in the office, set to a modern jazz soundtrack. I am, however, reblogging it on here because of its producer’s comments about the very commercial attitude of the Council and their attempts to remove it.

Here’s the video:

‘Despite their statutory duty to house the homeless Bristol’s local authority do virtually nothing nowadays to house the majority of homeless people. The council is being run as if it was a business and they can’t make any money out of the poor and mentally ill. They have even tried to get this video removed despite the fact that it is a public place and does not infringe anyone’s privacy.’