Guess Who’s Back

Guess who’s back, back again

Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody just follow me
‘Cause we need a little controversy
‘Cause it feels so empty without me

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The Bristol Blogger is moving home

The recent hoo-ha with WordPress, which resulted in the Blogger removing some posts from the blog, has highlighted how vulnerable this blog and its contents are to WordPress’s whims.

The Blogger was particularly disturbed by this in WordPress’s Terms of Service (TOS):

Blogs are suspended if they are found to be in breach of the TOS.

We do not contact you first to ask that content be modified or removed.

You may NOT have that blog name back.

You may NOT have the blog content back

Basically WordPress have a right to take all this blog and its content away forever.

Following a summit meeting, the following decision has therefore been taken.

1. The blog in its current WordPress-hosted form will be removed from public view at 6.00pm Sunday.

2. Work will then commence on building a new blog from scratch using tools available from WordPress.org

3. The current blog’s archive will be transferred to this new blog

4. A suitable domain name will be purchased – it’ll be interesting to see who owns The Bristol Blogger won’t it?

5. A state-of-the-art politically-motivated ISP will be identified and approached to host this new blog in a safe environment.

Adios.

PS. In the meantime the Blogger might be found writing the internet news column for Bristol 24-7 that’s been promised for ages.

Check out our old friends at The Bristolian for gossip.

Posted in Blogging, Media | Tagged | There are 10 comments

Bristol City Council don't know what day of the week it is. No, really …

Posted in Bristol, IT, Local government, Recycling | Tagged | There are 4 comments

Gentlemen couldn't afford polaroids

Rare photos of the cult Bristol 1980s synth pop act Electovox have emerged on the internet.

These pictures of bassist Smith Ure and drummer Vowlsie Le Bon are said to date from the 1987 – 1988 period when the band were in their pomp.

Described by someone close to the band as “a bit like Depeche Mode but more shit”, they’re best remembered for the “agit-pop” style independent singles ‘Visions in Green’ and ‘Red Monday’ on the local ‘Rubbish Leaflet’ label.

Both singles unfortunately went nowhere due, claimed the band, to poor marketing and management.

A photo has yet to appear of the band’s mysterious flame-haired, skirt wearing keyboard player, Kylie. But the two photos we do have will be sent to Bristol’s Museum’s Sarwat Siddiqui to form an exciting part of the council’s “memory collecting sessions” of the city’s 1980s music scene.

Electovox split in 1989 citing “political differences”. Smith Ure went on to have some success with Britpop act Blair whose 1997 ‘Relaxed and Filthy Rich’ LP is available in all good bargain bins.

Vowlsie Le Bon, meanwhile, gave up pop music altogether for a career in experimental atonal jazz. He currently plays noseflute with the Charlie Bolton Jazz Five, who are said to have a small committed following in the Southville area.

Kylie was last seen playing second fiddle for a washed-up cabaret drag act – Babs Janke.

Posted in Bristol, Elections, Green Party, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Local government, Politics | Tagged , , | There are 10 comments

#gritforbristol

GRIT! It’s the topic of the moment.

Chris Hutt’s been at it as has KRS. So The Bristol Blogger thought he’d join the party and do some gritty blogging too.

Mainly as today’s Cancer featured a letter on the subject of grit from a resident of Barton Hill that provoked a response from Bristol City Council that manages to reach a whole new level of idiocy and arseholism even by their standards.

Here’s the letter:

JUST a passing thought about the Bristol City Council housing department.

Where does the duty of care lie, after all I do still have a document (produced by Housing services) where one of the key roles of the caretakers is : Under the heading “Task” it states “Adverse weather – snow/ice – paths into and out of each location should be gritted to prevent injury to tenants.”

Or could it be that the afore mentioned “reorganisation and restructuring” has decided that the duty of care is beyond their collective control. I just wonder how much time and effort will be spent by the council legal team sorting out the legal implications any impending legal action? But, maybe that comes from another fund – like the CEO’s coffee fund maybe?

So, in the likelihood that there is someone out there who is still morally obligated to the duty of care, when will the ice be moved from the footpaths around the blocks of flats, in particular Eccleston House, Phoenix House, Barton House and Corbett House? All of these have inclines to which all residents must walk/slide and fall to exit the residencies. If for no other reason to clog up the A&E at the Royal Infirmary, having fallen.

Yours awaiting meals on wheels (has no one told you that they have suspended the service “Too dangerous for staff to venture out”).

Philip Morris, Barton Hill.

And now standby for the response from the council, which must be an extremely early favourite for ‘Bristol City Council PR disaster of the year 2010’.

Reply from Steve Durnell, Caretaking Services Manager: Thank you for your email raising concerns about gritting of walkways and footpaths to council properties receiving a caretaking service.

The document on the website that you quote is dated 2004 and is currently out of date. I have arranged for it to be updated to reflect the current position. I would apologise for this oversight on our part.

Our legal services section have previously advised us not to grit as this could leave the city council open to legal action.

Rather than do nothing we do attempt to ensure that grit is available for residents to use at their own discretion. You may be aware that a decision was made by the leader of the council to make an exception in respect of our Supported Housing for Older People. As a “one-off” measure access to these 28 schemes will be gritted.

However the current weather conditions and consequent issues around gritting has prompted a reconsideration of the position. Further legal advice is being sought and this may lead to changes in our policy where icy conditions prevail. If this is the case we will make sure any changes are publicised. I hope the above addresses some of your concerns.

I’d really like to know who told Durnell it was a good idea to come out with that in the local newspaper. Here’s some observations.

1. Surely about 99% of the population – on hearing that an elderly Bristolian receiving meals on wheels needed his path clearing of snow and ice – would just go and bloody do it? Moreover, surely someone in Mr Durnell’s privileged position, even if he was too busy sat behind his desk (doing what I don’t know as the policy he should be sat behind his desk writing doesn’t appear to exist), could rustle up a few of his staff to go and clear this sodding path?

2. Even if Mr Durnell is so sadly embittered about life and the people he’s paid to serve that he lacks common courtesy and decency, mightn’t he have at least taken on board his boss Jan Ormondroyd’s instructions to be more customer focussed? Any corporate enterprise, purely from business self-preservation, surely would have gone and done what their customer asked for under the existing contract they had? Firstly, it’s called good customer service and secondly it’s called good PR because it keeps a potentially embarrassing story out of the press that could have a hugely negative impact on your business and reputation.

3. Why is Mr Durnell’s document out of date? And surely it’s current until it’s formally replaced? You can’t just pull it off the website and announce a new policy on the basis of a rumour, er sorry, top quality ‘legal advice’ that doesn’t appear to have been written down anywhere?

4. “Our legal services section have previously advised us not to grit as this could leave the city council open to legal action.”! This is bollocks. There’s actually a very small chance in certain freak circumstances that the council could be open to legal action for gritting elderly residents’ paths. This is just pseudo-legalistic ‘elf ‘n’ safety mumbo-jumbo excuses being used by the city council to cut costs and staff isn’t it?

5. Am I the only one embarrassed to live in a city where the local authority has basically told a vulnerable resident to sod off and clear their own path of snow and ice because there’s a small off-chance it might cost them some money?

6. When Mr Durnell shows up on Monday morning can someone give him the bollocking of a lifetime then stick a shovel in his hand and pack him off to Barton Hill pronto please?

Follow Bristol’s snow business on Twitter #gritforbristol

Posted in Bristol, Bristol East, Bristol Evening Post, Global warming, Local government, Politics, Twitter | Tagged , , , , | There are 24 comments

Legal notes from a night in the pub

Champagne corks were reputed to be popping on the third floor of the Council House on Tuesday morning as Jan allegedly threw open the Strategic Leadership fridge to all and sundry to celebrate the demise of The Bristol Blogger.

Alas, within hours, those fevered celebrations petered out as your favourite local blogger reappeared on the internet relatively unscathed – if a few old Howard Newby stories lighter. The council meanwhile are now in crisis with both their Champagne and grit supplies running out fast

Since those dark days of Tuesday, our man down the pub who specialises in defamation – well, he quotes Arkell vs Pressdram on a regular basis anyway – has been analysing what’s been going on. Here’s what he says in a nutshell:

1. The allegations have been in the public domain for a considerable amount of time now with no action taken. This makes it very hard – although not impossible – to claim defamation.

2. The exact same allegations are still in the public domain through other news outlets. This would make it very hard to claim defamation

3. One item is simply a headline and one sentence pointing to a story published the next day that clarifies the initial claim. This would be considered a “suitable correction”, especially considering the short time frame between the “defamatory” claim and the correction. A case for defamation would be unlikely to succeed.

4. Taking defamation action over insults – which are a form of opinion – is both difficult and ill-advised. Even if they were to win, would it be wise for, say, a Knight of the Realm to sit in the High Court for a week while someone tried to prove you were a gormless cunt/a spineless twat/a retarded fuckbucket etc? The press would have a field day. And what if you lost?

5. If the insults/opinion are views formed on the basis of disputed facts, as in this case, then this complicates matters further. If the disputed facts are proved true then it’s likely the opinion would not be considered defamatory either.

6. Defamation is Call My Bluff for rich men. It’s not for higher education bureaucrats using public funds.

And finally, according to Ecologics, WordPress have now told them the following:

Although there has been no official legal pronouncement on the matter, WordPress policy, and apparently UK laws mean that the post can only be re-published by removing the disputed material until such a time when the matter is decided by courts.

“This is bollocks,” says our man. “None of this has anything to do with the courts yet.

“All that’s happened is that Newby’s employer has written a letter of complaint to WordPress. So what? Why remove anything?

“If you don’t believe me, imagine if your employer wrote on your behalf and accused, say, the News of the World of defamation and then said they must remove the offending article until a court decides otherwise.

“Would they remove that article? Would they fuck.

“Besides, what happens if – as is very likely – Newby doesn’t take the matter to court? These articles then stay censored forever on the basis of a weak letter of complaint from an employer?

“Mind you, I suppose the bloggers could always force it to court themselves by suing Newby and Ryan for defamation for saying their articles were defamatory.”

Is it time to start the fighting fund?

Disclaimer: this advice really was dispensed by someone very drunk in the pub (and recalled from memory the next morning) who is not a specialist in defamation. Dont’t try this at home kids!

Posted in Blogging, Education, Journalism, Media | Tagged , , , , , , | There are 3 comments

Howard and me

Regular readers will know that The Bristol Blogger was forcibly removed from the internet by those oh-so trendy freedom of speech spouting Californian techno buffs at WordPress on Tuesday morning without explanation.

It later transpired that the geeks had decided to suspend this blog along with one called Howard Newby Watch and an excellent academic blog called Ecologics “for defamatory statements” in relation to some posts from 2007 about the former UWE Vice Chancellor, Sir Howard Newby.

The geeks then went on to tell local radio journalist Martin Jones, “we received a complaint that there were a number of false and defamatory statements on the [Bristol] blog[ger]. This was checked and we agreed with the complaint.”

But it’s hard to see who WordPress were “checking” anything with because some of the complaints they received were patently absurd, while other “defamations” they were “agreeing with” have been published in Private Eye, The Guardian and that famous fount of untruth, the Times Higher Education Supplement!

Indeed the Guardian claims about Newby are far more controversial than the Private Eye retreads and sweary insults you could find on this blog:

The use of management consultancy firms linked to both Sir Howard and his wife, assistant vice-chancellor Lady Sheila Newby, also caused concern.

“They were private companies with no idea about university or academe telling us how to do things and what to do. People got upset because he was running the university life a little fiefdom and giving very big contracts to his mates,” said one academic, who preferred not to be named.

Even more extraordinarily, statements that WordPress were telling The Blogger were defamatory on his blog are still appearing on Ecologics:

As EcoLogics has noted in several of its posts, the scheme was eventually aborted, but not before a potential conflict of interest was noted by UWE staff and by Private Eye, which published a short piece pointing out that Newby was a non-executive director of Carter & Carter

Go figure!

It now transpires that the complaints to WordPress did not even come from one of the big libel law firms – like Schillings or Carter-Fuck – who might understandably make WordPress shit their pants but from Kevan Ryan, Director of Legal Services at the University of Liverpool, Newby’s new employer.

A fucking public sector bureaucrat – a sort of higher education version of McNamara – with little knowledge of defamation writes a dodgy complaint and WordPress are on the run. Pathetic.

However, the offending posts have been removed to appease the brave, freedom loving geeks at WordPress who have the power to remove this blog for good if we don’t comply. Although all the claims made here about Newby are still out there just a google away.

In the long run, you suspect the big losers in this affair will be WordPress who have evolved something of a swashbuckling reputation for themselves.

While you expect little else of characters like Newby and his sidekick Ryan – a fairly typical pair of public servants in New Labour’s Britain – openly censoring material critical of them while being handsomely paid to bravely defend academic freedom on our behalf, a little more might have been expected of WordPress.

Poor show chaps.

Further reading:

http://www.bristol247.com/2010/01/05/bri…

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2010/01…

http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/…

http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/…

http://tool8.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/wo…

http://ecologics.wordpress.com/2010/01/0…

http://ecologics.wordpress.com/2009/05/2…

http://bristle.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/…

http://bristle.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/…

http://bristle.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/…

http://bristle.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/…

http://tenpercent.wordpress.com/2010/01/…

http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2010/01/0…

Contact the University of Liverpool’s man with his hands dirty:

Mr Kevan Ryan
Director of Legal Services
The University of Liverpool
The Foundation Building
765 Brownlow Hill
Liverpool L69 7ZX

kevan.ryan@liv.ac.uk

Posted in Blogging, Education, Journalism, Media | Tagged , , , , , , | There are 19 comments

Election 2010: Tory wonderweb joy!

Just been reading Eugene Byrne‘s political predictions for 2010 in Venue. A stonking good read mainly because the The Bristol Blogger is in it. Although another highlight is Helen Holland cracking a decentish joke while KRS will be on the naughty step for the forseeable.

Most of the article is general election predictions and observations. Dawn’s gonna hold Bristol South; Paul Smith might win Bristol West (ha, ha, ha!); Jacob Rees-Mogg is tosser etc. etc …

Unfortunately Eugene didn’t mention Bristol East where the – so far – invisible Tory candidate, the fragrant Ms Adeela Shafi of leafy Westbury-on-Trym in, er, Bristol West, has reinvented herself over Christmas as one of the country’s “most web-savvy politicians”!

And ‘Web wonder Shafi‘ – as we now have to call her – will have an anonymous pro-Tory internet campaign – featuring “cutting edge Tory bloggers” – kicking off in the Bristol East constituency today with the Twitter-friendly title #kerryout.

Despite the rather obvious fact – regardless of how many “cutting edge” Tory public schoolboy bloggers form a circle jerk – that Bristol’s political blogosphere doesn’t have the reach to turn over a 7,200 Labour majority in Bristol East – and lazy-arsed Tory horse Shafi will have to get off her backside and knock on doors to make an impact – this soppy little campaign has obviously rattled Kerry who is already issuing daft legal threats!

Now we find Channel 4 News are taking an interest …

Pull up a chair. The election’s underway folks and I’m off to design my ‘Election 2010’ logo …

Posted in Blogging, Bristol, Bristol East, Conservatives, Elections, Labour Party, MPs, North Somerset, Politics, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , | There are 39 comments

Official Lib Dem policy: arena on the greenbelt

New year gifts don’t get much more entertaining than this …

A copy of the local Lib Dems’ demented effort at producing a fake newspaper – The Bristol Reporter – landed on the doormat yesterday.

Containing no less than nine photos of the Lib Dems’ South Bristol Parliamentary candidate, Mark Wright – or “astrophysicist Dr Mark Wright” as they incorrectly call him – presumably in an attempt to lend some gravitas to their musings on dog shit and potholes – The Reporter contains all those local Lib Dem leaflet classics.

“Only the Lib Dems can win here,” we’re told, accompanied by an in-depth and completely reliable bar chart that proves just that. The Labour Party, meanwhile, continue to eat babies for breakfast The Reporter tells us.

Astrophysicist Dr Mark Wright certainly outshines his public school twit leader, Cleggie, though. He has to make do with just the four photos.

Although the Oxbridge chump does promise us all a £700 income tax cut he’ll never be in a position to deliver and – having spent most of last year flirting with a “troops out” policy for Afghanistan – Cleggie’s now decided, in this election year, that “Our Boys” actually need a pay rise instead!

But the piece that really catches the eye among all the aimless populist rambling is headlined ‘New Stadium gets greenlight’ and finds astrophysicist Dr Mark Wright “very pleased” about Bristol City FC’s new stadium.

But what’s this we’re also told?

“The Lib Dems have made it clear that it sees the provision of a concert arena as an essential part of any deal to deliver a stadium.”

Quite what this ‘deal’ is or who the Lib Dems are making it with is not made clear. But surely it can’t have anything to do with granting the local football club planning permission for a stadium on the greenbelt can it? That wouldn’t be right would it?

Whatever their ‘deal’ is though, it’s pretty clear that the Lib Dems now favour some more development on the greenbelt at Ashton Vale.

Ironists out there might like to note another Reporter article with the thunderous headline ‘Lib Dems say NO to Labour’s greenbelt destruction’.

“The government have been determined to concrete over our greenbelt but we are determined to stop them,” explains Lib Dem Councillor Tim Kent (BA).

So the Lib Dems are stopping Labour concreting over our greenbelt by building a concrete arena on it. Who writes this stuff?

Posted in Arena, Ashton Vale, Bristol, Bristol South, Cabot, Developments, Elections, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Local government, Oxbridge, Planning, Politics, Whitchurch Park Ward, World Cup 2018 | Tagged , , , , | There are 40 comments

A Christmas Gift For You

More news buried in the depths of Christmas . ..

It looks like Bristol City FC have submitted their revised planning application for their new stadium to meet the requirements of the planning committee meeting back in November:

The covering letter (above) and the other files here give more details. Some of the highlights are:

The application sees the withdrawal of the refused “Southlands” residential development and the causeway road linking it to the stadium. There’s a nice little implied threat in the letter about this too:

“our client has considered alternative options such as seeking a further independent review of viability calculations but has decided to withdraw this element as a measure of goodwill and reaching an acceptable solution for the Stadium proposal”

This roughly translates as:

“You have seen through our claims regarding the financial viability of the project and we know damn well that if we challenge this it will likely end up with our financial projections entering the public domain and being subjected to a greater level of scrutiny by individuals less accommodating than Bristol City Council.

“However, we will make it look like we have a case anyway and out of the kinddness of our hearts we have decided not to pursue it, despite having implied during the original application that it would be almost impossible to proceed with the stadium if Southlands was refused permission”

The Travel Plan was another major concern at the original planning meeting but is nowhere to be found in the new application – even though there’s supposed to be a 28-day consultation period prior to the relevant planning committee meeting and the developers assure us there will be a meeting in early February 2010.

At present, Development Control South and East meetings are scheduled to meet on 27 January and 17 March. Presumably they are talking about an Extraordinary meeting then? The date of which the planning officers have arranged with the developers without telling the general public?

Moving on, the northern pedestrian link has been removed – this was a footbridge from the stadium site to Ashton Vale Road in the industrial estate.

Instead, there is a proposal for a new eastern footbridge over the Portishead railway line (and the proposed BRT route) to Baron’s Close – which leads to the Wedlock Way roundabout on Winterstoke Road – to provide the pedestrian link to the stadium asked for by Bristol City Council.

This will be subject to a separate planning application. So it’ll be interesting to see how the city council approach this. Will they insist that the footbridge is constructed before the stadium itself?

There has also been talk of pedestrian access across Winterstoke Road. But how will this be funded? Any potential S.106 developer contributions towards a pedestrian route across Winterstoke Road have already been waived and will have to come out of the public purse instead …

With no sign of the updated Travel Plan including use of Park and Ride facilities – for Long Ashton and elsewhere – and the implementation of a Resident Parking Zone (RPZ), the problem of supporters’ travel and car parking persists. This was a major cause of North Somerset’s refusal to grant planning permission for the stadium’s road access and could still present a major hiccup.

The pedestrian link mentioned above also raises the question that if an RPZ is imposed in Ashton Vale and Long Ashton, supporters may be tempted to continue to park in the Ashton Gate area and use the new pedestrian link to get to the stadium.

If this massive Sainsbury’s is built, this means residents around Ashton Gate may still have the parking problems associated with a professional football stadium plus further aggravation from traffic associated with a giant superstore.

Of course, Bristol City Council do currently have a car park at Ashton Gate on a long-term lease to the football club, which would be directly opposite the new footbridge for the eastern pedestrian link … Shame they’re so keen to build a superstore on it isn’t it?

Posted in Ashton Vale, Bristol, Bristol South, Developments, Environment, Local government, Planning, Politics, Southville, Transport, World Cup 2018 | Tagged , , , , , | There are 6 comments