Deja vu?

The future of Easton Community Centre has been secured after a charity stepped in to take over.

A panel of residents, city councillors and officers agreed to hand over the lease to Toc H.

Easton resident and panel member Azmina Mitha said: “I think Toc H will be good for Bristol. They will build capacity at Easton Community Centre and be beneficial for the residents of Easton. I was happy to be part of the process and think we made the right decision.”
Bristol Evening Post, October 7 2005

The Redfield-based Beacon Centre has taken over Easton Community Centre, in Kilburn Street, after agreement was reached with the city council.

The team replaces charity Toc H, which has run the centre since early 2006, but is now ceasing its operations across the UK.

Councillor Peter Hammond, executive member for cohesion and raising achievement, said: “This agreement is good news for the community in Easton and offers real hope of revitalising a vital and under-used resource. Community centres have the capacity to provide a range of services and activities to all sections of the community including the most disadvantaged.”
Bristol Evening Post, August 2 2008

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol Evening Post, Easton, Labour Party, Local government and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Deja vu?

  1. Dona Qixota says:

    It’s Groundhog Day at the Easton Community Centre!

    I’ve recently seen Rupert Daniels strolling into the Beacon Centre looking very pleased with himself ….

    http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/22247?&condense_comments=false#comment36719

  2. thebristolblogger says:

    No. The real Groundhog Day is Bristol City Council’s insistence that their building that costs at least £120k a year to keep open can be run on a BCC grant of about £30k by the community, the church or anyone really as long as it isn’t them.

    Someone should get that utter cockhead Hammond down to Easton to explain how he thinks this is done.

  3. Dona Qixota says:

    You know so much about Easton, Blogger, readers might think you live here. As too often, however, you seem to have your priorities warped and your sympathies misplaced.

    A lot of Easton residents will feel justifiably angry and cheated if Rupert and his cronies get their snouts back in the trough, as Guido would put it. They undermined local trust, and closed the centre down for months and months. Only lucky that it didn’t end up permanently closed.

    “I witnessed cash payments being doled out to all and sundry without any real invoicing being done. The prevalent attitude of a majority of people was that the Centre was a cash cow. If you were in on it, then it was a way to a quick buck.

    I had such doubts about whether I was right in feeling this was wrong! I spoke to so many people about it. It was weird. The prevalent attitude from mainly middleclass, university-educated people was that people should be paid for their involvement with the Centre, expressing sympathy for Rupert’s style of management. Just about everyone from working class origins felt that it was disgusting.”

    http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/22247?&condense_comments=false#comment36719

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    Yes but if you want to get a community centre open in Easton then you need to start looking at causes not effects.

    Regardless of any individual, the reality is that the centre’s persistently had to operate with a funding deficit that’s getting on for £100k a year.

    That’s virtually impossible to cope with and that’s your long term problem, not rumours about who’s been seen at the Beacon Centre.

  5. Spectator says:

    Causes not effects? Sorry BB, are you saying that if there was more money for people to rip off, then they’d be less likely to rip it off? That just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

    I suppose we could just see it all as a sign of our wonderful new classless society… you no longer need to be a minister, or on the board of MegaBigCon plc in order to move from one well paid fiasco to the next… now you too can do it in your very own community.

    An annual grant of £30k (paid for of course by Bristol’s over stretched council tax payer) doesn’t sound like a huge amount… though I’m not the greatest fan of Kebele I’ve got to give it to them; they manage to do a hell of a lot with far fewer resources.

    Then again, if you think that all Bristol’s community centres should get a taxpayer funded £120k each (after all, why should Easton get more dosh than other areas, many of which have greater levels of poverty), maybe the council should introduce a new tax raising mechanism to pay for it… didn’t I recently read something about introducing a charge for on-street parking?

  6. Dona Qixota says:

    You’re right, Blogger, in so far that the problem, as Serpico also points out, is bigger than any individual. It’s institutional.

    “The prevalent attitude from mainly middleclass, university-educated people was that people should be paid for their involvement with the Centre”

    With the ongoing gentrification of Greenbank (so good for house prices) there seem to be increasingly cosy networks of “non-jobbers”, well meaning funding junkies looking for means of support. There is a growing divide between Greenbank and the rest of Easton which provides a handy breeding ground for a client economy based on screwing money out of the ordinary folk who do the real work and are forced to hand over ever more taxes to the State.

    Nationally, the cultivation of dependency among client groups by an educated elite has proved fertile ground for New Labour. Locally, it feathers a few nests too.

    If nothing else, I think the history of Easton Community Centre should make our elected representatives rightly dubious about any idea of handing over more public money.

    You’d think that the Bristol Blogger would be among the first to object to “the wannabe sophisticated and well-educated middle class liberals who think they’re better than everyone else feeling morally superior … [creating] a lucrative little mini-industry, funded from the public purse, of job-for-life consultants, workers, trainers, policy wonks and academics especially for these middle class idiots … this small, noisy, opinionated authoritarian clique of people …” These are exactly the clever and vocal minority who will most likely get their hands on any extra money that comes into Easton Community Centre.

    Blogger quote from:

    http://thebristolblogger.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/if-you-wont-tolerate-this/

  7. Chris Hutt says:

    Dona, I think you’re spot on with your comments. I’ve seen the same process in the area of cycle campaigning over the last 25 years.

    It starts out with idealists struggling against the odds to do something of benefit to the community and/or environment, but hampered of course by their lack of resources. Inevitable securing funding becomes a core campaigning objective, but as soon as there’s a whiff of money a lot of snouts appear at the trough.

    The snouts are very plausibly presented. They are educated middle class professionals who are well able to persuade and bamboozle the majority of the “client base” (cyclists in my case) and of course they end up with well paid, congenial jobs with plenty of social contact and that all-important right-on cachet.

    There might not be anything wrong with all that if it truly served the purpose originally intended, but there are so many pitfalls in the process that it seems to me that it rarely does.

  8. thebristolblogger says:

    Dona,

    I was simply making the point (possibly badly) that the city council refuses to acknowledge that the persistent failure of Easton Community Centre is due to a funding deficit of at least £100k a year.

    In these circumstances the city council’s declarations from the pages of the Evening Post every couple of years of a new dawn for the centre are laughable crap.

    While Hammond’s claim that “community centres have the capacity to provide a range of services and activities to all sections of the community including the most disadvantaged,” is gormless nonsense. Easton Community Centre doesn’t have the capacity to provide anything.

    Do I think the council should pay? Personally no. I have no interest in the delivery of daft New Labour social policies in deprived communities.

    But it’s up to the community rather than me …

    Chris,

    Your point was first made by Class War in the 80s in relation to Livingstone’s GLC, which invented the idea of this kind of funding to small, often radical, activist groups.

    CW argued a whole generation of decent left wing activists was brought (for relatively small sums) by the government and taken down the cul-de-sac of special interest and identity politics.

    It’s so effective it’s virtually become standard practice in municipal politics these days to the point where they have now become professionalised – and generally ineffective – small industries.

    Of course the idea that the government is going to fund any serious disagreement or opposition to itself is fanciful and self-deluding.

  9. Spectator says:

    CW had a very good point in their criticism of the special interest groups. Unfortunately though, they always seemed to lack a serious analysis about the nature of the real enemy, simply lumping all non working class people together as “the rich”.

    Years ago I lived in a village with a stately home at the centre inhabited by a certain Lord’s family. They had lived there for generations, and employed half of the village (on decent wages I might add). The old Lord used to spend the summer evenings sitting on the step of the village pub drinking beer – and he was generous when it came to buying the drinks for others. He died, his son inherited the place and carried on as his father had before him. He’d only been there for a year when he was killed in a car accident. Two lots of death duties in less than eighteen months meant the end of the show. The National Trust took over, middle class professionals became the new rulers and the locals lost their jobs.

    CW never understood the gulf that seperates the middle classes and the old aristocracy.

    You probably know the old joke about the class system at Sunday dinner;

    Working class – Roast beef & yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes followed by spotted dick with custard.

    Middle class – Canadian wild rice salad with baby vegetables and parma ham drizzled with olive oil followed by fromage frais and wild blueberries.

    Upper class – Roast beef & yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes followed by spotted dick WITH CREAM.

    I’d choose Francis Fulford as a neighbour over the professional middle class whinging liberal types who have moved into Easton over the last few years any day.

  10. Dona Qixota says:

    Interesting to hear your experience, Chris. I can’t help feeling that the the liberal professional classes have systematically excluded, stigmatised and ridiculed the views of working people over the last forty years, which has caused our country to be in the mess it’s in now. The backlash is brewing.

    Community, what “community”, Blogger? As has been pointed out locally, it’s always the same faces at every meeting. The same do-gooders with their fingers in every pie, silencing those less articulate, or whose views aren’t right on enough.

    These are the same people who get well paid to dream up schemes like employing their mates to make DVDs about recycling.

    http://thebristolblogger.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/money-down-the-drain-pt-15432/

    “Oh baby what a place to be, in the service of the bourgeoisie” . Iggy Pop.

  11. Chris Hutt says:

    Isn’t the Labour Party itself the outstanding example of how a grass roots working class movement got taken over by the middle classes to advance their own careers and interests, culminating in nu-labour?

    I’m not sure about “excluded, stigmatised and ridiculed”, more a case of patronising and bamboozling I think. Orwell covered in pretty well in Animal Farm, long before Class War.

  12. Spectator says:

    Chris. You are right that Orwell covered this pretty well in 1984. One of the really important things in the book is the way in which he reveals that the ruling party in the novel used to be The British Socialist Party – he is of course refering to the Labour Party.

    Orwell was well aware (as an ex Fabian himself who later came to loath that organisation) just how the Labour Party in Britain was manipulated by middle class intelectuals from the very begining. Beatrice & Sidney Webb, G. B. Shaw, Graham Wallace, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf and Annie Besant – bunch of middle class manipulators the lot of ’em… that’s why they were always into patronising the working class membership; things haven’t really changed.

    The “left” have always been a middle class led grouping who play games with the working class and use them as their footsoldiers… you can find out more about this in The Lost Literature Of Socialism by George Watson – well worth a read.

    From the very beginnings with Marx and Engels (both middle class) socialists have taken a dim view of those at the bottom of the pile. For example Marx believed that what he termed “the lumpenproletariat” had no real reason for taking part in revolution, and that they would best be served by supporting the existing class structures because they depended on it to make a living. He saw the lumpenproletariat as a counter-revolutionary force.

    The middle class are still at it now, seeing those at the bottom as mere obstacles in their grand project of building the perfect society. Have you noticed how they all ride the jobs go round? They move round a circle of quangos, before going back to a council post and then starting all over again. This allows them to build up really solid networks and know exactly who’s who. It allows them to maximise their impact when practising their social engineering projects… which is how they’re managing to monopolise everything here in Easton.

    As an aside, I was always amused by the way in which Labour MP’s in the 1980’s were fond of refering to Conservative members as “upper class” when far more Labour MP’s had in fact gone to public schools.

    Makes yer fink dunnit?

  13. Jozer says:

    East Bristol always gets shafted in this way. Talk to anyone who has come across the self-perpetuating group of middle-class white women who dominate Wayahead housing (formerly East Bristol Youth Housing). Incompetent bullies looking after number one with executive salaries & company credit cards while they mouth platitudes about ‘the community’ etc. Money is always going missing, the houses are crumbling, the staff turnover is catastrophic because of the bullying, but the good ol’ gang keep on getting away with it.

  14. thebristolblogger says:

    Dona,

    ‘the community’ will be those who step forward and form the fifth management team (excluding the city council’s sporadic emergency management efforts) for the centre in five years.

    And people will …

  15. Chris Hutt says:

    Spectator, thanks for filling us in on the background. I’m not as well read as I should be for someone who once called himself a socialist.

    Going off at a slight tangent from your penultimate paragraph, isn’t Common Purpose a rather good example of middle class apparatchiks building up their networks?

    Someone’s been asking FOI questions of the City Council on how much they spend sending staff on Common Purpose courses. In turns out to be pretty substantial (tens of thousands per year IIRC) so we’re paying for their networking too.

    BB, I don’t recall you ever having had a go at Common Purpose. I would have thought they’d be sitting ducks.

  16. SouthBristolGuy says:

    I don’t know why you lot are all so obsessed with Easton. Creaming off money and telling everyone you are doing it for working class people is a bigger game in Knowle West http://www.kwmc.org.uk

  17. Spectator says:

    Chris Hutt said

    “…isn’t Common Purpose a rather good example of middle class apparatchiks building up their networks?”

    I hadn’t heard about Common Purpose until now Chris. I’ve just spent a little time looking them up, and I’d reckon it looks like a disgustingly perfect example… and so the networks get wider, deeper, and more all encompassing, and the jobs-go-round carries on, and we continue getting shafted.

    You earlier cited nu-labour as the archetypal example of what could be called “Middle-Class War”. What scares me about them is the way in which they have worked really hard at getting ideologically nu-labour (not necessarily party members, but those who share large parts of the ideology) into key positions, deep into local and national institutions so that even when they are kicked out of government they’ll still have a powerbase, and the project can continue; from what I can see Common Purpose and similar organisations facilitate this.

    SouthBristolGuy

    Apologies – the only reason I seem obsessed about Easton is because I live here, and I know Dona does too. I for one certainly did not mean to imply that it was the only place to suffer from the idealism of the middle class professional do-gooder brigade; I have no doubt that other working class areas suffer from these parasites too.

    I don’t go south of the river all that much, but it does seem from the little I’ve seen recently that the gentrification of Bedminster is certainly coming on apace, Urban Splash are in full swing (along with guess who? Oh, it’s Acanthus Furguson Mann again)… the Media Centre looks like the usual sort of nonsense that we have foisted on us with promises of jobs etc. The truth is that there are no real jobs for the likes of us in this nonsense -except for the odd bit of cleaning on minimum wage – after all we can‘t have these dainty buggers cleaning their own floors can we? Then there’s Hengrove Park – “the centrepiece of a major regeneration programme to transform South Bristol into one of the most sought after areas in the South West.”…

    … I’m starting to feel sick … please excuse me whilst I go and vomit!

  18. thebristolblogger says:

    What scares me about them is the way in which they have worked really hard at getting ideologically nu-labour (not necessarily party members, but those who share large parts of the ideology) into key positions, deep into local and national institutions so that even when they are kicked out of government they’ll still have a powerbase, and the project can continue.

    The classic example of this is our new jargon-spouting £180k a year City Council Chief Exec, Jan Ormondroyd. Her background in Prescott’s ineffective, demented and sprawling Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (encompassing housing, planning, local government and the regions and imposing godawful shysters like GOSW upon us) seems to have been a fairly broad training in how to be a New labour apparatchik and has provided the springboard for her to run local councils supported by Nu-Lab friendly corporate sector players like KPMG instead of elected councilors.

  19. Jozer says:

    “Councillor Peter Hammond, executive member for cohesion and raising achievement”

    What a job title! I suppose it gives ‘diversity monitors’ & ‘community leaders’ someone to laugh at…

  20. Dona Qixota says:

    Orwell again.

    Corinne Maier’s brilliant insider book, for which she lost her plum job at EDF by the way, “Bonjour Laziness” (trans. David Watson, Orion 2005) is full of gems and has this insight:

    “Only communist regimes have churned out more jargon than modern business. George Orwell was the first to realize that the jargon of the Soviets was not just the usual waffle – ludicrous but inoffensive – but a genuine metamorphosis of language for political purposes. In ‘1984’ he showed the role played by ‘Newspeak’ in the functioning of the totalitarian state. And business is a totalitarian power, albeit a ‘soft’ version ….”

    New Labour have successfully blended State power and Corporate “free markets” to create a nascent Corporate State, complete with tens of thousands of managerialist cadres reaching into almost every neighbourhood.

    Hammond and Ormondroyd are just the tip of the iceberg. If they were removed, dozens more would spring into their places.

  21. Boyd says:

    I’ve met someone who was in Common Purpose. They said it was exactly as it sounds – like the Masons but with all the bullshit semi-religious shennanigans brushed out, and all the Old Guard culled.

    A ‘Streamlined’ Old Boys Club for the new age thats very much for the Girls as well.

  22. Spectator says:

    Is this the kind of networking that they get up to in the various quangos, community partnerships, Common Purpose etc.?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1044051/Office-workers-sent-home-disgrace-having-sex-window-onlookers-cheered.html

  23. Chris Hutt says:

    But it does say that Unity Partnership’s aim is to improve “back-room services”.

  24. SamOnes says:

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  25. Opal says:

    SouthBristolGuy // August 8, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I don’t know why you lot are all so obsessed with Easton. Creaming off money and telling everyone you are doing it for working class people is a bigger game in Knowle West

    There’s a different side to to this story in The Spark (55) p.14, interview with Sandra Manson who works at the KWMC. She’s from Knowle West herself and has some interesting things to say.

    Bristol Blogger gets a plug on p16 too.

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