First we had Helen Holland announcing her new “transparent” city council management culture. Then we had Peter Hammond announcing his secret uncosted non-plan for home care. Now Bristol Labour’s finance – ahem – expert, John Bees is getting in on the act and running the city council by newspaper too.
No doubt in the interests of balance, The Cancer dispensed with the need for a journalist or any kind of commentary or analysis in his particular case and just printed Bees’ peculiar ravings in full, unedited on the letters page.
During his rambling address to the people, or at least that increasing minority of people that still read The Cancer, Bees – after blaming the Lib Dems for everything… Ever! – attempted to explain away his financial management of the city council two years ago when the social services department went into financial meltdown.
“[The Lib Dems] continue to claim there was a £17 million deficit on the council budget when Labour was in charge. In the first place this was a projected overspend, which Labour stopped dead in its tracks, and Labour plugged a much smaller funding gap without any need for a council tax increase,” thundered Bees.
This, I believe, is a reference to Bees’ and his then boss Hammond’s famous fictional budget of 2005. The one where they expressed the dubious opinion that their social services debt was “just” £7.1m. An opinion completely rejected by their own Public Accounts Committee who said the debt was impossible to quantify.
Indeed such bollocks was their opinion, neurotic lightweight Hammond went off sick at the thought of having to present it with a straight face to the full council. Unfortunately Bees appears to have overlooked these nuggets of information during his correspondence to the people.
Neither is he very keen to explain the exact details of how he bravely and selflessly “plugged a much smaller funding gap” in social services. Probably because he doesn’t want to own up to the fact that he – along with Hammond and their then social services boss, Robin Moss – brutally cut services to the elderly and disabled.
Some of us haven’t forgotten Bristol Labour’s FACS (Fair Access to Care Services) stormtroopers charged with making these cuts. Nor have we all forgotten those good old days under Bees’ financial management when every meals-on-wheels application had to be personally considered (and rejected) by social services’ Chief Officer, the useless Bill McKitterick.
That was before, of course, Bees, Hammond, Holland & Co organised a large payment from the crisis hit social services budget for McKitterick to disappear and shut up about their party’s incompetent management of the city’s social services over many years.
The Blogger recalls Bees “plugg[ing] a much smaller funding gap” only too well. On a trip to Hartcliffe in early 2005, The Blogger was introduced to one of Bees’ former social service clients who was forced to personally plug this gap. We shall call him Jack.
Jack had Alzheimers and after a FACS assessment his day care service was removed. Instead he was left in his flat to care for himself and live off microwave meals. When The Blogger asked Jack to switch on his microwave, it took him four attempts to eventually get the dial to set to 38 minutes. When The Blogger asked Jack to turn the dial to five minutes – as he would need for a microwave meal – Jack was unable to do so…
Bees may well believe, somewhere inside his sad little mind, that he heroically stopped the social services budget dead in its tracks. It’s just lucky Jack’s not dead in his tracks too.
Not something that Bees’ and his colleagues on their mission of self-aggrandisement through the local paper are likely to worry themselves too much about now. Although social service users should be very worried indeed…