Is the News Bunny reversing the ferret?

News BunnyHere’s the latest example of the kind of leadership found at the top of our city’s most influential institutions these days …

You might remember that the Evening Cancer, the newspaper Mike “News Bunny” Norton is supposed to be in charge of, couldn’t move fast enough to support the plans to build a rapid transit bus route on the railway path back on 1 February.

“While many … concerns may be valid to the individuals, we have to look at the wider picture. If we are serious about developing a better public transport system for Bristol then we have to accept that it comes at a cost,” the newspaper thundered.

Until, that is, they eventually noticed the major public outcry, the huge petition on the council’s website; the reams of angry letters arriving at the paper every day and finally their own poll where it turned out over 94% of their readers were actually against the scheme.

So what does the big brave News Bunny do next as realisation of this disastrous cock-up dawns? Why he blames everything on his deputy, Rob Stokes, of course!

Over the last few days rumours, quite transparently emanating from Norton himself, have been circulating that the leader in question was nothing whatsoever to do with him. Instead we’re being told the paper’s editorials are also written by News Bunny Norton’s deputies and sometimes even the subs so – get this! – editorial consistency won’t necessarily be there!

How brilliant is that? Our city’s newspaper of record, despite having what’s supposed to be an editor, apparently has no clear editorial line on major issues affecting the city and there’s apparently no communication going on at senior management level. Instead, it seems, various staff just write whatever takes their fancy in editorials.

What are we going to be told next? That the Cancer’s news room cleaner wrote the offending piece? Readers can, however, rest assured there’s no such editorial confusion here at Blogger HQ where even the fucking cat’s aware it’s a stupid idea

Norton meanwhile, presumably in attempt to shore up his shredded credibility on this issue, is now also putting it about that he’s personally decided to run the railway path story from “a different angle”.

So this week we’ve already had a ludicrous report marked EXCLUSIVE claiming that a rare breed of glow worms on the path might mean conservationists can put an end to the scheme.

This is utter bollocks of course. No sane and rational person – which is pretty much everyone in the city who doesn’t occupy a private office at either the Council House or the Lubianka – is going to attempt to stop a major multi-million pound public transport scheme on the basis that it might disturb a small colony of glow worms are they?

Besides, had the Cancer researched the matter a little further, they might have discovered that the West of England Partnership’s BRT Project Board has already done some research on nature conservation issues with regards to the railway path and declared in their big boy builder way that “there are no showstoppers”.

Norton further continued his embarrassing climbdown today with another article finally admitting his own poll found almost 95% of his readers against the plan and quoting key railway path activist Steve Meek at length.

What Norton’s up to here is what’s known as the “reverse ferret”. A term credited to former Sun editor and sick genius Kelvin Mackenzie – the man, who by a strange twist of fate later went on to invent the News Bunny.

Mackenzie, in possibly one of the most sensible pieces of advice ever handed out in human history, used to tell his political team the way to deal with politicians was to “shove a ferret up their arse”.

A strategy, that while generally commendable, could go disasterously wrong in the hands of Sun hacks and end up with that famously “hands-off” owner Murdoch getting personally involved, the odd writ arriving or even the occasional injunction being served.

At this point Mackenzie would enter his newsroom and run around shouting “reverse ferret” while hacks would urgently perform the required Orwellian-style rewrite of the paper’s entire position.

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3 Responses to Is the News Bunny reversing the ferret?

  1. Bristol Dirt Bag says:

    Monster of the sandpit
    Is leaving at a run
    Now it’s with the riot squad
    The kids are having fun.

  2. Chris Hutt says:

    94% of the readership? Are you saying that the total readership of the Evening Cancer, as you affectionately call it, is a mere 495? I didn’t realise things were that bad.

    What is extraordinary about the poll is not so much that 464 people cared enough to bother to vote against the BRT proposal but that only a miserable 31 could be arsed to vote for it!

    Mike Norton’s no fool and knows as well as we do that organised campaigns can mobilise hundreds of votes, but if no more than 31 votes could be garnered by the proponents of the scheme then it really is a dead duck.

  3. Bluebaldee says:

    The link to the BRT Project Board documents is very useful and uncovers a number of interesting facts about BRT.

    The overarching fact that I’ve discovered is that BRT in general is actually a gigantic pile of steaming dung.

    I’ll elaborate. The proposed Emerson’s Green to Bristol City Centre BRT line (called J2 in the feasibility study) has the lowest “modal shift” (the number of people who will be persuaded out of their cars and onto BRT buses) of all the proposed routes. It’s also the second most expensive at a whopping £50 million plus.

    So the Einsteins at the West of England Partnership have plumped for the route that will have the lowest impact on congestion with the added bonus of being hideously expensive. And they haven’t anticipated the public opposition to destroying the Railway Path.

    Well done girls and boys.

    In addition, the second leg of the route from the City Centre to Ashton Vale will have to cross the Portishead freight line. The CONsultant’s report states that this could raise a major deliverability issue (in fact the “highest risk”) as Network Rail will kick up a stink. This line will also use the Ashton Avenue Rail Bridge and part of the disused railway line, which would form part of the potential Portishead passenger line.

    All of the above has massive ramifications for the campaign to open a rail passenger service from Portishead to Bristol. If the BRT line is built, the frieght line can never be used as a passenger line. The frequency of passenger services could never be acommodated with the BRT line crossing the heavy rail tracks. Also the hoped-for rail passenger line wouldn’t be able to use Ashton Avenue Bridge.

    So basically if this BRT line gets the go ahead you can kiss goodbye to any hope for a Bristol to Portishead passenger rail service. Permanently.

    Other gems hidden in the depths of this document include the possibility of running a two-lane busway across College Green, up Whiteladies Rd and across The Downs (Cribbs to Centre route).

    Also FOSBR will love the idea of tearing up the Severn Beach Line to run another BRT route out to Avonmouth. And I’m sure that the good citizens of Bishopston will welcome the proposal to run a two lane busway along Gloucester Rd.

    To be fair to the CONsultants, Steer Davies Gleave, they did state that use of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path “could become contentious” but the clever people at the WEP have chosen to ignore this.

    After carefully studying the BRT proposals I’ve decided that the whole scheme is utter bollocks and would benfit immeasurably from being thrown into the River Frome (they also want to further concrete this river over) and forgotten about.

    This is what you get when you employ CONsultants from London (Steer Davies Gleave, 28-32 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD ,Tel 020 7919 8500 – in case you wondered) who haven’t got a fucking clue about Bristol and Bristolians to do your work for you and then blithely agree to the first crackpot idea they come up with, eh Mr Bradshaw?

    Get rid of the whole sorry discredited First-driven BRT idea and get this shitty Government to invest in our chronically underfunded and criminally underused urban rail network.

    Oh, and to get back to the main point of the post – Mike Norton is a hopelessly incompetent twat who has the wisdom and judgement of Mussolini.

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