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In responding to renewed controversy about Green Capital and the complete lack of transparency over£8 Million worth of public money and corporate involvement, the Post has asserted that “How Bristol builds on Green Capital year more important than scrutinising spending”. In missing the point that in order to build a positive legacy there must be scrutiny, the Post undermines calls to publish the financial accounts of Bristol 2015 Ltd, a private company set up to spend millions in public money.

Whereas there seems to be obvious cause for concern (such as the £245,000 spent on a basic website) the point here is less what is contained in the accounts but more about being true to the stated aims of Green Capital. As well as the basics of democratic transparency and proper use of public money.

The point is also not to bash Green Capital which has yielded many good initiatives. The point is to genuinely build a meaningful legacy and to not sully the name of environmentalism with corporate sellouts, gimmicks and pretentious events and the wholesale refusal to uphold basic principles of openness.

stamp-made possible by co-opFrom the undisclosed details  of sponsorship deals with serial tax avoider and unethical trader (1,2,3*) accountants KPMG and prolific trade union blacklisters Skanska, to charges of major conflicts of interest and farcical shortsightedness, Green Capital has taken to bolting down the hatches on transparency. Meanwhile the Mayor dodges questions from ITV and calls those asking for answers “lunatics”. The Post have rightly highlighted positives, but have completely deserted their responsibilities towards Bristolians by asking readers to turn a blind eye to accountability. Bristol 24/7 has also routinely avoided anything remotely challenging; the details of their yearlong sponsorship deal with Green Capital are undisclosed.

The irony of course is that in failing to ask important questions they undermine a positive legacy for Green Capital, and initiatives to come. It’s for these reasons that we call on Bristol 2015 Ltd to release the accounts for all to see. We also call for a commitment to openness and support for media that is worth its salt!

Want to own your share of real media in the city? Join 800 others in the co-op for £1. 

* More links have been provided in order to specifically demonstrate the record of KMPG UK as opposed to the multinational brand.

Read more on: bristol city council, environment, green capital, media, transparency...

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  • Chris Martin says:

    Excellent points well made. A petition calling for the release of the accounts was rejected by the council so the Lib Dems have set up their own petition using the same language calling for full disclosure. http://ldbristol.nationbuilder.com/bristol_green_capital_accounts

  • Miranda Rae says:

    I have been told that 4 audits have already taken place, the 5th in March and that figures/accounts will be in public domain! This a direct quote from board member in Bristol 2015. They have also undergone audit by The Board of Scrutiny. How on earth could they get away with anything dodgy?

    • Chris Martin says:

      Miranda – the Audit Committee have been presented with the same headline only figures for Green Capital that Stephen Williams, myself and others have been questioning. There was NO detail presented at the Audit committees, no breakdown of costs, no line by line accounting, no details of salaries, suppliers, web cost breakdowns etc…The council and the mayor have been trotting out the same line that the accounts have gone to Audit 4 times BUT each time the same questions are asked – where is the detail. When you go shopping the supermarket doesn’t present you with a till receipt that simply says “shopping” and gives a total – it gives you a breakdown of every item that was in your basket with a price – we want to know what was in the Green Capital shopping basket. I do not anticipate on the current presentation of accounts that the March submission will be any different – on the last report (November) they were able to show actual and projected headline only costs – it stands to reason that if they can add up expenditure to give us headline actual totals that they have breakdowns that are available now for publication. Nothwithstanding that under Local Government Accounting rules by law they have to publish all amounts over £500 (line by line) and details of all contracts worth more than £5000….neither has been presented yet and responses from the council and the mayor indicate that they will not be providing this detail to account for the £8.3 million.

    • Chris Martin says:

      Miranda – please see my reply to Jaya – additionally I do not anticipate on the current presentation of accounts that the March submission will be any different – on the last report (November) they were able to show actual and projected headline only costs – it stands to reason that if they can add up expenditure to give us headline actual totals that they have breakdowns that are available now for publication. Nothwithstanding that under Local Government Accounting rules by law they have to publish all amounts over £500 (line by line) and details of all contracts worth more than £5000….neither has been presented yet and responses from the council and the mayor indicate that they will not be providing this detail to account for the £8.3 million.

  • Ralph Kasper says:

    I fully support the campaign to see the Green Capital accounts published. George Ferguson’s refusal to do so is absolutely outrageous.

    However, dragging the sponsors into this completely misses the point. KPMG is an international network of independent firms which just share a name (in the same way law firms operate). So the UK firm which sponsored Bristol 2015 has nothing to do with the U.S. tax evasion case you’ve dug up. So, what should be an important story about a lack of openness and transparency in local government, and a possible scandal involving an elected mayor, just looks like petty and irrelevant sniping at big companies.

    It’s that kind of shoddy ‘journalism’ that makes it a struggle to take The Bristol Cable seriously as a ‘proper’ news outlet.

    • Hi Ralph,

      Thanks for your comment. It would seem apparent that major corporate sponsors of any initiative do have a significant bearing on evaluation, particularly when they have played a crucial role in the administration of grants and where the details of the sponsorship are not public. That said revised links will be inserted (and readers made aware of this change) of just some of KPMG UKs illegal and unethical activities. I expect this will satisfy your concerns. If you have any substantive concerns about the Bristol Cable’s journalism please do elaborate. The Bristol Cable is a media co-op owned and produced by people in the city and we are always open to challenge and debate. Many thanks, Adam (On behalf of the editorial team)

  • jayacg says:

    Miranda’s right. There have been 4 audits by the council’s audit committee (all consisting of opposition parties to the independent elected mayor btw!). If there’s a cover up, then it’s a cross-party one, which would definitely be SCANDALOUS. Look here:

    https://www2.bristol.gov.uk/CouncillorFinder/?Task=committee&CommitteeCode=SC015

    Audit Committee View Meetings
    Lesley A ALEXANDER – Deputy Leader Conservative Group, Role: Member, Party: Conservative
    Mark Royston BRAIN, Role: Chair, Party: Labour
    Gary HOPKINS – Leader of Lib Dems, Role: Member, Party: Lib Dem
    Olly MEAD, Role: Member, Party: Labour
    Eileen MEANS, Role: Member, Party: Labour
    Jerome THOMAS, Role: Member, Party: Green

    I can’t imagine any one on that list would allow anything illegal or improper to go through. Chris Martin – you’re a councillor – is this sort of corruption rife within the audit committee? I’m afraid I have no experience in how these committees work.

    Bristol Cable, have you had comments from any of the above?

    Jaya

    • Chris Martin says:

      Jaya – the Audit Committee have been presented with the same headline only figures for Green Capital that Stephen Williams, myself and others have been questioning. There was NO detail presented at the Audit committees, no breakdown of costs, no line by line accounting, no details of salaries, suppliers, web cost breakdowns etc…The council and the mayor have been trotting out the same line that the accounts have gone to Audit 4 times BUT each time the same questions are asked – where is the detail. When you go shopping the supermarket doesn’t present you with a till receipt that simply says “shopping” and gives a total – it gives you a breakdown of every item that was in your basket with a price – we want to know what was in the Green Capital shopping basket.

      • Daniel says:

        Chris – You should publish a separate article to detail how useless the scrutiny has been. It is a necessary response to the propoganda which the current mayor and his supporters are putting out.

    • Hi Jaya,
      The piece in question was a short editorial in response to the Bristol Post’s recent statement and the media’s role in general. As such it was not directed at the council, mayor or green capital itself. Because of this we felt that it wasn’t appropriate to ask the council to comment. We rarely publish editorials but in this instance we felt it was crucial to highlight the positions of The Bristol Post on a key issue of public interest, and to put forward general principles of openness and scrutiny.
      As for the publication of the accounts, we are in correspondence with the council and will be covering the issue as it develops. I fully appreciate your concerns and I’m sure you’ll see that as standard every journalistic piece around green capital or any issue fully abides by principles of right of reply and the distinguishing between fact and opinion.
      Very happy to continue this conversation or any other with you, and thanks for your support and comments again.

    • The Bristol Blogger says:

      There has not been “4 audits by the council’s audit committee”. For two reasons:

      1. The council’s Audit Committee does not carry out audits.

      2. The Audit Committee has had access to the same useless headline figures and warm words everybody else has received. This is not audit quality finance information and to present it as such is misleading.

      Plenty of information on the council’s Audit Committee available here: http://thebristolian.net/?s=audit+committee

  • David Stockford says:

    I also have an interest in transparency. Being a local Business my interest is in what the legacy of the Year has been for Bristol. I too was told by Bristol 2015 that the financials would be made public with the Report to the Green Capital organisation later this year and that there had been audits taken throughout the period that would be made publicly available.
    I am sure that there are many positive stories to come out of this and I dont want to dwell on the negatives but there needs to be some transparency here.
    I am watching this space.

  • Tony J says:

    https://www.duedil.com/company/08917477/bristol-2015-limited/financials

    This is the fullest summary publicly avaliable via companies house. A rethink on the release of the unadulterated figures of the company would certainly be of a benefit to the citizens of bristol.

  • Chris Hope says:

    Interesting that the decision not to go ahead with this years St. Pauls carnival was partly due to the lack of transparency with the organising groups…

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