Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

Listen: Bristol Unpacked with ACORN’s Wesley Bear on activism, the Barton House evacuation, and frosty relations with the council

Relations between Bristol City Council and community union ACORN have become increasingly fractious, with recent clashes over council tax and the evacuation of a Barton Hill tower block. Neil asks Wesley why, and whether there’s a way back.

Listen: Bristol Unpacked with Neil Maggs

In the last few months, Wesley Bear has been very publicly at the forefront of actions by ACORN. That’s the community union known nationally for taking direct action to stand up for tenants’ rights, which originated in Bristol almost a decade ago.

On 17 November Wesley, ACORN’s communications officer, was involved in an altercation with security guards at the Holiday Inn in Bristol city centre. Residents of the Barton House tower block evacuated that week have been temporarily housed in the hotel – in conditions many have complained are far from suitable for families.

A recording heard at the start of this week’s episode captures Wesley trying to speak to Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, during the incident, which, he claims, ended with him being assaulted by those security staff. The exchange, in which Wesley calls Rees a “villain” of the situation, marks the latest downward spiral in relations between the mayor – and the council more widely – and ACORN activists.

Over recent weeks the union has been calling out the council over its handling of the high-rise evacuation. People were moved out suddenly and chaotically over fears the structure is unsafe – and ACORN is calling for an independent inquiry into what happened. It’s also been taking the council to task over proposals to reduce council tax relief for the poorest households – which have now been scrapped.

Things weren’t always so oppositional. So what has turned them so sour? What exactly does ACORN believe the council has done wrong in its handling of the tower block emergency? Does the union really speak for the wider Barton Hill community? And does Wesley – as a communications man – see any way back to friendlier ties between ACORN and the powers that be?

Join Neil Maggs for another engrossing chat as he puts these questions, and many others, to Wesley.

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Comments

Report a comment. Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy.

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Bristol rogue landlord rented out room despite banning order, tenants say

Naomi Knapp was prohibited from renting out her properties to new tenants in 2022, but the Cable has uncovered evidence to suggest she brought in new tenants anyway.

‘I can do action’: cafe owner who organised tower block evacuation response aiming to be councillor

When she heard Barton House was being evacuated in November, Cafe Conscious owner Deniece Dixon got to work helping families who had become homeless. Two months on, she explains why she’s set her sights on City Hall

‘You needed young people’: how one man nurtured a community on an east Bristol allotment site

Tenants of Bristol’s sought-after allotments are pushing back hard on council proposals to hike fees. But back in the 1980s, plots in Eastville at Royate Hill were unloved and at risk – until Mike Feingold took custody of the land.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone is not exactly winning people over – but the data says it’s working

A new report shows air pollution has reduced both inside and outside the zone a year after it came into force. But many feel poorer people are being punished while traffic is just being rerouted around the city.

‘Stealth closures’ of libraries leave casual staff facing hardship and city with fewer warm spaces

Dozens of temporary library closures have been announced since the council abruptly cut casual workers' shifts in November. With the council under huge financial stress, there are renewed fears for the future of the service.

Revealed: More than 2,000 council tax debts sent to bailiffs despite ‘ethical approach’ promise

New data uncovered by the Cable throws into doubt Bristol City Council’s commitment to only use enforcement agents when people can pay but won’t.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning