the pork-bolter
No 73, April 2006

Dodgy business on the A27

AN UGLY picture is emerging of the real agenda behind the high-profile calls for "improvements" to the A27.

Those behind the campaigning, mainly members of the Conservative Party, like to present themselves as champions of local motorists. They paint the whole issue as one of "reducing congestion" and even try to suggest that building new roads could in some way be good for the environment! But a closer look shows that all of this is nothing but window dressing for policies that serve the interests of parasitical Big Business.

The origins of the current Tory push for roadbuilding at Arundel and Worthing can be traced back to a press release issued by Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert on September 13 2005 and still displayed on his website. Government plans to build a bypass of the Arundel bypass were dropped in 2003 on environmental grounds, after a protest camp was set up in the ancient woodland at Tortington Common which would have been trashed by the new road.

An angry road lobby immediately called for the decision to be reversed and when, in September, there was a further delay in this process, Mr Herbert and his friends decide it was time to up the ante. He declared: "As we feared, there has been yet another delay to the Arundel bypass. I think the time has come to step up local pressure for action." His press release added: "Mr Herbert hopes that an alliance of businesses, MPs and councillors of all parties, councils and other organisations could be persuaded to support the campaign, which would then aim to recruit widespread public support via a petition and a website. He has already discussed the idea with West Sussex County Council and hopes to meet SEEDA shortly."

Note here the use of the phrase "recruit widespread public support". While the road lobby claims it is responding to pressure from the public, it is in fact manufacturing that opinion itself, even organising petitions to give the false impression of some kind of grassroots movement. Also note the proposed involvement not only of Tory-run West Sussex County Council, but also SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, an undemocratic pro-business quango.

Mr Herbert’s campaign met with some success when he persuaded the West Sussex Gazette, which traditionally markets itself as a custodian of olde worlde rural Sussex, to adopt his road-building campaign and even publish petition forms for him. He has also muscled in on a quite separate issue, affecting the village of Storrington, north of the Downs. Residents there have long complained about heavy lorries speeding through their narrow streets, with all the dangers that presents. Mr Herbert and fellow Tories are trying to persuade villagers that what they really really want is new bypasses on the A27, which would supposedly draw all this nasty traffic away from Storrington.

At a public meeting held on February 18, the county council’s chief road lobbyist "Lt Col" Tex Pemberton even invoked protection of the countryside as a reason for laying tarmac all over the errr... countryside, when he said of the A27: "We need to improve it so people don’t leave it to rat run through our areas of outstanding natural beauty." (West Sussex County Times, February 24).

But despite this rhetoric, he and Mr Herbert also carelessly let the cat out of the bag about the real reasons behind their passion for road building. Mr Pemberton announced before the meeting: "It is an awful road which is having a serious impact on business opportunities in the area." (West Sussex County Times, February 17). And Mr Herbert said at the event: "The A27 is a major coastal artery and the Government has a national responsibility for this major link along the coast which is important for trade and economic development." (West Sussex County Times, February 24).

To understand where Mr Herbert is coming from on this one, it is useful to glance at his recent past. Before becoming MP in May 2005, he was the co-founder and director of Reform, which describes itself as an "independent think tank". A glance at its website reveals that this is the Thatcher/Blair kind of "reform", loosely translated as privatising everything, from schools to hospitals. The names on the Advisory Board of Reform also make interesting reading. Alongside a certain Nick Herbert MP sit the likes of Sir Christopher Gent, chairman of GlaxoSmithKline plc and non-executive director of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc; Sir Richard Sykes, the previous chairman of GlaxoSmithKline plc; Oliver Pawle, vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank; Derek Scott, economic consultant to KPMG and Jeremy Sillem, former chairman of Bear Stearns International Limited, the European arm of the New York based investment bank.

These, of course, are exactly the kind of individuals for whom "trade and economic development" - otherwise known as even more profits for the wealthy- are more important than the environment or our quality of life. So whose views and interests is Nick Herbert really representing in his campaign to trash our precious countryside with new A27 bypasses? Local people or his chums in the world of big business and finance?

Feel free to come to your own conclusions!


Bypass creates more traffic

BUILDING new bypasses just creates more traffic, a new study has shown. The research involves the Newbury bypass, which went ahead ten years ago despite a massive anti-road protest. The Atkins Movement Framework for Newbury study, commissioned by West Berkshire Council, revealed that the bypass has resulted in traffic growth of just under 50%. Said the campaign group Roadblock : "Figures also show that congestion is as bad at rush hour as it was prior to the bypass opening, and that the new road has encouraged more traffic."

Speaking on the Today radio programme, Newbury businessman and Friends of the Earth member Adrian Foster Fletcher said: "This road was never built to solve Newbury’s traffic problems, and this report shows how the bypass has failed Newbury and encouraged more traffic and pollution. Ten years on we hope that the lessons of Newbury will be learned."

Hello? Anyone listening in Arundel or Worthing?


One for the road

WORTHING Advertiser editor Tony Mayes was not happy with our mention of his road-building lobbying in the last issue and berates us for "making light of a serious subject" – surely an unforgivable sin for any self-respecting satirical newsletter. To be honest, it’s difficult keeping a straight face reading many of his comments, such as his protestation that "I don’t necessarily want more roads built (except a by-pass around Worthing, Arundel and Lancing)". Errr.. we think he’ll find that’s exactly what we were objecting to!

And why is this the only road in the country Mr Mayes wants built? Could it be because it would handily take him at top speed from his home to anywhere he wants to go? Who gives a jot about the South Downs countryside when what is at stake is nothing less than the personal convenience of Mr Tony Mayes himself?


They just can’t wait to trash Titnore...

A MAD rush is underway to push ahead with the disastrous Titnore development, even though the legal go-ahead has not been finalised. Because of the way councillors were misled over the status of Titnore Lane, outline permission for the 900-home estate has not yet been granted. But that hasn’t stopped another crucial application being considered by hasty Worthing council.

WB/05/1402/FULL covers roads, drains, etc - the main infrastructure for a development which has not actually been approved yet! Can this be right? Case officer is James Appleton on 01903 221333. Comments by April 6 by post or to planning@worthing.gov.uk (include your postal address).

Titnore landowner Clem Somerset also seemingly can’t wait to get proper planning permission before he starts tearing apart the countryside his wealthy family have been fortunate enough to own. Durrington readers have contacted us in dismay at the site of hedgerows being ripped up behind Tesco on the land earmarked for the vast money-spinning housing estate.

* DURRINGTON Tories want to know in which roads residents would like to see traffic calming introduced. They list a number of possible measures and some possible locations, helpfully leaving a blank space for your own nominations. We recommend voting for speed humps, speed limits and plenty of pedestrian crossings in Titnore Lane. Send your suggestions to Durrington and Northbrook Conservatives, 4 Union Place, Worthing BN11 1LG or email durrington.branch@ntlworld.com


Carry on complaining

COMPLAINING to Worthing Borough Council about the service it offers is a complete waste of time, one local green campaigner has discovered. She wrote to the authority after finding that her emails to individual councillors were being ignored and asked its officials whether there was a maximum time she was expected to wait for a response.

After a long delay, she finally received a reply from Mark Lowe, a man with the wonderful job title of Scrutiny and Improvement Officer. He claimed he had "now had an opportunity to investigate the complaint", but unfortunately doesn’t seem to have got anywhere at all. It seems there are "no specific standards" on councillors replying to members of the public and "it is not possible to comment any further upon the circumstances of this case". His two helpful suggestions for what she should do next?

1) "I would suggest that you should take up the non-response with the Councillor concerned in the first instance on this occasion". Errr? What? The ones who hadn’t replied to any of her emails??

2) "You might utilise the Council’s complaints procedure, details of which are set out in the leaflet which you were given." But that was how she came to contact Mr Lowe in the first place and what had led him to, as he put it, "investigate the complaint"!

Nice to see local democracy is in such fine condition.


‘Abolition of Parliament’

CONCERN is growing that Tony Blair’s Neo-Labour is planning to take a huge step towards creating the world’s first capitalist-fascist state, with the obscure-sounding Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. This has been dubbed the "Abolition of Parliament Act" by The Times and compared with Hitler’s notorious Enabling Act, which handed him and the Nazi party total control over Germany in the 1930s. The new law, if passed, would allow the government to introduce, amend or replace any laws it fancied, without having to go through that pesky Parliament and those troublesome MPs who very occasionally don’t do what they’re told. More info at www.schnews.org.uk, issue 534.

* FOLLOWING our call last month for people to stand up for their freedom in the face of an impending police state, we are pleased to hear that an event on this very theme is being held in Worthing town centre. The Rally for Civil Rights, staged by the Worthing Civil Rights Group, will be held at Montague Place (near Woolworth’s) on Saturday May 6 at 2pm and will be voicing opposition to everything from ID cards to new police powers and car tracking. See you there!


Porkie Pie’s late pint guide

OUR dedicated team of researchers has staggered back with some more late opening pubs for our late pints list. The Broadwater, Broadwater St West: Fri-Sat 12.00; Elms, Broadwater St East: Fri-Sat 1am; Half Brick, Brighton Road: Fri-Sat 12.00; North Star, Littlehampton Rd: Thu-Sat 12.00; John Seldon, Salvington Road: Fri 11.30, Sat 12.00 (depending on trade); Ye Olde House at Home, Broadwater St East: Fri-Sat 12.00. For the full list go to this page.


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

WHAT is this country turning into? The front page story in the Worthing Herald on March 9 featured armed police taking part in a drugs raid in Southfield Road, Worthing. Why? Were they expecting the occupants to shoot at them? Apparently not. Chief Inspector Jason Taylor was quoted as saying the four cops with guns were there as "a precaution", adding: "We just made sure we were fully supported in case something arose we weren’t expecting." This doesn’t seem a very good reason at all for such an over-the-top response. So what is this all about? Getting us so used to the sight of tooled up cops with semi-automatic weapons raiding homes in our towns that we don’t even blink as our freedom and rights are stolen from us at gunpoint?
* * *

LOCAL politicians will be asking for your backing soon in the local elections and The Porkbolter advises you to make sure you carry out your civic responsibility and support democracy - by refusing to vote for any of the blighters!
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COUNCIL tax in Worthing has gone up by 113 per cent over the last ten years, reported The Worthing Herald on February 23. Meanwhile, the same issue confirmed our report a couple of issues back that Worthing workers are being "short-changed" as local employers make big profits and pay low wages. You’ve never had it so good.
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EVER wondered how you can tell if your gas meter is working properly and not clocking up even bigger bills than it should be? We have discovered that the whole question of calibration is surrounded in secrecy. There seems to be no authority to regulate this at all. The only people that will check your meter for you are the gas company - who have a bit of a vested interest - and they will charge you £95 for having the cheek to ask. Can this be right?
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HOW can our press be free to report on the activities of big business corporations if it is owned and funded by those same corporations? That’s one of the fundamental questions raised by a new book, Guardians of Power - the Myth of the Liberal Media (Pluto Press) by David Edwards and David Cromwell. Although it has been described by John Pilger as "the most important book about journalism I can remember", so far not one national newspaper has even mentioned it. What a surprise! More info www.medialens.org.

* Latest titles from The Kate Sharpley Library include: Santos - the Barcelona of Brazil by Edgar Rodrigues; Konstantinos Spears - the Life and Activities of a Greek Anarcho-Syndicalist by Leonardos Kottis and Beating Fascism, Anarchist Anti-Fascism in Theory and Practice. Info: BM Hurricane, London WC1N 3XX.

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THE increasingly dismal ‘Monty Street’ column in the Worthing Herald makes a great point of taking people to task for spelling mistakes spotted in prominent places around town. However, at the time of writing there had strangely been no mention of the widest-spread abomination yet seen in Worthing, with in-your-face billboards outside virtually every newsagent in the borough from February 9, advertising a special McDonald’s "coupen" (it’s not even pronounced with an ‘e’, let alone spelt with one!). Could Monty’s silence be in any way connected to the fact that the language criminals responsible for this heinous error were his own employers, the Worthing Herald?
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WORTHING Alliance is the name of a monthly forum for anyone interested in standing up for local people and the environment and getting together with like-minded folk. It happens upstairs at The Rest bar in Bath Place, Worthing, usually on the last Thursday of the month, with meetings on Thursday March 30 and then Thursday April 27. All are welcome. Free entry - buy your own drinks!


Rally for Civil Rights

2pm, Saturday May 6 2006

Montague Place, Worthing

(near bandstand)


Warning: Do not complain

COMPLAINING about a local council could become a criminal offence under new legislation, the Minister for Scrutiny and Improvement has warned. He explained: "Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is wasted each year by selfish attention-seekers who insist on tying up whole council departments in massive investigations into what are essentially trivial concerns. We are looking at ways to ensure that, in future, all unauthorised questions or complaints are intercepted before they can trouble our hard-working authorities and that those behind them are swiftly punished."


No way to run a business

THE PORKBOLTER is an independent newsletter for Worthing produced, funded and distributed by volunteers for the hopelessly uneconomic reasons of trying to make this town and this world a better place and having a bit of laugh while we’re at it. To get the next six issues through the post send a donation of at least £3 payable to The Porkbolter. Drop us a line at PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. Free e-mail subscriptions are also available. Send e-mail to porkbolter@eco-action.org.

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no Herberts.


and finally ...
Reclaim Your Town, Reclaim Your Life!

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