the pork-bolter
No 62, August 2004

Can of worms at Dome

ANOTHER massive controversy looks set to engulf one of Worthing’s most important and well loved historic buildings - the Dome cinema. It began as a dispute between staff and managers at the seafront venue, a Grade II* listed building, which led to a mass walk-out of The Dome’s staff between May and June 2004. But the future of the Dome is now in danger of becoming one of the borough’s major issues as events and revelations unfold.

Evidence of a potential can of worms ready to erupt from under the famous roof has already come from a national investigation into the Worthing Dome and Regeneration Trust, to which the building’s freehold was sold for £10 by Worthing Borough Council in November 1999. The inquiry was staged by the Charity Commission for England and Wales and its findings are there to be seen on its website, but the issue has been seriously under-publicised in Worthing, meaning few townspeople are aware of what is going on. The inquiry came about after the Commission received a complaint from a member of the public regarding the financial management and administration of the Charity. States the Commission website: "Specifically concern was raised as to whether grants paid to the Charity were accounted for in the Charity’s records or those of its subsidiary trading company. The Charity’s Accounts had not been submitted to the Commission." In fact, when we checked out the Dome’s details on the Commission site, we were surprised to see that its annual accounts were listed as 'overdue' for the financial years ending 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000, giving the unfortunate - and doubtless erroneous - impression that this highly respectable body either has something to hide or is financially incompetent!

It was also alleged to the Commission that the Dome building itself was not listed as an asset of the Charity, and that official documents at the Land Registry said the Dome had until December 31 2003 to carry out the renovation works funded by a £1.6 million lottery grant - when in fact an extension had been given until December 31 2005. And the Commission’s verdict? The complaints were essentially correct! It ruled that "the financial status of the Charity and its trading subsidiary was unclear. The Charity’s property was not shown in the Accounts as an asset" and that the Land Registry documents were out of date. The Dome Trust was ordered to sort out the mess, with future monitoring by the Charity Commission.

This does not look like the end of the story, however. Former staff involved in disputes with managing director Belle Stennett have formed a campaign group, S.A.D.A.M. (Staff Against Dome’s Antagonistic Management - sadamnow@hotmail.com) and are looking at all sorts of matters surrounding the Dome, which we can only touch on in this month’s Porkbolter. For instance, yet another yawning gap in the information supplied to the Charity Commission was the names of the Dome trustees. The entry simply reads "No trustees known", above a note from the Commission saying "we ask charities to update this information each year using a Trustee Update Form which is issued to all charities with their Annual Return". So why no names at all?

The only person mentioned is 'charity correspondent' Alan R Brown, a solicitor of 77/79 Chapel Road, Worthing. Staff at the Dome were unaware of Mr Brown’s involvement until he turned up at a crunch meeting over one of their disputed cases. So who is Mr Brown, exactly? AR Brown and Co’s 'under construction' website describes the firm at Rivoli Chambers as "Solicitors in the UK with a special interest in Hong Kong". Mr Brown is owner and sole partner of the firm, established in 1985, and the Law Society Directory of Solicitors and Barristers (2003-4) lists two of his specialities as commercial property and business affairs. The firm is also listed under the address of 15 Withdean Avenue, Goring.

AR Brown and Co are very strongly linked with a firm called RDA Estates Ltd, with their contact details heavily plugged on the RDA website. The site confirms: "RDA Estates are associated with a local firm of solicitors, AR Brown & Co". RDA Estates Limited is based at 81 Church Road, Hove. The ‘Property Developers’ section of the current Brighton and Hove Business Directory says it was established in 1993 and lists its owner as a Mr B Shillinglaw. It also has a branch in (you guessed!) Hong Kong - RDA Estates Asia Limited at 30/F Entertainment Building, 30 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong. A sister firm is RDA International Property Consultants, specialising in property investment in Spanish resorts. RDA International (UK) is based at Airport House, Purley Way, Croydon. It too has a branch at the same address in Hong Kong. The RDA Estates website (www.rdaestates.com) boasts of additional international links in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar. The site states: "RDA Estates is the leader in ‘Arranging it All’ for the purchase of high yield residential investment property for overseas clients, centred on the City of Brighton and Hove on the South Coast of England." It explains: "Prices in the area have risen by more than 40% since we first began promoting this area and we feel that we can offer something similar to what we have achieved with RDA Estates and RDA International in the areas of the Costa Callida and Costa Blanca."

There is a highly useful section entitled: "The first steps to becoming a property tycoon courtesy of RDA Estates".

RDA Estates’ Hove address is shared by Town & Country Property Services, whose website (www.tcprops.com) links straight to the RDA Estates website. AR Brown’s admirable assistance to the property business does not end there, however. His firm is also listed as solicitors for a certain Nest Egg Property Investments (trading name for Egg Property Investments Ltd) of Essex. Echoing RDA’s ‘Arranging it All’ motto, the firm’s site boasts: "NEG-PI does all the legwork for you and treats the security of your investments as a high priority to allow you to substantially benefit from the lucrative Property Market. We call this ‘armchair property investment’."

Meanwhile, back at the Dome in Worthing, the big fear is that the 1911 building is in a worse state than previously imagined and the £1.6m grant money will not be enough to save its future. What then? What role will the Trust play? What would happen to a building beyond economical repair on a prime seafront site?

The Porkbolter advises its readers not to worry. After all, with the international ‘armchair property investment’ expertise of Mr Brown and a team of anonymous trustees and invisible accounts, what could possibly go wrong?

* A protest by S.A.D.A.M is being held outside the Dome on Saturday July 24, 2pm. All support welcome. Find out more about the Dome crisis in the upstairs meeting room at The Downview, opposite West Worthing station, at 7.45pm on Tuesday August 3.

Clarification

Further to correspondence received from Alan R Brown and Bennett Griffin, solicitors and notaries, we are happy to clarify aspects of the article above. We are not suggesting that Mr Brown, a solicitor, is an international property speculator or developer. Bennett Griffin have asked us to point out that Mr Brown is not financially linked in any way with RDA Estates Ltd, RDA Estates Asia Limited, www.RDA Estates.com, RDA International (UK), Nest Egg Property Investments, Egg Property Investments Limited, Town and Country Property Services. In no way would we wish to slur Mr Brown's good name and character and his independence as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court. Our apologies for any misunderstanding.


Volunteers Wanted

COULD you spare the time to deliver a few Porkbolters through doors in your neighbourhood, or leave a pile at work, down the pub or in your local launderette, Indian take-away, hairdresser’s, doctor’s, dentist’s or anywhere else you can think of? If so, get in touch. In case you were wondering, The Porkbolter is an independent newsletter produced by volunteers trying to bypass the usual media smokescreens and distractions and give other ordinary Worthing people a glimpse of the huge rip-off that is being perpetrated on them by the small groups of well-connected and wealthy individuals who think they own the world. 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. Send e-mail to porkbolter@eco-action.org. e-mail subscriptions are also available.


Town’s double helping of Utopia

SINCE our last issue, a major ‘happening’ has occurred in Worthing. In case anyone missed it, an occupied/squatted social centre was opened opposite Teville Gate. It was called 23TOPIA, with many theories being circulated as to the origins of this name. Some claimed it was simply an amalgamation of the disused nightclub’s former incarnations of 'Twenties' and '3T0'. Others insisted the 23 stood for the 23rd letter in the alphabet, W for Worthing, and so it should be read as 'Double Utopia'! The squat was originally set up as a protest against the G8 summit of the Ruthless Rulers of the World, which comes to Gleneagles in Scotland next July. But its week-long Festival of Resistance also took in issues like Titnore Woods, the Dome crisis and anti-election awareness and over the weeks it hosted a bewildering succession of meetings, band nights, video evenings and parties and attracted more than 150 card-carrying members. After being open to the people of Worthing for (inevitably) 23 days, it was officially wound up and the following statement released to the world, declaring: "23TOPIA was never a place, never an organisation, never anything that could be categorised, authorised, criminalised or sanctified. 23TOPIA was an act, a beautiful act of defiance, an explosive device spraying colour shrapnel across the monotone wastelands of the great ghetto of chronic consumerism and terminal TV dependency we know as Worthing."

* More info on the Worthing anti-G8 campaign: shuttheg8


Tory Tim’s porn ordeal

POOR old Tim Loughton, Burgess Hill resident and MP for East Worthing and Shoreham. The Worthing Guardian (May 21) revealed the sorry tale of how he was 'stung' to the tune of £1,200 by internet porn criminals. He told the House of Commons: "While I was using my parliamentary email remote system from home one Sunday night, my system crashed when I tried to access an email that turned out to be spam. Two days later, we found out our telephone line had been cut off. Unknown to me, the Trojan horse email, with a link to some east European pornographic site, had got into my system and changed the dial-up number for the server to a premium-rate telephone line." Here at The Porkbolter, we’re frankly a little concerned by all this. How is it possible for an MP (the Shadow Minister for Children, no less) to have his House of Commons e-mail system re-directed to a porn site, when we’re assured millions of pounds is spent on parliamentary security?

Cyclists’ Catch 22

ONCE again, Worthing police’s attitude to protesters was in the spotlight on Saturday June 19 when a Critical Mass cycle, skateboard and pushchair procession was held in the town over Worthing people’s rights to use Worthing’s parks. Resident Dan Thompson, who was on the protest, reported that outside the Town Hall cyclists were absurdly being threatened with arrest "either for blocking the pavement or being an obstruction on the road!" - a real Catch 22 situation. He added: "My wife stopped her bike, one foot on the kerb and her wheels in the road and politely received a caution for blocking the road, despite being exactly where any cyclist should! I would consider this an unjust use of this law, to intimidate an individual and silence a legitimate protest."

Crime of playing football

POLICE STATE curfews like the one imposed on Durrington’s youngsters (see Porkbolter 61) are being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights by a Sussex teenager’s mum. Police have been using Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 to ban unaccompanied children under 16 from the streets, park or beach after 9pm, regardless of their behaviour. Said Barry Hugill of campaign group Liberty: "These orders are becoming ubiquitous. Placing teenagers who have done nothing wrong under house arrest - which is, in effect, what a curfew is - restricts their freedom of movement, which is a right guaranteed by the Human Rights Act. The police have ample powers to deal with youngsters who break the law and there is no justification for this blanket, which treats them all as criminals." Reported The Observer (June 20): "The mother of the teenager [from Seaford] bringing the case agreed to let her son front Liberty’s case after being forced to run from her house to the local park at 9.20pm on a light summer evening to fetch her son back home after realising he was breaking the law despite being involved in nothing more suspicious than a game of football."

A letter to the editors

DEAR Sirs,

While I was using my personal computer at home one Sunday night, inspecting an east European pornographic site, my system suddenly crashed and when I logged in again I realised I was linked to the secure House of Commons email system. Having fielded endless 'spam' emails inviting me to open church jumble sales in the Lancing area and to give some fellow called 'Peter B' a lift down the bookie’s, I then inadvertently found myself making a huge printing order for glossy election leaflets bearing the heading "Trust Tory Tim!" and have been landed with a bill for £1,200 and recurring nightmares involving smirking besuited politicians with slimey partings. What can I do?

Tom Leighton, Hassocks.


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

WITH former council leader and Porkbolter favourite Sheila Player thrown out of the Town Hall by voters, her Lib Dem colleagues made an important announcement. "Press secretary Mark O’Keefe said: ‘I am delighted to announce Bob Smytherman as the new leader of the Lib Dem party. We will be looking forward to providing a credible opposition over the next couple of years’." (Worthing Herald, June 24). Who’d have imagined that the words ‘Bob Smytherman’ and ‘credible’ would ever be uttered in the same breath?
* * *

BUILD affordable housing at eyesore Teville Gate, not on the countryside at Titnore Woods! That was the message from protesters who marched through Worthing on July 10, ending up at the derelict shopping centre itself. Meanwhile, opponents of the Titnore Woods scheme might find it worthwhile attending this year’s Earth First! summer gathering from August 4 to 9, with plenty of handy direct action workshops lined up. Info
* * *

ANOTHER instance of lying policemen reaches us. The incident involved a Worthing Against War supporter attending a protest in Brighton’s Churchill Square on Saturday June 26. Somebody who had seen her being unnecessarily pushed around by the police (for the horrific offence of having a megaphone) asked another copper why she was being treated that way. The policeman replied that she was a 'known shoplifter'! This complete lie was fortunately witnessed by another Worthingite and legal action is now being considered.
* * *

KNEE-JERK snob Tony Blair was quick to declare (BBC News, June 17) that the handful of England fans in trouble in Portugal brought "shame on our country". Throwing a plastic bottle at a foreign cop is obviously so much more shameful than illegally invading and occupying a foreign country, stealing its resources and murdering thousands of its citizens, isn’t it Tony?
* * *

WORTHING corporate drug dealers GlaxoSmithKline have been shamed by the latest revelations on their extremely dodgy anti-depressant Seroxat, reported The Daily Mail on June 15. The massive multinational firm has "caved in dramatically" and revealed research which shows the highly profitable drug (as exposed in Porkbolters 54 & 55) can cause children to attempt suicide. The damning findings were suppressed for up to a decade while thousands of teenagers and children as young as six continued to be given the drug.
* * *

EVER wondered why anarchists always seem to protest on Mayday? All is explained in the booklet Mayday and Anarchism: Remembrance and Resistance from Haymarket to Now, £3 from the Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane, London WC1N 3XX.
* * *

WELFARE Rights sessions at Brighton’s Cowley Club, at 12 London Road, are between 4pm and 6pm on Fridays. The phone number in the last issue relates to the Employments Rights session from 5pm to 6.30pm.
* * *

MOBILE phones reduce men’s sperm counts, reveals research (Guardian June 28) Official figures showing increases in global warming pollution from aircraft and lorries were hidden by the Government (Guardian, May 27). Scientists say watching TV hastens puberty in children (Guardian, June 28). Onwards with the glorious march of Progress!

Warning: Count yourself lucky!

"PEOPLE who insist on criticising the British state should count themselves lucky to be alive," said the Minister for the Moral High Ground yesterday. He added: "Never forget that you live in a country where we - your legal owners - allow you to do all manner of things we don’t really approve of, such as holding demonstrations (as long, of course, as you have gained permission in advance from our police forces, taken out £3 billion insurance and agreed to go nowhere near the object of your protest). You lot are jolly lucky we don’t send the army round to your homes, put hoods over your heads and fix electrodes to your genitals until you’re dead, as obviously we would quite like to or we wouldn’t have mentioned it."

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no House of Commons porn, thank you very much.


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

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