the pork-bolter
No 75, August 2006

We’re behind you! Worthing gives its backing to tree camp

A MASSIVE surge of support for the Titnore Woods protest campers has swept Worthing since they occupied the woodland site on May 28, in a bid to halt the threatened 875-home estate, road widening scheme and associated new Tesco supermarket.

More than 100 people packed into an amazing public meeting in Worthing’s Charles Dickens pub on July 6 to voice their support for the high-profile campaigners - with the biggest cheers and heartfelt gratitude reserved for the campers themselves, who have physically put themselves on the line in their attempt to stop the bulldozers destroying this precious piece of ancient woodland on the edge of our sprawling borough. Backing from the Worthing public has exceeded all expectations, with a steady flow of donations and enthusiastic visitors to the tree camp site to the east of Titnore Lane, Durrington. And messages of support have been flooding in from near and far to campaign group Protect Our Woodland!, which has been spearheading the Save Titnore Woods campaign over the last five years.

Here is just a sample of the sort of things people have been saying:

“Heartily approve of your brave actions and hope the 250 trees can be saved. A scandal.”

“This proposed development is outrageous and should be stopped at all costs, and saved for future generations.”

“I think the intended development is inexcusable, unsustainable and inappropriate. I think it is disgusting and despicable that even after the protests and opposition, the Somerset family stand firm on destroying something that should be left alone to be enjoyed by everyone.”

“I am very angry about the proposed development of that area which is ill-conceived at the very least even if you weren’t interested in the history and natural aspect of the argument.”

“Nothing short of a crime against humanity.”

“You have my support in your endeavours, for what it’s worth - regrettably advancing years and accompanying decrepitude prevent me from doing more than cheering from the sidelines.”

“I see no reason whatsoever that can justify this proposed development. The woodlands around Titnore Lane are superb and part of our heritage that should be protected for future generations.”

“We are appalled by the current development proposals that involve destruction of ancient woodland and ‘improving’ Titnore Lane so that any rural character is destroyed. We fully support the current protest.”

The situation is now changing on a daily basis at Titnore Woods. Help may be urgently needed at any time. Keep up to date on:

Camp Titnore page

Southcoast Indymedia

Protect Our Woodland!

Camp website

Camp phone: 0780 4245324


Titnore scandal: council replies to just ONE letter out of 400

ARROGANT Worthing Borough Council is deliberately snubbing hundreds of residents who have written pleading for Titnore Woods to be saved. In a statement to a local campaigner responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, interim chief executive Ian Lowrie admits the council received 400 letters in June alone - and have only bothered to reply to one of them! This is despite the letters specifically requesting an acknowledgement and reply from the council.

The letter from Mr Lowrie, dated June 29, stated: “Over the period you identify the Council received approximately 400 letters from the public opposing the West Durrington development. As far as I am aware, one of these received a reply, but once it was obvious that there was to be a very large number of identical pre-printed letters coming into the Council, it was decided to take a collective, rather than individual, approach to responding. This is being done by placing the response on the Council’s website for the information of all interested parties.” So what if you aren’t on the internet? How are you supposed to know the letter is there? And if the council has received hundreds of identical pre-printed letters, what is to stop it sending out hundreds of identical pre-printed replies?

In the website statement, Mr Lowrie says: “I have passed all such letters to our Planning Officer and they will be recorded as letters of representation on the application file.” And yet in his letter, he refers to “approximately 400 letters”. Approximately? Does this mean the council has not even bothered to count the letters, let alone reply to them or, heaven forbid, take any notice of their content? Is this the attitude of a responsible and democratic local authority that listens to and cares about the opinions of the people that pay for its existence - the local council tax payers?

If you have an opinion on this, or you would still like a reply to a letter you sent in about Titnore Woods, why not write to Mr Lowrie at Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1LA. Tel 01903 239999, Fax 01903 237504? Email ian.lowrie@adur.gov.uk (he’s also boss of Adur council). If he still doesn’t reply, we suggest you keep on trying until he does! Isn’t that what we pay him to do?


Developers and democracy

PROTESTERS have also begun to put pressure on the developers behind the West Durrington scheme. On Friday June 16 a delegation travelled up to the Crawley offices of Taylor Woodrow (one of the three firms in the consortium), unfurled a banner outside the building and handed in a letter for chief executive Iain Napier. A reply eventually came from Taylor Woodrow “director of corporate communications” Ian Morris, who dismissed any idea of heeding public opinion and abandoning the scheme. He declared “we shall continue to consult the local community through their local democratically elected authority”. With poll turnouts of around 30%, shouldn’t that be “democratically rejected authority”? Write to Mr Napier at Taylor Woodrow, 2 Princes Way, Solihull, B91 3ES, twplc@uk.taylorwoodrow.com. Also: Group chief executive John White, Persimmon Plc, Persimmon House, Fulford, York,YO19 4FE. 01904 642199, feedback@persimmonhomes.com. Paul Chester, Land and Planning Director, Heron Land Developments, Heron House, Midland Way,Thornbury, Bristol BS35 2BS. 01454 851190. paul.chester@heronland.co.uk


Titnore Woods Day of Solidarity Action!

Saturday August 12

12 noon: Mass cycle ride, meet Goring railway station

2pm: Protest at Worthing Pier

Bring banners, placards, whistles


Spared chop, but not chopper!

AN ANCIENT tradition was reborn in Broadwater on Friday June 23, when 30 people gathered at midnight around the recently saved Midsummer Tree (which now boasts its own plaque). The event was so significant that a police helicopter hovered directly overhead during local historian Chris Hare’s rendition of a traditional song. It’s all going to be happening again next year (mark it in your diary for Saturday June 23), though hopefully without the tactical air support!


Vision for Worthing is blinded by greed

WORTHING in the summer of 2006 feels very much like a town under siege. The cash crisis facing Worthing Hospital, along with the rest of the NHS, apparently could lead to its total closure - an unmitigated disaster for a town of nearly 100,000 people. And, as we may have just mentioned in passing from time to time, our last pocket of precious countryside at Titnore Woods is under imminent threat from the bulldozers.

In the circumstances, you would have thought that Worthing Borough council would have its work cut out trying to defend the town from these threats and help us to hold on to the things that we have already got that may be wrenched from us. But no, instead it is wasting its time on a fancy scheme to redevelop the whole of the town centre, which it is calling the Worthing Town Centre and Seafront Masterplan. With everything else going on, this major change to the face of Worthing is in danger of sneaking in through the back door without anyone noticing. Visitors to an exhibition staged by the council were treated to a glossy brochure full of glossy language and very little of any substance on which to base their opinions, which have to be handed in by July 28. The tone of this is best summed up by its mission statement: “The Masterplan seeks to transform the image of Worthing: a town by the sea not just a seaside town”. You what?! Has there ever been a more meaningless sentence written in the English language?

The detail is no better. For instance, we learn that “the shared vision is for a town that fulfills many roles”. This includes it being “a sustainable town - a place that will meet current and future needs” and “an inclusive town - a place with something for everyone”. Like a hospital, perhaps? The reality of the plan seems to be lots and lots of redevelopment all over the place. And who will this benefit? There is a clue on the front page where it announced that “there is a need for change to make the town a more successful and attractive place to live, work and invest”. Invest? Our dictionary defines this word as meaning “to lay out money or capital with the expectation of profit”. And that tells you all you need to known about the masterplan for Worthing being foisted on us by Worthing Borough Council and its many, many friends in the property development business.

* WE’RE thinking of selling Worthing Borough Council a catchy new marketing catchphrase: “WBC: a council without a soul, not just a soulless council.”


Fact: roads create traffic

WITH the local road lobby still constantly calling for upgradings of the A27 at Arundel and Worthing, a timely report has come out showing that new roads are in fact no good at all at relieving congestion. Instead, the study from the government’s Countryside Agency and the Campaign to Protect Rural England

shows three bypasses, including the notorious Newbury bypass, attracted extra traffic and led to more cars and lorries flowing onto local roads as a result. Ian Brookes of South Coast Against Roadbuilding said: “We have always maintained that road building creates more traffic and climate change gases and damages the wider environment.” And Rebecca Lush, co-ordinator of campaign group Road Block, said: “These are very costly and irreversible mistakes. We must end roadbuilding that fuels traffic growth.”


ID card scheme ‘set to fail’

AT LAST, some good news about ID cards. The Sunday Times revealed on July 9 that leaked Whitehall emails suggest the scheme “is set to fail and may not be introduced for a generation”. Even a proposed watered-down version is not considered by civil servants to be “remotely feasible”, with ministers “ignoring reality” by pressing ahead, said the paper. Of course, the reason for all the doubt has nothing to do with concerns for our liberties and everything to do with the incompetence that has dogged state IT projects for years - other threats to our freedom continue to lurk in the technological shadows.

Take, for instance CCTV cameras - there are around 4.2 million in the UK, more than anywhere else in the world except possibly China - and the way the information they record is increasingly being filed on databases. In an interview in The Guardian (June 20), Professor Clive Norris of Sheffield University highlighted plans for a network of automatic number-plate readers, linked to CCTV. He said: “Every vehicle that enters certain cities can have its number plate logged, with the ultimate aim of creating a national network. They’ve asked for information to be stored for two years so that there will be a permanent record that can be searched retrospectively.” He warned: “What we are seeing is the evolution of the information society into the surveillance society.”

And it’s not just what we’re physically doing that the powers-that-be want to monitor and record. An alarming piece in The Guardian on the very same day introduced one Steve Quartz, a California scientist whose life work is to use functional brain imaging to find out what is going on inside our heads. His noble purpose at the moment is to help Hollywood studios find out what makes people like or dislike the films they are trying to sell us, but he has a vision for the future, where his brain imaging technology “will move on to applications in the political realm, or the economic realm, or the legal realm.” We just can’t wait.


Porky Pie’s Lie of the Month

“Worthing Borough Council listens to YOUR views!”


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

OUR spies at Worthing Borough Council report that an exciting new method of extracting more cash from the Worthing public is being dreamed up. You may have already heard that the council is set to take over the role of parking control from the police, with contractors providing private traffic wardens. What may come as a shock is that apparently Worthing, together with West Sussex County Council, are considering awarding the contract for all on street parking in Worthing, as well as all the car parks, to NCP. This would give this controversial firm a virtual monopoly in the town, allowing it to rake in the cash (and with the council also doing rather well out of the arrangement). NCP already has 30 local council parking contracts in the UK - and everywhere it moves in, ticketing rates have soared, as The Sunday Times reported on June 4. In Torbay, for instance, police traffic wardens issued 4,581 fixed penalty notices in 2004. Last year that figure rose sixfold to 28,500. And one NCP warden in Westminster issued 1,444 tickets in a month after NCP offered a new car worth £12,000 to the warden who imposed the most fines. Now there’s something for Worthing to look forward to!
* * *

ONE OF the great mysteries surrounding the West Durrington development scheme is why there is this insistence on widening Titnore Lane, when road safety concerns dictate some kind of traffic calming rather than speeding-up. A clue was offered at the public meeting on July 6, by someone who had watched a huge Tesco juggernaut negotiating the leafy lane en route from the A27 to its Durrington store. Tesco is, of course, hoping to build a massive new supermarket on the land right next to the Titnore Woods housing development...
* * *

MEANWHILE, it turns out that “government plans to build millions of new houses across Britain are a greater threat to the country’s most endangered species and habitats than climate change”. The findings came in a report by the government’s own Biodiversity Action Plan group and were reported in The Observer on June 18. Spot any relevance to a well-known local issue, anyone?
* * *

WORTHING Alliance meetings are a chance to hear about various campaigns going on in the town. You can get involved with them if you want, or just chew the cud with people interested in what’s happening in Worthing. They are generally held on the last Thursday of the month upstairs at The Rest in Bath Place, Worthing (off Montague St). The next one is on Thursday July 27, 8pm.
* * *

“IT’S time to wake up to the realities of climate change. It’s here, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and governments and corporations aren’t going to fix it for us.” That’s the call-out for the Camp for Climate Action in the north of England from August 24 to September 4. Info: www.climatecamp.org.uk
* * *

CAN building a pair of tower blocks at Worthing’s Teville Gate really be a sane idea? We reckon the sight of these Twin Towers will immediately make our town a target for Bin Laden’s terrorist fiends and before too long jets will be heading over from Shoreham Airport on a deadly mission. Next thing you know, Worthing’s tax payers will be forking out for an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and then... Hang on. What’s that? Oh. Apparently we already are.


Warning - Don’t write in!

NUISANCE residents could be prosecuted for wasting council time by sending them letters, said the Minister for Democracy yesterday. He explained: “It seems that some unpopular decisions are prompting literally hundreds of people to voice their opposition and send in their views. These are flooding local authority mail boxes and tying up staff who could otherwise be dealing with highly important matters, such as increasing taxes or providing investment opportunities for the business community. No action is not an option and we will be introducing new laws to teach these fanatical lettorists a lesson.”


No plan, no masters!

THE PORKBOLTER is an independent newsletter for Worthing named after the old nickname for Worthing folk. We have no Masterplan for the borough, just a desire to see control over its future put back into the hands of the people who actually live here! To get the next six issues through the post send a donation of £3 or more payable to The Porkbolter at PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. Free e-mail subscriptions are also available. Send e-mail to porkbolter@eco-action.org.

Published and printed by The Porkbolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no skyscrapers in our vision.


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

back to main index

main index