the pork-bolter
ISSUE 81, AUGUST 2007

Now is the time for real action to save our hospital!

AFTER years of rumour and worry, Worthing's health nightmare is about to come true, with the disastrous downgrading of our hospital.

Of course, it is all still being presented as in the "consultation" phase, but with two of the three "options" involving the removal of our Accident and Emergency department, the writing is very much on the wall.

The whole way the issue has been handled by the authorities is so typical of the contempt in which the powers-that-be hold the long-suffering population. They are trying to present this massive cut in the Local NHS infrastructure as some kind of trendy reform, under the absurd spin-doctored title of "Fit for the Future".

And they have tried to rule and divide by presenting the exercise as a popularity contest between Worthing and Southlands, St Richard's at Chichester and the Princess Royal at Haywards Heath. Well, we don't buy that at all.

These hospitals have all existed for years. How come we suddenly can only afford to have one of them? West Sussex people are all coughing up millions of pounds in tax and National Insurance, like we always have done, and we have a RIGHT to a decent standard of healthcare.

The truth behind all the bureaucratic gobbledegook is that the money is not going towards our hospitals, because it is being spent elsewhere.

There seems to be plenty of hard cash available to wage two long wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. There seems to be enough money to buy a new generation of nuclear weapons to "defend" ourselves against an enemy which, we are constantly told, now lives in the UK itself. There seems to be enough dough in the coffers to build a vast hi-tech surveillance society, with ID cards, a massive central database, satellite tracking of all vehicles on the roads, etc.

But somehow, when it comes to the most important thing of all - the physical wellbeing of the ordinary people of this country - there is just not enough funding to go around!

There is another, sinister, agenda behind the attack on the NHS - and that is privatisation. The financial crisis affecting the NHS has been deepened by a series of PFIs (Private Finance Initiatives) around the country, which suck in millions of pounds of public money and channel it it into the bank accounts of "investors in the private sector" - in other words the big business paymasters of our corrupt political leaders.

And the long-term erosion of the NHS is undoubtedly part of a masterplan to force us into the hands of private health companies, to do away with our right to free treatment and make us take out personal health insurance policies as they do in the USA.

Since the idea was hatched by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, it is ironic that the opposition to the current assault on our hospitals has been publicly headed by Tory MPs, including Worthing's Tim Loughton and Peter Bottomley. Together with the Worthing Herald, they have in fact done a great job so far in keeping the issue alive and mobilising the Worthing public to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed axe.

But now the time has come where the campaign has to take another step forward. The "phoney war" is over and now we can see that the loss of our A&E is very much a looming reality. So what can we do? Well, for a start, we should treat the so-called "consultation" process with the contempt it deserves. The NHS bureauprats should not get away with hiding behind their smug PowerPoint presentations and glossy half-truths - they should be made to feel personally responsible for the crime they are committing against the population of Worthing and West Sussex.

The first "consultation" meeting in Worthing on Tuesday July 24 is to be followed by another on Tuesday October 16, also at 7pm in the Charmandean Centre (the local Freemasonic HQ!) in Upper Brighton Road. We all know they don't really want to listen to our views - so let's make sure they HAVE TO hear us by any means we can. More broadly, the hospital campaign needs to look at where it is going, when the "proper" channels have been exhausted.

The same point was reached by Titnore Woods campaigners, when years of protests, petitions, letter-writing and meetings still failed to stop the threatened destruction of the ancient woodland in Durrington. The response was not lacking - the stage was stormed at a council meeting, Titnore Lane was blocked with a burning effigy of John Prescott and, finally, in May 2006 a direct action protest camp was set up to occupy the woods - where it remains today. As a result 200 trees have already been saved from road-straightening and the developers have been forced to re-think their plans.

Worthing Hospital is at least as precious to Worthing people as Titnore Woods and a similar level of response is called for.

When ex-mayor Tom Wye and KWASH colleagues chained themselves to the Primary Care Trust HQ in Goring on July 17 it was a taste of what must come - but it all needs to be more powerful and involve more people.

We would like to see a massive DAY OF ACTION in Worthing to save the hospital. For this to have real impact, it would need a lot more than our newsletter to spread the word. Our campaigning MPs, plus the Herald and other local media would ideally be on board. All business should be encouraged to close down for the day and, in any case, all employees should stay off work - a one-day strike to save the hospital.

Convoys of horn-tooting residents in cars should block the A27 through town - at least during the rush hours, possibly all day. A huge rally could be held on Broadwater Green or Homefield Park. The whole town up in arms!

We have our doubts, though, as to whether the self-appointed leaders of the campaign would be prepared to do anything like this. They may see it as too great a risk. But the real risk lies in failing to take decisive action while the consultation period passes by, the health chiefs make the decision we all know they are going to take and our A&E, intensive care unit and maternity ward are all taken from us.

If this is the case, then it us up to other less high-profile campaigners to take up the fight and step where the politicians dare not to tread. If they want our help, they know where to find us! We must all do all we can to save our hospital. Otherwise, we will never be forgiven by thousands of future Worthing families who will suffer from the callous theft of our town's vital life support system.


Kids sold off to corporations

IT'S NOT just the NHS that is threatened by privatisation - education is going the same way. The Worthing Advertiser reported (May 30) that three West Sussex state schools - Boundstone College in Lancing, Littlehampton Community School and Kings Manor in Shoreham - are set to be replaced by "academies" sponsored by private business.

Because newspapers of this kind simply republish press releases from the authorities without questioning them, the proposals are described as "exciting". However, that may not be the exact word chosen by pupils the new £46.4m Thomas Deacon "academy" in Peterborough where, reported The Guardian (May 5) there will be no playground, regarded as an "uncontrollable space" by the authorities. Instead "pupils will be treated like employees of a corporation and teachers will lead them on a 30-minute rolling lunch break in the cafeteria".


Nuclear power threat to Shoreham

AN ASTONISHING media silence has followed the revelation that Shoreham-by-Sea, only six miles or so from Worthing, has been earmarked as a potential site for a nuclear power station.

The revelation was made in The Guardian on May 24 after journalists got hold of a confidential report commissioned by the Government's DTI from energy consultants Jackson Consulting.

This said that "existing coal and/or gas-fired conventional power stations" should be considered for new nuclear sites. Added the paper: "The DTI has been advised that the sites of conventional power stations in the Midlands, the south coast near Brighton, and near Bristol could become available." This refers to the power station at Shoreham Harbour (also the site of a proposed massive new housing development, according to The Argus, July 14 - a bit of a conflict of interests!).

Eco group Greenpeace had previously tried to get the government to release the details, but had been blocked. Said director John Sauven: "The list of preferred sites for new build in this report is a matter of national of national interest, not just something for civil servants to see. It's scandalous the government was going to keep this under wraps."

Normally there has to be some "consultation" with the public before anything can be built - but there is worrying news on that front, too.

The government and its big business chums have become frustrated by the way local democracy still sometimes manages to halt, or delay, enormously unpopular projects.

As a result they have introduced a new Planning White Paper, aimed at rushing through certain types of project with the minimal chance of local people having any say. West Sussex County Council leader Henry Smith has said this would result in "ministers appointing an unelected quango to bulldoze their way through democracy" (Worthing Advertiser, May 30).

And what kind of schemes do the Neo-Labour Stalinists want to be able to push through against all local opposition? Well, there's new airport runways, of course, road widening schemes and.... nuclear power stations.


Why fry with Wi-Fi?

WE HAD a big response to our article in the last issue about the Wi-Fi health threat to homes and schools (and in fact coffee shops and trains!).

"My son gets throbbing headaches from Wi-Fi in his school," one reader told us. Wrote another: "We have Wi-Fi in our house which is on for about four to six hours a day. I have noticed a mild headache if I am in the same room as the base but not if I am the other end of the house. None of my sons or my husband experience any problems. I plan to change to DLAN or have a wired system, only one problem - all my neighbours have Wi-Fi and their signals come through my walls, in fact I can use their broadband if I chose to do so."

And a third person told us: "I am so sensitive that I don't have anything but a computer and a dial-up connection to the internet via a land line phone. This means no TV, or any of the wonderful gadgets out there! I rarely leave a relatively small area which is fairly safe, but where I am recovering I can go to a nearby town to shop if I only stay for a maximum of one hour. I pay for this with nasty but less severe symptoms and a restless night or a sleepless night." We have also been sent some useful websites with information on sensitivity to Wi-Fi and other forms of electro-magnetic radiation: www.hese-project.org/hese-uk and http://electrosensitivity.org.uk.


Progress marches onwards!

YET more evidence has reached us of how lucky we are to live in the Golden Age of Technological Progress.

* "Marketers around the world are using innovative audio technology that sends sound in a narrow beam, just like light, making it possible to direct messages right into consumers' ears while they shop or sit in waiting rooms. The audio spotlight device, created by Watertown firm Holosonic Research Labs Inc, has been used to hawk everything from cereals in supermarket aisles to glasses at doctor's offices. The messages are often quick and targeted - and a little creepy to the uninitiated.

"Court TV recently installed the audio spotlight in ceilings of bookstores to promote the network's new murder-mystery show. A voice, whispering, ‘Hey, you, can you hear me? Do you ever think about murder?' was beamed toward customers as they browsed the mystery section in several independent bookstores in New York." (Boston Globe website, April 24)

* A robot mini helicopter called a spy drone is to be used in a three-month experiment by Merseyside Police. Said The Guardian (May 25). "It is a metre wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar and can record images from a height of 500 metres. The Hi Cam Microdrone was originally used in military reconnaissance operations." As usual, the paper is happy to present it as the latest weapon in the "fight against crime" and to say it will be used to "to monitor criminals and anti-social behaviour". But it also reveals, ominously: "The drone could also be used for crowd control during large events..."

* "Schools are to get the go-ahead to fingerprint pupils as young as five, in new measures to be approved by the government... Fingerprint and eyeball scans would make it easy for schools to track children during the day and tell if they are playing truant or even what they have eaten for lunch." (Independent on Sunday, June 17)


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

FORGET Godzilla or the Day of the Triffids - a far nastier menace is fast approaching poor old Worthing. It is a great slithering giant leech by the name of Hanson Capital Management which, as the Worthing Herald reported on July 5, has already bought up "a huge slice of prime development land in central Worthing" and is hungrily looking for more. Its goal seems to be some kind of monstrous alien shopping complex to suck the last drops of blood out of local traders and convert our town into a giant retail park suburb of Brighton, luring in thousands of consumer/labour units and raising house prices beyond the wildest reach of Worthing's next generation. We can't porkin' wait...
* * *

THE POPULAR protest camp at Durrington's Titnore Woods is now well into its second year, having celebrated its anniversary on May 28. Spirits are high and numbers have again swollen with the better weather. It's also in better shape after a clear-up session with local volunteers. The proposed development has not gone away, of course, but the countryside-grabbing money-men have had to rethink details of the road access and are expected to submit revised plans at any time now. Vistors are, as ever, always welcome, for a few hours, an overnight stay or even longer. Protect Our Woodland! The camp phone is on 07913 534083.
* * *

IT WOULD perhaps seem harsh to be too angry about St Barnabas Hospice building its new site at the south end of Titnore Lane. But then that's just the kind of unopposable application to pave the way for the rapid urbanisation of the area, to be followed shortly by the sale and redevelopment of Northbrook College's Durrington campus.
* * *

STRANGE midnight pagan dancing broke out around Broadwater Green's Midsummer's Tree for the second year running on June 23. Whooping was prevalent, songs were sung and poems were recited. Sussex Police sent their apologies, though sadly there were a few stumbles in the dark without the presence of the helicopter's high-powered searchbeam kindly laid on for the revellers last year. And it's all going to happen again in 2008! Meanwhile, for those interested in traditional culture, folk song sessions are currently being held on the last Tuesday of every month in the bar at the Sidney Walter Centre in Sussex Road, Worthing, from 8pm.
* * *

EVER fancied you were a bit of an anarchist at heart? Or wanted to find out more about anarchism? Worthing Anarchists are holding a Summer Gathering at Camp Titnore, Durrington, on Saturday August 11. The day runs from 11am to 5pm at the woodland protest camp behind Tesco in New Road (follow the path across the fields beyond the car park). There will be food and refreshments available, with optional socialising later on.
* * *

WORTHING Alliance meets on the last Thursday of every month at The Rest in Bath Place. There are updates from various campaigns in town and the chance to sound off about stuff that is annoying you. Meetings start at 8pm, all are welcome and the next dates are July 26 and August 30.


Official health warning

AN URGENT warning has been issued by the Minister for Competitive Health Partnerships to anyone reading this newsletter. He said: "The public should be aware that what they have in their hands is in no way an authorised source of information or opinion on the important issue of our health services. Reading this printed item, agreeing with any of its contents or repeating its viewpoints to any third person not only incurs disqualification from the whole Fit for the Future consultation process, but may also result in serious long-term mental injuries, treatment for which will not be covered by those planned private health insurance schemes I was specifically told never to mention in public. Oh, b*gger."


Battling to revive old Worthing!

THE PORKBOLTER is a newsletter that uses the shock therapy of truthful reporting and comment to try and resuscitate our sickening town. 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 nukes in our backyard, thanks.


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

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