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Issue 34 - February 2001

SCHOOL GETS ITS CASH THANKS TO TV STUNT!

WE TEAM UP WITH MARK THOMAS TO WIN DAY FOR WORTHING

VICTORY! Our campaign about the insurance firm trying to cash in on a shortage of funds at a Worthing primary school has proved an astonishing success! We teamed up with Channel 4’s Mark Thomas Product to really put Allied Dunbar on the spot over their involvement with Thomas A Becket First School in Tarring. And, in the face of an unwelcome publicity spotlight on their schemes, the insurance giant agreed on the spot to cough up the £500 they had offered the school as a bribe to make parents listen to their sales pitch. With another £500 also on its way from Channel 4 itself, if the Government performs its part of the deal under its Sports Match scheme, the school should end up with £2,000 - more than enough for the set of goalposts it was hoping to buy! Regular readers will remember that we exposed in issue 32 the latest sickening evidence of the commercialisation of our schools. The headmaster at Thomas A Becket invited parents to attend an "informative talk" that was in fact nothing more than a sales session from an Allied Dunbar rep. If 40 households were represented at the meeting, and all of these agreed to hand over their address and phone number for follow-up sales calls, the firm said it would oh-so generously donate £500 to the school, which would attract another £500 from the Government under Sports Match, one of an increasing number of dodgy schemes aimed at forcing cash-strapped schools, hospitals etc into selling their souls to Big Business. The "talk" or hard sales evening was roundly snubbed by parents, with only 16 households signing up, so Allied Dunbar walked away with their details as potential customers and cancelled the event plus the need to cough up any cash. Or so they thought. But they had not reckoned with Mark Thomas, the TV comedian/investigator who last month broke the scandal of Labour minister Michael Meacher’s secret property empire. He agreed with us that there was injustice in the air and set off to Allied Dunbar HQ in Swindon - together with a Welsh Male Voice Choir! In a priceless scene which has yet to be broadcast, but is scheduled for the show on Wednesday February 14, the 24 singers went through their repertoire while Mark argued that they made up the total of 40 people that Allied Dunbar had demanded in the first place before they would give the school its money. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, the insurance giants backed down. A shock away win in Swindon for Worthing, thanks to the vocal travelling support! * There is believed to be no truth in the rumour that a certain educational establishment in Tarring is now to be renamed Mark Thomas A Becket First School.

New battle on roads

SUSSEX could be the focus of the next big anti-roads protest, reviving the battling 1990s spirit of Twyford Down and Newbury. Campaign group South Coast Against Roadbuilding and local direct action group The Battle for Hastings have joined forces to attack the decision by the Regional Planning Committee of the South East England Regional Assembly to support building the Hastings bypass. Astonished by the committee’s decision, SCAR said: "Clearly members of the committee think they know better than their professional officers, indeed even better than the specialists consultants appointed by the Government. By adopting this myopic stance the committee risk hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on a scheme which will be of dubious benefit to Hastings and may in fact export jobs out of the area". It added: "Hastings is crying out for a 21st century rail link to Ashford and Europe more than a bypass to nowhere. Planning to spend vast millions on a discredited road scheme is wanton and the regional planning committee should resign en masse". SCAR was formed in 1994 as an umbrella group for local groups fighting the threat of a Folkestone-Honiton superhighway. You can contact it via e-mail (info@scar-uk.freeserve.co.uk) or by writing to SCAR c/o PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ.

Stores want the Lyons share

HOW is it that giant superstore chains have come to think of themselves as Rulers of the Universe? First of all they demand the god-given right to build their nasty big shops anywhere they fancy and now they think they have the right to get their hands on our money even when we’re not buying anything from them! The case in point concerns Lyons Farm, Worthing, where the likes of B&Q, Boots and Sainsbury’s are said to be seeking compensation from the public purse for the disruption caused by the roadworks on the A27 (Worthing Guardian, December 29). Letter writer Mrs G Jaeger of Bulkington Avenue put her finger on it in the same paper on January 19. She said: "Some small stores and proprietors would like compensation from the retail park for the business which they have drawn out of Worthing town for their benefit, not to mention the consequent traffic hold-ups which the Lyons Farm development causes when there are no road works in progress."

Last Straw for English freedom?

JACK STRAW is well on the way to bagging the coveted Golden Jackboot Award for Most Authoritarian Home Secretary in British History. His tolerance levels are now well below zero and he is fast disappearing off the "Utter Bastard" end of the Pinochet-Stalin Scale of Firm Government. The true horror was highlighted when his latest piece of legislation was actually attacked as a threat to civil liberties by none other than Anne Widdecombe! Much of the publicity surrounding Herr Straw’s criminal justice and police bill has concerned its proposed clamp-down on animal rights protesters (now generally referred to in the media as animal rights extremists or animal rights terrorists, as part of the softening-up process that always precedes new assaults on our freedom). While the well-known British love of animals has not proved a major problem to the state in the past, it has now reached a point where it is in danger of interfering with the profits of businesses like Huntingdon Life Sciences and even Worthing’s own Glaxo SmithKline Beecham, which obviously cannot be tolerated. Even without the planned add-on measures, the bill makes scary reading. It includes 20 new powers for the police, including taking and storing DNA samples and fingerprints from people who have never been found guilty of a crime, new police powers of seizure and arrest, extension of child curfew schemes to 15 year olds, and extension of police powers under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Bill without parliamentary approval. Liberty, the civil rights organisation, told The Guardian (January 20) that it amounted to "the most serious erosion of rights in the criminal justice system that we have seen for years". Meanwhile, here in West Sussex came a timely reminder of what police powers are all about, when you are on the receiving end. Reported The Guardian (January 15): "The police complaints authority has found Sussex police guilty of ‘systemic’ failure over its handling of the investigation into the murder of a businessman, Richard Watson." It detailed how the dead man’s grieving widow and stepdaughter in East Grinstead were wrongly treated as suspects by the force. They were questioned for days and, over a period of months, every detail of their private lives was minutely scrutinised. Their house was bugged by police, they suffered the humiliation of unnecessary public arrests, were thrown into Holloway prison for two weeks and were vilified in sections of the media. No policemen have been disciplined over the case, the force will not discuss any form of redress and the women will need to bring a civil court case against the police even to get a copy of the full complaints authority report. Sounds like the police have got more than enough power as it is, don’t you think Mr Straw?

Hunting for honest MPs

"NEVER trust a politician" is one of the best pieces of advice anyone could be given in this day and age. And it’s not just the likes of Peter Mandelson you have to watch - believe it or not, even our lovely local MPs, though they have NEVER been known to tell a lie, can from time to time be a little evasive in their responses to awkward questions... Take Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing. He seemed to be utterly outraged in The Worthing Guardian on January 19 by the suggestion by a letter-writer that he had previously voted against the ban on fox hunting. He fumed: "Mr Allen’s letter implies that I voted against the second reading of the Bill. He knows, and everyone else know, that I did not." Bumley went on to boast about all "the animal welfare measures I have campaigned on." How strange then, that two days before this comment was published, Bottomley was one of the minority of MPs not to vote for the ban-fox-hunting option in the House of Commons, along with fellow "animal lover" Tim Loughton, Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham!

Simon Jones - victory!

EXCELLENT news from the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign over in Brighton. Their direct action approach to demanding justice for Simon, killed on his first day of work at Shoreham Docks in 1998, has succeeded where letter-writing and MP-petitioning invariably fails. The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that Richard James Martell, boss of docks firm Euromin, is to be tried for manslaughter by gross negligence over Simon’s death. And Euromin itself faces a corporate manslaughter charge. The authorities were in no hurry to prosecute anyone and campaigners demonstrated at the Crown Prosecution Service offices in London in September demanding action. Now we must just hope that justice is done in court - and that tough action will be taken in future against businesses who place profits before safety.

More cash for business

IF you rang Worthing Borough Council to say you were worried about security in your home, they would probably suggest you go away and get window locks or a burglar alarm fitted. What they certainly wouldn’t do is cough up £4,000 to pay for an overnight security patrol to guard you as you sleep. But that is exactly what they are doing for Goring Business Park, revealed the Worthing Guardian on December 22. Obviously protecting the property and profits of the god-like Business Community is so much more important to the Tory-run authority than looking after the unimportant little people who happen to live here.

Porky Pie’s Top Tip of the Month!

HOW TO SOLVE OVER-CROWDING ON TRAINS!
  1. ABOLISH FIRST-CLASS COMPARTMENTS.
  2. GIVE FIRST-CLASS FARE PAYERS GOLD STICKERS TO WEAR TO SHOW THEY STILL THINK THEY’RE BETTER THAN THE REST OF US.
  3. EVERYONE’S HAPPY!

Disgusting of Durrington

A NEW editor is due to take over at the Worthing Herald this month and we hope he will ensure there are no repeats of the insulting treatment recently meted out to one of Worthing’s splendid selfless band of elected representatives. The front page of the December 21 issue featured a photo of councillor Chris Sargent standing in a road in Durrington beneath the huge headline "Sewer filth on street!". Outrageous. Matters were compounded by the picture caption underneath, which began with the description "DISGUSTING AND HAZARDOUS". What has poor Mr Sargent done to merit this vitriol, we wonder?

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

WORTHING council is looking at "the upgrading of seafront shelters with central arms in the benches to prevent their ‘misuse’," reported The Worthing Guardian on January 26. We advise readers not to misuse the word shelter. Always remember that shelters are for casual sheltering and are not meant for use by people who actually need shelter. And while Shelter is an organisation that tries to make life easier for homeless people, Worthing Borough Council isn’t.
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FRIENDS of Bob Baines, the eco-activist and Pork-Bolter contributor from Goring who died recently, have decided to plant one or more trees in his memory. Anyone who would like to contribute to the fund is invited to send cheques payable to Worthing Green Party to Lucy Colkett at 23 Wallace Avenue, stating what the donation is for.
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A LOCAL woman is raising a petition against the shocking car parking charges at Worthing Hospital. Contact Barbara Robinson at 20 Tasman Close, Rustington BN16 2BD if you want to sign or help get signatures.
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ANARCHY will be coming to the next meeting hosted by worthing.eco-action on February 6. A speaker from Worthing Anarchist Teapot will be explaining how anarchism isn’t in fact about chaos and conflict, but about how society would be naturally ordered and stable if people and communities had real control over their own lives. There will then be an open discussion. After that, the following meeting will be on Tuesday March 6, in the same meeting room at 42 Marine Parade, Worthing seafront (above Paiges), 7.45pm. New faces are always welcome at the meetings. See you there!

Official warning: Four legs bad

EDUCATING the next generation about the evil reality behind the cuddly facade of animals is a key challenge for the Government in the 21st century, the Minister for Profits has announced. He said: "Over-sentimental treatment of beasts, ranging from the toddler’s cuddly toy to the cartoon animal hero, has created an unhelpful climate of sympathy for these parasitical entities, whose presence on this planet is in fact entirely illegal. Animals do not pay taxes, are not answerable under law for their many crimes and generally pay very little part in the general modern prosperity in which they are happy to share. We must, in future, educate our children to be aware of the dangers to democracy and progress presented by animals and hope that never again will the population be tempted to side with the extremists and terrorists who claim that animals’ so-called ‘lives’ are in some way more important than the fully authorised requirements of the Business Community."

Hog-nob with the stars - subscribe!

THE PORK-BOLTER is an independent newsletter for Worthing with a newly-discovered talent for fund-raising for local schools in conjunction with TV comedians. If you want to make sure of getting a copy of issue 35, simply send us a stamped self-addressed envelope. To get the next six issues send a donation of at least £2 to cover costs. Copies of back issues are still available. Copies of back issues are still available. You can get issues 1 to 30 under one cover in The Whole Hog, our special compilation, for a £2 donation. Cheques/postal orders made payable to The Pork-Bolter. email subscriptions also available. Drop us a line: porkbolter@eco-action.org or PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 7NZ. website: http://www.eco-action.org/porkbolter

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and finally ... Be a model citizen - obey, conform, consume!