the pork-bolter
No 43, February 2002

Defying the bulldozers

ANGRY local people are gearing up for a massive campaign of resistance against plans to wreck the countryside around Titnore Lane in Durrington. A protest walk is to be held - watch this space for details - and individuals are signing "Direct Action pledges" to indicate the strength of their resolve (e-mail pledges also accepted, simply declaring you are prepared to take direct action to stop this development). Protect Our Woodland (POW!) has already set up its own web pages on the internet http://www.worthinga27.freeserve.co.uk and made important links with people fighting similar campaigns elsewhere in the country. It is reporting significant interest in the issue from outside the area, with a Newbury-style national protest camp a very real possibility if the scheme is pushed ahead. While houses are being built over green fields all the time, the plans for Titnore Lane are particularly shocking. The 800 houses, plus new road and industrial estate, would be built over a precious area of ancient woodland that is a green oasis in the middle of our urbanised coastal metropolis. Explained a POW! spokesman in a special press briefing: "Titnore and Goring are one of only two ancient woodland complexes surviving on the coastal plain of Sussex and the other one (Binsted Woods at Arundel) is also threatened by development, from the proposed Arundel A27 bypass. This woodland gives the lie to the notion that Beech is the only real tree of the South Downs. It shows the way our Downland woods would have looked 200 years ago, before the age of regimented plantations." As usual, this desecration of our heritage is being engineered by people for whom money seems to be the one and only thing worth having. The land at Titnore, and nearby Clapham, is all owned by the Somerset family - relatives of Lord Raglan - who have dominated the area for generations and now stand to make millions. The "proposed urban extension" is being plotted by an unholy trio of property developers - Heron, Persimmon and Bryant Homes - who are also out to maximise profit by flogging executive houses to rich yuppies commuting to London. Said a POW! spokesman: "At best 25% of these homes will be (arguably) affordable or social. The prospect of their own home is already beyond the reach of many poorer people in Sussex towns (let alone the posh countryside). This will only distort the housing market against the interests of those most in need." Another POW! supporter has told us that, although it is hoped the planning application could still be halted, it may be that the deal has already been stitched up between the money-men and their chums who run the planning authorities. Opponents realise full well that direct action - non-violent but effective - will in all likelihood be needed to halt the march of the bulldozers, he said. He added: "Who knows if we can win. We’re up against some very powerful forces. But you just can’t sit back all your life and watch your world being destroyed by these evil b*****s. You have to draw the line somewhere and a lot of people are deciding to draw the line in Titnore Woods." Contact POW! by email at pow@worthinga27.freeserve.co.uk or by post c/o PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. There is a POW! meeting upstairs at The Downview pub opposite West Worthing station on Tuesday March 5, 7.45pm.

Kids get one-to-one with cancer

HOW many people are going to have to suffer disease and even death before our complacent authorities will take seriously the threat to health from mobile phone masts? Internationally, alarm is growing over the menace. A sudden outbreak of cancer at a primary school in Valladolid, Spain, led to parents pulling their kids out of classes until the masts were shut down, reported The Guardian on January 12. Said local doctor and parent Luis Martin: "In 32 years there had never been a case of cancer here but since they installed the antennae in 2000, four children have fallen seriously ill. We don’t believe this is a coincidence. The antennae were placed so close to the playground that the children have been affected by the electromagnetic waves." The International Agency for Research on Cancer has shown a link between child cancer and electromagnetic fields and the World Health Organisation recognises them as a probable or possible cause of cancer. In this country, even establishment scientists are advising children to keep their mobile phones away from their heads and laps as much as possible. Biologist Sir William Stewart is hardly a maverick or an alarmist - he chairs the management committee overseeing research funded by the government and the mobile phone industry. But he has admitted (The Guardian, January 26) that he is not prepared to let his grandchildren, aged five and four, use mobiles because of health risks. Meanwhile, Worthing Borough Council is seemingly oblivious to the danger signs (or too scared to upset powerful telecommuncations firms?). Reported the Worthing Advertiser (January 2): "Borough planners have approved plans to install two telecommunications masts on the Northbrook Trading Estate and the Littlehampton Road in Worthing." This was despite a petition by 80 residents and objections by staff and students at Northbrook College. The permitted mast, you see, will be just 45 metres from the college creche, which serves children between the ages of two and five. But then what does the health of little children matter next to the need for corporate profits and economic growth?

Old cage pensioners

A STUNNING and imaginative new scheme has been devised to solve Worthing’s hospital and nursing home bed crisis. A humanitarian Holiday Camp X-Ray for the borough’s excess old folk is to be built near the sewage works in East Worthing. The project is to be masterminded by American firm Enruin Inc which has a proven track record with a similar prestige project in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Under a miraculous Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangement, Worthing’s council tax payers will pay nothing towards the cost for the first six months - and then £2,000 billion a month (each) for the next 875 years. If the camp does not get the go-ahead, say experts, Worthing could face bed-blocking bedlam and a repeat of the notoriously violent retirement home uprisings and OAP intifada of the late 1970s. Enruin chief executive George W Pretzel brushed aside criticism from some quarters that the Holiday Camp scheme was a total outrage. He said: "As far as I’m concerned, the hand-wringing liberals and terrorist appeasers can go back and live in Littlehampton where they belong. "These are not just ordinary excess labour units we’re talking about holding at X-Ray, but illegally antiquated 20th century models that have no place in our progressive modern democratic corporate paradise. "For too many years these evil Grey Block parasites have been eroding the very basis of our sacred economy with their incessant and selfish demands for money to keep themselves alive. "I do not think anyone in their right mind would see anything wrong with chaining these hard-line old-age-pensionists in outdoor cages with concrete floors and dressing them in orange boiler suits bearing the legend ‘Worthing - Centre for Business, Leisure and Shopping’. We are respecting their culture by providing a back copy of Reader’s Digest in each and every cage. They should just be grateful we have not shot them dead or even made them attend Thursday afternoon Wurlitzer organ recitals at the Pavilion Theatre."

Jobsworth joy

WHAT a wonderful country this is becoming. The latest splendid development is that a "a new army of uniformed civilian patrols and community support officers" is to be unleashed on us all (The Guardian, Jan 26). Under the new police reform bill these "police auxiliaries" will have the power to issue on the spot fines for a range of "anti-social behaviour offences" such as disorder, littering and the heinous crime of cycling on the pavement. They will be authorised to steal alcohol from people enjoying a drink in the street (remember - only the rich are allowed to have fun in Blairite Britain) and nick fags from under-age smokers. They will also apparently be able to stop and demand the name and address of anyone who has been "acting in an anti-social manner" - and detain them until the police arrive if they decline to co-operate. Here’s one to mull over at home. What kind of people do you think are going to be attracted to a job as a uniformed busybody with the power to stick their nose in other people’s business and pass judgement on what is or isn’t "anti-social behaviour"? Who are their prejudices likely to favour and target? Is the cause of justice and quality of life for all likely to be enhanced or undermined by their existence?

Protesters in court

FIVE people were up at Worthing Magistrates Court on January 23 following December’s peaceful protest at Euromin at Shoreham docks. The protest had been organised by the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign following the acquittal of Euromin and its general manager, James Martell, on manslaughter charges over the young casual worker’s untimely and unnecessary death at work (see issue 42). The five have been charged under section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 for ‘besetting’, to which they will be pleading not guilty, and the case was adjourned. One of the accused, Carly North, 25, of Craven Vale, Brighton, a single mum and friend of Simon’s, said: "My friend died and the company that killed him gets off with a fine. I sit in their office for a couple of hours and get charged as if I’m the criminal. It was when I was getting fingerprinted and DNAed I thought, ‘no, this isn’t right’. I just wish the police and the powers that be would put more effort and resources into arresting managers who risk their employees’ lives without people having to organise protests to make them. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that that would make a lot more sense than charging people who are trying to prevent more deaths."

Signs of madness

WHAT a load of old pigswill the borough council talks. Latest example surrounds the spending of £150,000 council tax money on 12 signs showing the number of spaces available at the town’s four multi-storey car parks. David Chapman, who enjoys the snappy title of "executive member for economic development and marketing" (which can probably be translated as "chucking money in the direction of businesses and pretending it’s not a waste of our money") told the Worthing Herald (January 10): "This will reduce unnecessary journeys around the town centre and improve environmental conditions." On the other hand, making it easier to find a parking space might actually encourage people to drive in to town, where they might not have done. A more effective use of the dosh might have been to build a few cycle lanes or even to improve the bus service into town - but then cyclists and bus passengers can’t carry away as many bags of shopping from the town centre shops run by the council’s business chums...

China crisis is no choke

COUNCIL sources are strenuously denying reports that a leading councillor had serious problems swallowing on a fortune cookie brought back by the recent controversial delegation to the international towns in bloom contest in China. Said a spokesman: "It would be extremely libellous to suggest that a senior borough figure could have virtually choked to death on his own future."

Not so fare on buses

WEST Sussex County Council has strange financial priorities. On November 23 a Rustington resident received a reply from chief executive Paul Rigg about a complaint she had made over reduced bus services. He explained that the cuts had come "in the light of our budget situation, which regretfully means withdrawing financial support for lightly used bus journeys throughout the County." Later he added: "I appreciate the problems caused to passengers who rely on the bus service for work or leisure purposes, but I hope you can understand that we have been left with little choice in making these withdrawals." Can this be the same West Sussex County Council that, in its latest Connections propaganda-sheet, is astonishingly up-beat about the prospects for public transport? Mark Miller of Transport Planning Services can hardly contain his excitement at the news that a new study is to be carried out which "will initiate surveys, establish focus groups and hold meetings across the county to seek and analyse the views of those who use passenger transport as well as those who are non-users." He adds that "the overall aims of the review include an assessment of the levels and quality of service required to meet the travel aspirations of all residents..." All this vital work is to be carried out not by the council itself but by "a company of leading consultants". Given the "budget situation" at county hall, does it seem wise to spend huge amount of our money on consultants to tell us that our "aspirations" are for buses that actually turn up and take us where we want to go? Could it be that the money would be better spent on providing more actual buses, or paying bus drivers a decent wage? Why not let Mark know on 01243 777811.

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

ARTISTS and performers from Worthing are making plans for a bigger and better Fringe Festival for 2002. A long term aim of Sunny Worthing Arts Group, or SWAG, is to see an arts centre in the town. For more info contact Dick on 01903 232875.
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A BOOK for Sussex soil lovers. Seedy Business - tales from an allotment shed by Warren Carter contains interviews with ten people who used to live in the Moulsecoomb and Hollingdean area when it was a mixture of allotments, small holdings, orchards and pig farms. The final chapter talks about the Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project community gardens and tries to link the past with the present and how allotments and growing your own are enjoying something of a renaissance. Copies of the book are available for £3.50 from Brighton Peace Centre or check it out on the web http://www.seedybusiness.org
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A NOSTALGIC item in the Worthing Herald (January 17) recalled the comments of Worthing police superintendent SC Holmes regarding the crowds for the 1935 royal jubilee celebrations. He said: "I have never seen a better-tempered crowd in my life. We had no trouble at all - they were as good as policemen." Seven decades on, in an age of armed riot-cops, shootings, deaths in custody and widespread thuggery and corruption, his description might not exactly be taken as a compliment...
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IF you prefer your vegetables pesticide-free and don’t like giving your custom to the supermarket fat cats, why not order a regular organic veggie box? For a pick-up point in West Worthing, phone 01903 206527.

Warning: The gloves are off

Everything has changed since September 11 2001, comments a spokesman for the Ministry of the Brave New World. He explains: "Thanks to the public’s heart-warming gullibility in the aftermath of the Twin Towers attack, we now realise it is possible to get away with doing anything we like, anywhere in the world, for as long as we like and for no good reason. War is Peace. Dissent is Terrorism. Power is Democracy. Profits are Justice. Obedience is Freedom. Long Live the New Thousand Year Reich of Totalitarian Capitalism!"

Sty level view of Worthing

THE PORK-BOLTER is Worthing’s one and only independent monthly newsletter. It is run by local people through donations and voluntary efforts and completely autonomous. That’s why it tends to say things you don’t read elsewhere. It’s been going for more than four years now and if you want to see some back issues just send a quid or two to cover the costs. To get a copy of the next six issues, send a donation of at least £3, making out cheques or postal orders to The Pork-Bolter. Drop us a line at PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. You can also pay a visit to our website at http://www.eco-action.org/porkbolter or send e-mail porkbolter@eco-action.org. e-mail subscriptions are also available.

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright.No pretence at democracy any more.


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

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