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Issue 4 - February 1998

TAMWORTH TWO SOLIDARITY ISSUE


DEMOCRACY DENIED

IF THERE are any simple-minded souls out there who still think we live in a "democracy", they should take a careful look at the current scandal over house-building. Central Government is insisting that 12,800 extra new houses are slapped onto the already shrinking West Sussex countryside over the next 13 years. West Sussex county Council had already agreed to allow 37,900 new houses, but this was not good enough, apparently, and the county Structure Plan was simply overruled by Whitehall.
Great! So what was the point in all those months and months of "consultation" with local councils, groups and communities? The equivalent of another Basingstoke is going to be built all over our fields and meadows. Nobody here wants it (except property developers, needless to say!) and yet there is no way, within our marvellously "democratic" system, that we can do anything about stopping it!
It gets worse! Did you know that, as well as being ultimately powerless in the face of central power, local councils are even gagged from criticising the Government? This rule was brought in by Maggie Thatcher back in the 1980s and allowed the tories to clamp down on Derek Hatton-type Labour councils who were said to be using rate-payers' money for political ends. It is a well-known saying that whoever you vote for in a general election, the Government always gets in, and that Government is now protected from "political" criticism of its war on the Sussex countryside by local councils in their press releases and agenda papers. If they break the rule of silence, council officials can find themselves in court.
Here are three questions for readers to mull over at their own leisure ...
  1. To what extent does the Government not really represent the electorate, as it always claims, but the financial interests of business organisations like the National Housebuilders' Federation?
  2. Outrage over the Government decision has been widespread, but by what legal, democratic means can it realistically be reversed?
  3. Why do you think more and more people are resorting to direct action to protect the countryside and why do you think Government is passing more and more laws to stop them? (see also question 1)

NEW HOMES FOR THE RICH

IT is one of the great ironies of 1990s England that for all the new housing estates springing up in what used to be our countryside, homelessness is still rife. And even when every last inch of our land has been concreted over in the name of "progress" and "development", there will still be people forced to live in the gutters. This is because new houses are not built to provide people with a home, but to sell them one. How many of the thousands of new houses going up in West Sussex are going to be affordable by the people who really need them? The bigger the house, the greater the profit for the property developers.
We have enough big executive homes for London commuters in West Sussex. the so-called "need" for these homes is partly invented, partly created by the housing industry to line thier own pockets. The population is not increasing - those who can afford it are just taking up more room as part of their selfish consumer lifestyles. There are something like half a million empty properties - potential homes - in south east England (like the empty flats over shops in Warwick Street), which could and should be used to house local people in their own towns.
Second homes for the wealthy are another aberration. It was nice to see Worthing MP Peter Bottomley defend the proposed Xmas refuge for the homeless in the local press, in the face of loud protests from some - but not all - residents. But this is a man who acquired and extra "home" in Worthing just so he could pretend he lives here, instead of with wife Virginia in Surrey's stockbroker belt!

PORK-BOLTERS HOG HEADLINES

THE PORK-BOLTER is a totally independent newsletter allied to no political party and with the aim of defending the ordinary people of Worthing against all the authorities, businesses and institutions constantly trying to rip us off and keep us in the dark. Our name comes from an ancient nick-name for Worthing people dating back to fishing village days. We did not name ourselves after those runaway pigs, the Tamworth Two, you may have seen on the telly and in the papers not so long ago, but we would like to dedicate this issue to those real-life pork-bolters, who showed such guts and initiative in saving their bacon and escaping the slaughter-house. They'd better watch out, though - with a record of rebellion like that they're bound to have their mobile phones monitored by Pig Brother.

DIRECT LINE TO BIG BROTHER

MOBILE phones are made out in the adverts to be all about freedom and independence. BUT now it turns out that the exact opposite is true. They can be - and are being - used as a sinister police state device to track people's every movement. Computer records are even kept for six months, meaning that once the authorities take an interest in someone, they can immediately tap into the details of their recent "private" lives.
It has long been known that the state listens in to the phone calls of anyone it thinks is some sort of threat. And this doesn't just mean "terrorists". Trade union officials, environmental campaigners, political dissidents - anyone who has the gall to actually disagree with the powers-that-be in London is considered fair game for the Big Brother treatment. For instance, if you think it's wrong for half the Sussex countryside to be covered in concrete (see Democracy Denied) it could be you! But the mobile phone situation is even more sinister, as it means people's actual movements are being logged, whether or not they are actually speaking on the phone (it just has to be switched on). The scandal was unearthed by a Sunday newspaper in Switzerland. Reported The Guardian on January 3: "When British mobile phone companies were asked, they too admitted that on production of a court order they will allow law enforcement agencies access to their computer records."
This has all obviously been going on for years. It has emerged that the Russians used mobile phone tracking to murder a Chechen rebel leader - they sent a laser-guided missile to his exact location when he was on his mobile to King Hassan discussing moves for peace! The use of the cellular phone network for state surveillance also sheds new light on a planning mystery that has been worrying people all over Sussex for the last few years. Why are mobile phone firms allowed to put up massive masts all over the Downs, and anywhere else they fancy, without having to get the planning permission that everybody else needs to build anything much more than a birdbath in their back garden? This must be partly down to successive Governments' crawling attitude to big business - they even let different firms put up rival masts to cover the very same areas. But perhaps they also exempted the mast network from planning restriction and public scrutiny because it forms an important part of the high-tech infrastructure of total control that our power-hungry rulers are keen to put into place across the country, for reasons which can only be regarded as frightening and ominous in the extreme.

NO FRIENDS OF HIGGINS

BAD news for readers looking forward to the chance to dress up as Worthing's former MP, Lord Higgins, the man who won the hearts of the town by representing us for 30 years without ever insisting on living here. It seems that reports of a society formed in his honour by grateful citizens in the town were not 100 per cent accurate and we would like to put it on record that there are in fact no Friends of Lord Higgins in Worthing. You may recall that we also ran a Good Lord competition, inviting readers to complete the following sentence in no more than 12 words. "I think Terence Higgins deserved his peerage and the Freedom of Worthing because ..." We received an enormous number of entries, including one or two that were not openly abusive of the Conservative peer. One in particular was signed "Terence Higgins" but since it gave a Worthing address and was postmarked locally, it was clearly an outrageous hoax. A close second was the entrant who praised Lord H's brave commitment to "slapping a f***ing great motorway all over the South Downs", but the winner is the reader who said Terence Higgins deserved his accolades "because of all the great work he has done for AIDS victims." Hear, hear!

FREE STREET PARTY ON FEB 14

A FREE street party is being staged in Worthing town centre to celebrate Love the Earth Day on Saturday February 14. We cannot tell you who is organising the event because the information came to us anonymously. But we can pass on the message that opposition to car-culture and traffic pollution is the inspiration behind the event, while the idea on the day is simply to "have some fun". Party-goers are invited to "bring what you expect to find". Remember not to break any laws or anything, right? Meeting place is the green by Heene Terrace, on the seafront (near the Irish bar) at 12 noon on Saturday Feb 14.

LIFE'S A RIOT FOR SUSSEX COPS

THE end of one Millennium and the start of a new one will be seen by most of us as a good excuse for a bit of a celebration, probably in the company of our closest friends or family. But for the control-freaks at Sussex Police, celebrating the arrival of the year 2000 means another excuse for throwing their weight around and spoiling other people's fun. An article in the force's Patrol magazine starts off by suggesting that the party-pooping initiative is all about "putting safety first". But by the third paragraph it is revealing that the police are part of a Sussex Millennium Management Group "which has been set up to comprehensively evaluate the public order impact of the end of the Millennium". In other words, the cops are scared that the whole of Sussex is going to erupt into rioting when the 20th century comes to an end!
But don't worry - the Sussex constabulary is determined to ensure that not so much as a party popper will go off anywhere in the county without a vanload of baton-wielding shock troops ready to smash the door down and restore sobriety. Amazingly enough, they have been working on this major threat to law and order since 1996 and have already cancelled all leave for 31 December 1999 to 2 January 2000! Adds Supt Geoff Rands: "We are looking to spread our intelligence net well before the turn of the year, everything during 1999 will have a heightened significance. The likelihood of increased activity at any event has to be taken into consideration." You would have thought that once in a thousand years it would be OK for us to let our hair down - but apparently not.

PORKY PIE'S TIP OF THE MONTH:

How to Wind-up the Secret Police
  1. Get a mobile phone.
  2. Make lots of phone calls to dodgy people to draw attention to yourself.
  3. Switch on the phone, wrap it up and pop it in the post to Mobile Phone Tracking Dept, MI5.
  4. Red alert! They think you have infiltrated their HQ to blow it up!
  5. Phone your mobile number and laugh long and hard!

CLUB 76-112
IT has been pointed out to us that our statement in the last issue's Porky Pie's Tip, asserting that all councillors are aged between the ages of 76 to 112, should not in fact be taken wholly seriously. Cllr Bertie Backhander, aged 113, told us he was distinctly unimpressed. There has, furthermore, been an initial sighting by a Pork-Bolter of a self-confessed councillor appearing to be under the age of 35, though this is as yet unconfirmed.


PORK SCRATCHINGS

CONGRATULATIONS to Worthing police for being the first boys in blue ever to stage their own Reclaim the Streets type event. The eco-warriors from the cop shop leapt into action as Worthing town centre ground to a halt during the Christmas shopping rush. Borough council staff were in danger of relieving the gridlock around Chatsworth Road by using a pelican crossing to control traffic - until the police turned up and told them it was illegal, thus ensuring that the maximum disruption was caused to the town centre and the case against car-culture was hammered home! No doubt they'll be there in force on February 14.
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WELL done also to Worthing MPs Peter Bottomley and Tim Loughton for signing the Early Day Motion in favour of the Road Traffic Reduction (UK Targets) Bill, along with some 400 other MPs. We will update you in the next issue as to whether they actually turned up and voted for it on Friday January 30.
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CHRISTIAN AID has been banned from running a TV advertising drive on the problems of Third World debt. Behind-the-scenes pressures led the British Advertising Clearance Centre to rule that the advert, which shows how debt payments prevent developing countries investing in health care, contravened its guidelines - which presumably say that adverts must never, ever, under any circumstances, tell the truth.
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A FREE counselling service for 13-25 year olds is now being offered by Worthing's Information Shop for Young People at Marine Place, off Warwick Street. It also offers free shower and laundry facilities for young people without a permanent home, cheap food and drink and a confidential freephone advice and information number on 0800 511111. The centre opens 1pm-4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 1pm-5pm on Thursdays. Manager Dave Sax says he hopes to expand hours and services still further.
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THINK PIG! THINK PORK-BOLTER If you want to make sure of getting a copy of issue 5, simply send us a stamped, self-addressed envelope. To get the next six issues send a donation of at least £2. Please think about making it a bit more, if you really want to help us. We promise not to tell anyone under normal circumstances, but we should point out that, in line with Government regulations, we will have to publish the names of anyone donating more than £50,000. Sorry about that. Copies of issues 1, 2 & 3 are also available. 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

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright coz information is freedom, innit?

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OFFICIAL WARNING Cunning and devious out-of-control pigs are a serious menace to public safety in 1990s England. DO NOT allow these irresponsible creatures to mess about with your mobile phone, interfere with road traffic or gatecrash your parties.
and finally ... DON'T GET ANGRY, GET ACTIVE!