the pork-bolter
No 46, July 2002

350 march on Titnore!

A SUPERB show of defiance from hundreds of people has really thrown the gauntlet down in the bid to save Durrington’s Titnore Woods from the bulldozers. Some 350 people ignored efforts by police to declare the Protect Our Woodland (POW!) protest "illegal" and scare them off taking part. The protesters, young and old, gathered at the southern end of Titnore Lane outside Northbrook College from about 1.40pm on Sunday May 26. Then at around 2.20pm, as police with loud hailers looked likely to try and order their dispersal, they moved off en masse up the lane, whistles blowing, banners flying and chants ringing out of "No more houses - Save our woods!" The unstoppable mass forced police to divert traffic as the procession travelled the whole length of Titnore Lane and back, closing the A-road for a couple of hours. This was a strong-willed but good-natured crowd, as early police statements in the press admitted. The next day’s Evening Argus quoted the police as saying: "They were a friendly group who have made their protest lawfully and peacefully." But while local coppers may well understand and even sympathise with the residents’ anger at the plans for a 900-house estate and road widening on green fields and ancient woodland, there are clearly elements in the police who are openly hostile. Many people on the demonstration were outraged to find they were being filmed by police "evidence gatherers" using aggressive "in-your-face" tactics. Why the need for this if nobody was doing anything wrong? At the end of the protest, on the A259 roundabout, police decided to arrest one man, a youth and a woman. Charges against the woman are still pending so we cannot comment further on this until the case has been heard - or the charges dropped before it ever comes to court. There were further instances of harassment both before and after the event. Reports have reached us of people leafletting to publicise the protest in a supermarket car park being followed and videoed by a phalanx of police the day before the march and of local residents being intimidated by constant visits from police demanding to know who was "organising" the protest. A public manifestation of this hostile attitude has come in the Worthing Guardian, which seems to be the police’s chosen mouthpiece - perhaps because, being a free sheet, it has wide circulation. Friday May 24’s edition, delivered over the weekend of the protest, carried the huge front page headline "Don’t Walk Into Trees Trouble", warning that "militant eco-activists will take over the demonstration". PC Mark Stevens was quoted as saying: "If an undesirable element takes over, the local people are tarred with the militants’ brush." Faced with the actual reality of hundreds of local people turning out on the day, PC Stevens still tried to pretend that he had been right all along and in the following week’s Worthing Guardian rebutted the statement from POW! that all three arrested people had been local. In the face of a complaint to the editor by POW!, PC Stevens still refused to admit he had got it wrong, claiming that by "not local" he meant from Worthing rather than Durrington!! So how come the police are getting involved in what is really a battle between local people and property developers? What’s it got to do with them? It strikes us that this is a classic example of where upholding "the law" has got nothing to do with upholding justice or telling the difference between right or wrong. If greedy millionaire developers like convicted criminal Gerald Ronson go ahead and chop down hundreds of ancient trees at Titnore Woods they will be, in the eyes of most people, committing a terrible crime. But, if they have permission from the council, they will be acting within the law and so, as far as the police are concerned, have to be protected from the people opposing their scheme - who, although they are in the moral right, are thus regarded as criminals. The intimidation and harassment of protesters - ordinary men, women and children out to express an honestly held view - is nothing new, Sadly it happens all the time. When the police are behind it, it’s often referred to as the "criminalisation of dissent". When the Government does it, it’s called a smear campaign - such as in the case of the rail crash survivor on whom Tony Blair’s spin doctors wanted to "dig some dirt". The aim of both approaches is identical and chilling. Anyone who challenges the powers-that-be has to be stamped down on in any way possible. It’s up to us all to make sure they don’t get away with it. * Anyone who witnessed the arrests at the Titnore Lane demo and is willing to give evidence in court is asked to get in touch with POW! at pow@worthinga27.freeserve.co.uk

Police border on the absurd

POLICE are this week erecting extra check points around Durringtonia to keep unwanted foreigners at bay. Said a force spokesman: "We have reports that intruders have been spotted in our territory who are certainly not local residents, but have been travelling thousands of yards from as far away as the People’s Republic of East Worthing. We are implementing a zero tolerance policy towards these alien elements and will be fortifying Durringtonia’s borders." Among the measures likely to be introduced are 24-hour door-to-door passport checks and high-voltage electric fences along the relatively unthreatened western and northern borders of Durringtonia to prevent incursions from the Ferring Empire and the United States of Salvington. The Goring Gap is to be mined and the main border protecting Durringtonia from the hostile hordes of the Worthing Pact nations is to be boosted by more than 300 new machine gun nests. At the same time Durringtonians are being advised not to venture into distant foreign lands as their safety cannot be guaranteed in the wake of recent border tensions. Said the police spokesman: "We have heard of residents foolishly venturing into the Far East as far as a mysterious and dangerous place known only as Lan-Sing. "This area is clearly beyond the limits of civilization as we know it and residents should be advised that if they proceed any further along the A27 in an easterly direction they will quite literally drop off the end of the world."

Crisis looms in Byron Road

WORTHING’S only homeless hostel is teetering on the brink of crisis, a staff member has told The Porkbolter. Stressed-out workers are struggling to cope with understaffing, while vulnerable people are not getting the support they so badly need, she warned. She came to us in the hope of sparking a badly-needed shake-up, after pleas for action from staff to the Worthing Churches Homeless Project fell on deaf ears. The project insists it cannot afford to improve the situation, but is still pouring resources into other projects in the town. While the worker is obviously fully behind the project in principle - that’s why she works there - she highlighted a number of areas that urgently need attention. Fundamentally, these include what she regards as a lack of understanding of homeless people by the well-meaning people running the project. She explained that the front-line hostel in Byron Road, Worthing is a "clean and dry" institution, which means homeless people face being thrown out and banned if they fail alcohol or drugs tests. The set-up is supposed to support "motivational interviewing", she said, but in fact is just paying lip service to the idea. Instead they are "putting people on the street rather than talking to them". Twice in the last three months heroin users in recovery have tested positive for cannabis and been thrown out on to the street, where they are obviously vulnerable and more likely to return to their old lifestyle. Finances are another bone of contention, with undermanning being put down to lack of resources. The project worker explained that the organisation is paid £270 per resident per week in housing benefit from the council per person, plus each resident has to pay another £23 a week from their own benefits. With 14 beds, this adds up to more than £4,000 a week income, not counting other funding. However the organisation can apparently only afford to pay one project worker per nine-hour shift at a rate of £5.38 an hour. The workers are expected to stay awake all night on this flat rate, with female staff being left alone in charge of the predominantly male residents - managers are only present from 9 to 5pm Monday to Friday. The employee said the organisation insists it cannot afford to pay for more staff. "If that’s the case they should close down all external operations", she said, pointing to schemes such as an outreach project, clinic, and the Stepping Stones project in Manor Road. "If they cannot afford to have at least two staff on duty they should concentrate resources." She explained that she has to answer the door and the phone, prepare meals, deal with administration and provide on-demand counselling. "I can’t do my job properly in these nine hours". As a result of these stressed conditions, one worker has recently gone sick with stress and another handed in their notice. People are even asked to work double shifts, back-to-back, being on duty non-stop from, say, 2pm to 7am, she revealed. If they question this they are told that the only alternative is to immediately close the hostel down and turn residents our onto the streets - "and they know we are not going to abandon it". We are sending this issue of The Porkbolter to the project. We hope they will read the comments carefully and that we will be able to report before long of some useful change. There is no room for complacency. A recent borough council report (Worthing Guardian, May 31) showed that Worthing is the second most deprived local authority area in West Sussex. And a report on research from charity Shelter (Worthing Advertiser, June 5) warned: "People in West Sussex are at risk of losing their homes owing to financial difficulties and the high cost of housing." In the light of worse times ahead, it is clearly vital that the only shelter scheme for homeless people in Worthing gets its act together - fast.

Missing Asda link?

STRANGE goings-on in the controversy over Asda/Wal-Mart’s plans for a superstore at Worthing Sixth Form College. At a meeting with local residents, Worthing council planning supremo Mike Bleakley revealed that he had requested a "retail impact assessment" on the scheme by "Chase and Co". This left several people wondering who these Chase people are. Where better to turn to than www.chase.com, where we learn: "Chase is the retail financial services franchise within JPMorgan Chase. The merger of The Chase Manhattan Corporation and J.P. Morgan & Co Incorporated was completed on December 31, 2000." Coincidentally there is a certain 1996 news item still handily available to net surfers on www.cardweb.com. This concerns the launch in the USA of a new credit card, called the Wal-Mart MasterCard from Chase, which "aligns the world’s largest retailer with Chase Manhattan, the nation’s largest bank, and MasterCard." David Glass, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, is quoted as saying: "This is the first time we have allowed the Wal-Mart name to be co-branded" and we learn how very pleased MasterCard is to "work with such valued partners as Wal-Mart and Chase on one of the most important co-branding programs ever launched". So let’s get this straight. Can it really be that Worthing Borough Council is asking for a report on the impact of Asda/Wal-Mart on the local area from a US corporation that is proud to be one of Wal-Mart’s best chums? Surely that wouldn’t be right, would it? * NO to Asda campaigners are gathering at Worthing Town Hall for a protest and petition hand-over on Monday, July 1 at 5.30pm. All support welcome.

Movers and shakers

WHAT an extraordinary reaction from Tory councillor John "Two Votes" Livermore over the way the Asda proposals may have cost his party the local elections. In a letter to the Worthing Herald on May 16 he condemned the "thoughtless and in my view totally irresponsible actions of Worthing College" in releasing details of the plan before the election, thus making it a big issue. In other words, he felt they should have hushed up the plans until the Tories were safely re-elected, thus sparing them the unpleasantness of being answerable to the electorate for their decisions! But why would Mr Livermore have expected a political favour on that scale from the college in the first place? The answer may lie in a reference to the Tories’ pet "Worthing Together" project in the Worthing Herald on May 23. This is apparently a "local strategic partnership" involving "movers and shakers" in the borough - ie the usual old smug ruling clique. And who is new chairman of this cosy Tory-approved body? Why, none other than John Robinson, principal of Worthing College...

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

ON the back of TV exposure on Channel 4’s Mark Thomas Product, the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign has released its new updated video Not This Time - and Worthing is one of the places it is to be shown. Simon was killed on 24th April 1998, aged 24, on his first day as a casual worker at Shoreham docks - another victim of our growing casual labour economy. He was sent to work unloading cargo inside a ship - one of the most dangerous jobs in the country - with only a few minutes’ "training". Within hours of starting work his head was almost severed by the grab of a crane. Said a spokesman for the Brighton-based campaign: "The growth of casualisation, where people are forced into low paid jobs with little or no training, no job security, no sick pay and no holiday pay means bigger profits for companies - and more deaths and injuries for the people working for them." The video, plus campaign speaker, can be seen from 7.45pm on Tuesday July 23 in the upstairs function room at The Downview pub, opposite West Worthing station (direct access to the room via the side entrance in Downview Road). The campaign has a website at http://www.simonjones.org.uk or write to Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, PO Box 2600, Brighton BN2 2DX.
* * *

FOLLOWING the spot of bother on the prom after the England v Sweden game (bit more trouble than those terrible Titnore campaigners you were so het up about, weren’t they, PC Stevens?), pub-goers were surprised to find that evening that they couldn’t be served if they were wearing England kit or any kind of national badge, including union jack motifs. What an appropriate way for Worthing to celebrate the golden jubilee weekend!
* * *

POOR Tim Dice. First his Tory group lost control of Worthing Borough Council and then he noticed - horror of horrors - that the flag flying outside the beach office on the seafront to mark the jubilee was upside down. Thankfully we gather he was able to despatch a speedy email to ensure the mistake was corrected and Worthing was spared national humiliation. What would we do without him?
* * *

A REFRESHING alternative to the handful of cheesy forelock-tugging royalist street parties was the Dub Jubilee and skateboarding event in Homefield Park. Shame about the chilly weather - let's hope there's another one soon.
* * *

SHOULD Brighton be made the European Capital of Culture for 2008? You may not have given it much thought as yet, but a highly thought-provoking leaflet opposing the suggestion has been published by residents of the city down the road. Contrasting the very real social problems facing Brighton with the complacent vanity involved in the promotion of its "cultural" status, the authors comment: "A stale cake is a stale cake, even if you smother it with icing and stick a cherry on top." Shades of the palm trees on Worthing seafront, there... Send SAE to BASH!, PO Box 521, Hove.
* * *

WHY do developers Hargreaves of Rustington seem so confident they will be allowed to build 90 houses on downland west of Lyons Farm, Worthing - when a planning application hasn't even been submitted yet? That's the question from the Beeches Avenue action group, who recently handed in 250 objections to the area being allocated for development, with more to come. Any inside info gratefully received, as ever...
* * *

SICK to death of biased coverage of important issues on the TV news? If you’ve got internet access why not bypass the dodgy middle man and go straight to the scene of the action with http://www.uk.indymedia.org Meanwhile, global conspiracy theorists might like to take a look at US site http://emperors-clothes.com

There are no real protesters

ALL protesters are imposters and therefore should be ignored and reported to the police by upright, law-abiding citizens, said the Secretary of State for Free Speech and Social Obedience yesterday. He explained: "Basically, all protesters fall into one of two categories. Either you have your NIMBY local residents, selfish and small-minded egotists just trying to shift problems away from their own neighbourhood at other people’s expense. Or, on the other hand, you have your outside non-local agitator-type protesters, who get involved trying to whip up a commotion about local issues that are absolutely none of their concern. Neither type of protester is acceptable in a pluralist democracy such as ours and any statement to the contrary is completely illegal."

Are you local?

THE PORK-BOLTER, set up in 1997, has always been proud to be a local independent newsletter, but we realise that under new police definitions, we may not qualify as "local" to your address unless we are actually kipping on your sofa. 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. By Appointment to Peter Bottomley MP.


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

back to main index

main index