the pork-bolter
ISSUE 88, OCTOBER 2008

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Destroying our woods is wrong, wrong, wrong!

IT'S COMFORTING to know, in these very uncomfortable times, that ordinary people can still tell the difference between right and wrong. This was superbly displayed by the trial of the Greenpeace protesters who climbed up a power station chimney as part of their campaign against burning coal for power.

Having heard from a number of highly respected expert witnesses about the serious threat posed by climate change, the jury decided that compared to wiping out millions of lives and wrecking the planet's environment for ever, daubing the word 'Gordon' on a chimney in a desperate bid to get somebody to stop the madness did not amount to a crime.

The direct action protesters walked free and, although this does not officially count as a legal precedent, many others will have taken note of this triumph of common sense over a 'justice' system that is so biased in favour of property, wealth and power. The same moral viewpoint applies to Titnore Woods at Durrington and the long battle to save it from the clutches of greedy property developers. Aided and abetted by Worthing Borough Council, the developers (Heron, Persimmon and TaylorWimpey) are trying to pretend that the 'new' application for the 875-home housing estate (to rise to 1,200 in subsequent phases), is in some way 'green' and will spare many of the Titnore trees.

But, like the original plans, it includes access roads that will cut right through the beautiful ancient woodland currently occupied by the protest camp. A wood is no longer a viable bio-system with a road cutting it in half. Wildlife like dormice and crested newts will not survive in what will be no more than roadside clumps of trees surrounded by tarmac, executive homes and a mega-Tesco.

And no, planting a lot of new trees around the new estate is not going to replace the ancient woodland - which is a living habitat that has evolved over hundreds of years. Needless to say, the battle against the destruction of our countryside in West Durrington goes on! Campaigners are urging everyone to send in their letters of objection to planning application WB/04/00040/OUT before October 9 (see Protect Our Woodland!). Write to James Appleton at Worthing Borough Council, Portland House, Richmond Road, Worthing BN11 1LF or email planning@worthing.gov.uk

As usual, the council has tried to pull a fast one on the people of Worthing by giving such a short time for people to get their comments in. The paperwork associated with the application is huge, running to literally thousands of pages – one local campaigner had it delivered to her front door in a wheelbarrow, it's so massive.

Clearly the council and their very close chums in the property development firms think they can bulldoze this application through with the sheer weight of professionally produced bullshit that ordinary people will not have the expertise or the time to be able to respond to. But they are wrong if they think they will get away with it.

For a start, the obvious complexity of the application, as well as the huge amount of public opposition, obviously points to the need for a full public enquiry - something the council have been running away from all along, because they know it would expose the disastrous, unsustainable nature of a development that would not only ruin the environment but cause traffic chaos and major flooding on the River Rife towards Ferring .

The council also don't realise that the people of Worthing are not so stupid that they can't see through all their spin and smooth words. Nobody wanted this development in the first place (the original application attracted 1,000 letters of objection and none in support!) and nobody wants it now. Like the jury in the Greenpeace trial, we can tell right from wrong and we know this scheme is wrong, wrong, wrong.

The council and their profiteering fellow conspirators also seem to have forgotten about Camp Titnore and the plucky protesters who have been occupying the woods for more than two years in a bid to stop the development. Do they think nobody will bat an eyelid when they send in the chainsaw gangs, heavy machinery, bailiffs and riot police to drag these young people - kicking, screaming and bleeding - from the trees they have pledged to protect?

Do they think we will accept that, because their destruction of the living planet is 'lawful', according to the rules laid down by those in power, that we will sit back and watch, that we will passively go along with what they are doing?

How do they think the council will be viewed by the people they are supposed to serve if they use lies and brute force to steal one of our last pieces of green space away from us? Do they imagine they will ever be forgiven? Now is the time for our elected so-called 'representatives' to show that they too can tell right from wrong - and throw out this despised scheme, once and for all!


These new homes are not for local families

ACCORDING to the developers, 30% of homes on the estate would be "affordable” - meaning 70% would be unaffordable! In fact, it's nearer 100%, with the houses mostly of the 'executive' kind, well out of the range of people on Worthing wages. The developers' documents suggest residents could be employed in local shops (ie Tesco), but that hardly supplies the sort of dosh you need for one of their posh houses with five bedrooms and two garages! Maybe residents will work as gondoliers when the flood waters rise on this notoriously wet piece of land? The Venice of the South Coast has a certain marketing appeal...

The truth is that the homes are not for local people at all, but for commuters from Surrey and London, who will add nothing to our community but extra traffic and a drain on our overburdened local facilities.


Axe the town centre wardens!

SCRAP the town centre wardens! That is the message coming from the long-suffering people of Worthing.

A stall in Worthing town centre on the theme, on August 30, proved a big hit, with many residents outraged by both their own experiences of the town officials' unpleasant attitude and by what they have heard from others. In the last Porkbolter, in which we exposed the truth about the Burgundy Bullies and the stealth privatisation of our town centre, we asked our readers to get in touch with their accounts of what the wardens have been up to - and we have also been keeping an eye on them ourselves. Here is some of the shocking evidence:

* The wardens ordered one man to put a shirt on, telling him he was not allowed to walk through Worthing town centre with a bare chest in the middle of summer. Quite rightly, this citizen and his friends did not put up with this bullying and the warden ended up with a handbagging from an enraged female companion!

* The wardens have wrongly accused innocent kids of shoplifting. We caught a warden demanding the names and addresses of some harmless youngsters. We told him that he was exceeding his powers and we sent the children on their way, as the warden protested that we had helped 'suspected thieves' escape. It turned out the 'stolen goods' had been bought by their mum, who'd gone off to another shop with the receipt in her handbag.

* The wardens have constantly pushed around peaceful and law-abiding youngsters who happen to like sitting around the bandstand area in Montague Place. This is a public space that belongs to them as well as everyone else. This is actually part of the wardens' job description, with the so-called 'Business Improvement District' wanting them to 'discourage youths gathering around the bandstand'. But they have no legal right to go around bullying young people for no good reason.

* The wardens have been spotted pinning people to the ground because they suspect them of shoplifting - or maybe because they just don't like their face?

* The wardens have barged their way into shops as if they were the cops, poking their noses into matters that don't concern them. At least one shopkeeper has had to warn them they are trespassing and throw them out!

* The wardens have ignored people in genuine need. One young man came to our stall to tell us he'd been beaten up in broad daylight in Liverpool Gardens, right next to the wardens' HQ, and several of them had walked right past him without trying to help. He ended up in hospital. So as well as pushing people around for no reason, they're also not doing anything to 'make the town safer', as it is claimed.

Meanwhile, the incident which originally sparked the whole controversy, in which the wardens declared it was illegal to take photos in the town centre, has become even more famous. It has been included in an excellent video on YouTube showing a number of incidents in which police and security guards seemed to think they had the right to stop people taking photos or filming in a public place - or, in one instance, in their own garden!

The video, which the last time we looked had been viewed a staggering 45,054 times and attracted 1,319 comments, can be seen here.

How are we going to stop these town warden bullies taking over our town? Do you want to help campaign to get them scrapped? Get in touch via porkbolter@eco-action.org.


Sinister army of little Hitlers

IT'S NOT just Worthing that's suffering from an Invasion of the Jobsworths. It has been revealed that the government has secretly handed police-style powers to an army of little Hitlers with no proper training or accountability. Reported The Daily Telegraph on August 27: "Local government officials and private security workers have been given police powers to enforce on-the-spot fines for littering, dog fouling and motoring offences.

"Despite lacking formal police training, hundreds of civilians have been made part of the 'extended police family' by the Home Office under little-known legislation. They have not been asked to wear any special uniforms to identify themselves, but must wear only a badge that can be as small as 73mm x 80mm."

We have seen the design of this Community Safety Accreditation Schemes badge – it's red, black and white and has the same some sort of design feel as the swastika or the SS logo. Happy days!


Cosying up at Masonic Hall

WHEN local business people get together for an 'informal networking' event at the local Masonic Hall, it's not normally something they want mentioned in the local press. But this time it was OK, because the report in the August edition of Worthing Herald's Business Matters mag only referred to the Broadwater building as the Charmandean Centre, and on this occasion the guests were gathering at the wheelers and dealers' favourite venue under the heading of the Worthing Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The names of Chamber members around the side of the page brought back some happy memories for us here at The Porkbolter. There was Worthing Homes, whose privatisation of Worthing's badly needed council housing was one of the first issues we covered back in 1997.

And then there was Crown Agents, the positively sinister ex-government organisation at the forefront of the corporate looting of Iraq after the 2003 invasion (see here for the expose we produced at the time). We were also pleased to see Bennett Griffin, the solicitors who threatened us with legal action over our report on solicitor AR Brown and the story of the Worthing Dome, despite not being to cite any actual inaccuracies in our story... (see October 2004 issue).

But most of all we were charmed to hear that guest speaker at the Masonic Hall event was none other than James Appleton, the Worthing Borough Council planning chief who has made it his personal mission to ensure the property developers can go ahead with their evil multi-million pound plan to concrete over Titnore Woods.


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

TORY county councillor for Worthing Pier Clive Roberts was recently stripped from his new county council cabinet post because of a mysterious 'incident' involving a female member of staff. In an interview with the Worthing Herald, Roberts insisted he didn't 'grope' anybody but just gave a woman a 'peck on the cheek'. Hmmm... Meanwhile, 'Pecker' Roberts remains a governor at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Cobden Road, Worthing. Can that really be appropriate?
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TOTALLY fed up with the way things are going in this town and think it's about time somebody did something about it? You might want to get along to a Worthing Alliance meeting on the last Thursday of every month upstairs at The Rest in Bath Place, Worthing (near the pier). Next dates are October 30 and November 27. All are welcome.
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GOOD luck to journos in the National Union of Journalists fighting redundancies at the Worthing Herald group. This a story that probably won't make the Herald itself, but there is a report on the holdthefrontpage website.
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WORTHING is now braced for its eighth branch of Tesco, with plans revealed for what was Yates Wine Lodge in Chapel Road (Worthing Herald, September 18). The word 'cancer' keeps leaping into our minds for some reason - let's hope it's not terminal for this town.
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DAYS out this month: Weds October 15. National march against EDO/ITT weapons factory, Brighton. Meet 12 noon opposite Falmer Station. Wear red. www.smashedo.org.uk. Sat October 18. Anarchist Bookfair, London. www.anarchistbookfair.co.uk


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THE PORKBOLTER is an independent newsletter that has not been accredited by the government to fine you on the spot if you refuse to shop at Tesco. 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. You can also pick up a copy at 'Green' at 117 Rowlands Road, Worthing. 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 such word as freedom any more, it would seem...


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

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