the pork-bolter
No 1, October 1997

HOMING IN ON A RIP-OFF!

WITH a Lib Dem council and a Labour Government you might have thought yet more privatisation was the last thing on the political agenda. If so, you'd have been completely and utterly wrong, as Worthing Borough Council is planning to sell off its council houses to a private company.

It is trying to get away with doing this with the minimum of fuss and publicity and is hoping that council tenants will meekly go along with it when they eventually get a chance to vote on the cunning scheme. But The Pork-Bolter advises them to get fully informed NOW, join the tenants' association in large numbers and stand firm against what looks like another in a long line of rip-offs directed against the ordinary people of Worthing by the smug and self-interested “powers-that-be”.

The excuse behind the plan is that central government cuts have left the borough without the cash to keep up its housing services. But its own reports reveal the disturbing consequences of privatisation. The Pork-Bolter wonders why the council and its officers are so keen to push ahead with the project. The borough is keen to point out that the new business will be “non-profit making”, but tenants might like to ask who will be running the privatised Worthing Homes, what salaries they will be on and what other financial benefits will be on offer.

In short, WHO WILL BENEFIT from this highly dodgy proposal? It certainly won't be the people who actually live in the council houses.

The borough's own list of disadvantages to the scheme includes:

* Loss of democratic control.

* Loss of statutory rights - ie the private firm will be able to kick you out of your home more easily.

* “The transfer of homes is irreversible” - ie council housing, built and paid for by generations of Worthing people, will be lost to us forever, whatever happens in the future.

But the worst indictment of the council's attitude comes in its list of the “advantages” of privatization. One of these turns out to be that “rents can be set which are not subject to Government regulation”. Oh good! They can put the rent up as much as they like! For whom, exactly, is that an “advantage”? We think we should he told!

The council will try to slip this one past the public by saying there will he some sort of freeze on rent rises for five years. But after that, you can be sure that all hell will break out. And, because it will all be under private ownership and out of “democratic control”, there will be nothing any of us will be able to do about it!

But it's not too late yet. Join the tenants' association (West and Central Worthing: Mrs I Holman, 12 Harefield Ave, BN13 1DP 263201; East Worthing: John Blann, 44 Meredith Rd, BN14 8EE, 210079) and make porking sure they fight this plan!


Pedalling power of protest

ON September 20, 90 people gathered under the banner of Critical Mass to publicly demonstrate their grief at the tragic, needless loss of a beautiful vibrant young woman, who touched many people's lives: Danni Plank, 29, mown down in Shoreham whilst cycling home from work. The men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds (including car owners!) completed the journey that Danni was so cruelly deprived of and cycled from Shoreham to Worthing. Hundreds of westbound motorists suffered frustrating delays in a queue that, at times, seemed to stretch from Shoreham to Worthing. During that enforced “pause” did they, perhaps, reflect on their tacit connivance with a culture thay urges us to be faster, flashier, bigger, better! West Sussex County Council figures show 459 cyclist casualties during 1996. 70 per cent of these were caused by “driver error”. If you were a motorist on the A259 last Saturday did you 'fume'? Then join the campaign for adequate cycling lanes. (Contact Worthing Friends of the Earth on 01902 529583, Roadpeace on 0181 964 1021 or Reclaim the Streets on 0171 281 4621.

Look who's stalking

MAYBE The Pork-Bolter is too cynical for its own good, but it does seem sometimes that new laws never turn out to be quite what they were supposed to be... Hot on the heels of the popular and constructive Criminal Justice Act, on June 14 this year The Protection From Harassment Act came into force. You must remember the hype over this one, on every TV channel and in every newspaper. Nasty “stalkers” were suddenly making people's lives a misery all over the country and something had to be done. On the wave of public outrage, the law was passed and the menacing ubiquitous figure of The Stalker disappeared back into the obscurity from which he had emerged. But the legislation went through and less than THREE weeks after it came into force an amazing thing happened just up the road from here in Upper Beeding.

Animal rights supporters were protesting outside the home of a director of Consort, a firm supplying cuddly beagles to be tortured by the biomedical industry, when they were offered some pieces of paper by the friendly rural bobbies of Steyning police. Rightly assuming that they weren't being invited to the local CID's dirty video 'n' kebab night, they declined to take them. It turned out that they were leaflets warning them they could be breaking the law under you've guessed it - the “anti-stalking” Protection from Harassment Act! Said Gareth Crossman of Liberty, the national Council for Civil Liberties: “The law was supposed to be used to deal with people suffering from harassment. But it is adding to the state's armoury against an individual's right to peaceful protest.”


Big Brother Solves Post Office Queue Crisis!

WITH the “anti-stalking” sleight of hand still fresh in the mind, a front-page article in The Independent on Sunday on September 7 leapt out as an indication of what we are to expect next in the way of freedom and democracy from Our Worthy Ruler, Big Brother. The idea of a centralised government databank keeping track of every aspect of the life of each and every individual has been a nightmare in the popular imagination since the days when computers made lots of bizarre whirring noises and needed a room the size of the proposed Millennium Poison-Dome to work out the square root of 1,984. The big news is that it's now going to happen! But there's no need to worry, excitable proles, because it's all being introduced simply to “make pen-pushing and post office queues things of the past”, according to the IoS. And to make the state “more user-friendly and approachable”.

Ah, so that's all right then. Let's all just go back to watching reassuring pap on the TV, working and consuming excessively and obediently and looking forward to the end of the year, when the convenience-enhancing new state “smart cards” are due to be unveiled.

Alternatively, grab hold of a copy of Big Brother: Britain's Web of Surveillance and the New Technological Order by Simon Davies (Pan, 1997, £5,99) and get up to date with what is really going on…


What a Porker-Corker!

HELLO and welcome to the wonderful Worthing-ite world of The Pork-Bolter. This newsletter has nothing to do with the silly games of party politics but is a new, local and genuinely independent initiative. We intend to stand up for the ordinary people of Worthing, their rights, their heritage and their future. For an explanation of our name we would refer you to the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang, which explains that, in Worthing's fishing village days, its inhabitants were known in Sussex for their “superstitious dread of pigs”, from which they “bolted”. Reasons for this are not stated, though we are reliably informed that for both our Saxon and Celtic ancestors pigs and boars were sometimes linked to the Goddess of Death, who anyone would run away from.

Page two of The Pork-Bolter asks:

How Green is Our Council?

WHY do Worthing Borough Council produce a “Green Charter” setting out their environmental policy? Because they genuinely realise how important our environment is and are taking every measure they can to protect it - or because they have been forced by the Government (who were forced by the Earth Summit agreement) to produce such documents as part of Local Agenda 21? In their Green Charter the council state that they wish “to minimise the adverse environmental impact of new development in Worthing... The Council will seek to minimise movement of vehicles and energy consumption through the appropriate location of development”.

Sounds pretty impressive until you consider the out-of-town Multiplex they gave the go-ahead to before the Government stepped in to look at it again. This greenfield development at Durrington was to include a multi-screen cinema, entertainment centre and a drive-through restaurant. Minimising vehicles and energy consumption? Appropriate location? We think not. Councillor Bob Clare's reaction was “I think we should grab this opportunity with both hands”. Oh yes, Mr Clare - opportunity for what, exactly?

And, whilst we're on the subject, why did the very same Mr Clare vote in favour of the similarly damaging development at the Northbrook College site in Broadwater which he had originally strongly opposed? Perhaps he would like to write in and enlighten us!

The Green Charter goes on to say: “...the Council can influence the pattern of development to reduce the need to travel, promote means of transport other than the car, reduce pollution and energy use and protect open land and natural habitats.” Yes, the council can influence development, but do they? Or does development (or should we say developers) influence them? We wonder.

Whatever you think, there's no denying the mammoth differences between what the council say and what they actually do. Perhaps the best contribution they could make to our environment would be to save the vast amounts of paper used to print their smug, self-congratulatory rhetoric. After all, it's deeds not words that really count.

Make your views known. Write to Worthing Borough Council at the Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing and to the local papers: Worthing Herald, Cannon House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing and Worthing Guardian, 56a Chapel Road, Worthing.

Take action. Contact local pressure groups: Worthing Friends of the Earth, 15 Warwick Place, Worthing and Worthing Green Party, c/o 23 Wallace Avenue, Worthing.


Maurice Williams RIP

MANY people knew Maurice Williams, who died last month aged 82. For all his adult life Maurice was involved with community activities in Worthing and in particular Tarring, where he had been a resident since 1920. “Skip” Williams was the son of Montgomery Williams and a descendant of Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Seal during the reign of James I. He was, however, a man who lived in the present and gave much time and effort to improve facilities for the youngsters of Worthing. Unlike many “youth” workers he was never patronising, but talked as plainly to a lager-drinking fifteen year old in Tarring park as he did to the people in the Planning Department at Worthing Borough Council. For the last ten years he battled to show that the council had been guilty of maladministration when they gave permission to a developer to fell most of the ancient trees in the Tarring Fig Gardens. Most unusually, the Local Government Ombudsman agreed with Maurice, much to the Borough's embarrassment. Much, much, more could be said of this remarkable man, who after more than 60 years' service well deserved the title “Mr Tarring”.

Proud tradition of English dissent

WITH all the fuss currently being made about those naughty people who dare to take on big business and the state with direct action tactics, you would think it was something new and alien to this country. In fact, the “Do-It-Yourself” political culture of the 1990s is merely the latest manifestation of a long and proud tradition of English protest. This reality is the starting point of a new book published by The Big Issue called Gathering Force, which celebrates our national spirit of rebellion and resistance which has so infuriated generations of rulers who want nothing more than a docile and easily manipulated population of worker drones and happy consumers. It shows how those who today take up the struggle to protect our countryside or our community from exploitation are following in the footsteps of dissidents like the Diggers in the 17th century or the Luddites in the early nineteenth century, who fought against enforced industrialisation and starvation-level wages.

PORKY PIE'S TIP OF THE MONTH:


HOW T0 CONFUSE A CCTV SPY CAMERA!
  1. Walk slowly and purposefully towards camera: It will start to monitor you.
  2. Keep going right up to the pole on which the camera is mounted, then stop.
  3. Watch as the camera swivels round in confusion trying to locate you – it can't!
  4. Earthlings: 1 Daleks: 0

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

VICTORY has been claimed in a battle to save Offham Marshes near Lewes. The Site of Special Scientific Interest was threatened with being ploughed up by the same farmer, Justin Harmer, who had earlier damaged Offham Downs SSSI to grow flax. Info: Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth on 01273 324455.
* * *

THE Countryside Commission is seeking opinions about the South Downs. To get information about putting your view across and/or attending a conference at Sussex University on November 26, write to Sussex Arts Marketing, 41 Addison Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 1TQ, tel 01273 724811.
* * *

STRANGE goings-on involving Sussex Police on the Downs near Eastbourne last month. Armed with large halogen lights and coloured filters, the Custodians of Law and Order mounted a UFO hoax. When curious locals turned up to see what was going on, they nicked them for listening to police radio - the whole point of the bizarre exercise. Nice to know they've got the time and money to spare on this sort of stunt!
* * *

THE first year of CCTV cameras in Worthing has resulted in a pathetic tally of arrests for minor offences. Among the highly dangerous and organised criminals brought to book by the spy lenses were two youths seen kicking a window and a couple “smoking a joint”. Again, the words “waste” and “money” spring to mind!
* * *

WILL MCMAHON of Campaign Against the Arms Trade will be speaking on The New Labour Government and Arms Trade Policy on Tuesday October 14 at Friends Meeting House, Priory Road, Chichester, 7.30pm.
* * *

LETS are local, non-profit exchange networks in which all kinds of goods and services can be traded without the need for money. According to Letslink UK “any group or community can start a local network. The cost of running it can be covered by local membership fees of between £5 and £10 and the only equipment required is access to a photocopier and home computer”. If anyone out there wants to set up a scheme in Worthing, we'll be happy to publicise it for you! For basic details and contacts send four first class stamps to Letslink UK at 61 Woodcock Road, Warminster BA12 9DH. Tel/fax 01985 217 871. Or send £10 (payable to Letslink UK) for a start-up pack.

Keep your snout in The Pork-Bolter trough - subscribe!

ISSUE 2 of The Pork-Bolter will be out in November. If you want to make sure of getting a copy, simply send us a stamped self-addressed envelope. To get the next 6 issues send a donation of at least £2 (please think about about making it a bit more, if you really want to help us!). Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to The Pork-Bolter. All correspondence to PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. See you soon!

Official Warning

DISREGARD everything you have read in this newsletter. It is not a good idea to criticise Worthing Borough Council on any grounds and under whatever circumstances. Remember that your elected representatives always have your interests at heart. Tenants should vote yes to having their rents put up and their rights taken away. Trust authority - you know it makes sense. Finally, take no notice of local superstitions and never, ever run away from pigs!

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright.


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

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