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Issue 10 - September 1998

LEAVE OUR HOMES ALONE

IS there nothing the council won't do to try and make council house tenants vote for their dodgy "transfer" scheme? They've come up with rainforests of glossy brochures, produced a pathetic propaganda video (with our money!) and expelled enough hot air to propel Richard Branson from here to the other side of Jupiter (now there's a thought...). You half expect them to employ singing stripagrams to deliver the voting forms or offer free mad cow burgers at McDollars to anyone willing to vote "yes". But despite all the council's spin-doctoring efforts, there is still a resounding lack of support for their masterplan. Less than five per cent bothered to even respond to the council's last request for views on the transfer and a lot of those were against it! More than 97% of tenants have shown no desire at all to be privatised.
This is no surprise. After all, who in their right mind could be enthusiastic about higher rents and fewer rights under an unknown new landlord? And yet, the council is ploughing ahead with a vote this month. Let's hope the tenants give them the flea in the ear they porkin' deserve!

FAT OR WHAT?

COUNCIL bigwig Sheila Player recently declared in the propaganda newsletter Home News: "There would be no fat cats at Worthing Homes and there never could be." We at the Pork-Bolter are renowned for our polite approach and we wouldn't dream of calling anyone a fat cat (or a fat anything else, Sheila!). On the contrary we are overcome with cap-doffing deferential awe at the line-up of highly respectable and not-in-the-least-bit-overweight members of the business fraternity already lined up as the "Shadow Board" of the private version of Worthing Homes. And what a jolly useful bunch they could prove to be, when it comes to weighing in with expert advice for the prospective new landlord. For instance, the privatised landlord intends to borrow large amounts of money (guess who'll be paying off the interest!). Who better to suggest where they could borrow from than Alan Hughes, Head of Marketing for Midland Bank and a Shadow Board member! If rents get too high, tenants might be forced to go and buy a home to live in. Who better to advise than Christopher Spratt, boss of CG Spratt & Son estate agents and also a Shadow Board member! Other Board worthies include Neville Pressley, director of Spofforths jewellers and Northbrook governor, and Paul Stanforth, a "local" businessman who lives far away from Worthing's council estates in "a village near Pulborough". The people's choice!

EXPOSED: THE COUNCIL SUMS THAT DON'T REALLY ADD UP

AS WELL as trying to tempt tenants into saying "yes" to privatisation with its sugar-coated tales of how wonderful life would be under a new landlord, Worthing Homes has also been using scare tactics. For instance, it has claimed that it would have to increase average rents to more than £100 if it was to carry out the same range of repairs and improvements as the private landlord. But its figures simply don't add up. The council says the new landlord would spend £5 million on catch-up repairs and about £7 million would be available for tenants to choose other improvements. However the large year-on-year increases the council claims it would have to inflict on tenants (if there was no privatisation) would give them a lot more money than they say would be spent by a private landlord.
For the first five years (and how quickly time flies!) the private landlord's rent increases are to be held back to one per cent above inflation. But the council's projected rent of £55.46 per week for 1999/2000 is £5.94 above that and would net it an extra £0.8 million. For 2000/2001 its rent of £63.77 is £11.78 more than the privatised version, giving an extra revenue of £1.6 million. and so on each year, until over five years the council's rent levels notch up an amazing £16.2 million more revenue than the one per cent over inflation. In fact, there is no need for rents to go up any more than one per cent over inflation as the valuation surveyors found the housing stock was in good condition and not in need of massive investment. Because of this, they valued the stock about £4 million higher than estimated. So the council's estimated rents are totally misleading as the improvements constitute non-essential work. Also, the council keeps claiming it has virtually run out of housing cash. How come then that the average Housing Revenue Account working balance at the end of the year between 1990-96 was £668,500 and the working balance at the end of the 1996/97 financial year was £691,412?

DOWNS VIGILANTES

REMAIN vigilant! The threat from roadbuilders to the South Downs near Cissbury Ring has not gone away! this was the message of defiance to emerge at a meeting of SCAR - South Coast Against Roadbuilding - held at Southampton on August 8. Worthing campaigners, including a representative of The Pork-Bolter, told the regional gathering that they are ready for action if the threat of a bypass returns. They made it clear that, despite Worthing's reputation in the outside world as a sleepy retirement resort, there are in fact a large number of determined people here prepared to get tough with any attempt to tarmac over our countryside. These environmental vigilantes are not fooled by the New Labour government's apparent winding down of the road-building programme in the recent White Paper.
Whitehall's decision to push ahead with imposing nearly 13,000 extra new houses on West Sussex makes it clear where the long-term agenda lies. Economic growth (ie: more and more profits for businessmen ) is very much at the heart of Government thinking. It may be politically and financially expedient to cut back on roads at the moment, but you can be sure they have only been temporarily shelved. The A27 is still a major route from the Channel Tunnel. And the SCAR meeting heard that there is the threat that European funding may be used to push through new stretches of motorway. another worrying cloud on the horizon is the possible Arundel bypass-bypass (the existing one is choked up, proving that new roads don't solve anything). this monstrosity would be built on stilts across the wetlands of the River Arun. It would also make a Worthing bypass a top priority to complete the route, with the Downs route a likely option.
Remember, our local Establishment is very keen on building a motorway across the countryside because they reckon it will be good for business (what other reason do they ever have for doing anything!) And the county council considers it "very disappointing" that the roads review didn't impose any more road-building on our green fields. Our so-called leaders don't give a rasher of bacon for the countryside, for fresh air or an unpolluted environment. They follow their own greed-driven, corrupt agendas. Whether we're talking about road-building or house-building, there's no point in appealing to them or their machineries of power to stop the bulldozers. It's up to us to take the law into our own hands and reclaim our town, our county, our future!

BIG BROTHER'S MEDIA DEAL

PEOPLE filmed by Worthing's CCTV cameras (ie: every single porkin' one of us!) could soon see their pictures on TV or in newspapers, willing or not. Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse wants the Sussex Police Authority to relax the code of practice which currently bars release of video footage. He is ignoring the fact that councils and gullible people across the county initially went along with CCTV schemes on the understanding that the images would not be fair game for the media vampires. And he has admitted that it is all for the sake of spreading more pro-Big Brother propaganda. He said: "It is argued that by carefully selecting footage, the public continues to be educated as well as reminded about CCTV, at a time when the news value of the cameras is declining." Mr Whitehouse added that concerns about lack of privacy had been "borne in mind" during his considerations. but, needless to say, they were then ignored!

NO SUCH THING AS A FREE BURGER

It just about sums up the state of West Sussex in the late 1990s, doesn't it? Police stuffing themselves with free burgers and fries from McDonald's in our town centres. Public outrage has now forced top cops to blow the whistle on the handy little deal, after it was exposed in Chichester. But not before people had time to ponder on what it all says about our fast food/police state society.
Dennis Burgess wrote about the free nosh to the Chichester Observer: "Why not to the nurses, doctors, cleaners, school teachers who work hard to educate our children, youth leaders providing a place to give our youth to go to enjoy life and of course why not the disabled and the carers looking after their elderly and housebound parents? Then there are the street cleaners who keep the pavements and roads clean outside McDonald's." Wrote Phyl Eyre: "How very heartwarming to see the benevolent Ronald McDonald handing out freebies to our ever-vigilant and over-worked police officers! And how much more heart-warming it would be to see good 'ole Ronald handing out free food to our homeless friends on the street. May I suggest that our Big Issue folks change their pitch to McDonald's restaurants. Will they get free food, or will the police be called to move them on?"

BUMLEY IT IS, THEN

HOWLS of protest went up from our readers (well, two of them anyway) when we recently stated that Peter Bottomley MP was lovingly known in the town as "Botto". One correspondent wrote back referring to him as "Botters" and another let us know in no uncertain terms that in his household the popular animal-loving and fox-hunt-supporting Tory will always be known as "Bumley". Unless there are any better suggestions (and no, that sounds too much like the football club), that is the nickname we will henceforth adopt.

PORKY PIE'S TIP OF THE MONTH:

How to Get Rich Quick
  1. Go to McDonald's
  2. Steal all the McDosh
  3. When the McCops are called they'll think it's an offer of more free grub
  4. By the time the fat gits finish their McCrapburgers, you'll be living the life of Riley somewhere really far away like Rustington or East Preston!

PORK SCRATCHINGS

HYPOCRITICAL act of the summer has to be the appearance of Worthing MP Peter Bumley, the man who refused to vote for a ban on fox-hunting, at the funeral of Eric Fossleitner, keeper of Ben the Fox and campaigner against the barbaric "sport". Bumley's arrival was of course in no way related to the presence of the TV cameras and press.
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ALL the predictions being made about the Big Brother state round the corner are sounding increasingly out of date - it's happening already! Latest horror is a move to introduce compulsory "smartcards" for travellers using the tube, trains, buses and even taxis in London. As ever, this latest form of electronic surveillance was presented by the media as the best thing since spliced genes. Gushed the Evening Standard: "There will be no more queues at ticket offices. The card is passed over a sensor - it may not even need to be taken from its owner's pocket - and the cost of the journey or goods automatically deducted." And Big Brother will be tracking every step of every journey you take.
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CONGRATS to all those involved in the benefit gig staged by Worthing Friends of the Earth on August 8 at the Inn on the Prom. The music was great, the atmosphere brilliant and the council even laid on a free firework display outside to bolster the cause! Thanks to all those who turned up, it also made a healthy sum of cash to help pay for the bank holiday Monday Eco-festival in Homefield Park. Worthing needs more of this sort of thing!
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WELL at least they're trying! Worthing Borough Council has spent £1.2 million on a fleet of more environmentally-friendly dustcarts which run on ultra-low sulphur diesel. They could have gone for electric or compressed natural gas if they wanted to be really green, but let's not be too churlish. The only downside is that the new dustcarts are being fitted with CCTV cameras "to allow drivers to see what is going on in the back". Big Brother is watching your bin bags!
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EVER wondered what the difference is between "international terrorism" and American foreign policy? Ever suspected that you have not got a clue what is really going on in this country or anywhere else in the world? Why not pick up a copy of veteran journo John Pilger's ace new book, Hidden Agendas (Vintage, 1998, £8.99). Things might begin to get clearer!
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PIG AND MIX The Pork-Bolter is a totally independent newsletter produced by and for ordinary people in the town. We think the political parties are much the same and our local politicians simply too smug for words - though you may like to write in your own insulting adjective in the following space:   Our non-humanoid title comes from a traditional nickname for Worthing people who either ran away from pigs (perish the thought!) or chopped them up into little bits and dangled them down their throats on a piece of string to stop sea-sickness (as you were - we'll stick with the first one, thank you very much!)

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. Back issues 1-9 still 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 We look forward to hearing from you!
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OFFICIAL WARNING SCIENTISTS now suspect that the pigs responsible for this newsletter have been exposed to genetic modification, thus transforming them from harmless and edible farmyard slaves into cynical subversives, out to frustrate Progress and impede the Wealth Creation of Worthing's loveable and cuddly (and yet at the same time thrusting and dynamic) business community!
and finally ... RECLAIM THE TOWN, RECLAIM YOUR LIFE!