the pork-bolter
No 71, Yule 2005/2006

Wealthy Worthing? Ha! Ha! Ha!

A LOT of lies about the reality of life in Worthing are regularly thrown in our faces by the powers that be and their spin doctors. Like the strange notion that Worthing councillors give a pork what the people of this town actually think or want. Or the sad fantasy that Sussex Police recruit only fine, public spirited individuals dedicated to protecting ordinary citizens from harm and helping little old ladies across the road.

But the biggest lie of all must be the oft-repeated myth that Worthing has been found to be "the most prosperous town in Britain". This nasty globule of undigested falsity has been coughed up again by the Winter 2005 edition of 'Your Worthing', a zero-interest publication that seems to have been published by the Worthing Town Centre Initiative.

You don't need a brain the size of the Victor Gladwish Stadium to work out that the claim obviously isn't true and we will explain later exactly why that is so. But even without the facts, a brief moment's thought reveals the idea of Worthing being anything like the most prosperous town in Britain to be totally absurd.

Look at our neighbouring towns. Is Worthing really more prosperous than Brighton, to the east, with its migrating London wine bar set, trendy media poseurs and seafront millionaires? More prosperous than Horsham, to the north, with its well-heeled commuter belt population or Chichester, to the west, with its green welly and Barbour jacket brigade? And that's just Sussex, let alone the rest of the country.

If Worthing is such a prosperous town, how come, when the national average salary is about £22,000 a year, the Worthing Herald jobs pages are full of adverts for work at £5.65 an hour, £5.75 an hour, £11,780 a year, £13,400 a year, £5.35 an hour... look for yourself!

If Worthing is so prosperous, how come thousands of people have to commute miles to work and back every day to earn a wage that will pay their mortgage or rent? How come young people can't afford their own home, even a tiny flat? How come Worthing people are knackering themselves with overtime just to make ends meet, or can't get any work at all, or are clearing out the toilets at old people's homes for a minimum wage to pay for the kids' school uniform or the ever spiralling council tax? What kind of prosperous town is that?

Of course, the whole prosperous thing is just not true. And the reality is pretty much the exact opposite. In fact, the survey misquoted by ‘Your Worthing' found our town to be the most profitable in the country - profitable for companies, that is, with the average profit margin recorded at 22.29 per cent in 2001.

Other official statistics back this up. For instance, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2004 found that Worthing residents' average pre-tax pay is only £413 a week, compared to £442 for West Sussex as a whole and £474 for the whole South East - and that includes residents who have to commute out of town for a half decent wage.

What this means for the people of Worthing, can be gauged by the company we were keeping in the ‘profitability league', which now seems to have been abandoned. Second place in 2001 went to Brecon in South Wales - hardly an area known for its wealth - and Gateshead, infamous for unemployment, finished 9th. Experian, the firm behind the survey, acknowledged that "some towns can be highly profitable while still suffering high unemployment and social deprivation". And Tim Preston, head of economic development at Worthing Borough Council, was quoted as saying: "The results mask some of the problems in Worthing's economy, notably low wages compared to other areas of the South East and problems of deprivation in some parts of the town."

County planning officer John Kilford spelled it out more plainly still at a meeting in Worthing's Richmond Room in July 2000 (see issue 30), explaining: "What is particularly significant is that wages are low and the take home pay of part-time and full-time workers compares with the lowest in the country." So in fact, it's the low wages here that make companies so porkin' profitable - prosperity for the businessmen and poverty for the rest of us!

PS: We're looking forward to the factual correction in the next issue of 'Your Worthing'!

Poor pickings

IT'S nice to know that Worthing MP Tim Loughton isn't suffering from the low wage crisis in his constituency. The Tory politician earns £57,485 as his standard backbench salary and, latest figures reveal, topped this up with £124,857 worth of expenses in 2004/2005, making a grand total for the year of £182,342. The maximum that can be claimed for overnight stays away from home is £20,902 and our Tim, who lives an hour's train ride from the House of Commons in Burgess Hill, claimed... exactly £20,902! That's about £60 a night, 365 nights a year. What the pork has he been up to?

* * *

THE Teville Gate development plans feature 250 homes, including "up to 40 new affordable key worker homes" (Worthing Herald, October 27). So that's at least 210 unaffordable homes, then. Just what we need.
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SCROOGE bosses are moaning about having to cough up a few more pence for their lowest paid slaves (Ooops, sorry. Staff). Reported The Worthing Herald (October 6): "The Federation of Private Business chief executive Nick Goulding has slammed the increase in the national minimum wage. He said he is gravely concerned that the rise in the national minimum rate for adults from £4.85 to £5.05 per hour will cause businesses real pain".
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WE WERE delighted to hear earlier this year that thanks to campaigners' efforts Worthing has become a Fairtrade Town. Wouldn't it be great if it could also now become a Fairwage Town?


Rabbits at risk as police go on the rampage

HORDES of thugs from across Sussex descended on Durrington on Saturday October 29 - all dressed in police uniform. Some were known to have travelled from as far as Hastings, with shadowy organisers laying on transport to bus the troublemakers into the Worthing area. Concerned residents gathered to try and keep them at bay and curb their excesses, fearing their gardens and homes might be damaged. Said one local: "I was worried about my pet rabbit. They have such big truncheons, you never know what they might do." It is believed the police were protesting about the lack of opportunity for violent engagement in the Sussex area. Under EU regulations, they are demanding parity with France, where police regularly have the chance to wade in and kick a few heads.

* More Titnore news below...


Spin doctors bury the truth

WORTHING Borough Council has attempted to hide increasing dissatisfaction with its beleaguered leisure and cultural services in a new press release. Opening with "62% of Worthing residents were satisfied with the way the council ran its services - a significant increase from 52% when the survey was last carried out two years ago," the press release goes on to point out that the population is increasingly dissatisfied with its offerings on leisure, culture and sports.

When it comes to leisure, there's a 10% fall in the level of satisfaction between 2003 and 2005. Meanwhile, during the last twelve months 38% had visited museums and galleries (note the amazing plural, as Worthing Borough Council only run the one!), and satisfaction fell 8%. 60% of residents had visited Worthing's theatres over the last year. Between 2003 and 2005 the level of satisfaction dropped from 68% to 64% - whilst the level of dissatisfaction also rose from 9% to 12%.

And residents' dissatisfaction has grown, at the same time as Worthing Borough Council has slashed budgets for the Museum & Art Gallery, theatres and sports facilities. Some coincidence? So what does the press release say that Worthing Borough Council are going to do about all this dissatisfaction? Leader of the council, Keith Mercer says "The general satisfaction survey will be carried out again in 2006 as part of our aim to find out what the public thinks." So in terms of actual action that's, errr, nothing.


Sussex Gestapo move in to crush protest

DID Sussex Police play a political role in deliberately scaring people off joining a Titnore Woods protest in Durrington on October 29?

That's the question being asked by local campaigners, after a nasty display of intimidation at a completely peaceful and legitimate protest. The dubious role of the local cops in perverting the course of free speech started a week before the protest when they issued a press release to the local press suggesting that the "Vigil for the Death of Democracy" was illegal. In fact, this was a blatant fib - there is no legal obligation to inform the police in advance of a static demonstration such as the one advertised by TEA (Titnore Emergency Action). But as a result, we have heard from a number of local people that they were scared off attending, worried they would get arrested or beaten up by the police. The Death of Democracy indeed!

On the day, there was massive over-policing, with cops drafted in from as far away as Hastings, 50 miles away. They used draconian public order laws to cordon off the Titnore Lane area and one man was arrested for being on the pavement on the ‘wrong' side of the road, as decreed by the local Gestapo.

Among various other incidents, one couple who live in Titnore Lane itself were blocked from returning to their own home when the protest had ended. They were manhandled by police and after a long delay were eventually only allowed up the road with an escort of two police on foot, with video camera, two police motorbikes with flashing lights, and an unmarked police car. When they reached their home, a police helicopter arrived overhead and circled three times. They said: "It was bad enough at the roundabout with everything happening, but when we got back to our own home and there's a helicopter circling overhead, we thought ‘what the f*** is going on!'."

Other local people arriving early for the vigil at the Titnore Lane roundabout on the A259 were told by police that they would not be allowed to stay there after 2pm - the advertised start of the vigil. Cops tried to hand pieces of paper to everyone arriving, outlining restrictions on where people could protest. It seems the police were planning to force the vigil away from the highly visible roundabout and into an "authorised" protest zone where they could not be seen.

With video-camera wielding "evidence gatherers" creating a mood of intimidation, people were given constantly shifting instructions as to where they were "permitted" to stand. Sometimes they were not allowed to cross the road and sometimes they had to. A group of people who decided to use the footbridge over the A259 were told this was not permitted because it represented a traffic hazard. Earlier on, these same people had been directed to use the bridge by police. When the vigil ended at 4pm, evidence gatherers followed a group of protesters to Goring station and continued filming them until they boarded the train towards Worthing.

* The arrested man was charged with "failure to obey conditions imposed on a public assembly" and will be pleading not guilty, with a court date in mid-April at Worthing Magistrates Court.

Police were ‘way over-the-top'

"The demonstrators were standing there perfectly peacefully when a great ‘platoon' of police officers came running across the roundabout towards them in a very intimidating fashion. It was way over-the-top and completely unnecessary. It was not as if they were facing another Toxteth situation in Liverpool or the Broadwater Farm Estate riots in London." Passing motorist quoted in Worthing Herald, November 3.

"It was a very peaceful demonstration but the police were totally excessive. Some of the officers were in riot gear and their presence was totally over the top." An ‘onlooker' quoted in The Argus, October 31.

Cashing in on countryside

A FASCINATING excerpt from Country Life on Duncan Davidson, chairman of Persimmon, one of the property firms in line to profit from the rape of Titnore Woods, reveals that his firm is responsible for building more than 12,000 homes a year on over 400 different sites. It adds: "Critics point to the relatively low number of houses built on brownfield sites. Persimmon announced pre-tax half-year profits of £235 million, up 7%, this August. A company of this size has the power, quite literally, to change the appearance of the landscape in many parts of the country. The chairman himself lives on a beautifully maintained Northumberland estate with far-reaching views over open countryside."


Smashing time in France

"DEPRIVED of organised political expression, the only way these young people can express themselves is through spectacular violence" - that is the conclusion of an analysis of the recent rioting in France from The Porkbolter's very own Paris correspondents. They told us: "The media are showing burning cars, towns put down to fire and sword. However, despite the tragic images shown all over the world, there is no civil war in France. Undergoing academic failure, marginalised by French society, hundreds of French youngsters are expressing their anger through public destruction. This French youth - children or grand-children of African immigrants (North Africa, black Africa) - rightly feels abandoned by the French society which hides behind the notion of equality but never puts it into practice."


PORK-SCRATCHINGS

THE control freaks who run Worthing have decided to ban drinking in public places throughout the borough from next year. Obviously "alcohol-fuelled violence" is never caused by people who have been getting tanked up indoors, in establishments owned by valued members of the Worthing Business Community, and is only committed by scruffy people on park benches who can only afford a trip to the offie.
* * *

WALTER Wolfgang, the old chap thrown out of the Neo-Labour conference, is speaking at the Labour Hall, Lyndhurst Road, Worthing on Wednesday December 7, together with Smash EDO!, Omar Deghayes and Titnore Woods campaigners. Thenn on Saturday December 10 march in Brighton to Defend the Right to Protest! Stop the Arms Trade! Meet 12 noon in Churchill Square.
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PURE water campaigners have set up a new email group to unite people fighting against water fluoridation in the South East region - Hampshire/IOW, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. To join, email southeastagainstfluoridation-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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AN ONLINE petition has been set up by people opposing expansion at Shoreham Airport. It aims to add to the largely unvoiced opposition locally to the plans. The link is at www.petitionthem.com and the petition is entitled Stop Shoreham Airport expansion (Ssh!).
* * *

SUSSEX peace protester Milan Rai was jailed in Lewes for 14 days for writing anti-war graffiti on the Foreign Office buildings in London and refusing to pay £2,000 compensation. Meanwhile the war criminals responsible for thousands of deaths, rather than a bit of paint damage, continue to get away with it...
* * *

AFTER the news that Tory councillor for Durrington, Richard Falk, now lives in the Isle of Man comes the revelation that Tory councillor for neighbouring Northbrook, Alan Whiteley, is working in Qatar in the Middle East (The Argus, November 2). The Tories insist the pair's complete absence from Worthing will make no difference at all to their performance as councillors... And we tend to agree!
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THE FIRST meeting of 2006 for the Worthing Alliance will be on Thursday January 26, 8pm, upstairs at The Rest in Bath Place, Worthing (near side entrance to Woolworth's). These informative gatherings are for anyone interested in hearing about and discussing all the burning issues in the town.
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APOLOGIES to anyone who has tried to email us or has been trying to look at this website and has encountered a problem. Various technical changes have been going on behind the scenes and we hope to be back to normal as soon as possible.


Warning: This is democracy

DEMOCRACY has never been in such a fine condition in the UK, said the Minister for Verbiage yesterday. He explained: "What everyone wants is a Government with the guts to ignore unfounded criticism from ill-informed members of the public and pursue the path it knows is best for us all. From GM foods to the Iraq war and now nuclear power stations, the Government's admirable determination not to pander to facile populism shows total commitment to the new robust democracy of the 21st century."


Bring home the bacon!

THE PORKBOLTER is an independent newsletter for Worthing that tries to stand up for the ordinary people against the smug little clique that seems to think it owns this town. To get the next six issues through the post send a donation of at least £3 payable to The Porkbolter. Drop us a line at PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. Send e-mail to 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,


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

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