the pork-bolter
No 3, Yuletide 1997

Blind Spot on Road to Profits

A BLIND SPOT was the cause of a young Worthing woman's death at Shoreham.

The official version at the inquest was that the blind spot was in the driver's view from the lorry that hit cyclist and green activist Danni Plank, aged 29, on August 26.

But The Pork-Bolter reckons the real blind spot is the scary acceptance of death on the roads in our motor-maniac society.

Imagine if anything else was killing off thousands of our men, women and children year after year. Imagine if some crazed gang of murderers was responsible - what public panic there would be and what calls for hard-line Government action! Imagine if some new disease was having this impact - nobody would feel safe until the causes were eradicated and a cure discovered. But killer roads are another matter. Its victims are so commonplace that they only get a mention in the local press (unless they happen to be someone rich and famous in a tunnel in Paris, of course...).

Danni's death was not the fault of any one person, but that does not mean that it was really “accidental” as the court ruled. The existence of “blind spots” which cause deaths is accepted in our society, as is the inevitability of deaths on the road. The toll is treated as an acceptable trade-off for the “benefits” of the road traffic system.

And these “benefits” have got nothing to do with human lives and needs and everything to do with businesses, profit and greed. As the road lobby is always keen to stress, economic “growth” (ie profit) inevitably means more and more goods being carted all over the place. The cheapest and easiest way for businesses to do that is by road, and since all political parties now seem to have to compete with each other for being the most “pro-business”, no one is going to get in the way of their madness.

In its National Cycling Strategy, the Government says it wants to double the number of trips by cycle by the end of 2002 and quadruple the number of trips by cycle by the end of 2012. Does it want to double and quadruple the number of deaths as well? There are measures which could alleviate the carnage. Infra-red sensors can be fitted on lorries, proper cycling path networks can be built, much more freight can be taken by rail. But where is the urgency? And is there the will? While our society is run by interests for whom profit always comes first, what hope is there of curing the blind spot for human life that killed Danni Plank?


Axeman on the branch line

THE HATCHET man at the head of our privatised rail service has come up with an innovative way of stopping leaves getting on the railway line - chop down all the trees anywhere near it!

Antoine Hurel, chief executive of Connex, has said there are “too many trees” getting in the way of his company's money-making activities and suggested that they shouldn't be allowed within ten metres of the track, as is apparently the case in his native France. In our opinion, nature-haters like M. Hurel should not be allowed within a hundred miles (sorry, 160km) of our railway system!

Rail lines are vitally important wildlife corridors in urban areas like Worthing. Residents near West Worthing station have already had a taste of the rail bosses' inability to see the trees for the profit-margins, when the chainsaw brigade moved in earlier this year. Anyone who sees any suspicious activities around any more trees should get in touch with the council's tree officer Peter Whish (01903 239999 x2549), Howard Barnes-Moss at the planning dept (x2612) or Worthing Friends of the Earth (01903 205328) as soon as possible. Remember: once they're down, they're down - and it's too late!


What the pork's it all about, then?

WELCOME to a festive-flavoured edition of The Pork-Bolter, the newsletter that aims to put the Piggy back in the Middle of the Worthing scene! We are a 100 per cent additive-free organically-grown independent campaigning newsletter, dedicated to battle for the heritage, the rights and the future of the ordinary people of Worthing, rather than for their votes or their cash. Our title comes from an old nickname for Worthing folk, variously linked to running away from pigs and feeling sick. So now you know.


Zimmer Framed!

A COLD shower is prescribed for the increasingly sex-obsessed staff of The Worthing Herald following a series of bizarre front page stories. If you are among its ever-dwindling band of readers, you may well remember the shocking discovery that there is a brothel in Worthing. And then there was the startling revelation that a Page Three model had been pictured in the nude.

More recently, the paper's priggish tut-tuttings turned into a full-blooded Moral Majority style crusade against the Northbrook student magazine, Zimmer, for publishing (gasp!) rude cartoons. The Herald actually ran a leader calling for the college to censor or ban the mag (which it might like to, but can't) and continued its vindictive little campaign the next week, ludicrously concluding on the claim that “Even the title is deeply offensive to many people in Worthing”.

Maybe the author should get out a bit more! For instance to cover some council meetings (see below) and expose the real scandals afflicting Worthing!


Home truths for spin doctors!

COUNCIL bosses think the people of Worthing are a load of sheep (rather than pigs...) and they can pull the wool over our eyes.

They have decided to totally ignore the points we have been making about council housing privatisation, including a detailed challenge we issued to them via the West Sussex Gazette. Instead, they have been relying on lazy journalists to lovingly copy out their reassuring and carefully-phrased press releases. The Pork-Bolter knows these are all a lot of hogwash!

We actually went to the Special Housing Services and Policy and Resources Committee Meeting on November 17 and are sorry to report that none of the “proper” papers had bothered to show up. That's why you won't have read anywhere else that:

* The council is coming under increasing fire from its own members over the scheme.

* For instance, Cllr Dockerty warned that private Housing Association rents are 50% higher than the current average rent of £46.50.

* Cllr Waight complained that councillors were being asked to make a decision without being given all the information.

* UNISON trade union reps joined us in demanding that tenants should be given unbiased information - which they certainly haven't so far!

* Even Mrs Holman of the tenants' association complained there had not been enough time for consultation.

* Housing boss Robin King was forced to admit privatised rents could well be 10% higher.

The truth of the matter is that the council bigwigs decided to go ahead long before most councillors, let alone the public, were asked their views and they are now desperately churning out one-sided propaganda to make sure they can impose their will. The mysterious shrinking of the “disadvantage” list from six to two is just one example of this. Another is the “poll” hurriedly carried out to nip opposition in the bud.

Presented in the press as showing “most” tenants were in favour of privatisation, it did nothing of the sort! More were against or undecided than for it, by 399 to 373 votes. 2,000 questionnaires weren't even returned. Only 14% of tenants have therefore expressed support - ie: 86% haven't! Even the 373 tally of votes “in favour” proves with closer inspection not to be quite what Mr King would like it to seem. It is well known that with any sort of poll the questions must be phrased in an unbiased way to achieve a fair and balanced result.

This is not the case with the council's survey. The “yes” votes were not for a straight “yes” to privatisation, but to a sort of catch-all creed running to an amazing 115 words and concluding with a reassuring promise of “the opportunity to vote on the proposed transfer and that it would not go ahead if the majority of tenants voting opposed the proposal”. Compare and contrast this with the stark and off-putting “no” option, coming in at a mere 14 words: “Opposition to converting Worthing Homes into an independent non-profit making company in all circumstances.”

This is a psychological sales trick of the lowest sort. And yet Cllr Bennett thinks it's The Pork-Bolter that's “scurrilous”!

Who's Robin who?

WHAT'S the difference between Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest and Robin King of Worthing Homes? Robin Hood was an outlaw, clad in green, who robbed the rich to feed the poor. Robin King, on the other hand, wears a smart suit and tie and would obviously never rob anyone.

Business-class democracy

WHEN official bodies of any sort say they want to hear the views of the public, they don't really mean the likes of you and me. That's why when the Countryside Commission held a “public” conference on the future of the Downs the other week, it did so during the daytime and charged £20 admission.

As a Worthing Friends of the Earth spokesperson said: “I wonder who will be able to attend this 'public' conference. The employed will be at work and the unemployed are unlikely to have a spare £20.” And when the Countryside Commission person was called on to explain herself on the telly (Meridian news), she warbled on about involving local authorities, amenity societies and - wait for it - local businessmen.

These types basically want the rest of us to pork off out of it while they decide for us what our opinion is. But you can still have your say in writing, by sending off for a free consultation document on the future of the South Downs from the Countryside Commission at John Dower House, Crescent Place, Cheltenham, GLSO 3RA. Responses must be returned by February 1.


Holy Higgins! A competition

LIKE us, you're probably still quivering with excitement at the news that our former Tory MP Terence Higgins has now not only become Lord Higgins of Worthing but has also been given the Freedom of Worthing by the council (who have coincidentally taken it away from the rest of us with the introduction of Big Brother TV surveillance...) When he retired at the last election, the Great Man had clocked up a marvellous 33 years as our representative in parliament. We can hardly begin to list all the amazing, splendid, admirable, downright saintly things he achieved for us all during that time. And who cares that he never actually lived in Worthing?

Such is the gratitude of Lord Higgins' loyal subjects that we are told a Friends of Lord Higgins group has now been formed in the town, in which admirers will regularly dress as Lord Higgins and re-enact some of his greatest moments of triumph as our MP.

Entering into the spirit of the public's adulation of this modern-day hero, we are holding our own Higgins-based competition. To stand a chance of winning a free six-issue subscription to The Pork-Bolter, simply complete the following sentence in no more than 12 words: “I think Terence Higgins deserved his peerage and the Freedom of Worthing because...”

Entries by January 15 to Good Lord Competition, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ.


Porky Pie’s Top Tip of the Month!

How To Spot A Councillor!
  1. Age range 16 to 112.
  2. Permanently baffled expression.
  3. Moves lips while reading agendas.
  4. One trouser leg often left carelessly rolled up.
  5. No friends and an unhealthy obsession with dog dirt.
  6. Now wash your hands.

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

FREE speech in this supposedly democratic country got another serious kick in the teeth on November 14 when three editors of the Green Anarchist paper were sentenced to three years in jail just along the coast in Portsmouth. Noel Molland, 24, Steve Booth, 38, and Saxon Burchnall-Wood, 24, weren't even accused of actually doing anything, other than being part of a “conspiracy to incite criminal damage” by reporting on direct action in their organ. The case has predictably received scant coverage in the mainstream media, but more information on the case, plus more or less everything that's going on in the alternative scene in Brighton, Sussex and beyond, can be had from SchNEWS, the excellent weekly bulletin published by Justice? For a sample, send a stamp to them c/o on-the-fiddle, PO Box 2600, Brighton, E. Sussex, BN2 2DX.
* * *

TRIUMPH after triumph for the town's spy camera surveillance system! Reports the Herald: “CCIV cameras picked up a three-car collision near Worthing's Pier on Sunday. No one was injured and all parties exchanged details at the scene.” Sleep easy, fellow citizens!
* * *

“DON'T be led by the hype. There is more crime in Toy Town than Horsham,” advises the first issue of The Answer?, an eclectic new 20-page mag. It reveals (definitely an exclusive, this) that police in Horsham are using an ex-RAF fighter-bomber and dinosaurs “to defend themselves against the bullet from a shoplifter's gun or the knife wielded by an unruly toddler on a crossing patrol”. It costs £1 from 38 Abbotsbury Court, Horsham, W Sussex RH12 5PT.

Official Warning

IT has been pointed out to us that as a result of this month's Porky Pie's Tip, some readers may feel sorry for sad-case old councillors and want to take them home and care for them. We would point out that elected representatives of political parties DO NOT make suitable pets, despite their cuddly appearance around election time. Once invited to take up residence they can quickly turn nasty and often prove to have some highly unpleasant personal habits. Pigs are a much better bet.

Hit the Pig time - subscribe!

IF you want to make sure of getting a copy of issue 4, 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!). Copies of issues 1 and 2 are also available. Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to The Pork-Bolter. All correspondence to PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. Why not send us your own items of community news or scandal?

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BNI4 7NZ.


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

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