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I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow. -- Abraham Lincoln
You may be reading this newsletter for the first time as a result of the BVEJ Experiment. To ensure you receive future copies please subscribe.
To participate in the BVEJ Experiment please visit the BVEJ home page and forward a copy of the BVEJ newsletter to everyone you know, ask the recipients to do the same. [BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice was formed nearly three years ago as a response to the lack of any effective environmental group in the locality, sadly a situation as true today as it was then. Since then the personnel has changed, but we remain true to our founding principles (see links from home page), the only difference is we have gone international, but our roots remain in the Blackwater Valley.
The lack of any effective local environmental groups was not the only formative factor, the lack of any quality local press, we report what you don't read elsewhere. Our other guiding principle was the dismay at the failure of all existing groups to see the wider picture and the need to cooperate.
Locally we focus on Farnborough Airport, Farnborough town centre and exposing corruption in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. Recently we have taken a closer look at what is happening in Aldershot.
Internationally we are part of the anti-globalisation movement. We highlight the ills of Big Business, as of late Iraq has been the focus of our attention.
Unlike traditional groups, we link together issues, we recognise social, human rights and other issues and link them together. A group fighting rainforest destruction may need our help because it is a British transnational that is carrying out the destruction.
Almost all our back issues are available on our web site, we are slowly slowly, adding more. We used to produce briefings and urgent actions, resources permitting, we may again in the future. We have finally got around to updating our on-line diary (the newsletter contains an edited version).
At the moment newsletter production is our main activity. Our editorial team put together easily digestible articles, often with links and references for more in-depth information.
Latest version of newsletter usually appears on-line a few days after we have e-mailed out the the newsletter. We will post a notice on Indymedia UK when available.
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It seems we have been making waves and upsetting people. Good!
We make no apology. That is what we exist for. If we have been making waves and upsetting people then we have been meeting one of our primary objectives.
Of course we don't exist primarily to upset people. If the people we upset change their wicked ways, we will be the first to rejoice and bring you the good news.
Iraq's human rights record is appalling, but we have been saying this for years. The British and US are being selective, conveniently ignoring other countries and using this record to drive forward foreign and military goals. -- Richard Bunting, Amnesty International
Early last month, around 250 people, including comedians Mark Thomas and Rob Newman and Caroline Lucas MEP blocked off part of Whitehall in London from 11am until 4pm in a nonviolent die-in against the war and sanctions on Iraq. Entitled 'Warzone Whitehall', the action saw people dressed as war victims 'die' in the road in several places with banners, sound effects and supporters. Towards the end the police moved more forcefully to arrest around 35 protesters for obstructing the highway.
The action involved groups like Voices (In the Wilderness UK). Richard Byrne, Voices spokesperson said, 'This is just the start. 2000 people in the UK have signed a pledge to engage in civil disobedience if this war starts.'
The UK has produced a dossier of human rights abuses in Iraq. No one would doubt that such abuses do exist, but, as with Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Kurdish Human Rights Project, we regard this as cynical abuse of other people's suffering to justify the bombing of Iraq. As AI has pointed out, the dossier fails to mention the right to 'food, education and health', presumably because it is our sanctions, and the previous bombing campaign that contrary to the Geneva Convention, deliberately targeted water supplies, or depleted uranium munitions that have coated the country with radioactive dust. The forthcoming war will have a terrible effect on an already vulnerable population. As AI have said, the dossier is simply 'a cold manipulation to justify military action'. Even the Iraqi dissident that Neo-Labour dragged out to support the dossier said he was 'opposed to a war that may cause the Iraqi people a great loss of life and infrastructure.'
Hussain al-Shahristani, a former nuclear scientist, was tortured and jailed for 11 years for refusing to work on Saddam's secret nuclear programme, and is now head of the Iraqi Refugee Aid Council. 'When I was in jail,' he added, 'I was held with British-made handcuffs. In the cells next door, I could hear the screams of people who were having holes drilled into their bones. Those drills were made in Britain - The dossier about human rights abuses is correct. Each of the events took place. But I am critical of the silence of Britain and other European countries for over two decades about these abuses.'
This government's concern for human rights, even in Iraq, is remarkably new. Putting aside the supply of arms to the genocidal regime in Indonesia, we can review the treatment of Iraqi refugees by Jack Straw (now Foreign Secretary touting a report on human rights). In January 2001, Jack Straw (then Home Secretary) sent an Iraqi refugee back to Iraq on the grounds that he'd receive 'a fair trial under an independent judiciary'. Not a murmur then of Iraqi atrocities.
It is not that there has been no mention of human rights abuses. Over the years, there has been Early Day Motions for MPs to sign. You won't find Straw's signature. But he is not unique, nor will you find the signature of his predecessor Robin Cook (he of ethical foreign policy) or that of Tony Blair (who has suddenly found a concern for the human rights of Iraqi citizens).
That's because when it comes to human rights abuses, governments and sleeze-bag politicians seem to have selective amnesia about just who are the world's bad guys.
Before Iraq invaded Kuwait, the UK government supported President Saddam Hussein and British companies helped arm him. After the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja, British ministers and officials tried to blame the chemical attack on Iran. Tory minister David Mellor was in Baghdad at the time the order was given, trying to sell Iraq a new missile system. Afterwards, Iraq was rewarded with trade credits. Human Rights Watch said that when it collected evidence of Saddam's abuses at Halabja and elsewhere in the Kurdish area of Iraq, the Foreign Office ignored it.
Or what about Turkey, who've been busy repressing the Kurdish people without anyone so much as batting an eyelid. Arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, disappearances, extra-judicial killings, the banning of political opposition and harassment of human rights groups are just some of the treats in store for you if you're Kurdish. Add to that the fact that Kurdish language, names, music, culture, and clothing are outlawed. Conservative estimates reckon that in the past 15 years, Turkish Security Forces have destroyed 4000 Kurdish villages - leaving 30,000 dead and 3 million driven from their homes.
Not that Turkey achieved all this unaided. They had massive military aid from the US and we in the UK were only too happy to do our bit in arming the Turkish regime.
So Kurds fighting Iraq are good, but Kurds fighting against Turkey are bad because Turkey is a member of NATO and an important ally of the United States thanks to its strategically placed air bases. Or, Kurds in the northern Iraq no-fly zone are safe from attacks by Iraq, but Turkey can at will, bomb the shit out of them.
Or what about Saudi Arabia and the corrupt House of Saud?
CND have mounted a legal challenge as to the legality of any war with Iraq.
Members of Voices in the Wilderness in the US have been fined a total of $50,000 for having the cheek to send medicine to Iraq without a permit. Since 1996, members have broken sanctions with over fifty delegations to Iraq, travelling on humanitarian, fact-finding, and rebuilding missions, and refusing to see the people of Iraq as enemies. The group aim to collect money for the fine - then use it to buy more medicine to send to Iraq! Don't they understand that if they had sent a bomb they would have got a pat on the back??
Die-In Blocks 'WarZone Whitehall', UK Indymedia, 4 December 2002
Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, Pluto Press, 2000
John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
Speaking to Noam Chomsky later, I asked him why he thought the US was going to attack Iraq. He said Iraq was not perceived as a threat until September. 9-11? He said no, September this year. I asked why. He replied the congressional elections, and that it was now to get Bush re-elected. Shocked and appalled, I asked was it that simple, that crude. He replied yes, that simple that crude. As he explained, it has always been so, wars to get unpopular leaders re-elected. I said like Maggie (former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) with the Falklands when she was at rock bottom in the polls, he replied yes. -- Keith Parkins
Noam Chomsky is a leading authority on and critic of US foreign policy, which no doubt explains why we never see him in the mainstream media.
On behalf of the Bar (body for Barristers, cf Law Society for solicitors) he gave a talk in St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Kurdish Human Rights Project. 2,000 people attended, a further 1,000 were in the freezing cold outside hoping in vain to get in. Afterwards, for a select few, including some of the leading lawyers in the land, a private party was held in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral.
The centre piece of the talk was human rights violations in Turkey, the crisis in the Middle East, followed by Colombia.
In Turkey, Kurds are still being imprisoned and tortured for the crime of being a Kurd. Leyla Zana is still in prison, for daring to represent the Kurds in Parliament. When a Kurd goes to the US on a mission of peace, he is refused a visa, but war criminal Ariel Sharon is welcomed with open arms.
There is a strong correlation with supply of US arms and human rights abuses. The atrocities peaked in Turkey as the Clinton weapons supplies were stepped up. More arms went to Turkey during this period than at the height of the Cold War. As Turkish terrorism prospered, Kurds were bludgeoned into submission.
As the US has turned its intention to Colombia, the atrocities have risen. In Colombia, around two million people have been displaced by the atrocities, a figure only matched by Turkey. No informed commentator believes this to be a war on drugs. Why is the media silent?
In the Middle East, the West, ie US/UK, has the resources as of right. The Middle East is not about access to oil, it is about control.
War with Iraq will have undetermined consequences. The CIA accept it will lead to an increase in terrorism. Dissent and comparison with Vietnam are misleading. It was several years into the Vietnam war before there was any widespread dissent. Before the war with Iraq has even started, there is growing opposition. This is unprecedented in recent US and European history.
2,000 people so intent on what was being said, that if a pin had been dropped, it would have echoed throughout the hallowed venue.
The following day Chomsky was speaking to parliamentarians in an event organised by Alan Simpson MP, then addressing students at the LSE, and finally an evening event at the Institute of Education hosted by Red Pepper. The Red Pepper event, like the previous day's event for KHRP, was well over-subscribed, with a video link having to be provided for an overflow theatre for a further 350.
As Michael Mansfield QC said in thanking Noam Chomsky for an illuminating lecture, a lecture which received a standing ovation lasting several minutes, if President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are to read a dossier, it should be the dossier we have been presented tonight.
Stop Press: The Red Pepper event is now available on tape or CD.
KHRP was originally founded to defend Kurdish human rights cases in Turkish occupied Kurdistan. KHRP is increasingly handling cases of Kurds in Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The World Tonight, Radio 4, BBC, 10 December 2002
Terry Kirby, Sidelined in the US, the left's 'greatest thinker' finds warm welcome in Britain, The independent, 7 December 2002
Keith Parkins, Noam Chomsky in London, UK Indymedia, 12 December 2002
Chomksy is a prolific writer, a selection which covers what he was discussing in his lectures:
Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Verso, 1991
Noam Chomsky, Fateful triangle, Pluto Press, 1999
Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, Pluto Press, 2000
Noam Chomsky, 9-11, Seven Stories Press, 2001
Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World, Pluto Press, 1986, 2002
Noam Chomsky, Back in the USA, Red Pepper, May 2002
Phil Scraton (Ed), Beyond September 11: An Anthology of Dissent, Pluto Press, 2002
For many in the world, Kissinger is a symbol of US arrogance and the misuse of American might. In power, he cared more for US credibility and geostrategic advantage than for human rights and open government. -- David Corn
It appears the White House has been listening. No one believes the facts as laid out by George W Bush, so a commission of inquiry has been set up, but with the appointment of war criminal Kissinger do we get the impression it is to do the same job as the Warren Commission (for those whose memories don't go far back enough, the Warren Commission whitewashed the killing of JFK).
Kissinger, the man who was the linchpin of the Reagan-Bush era.
The American public can rest easy knowing that human rights champion Henry Kissinger is to head an 'independent' commission to investigate the attacks on America on September 11th. Who better to investigate 9-11 than Kissinger, the man behind untold amounts of state-sponsored terrorism and wanted across the world as a war criminal! A proven liar has been assigned the task of finding the truth. Brilliant!
As war criminals go, Kissinger is in the premier league. During the Vietnam War he was co-architect with Nixon in the secret bombing campaign of Cambodia, which is estimated to have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
In 1971, Pakistani General Yahya Khan, armed with US weaponry, overthrew a democratically elected government in Bangladesh - an action that led to a massive civilian bloodbath. Kissinger blocked US condemnation of Khan and instead noted the General's 'delicacy and tact.
In the early 1970s, Kissinger masterminded the CIA's $8 million campaign to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. When Allende won power, all US aid was cut and Kissinger announced, 'The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.' So in came the murderous military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. On June 8, 1976, at the height of Pinochet's repression, Kissinger had a meeting with the dictator, telling him, 'We are sympathetic to what you are trying to do here.'
In 1975, President Gerald Ford and Kissinger offered advance approval of Indonesia's brutal invasion of East Timor, where tens of thousands of East Timorese were killed.
In 1976, as the Argentinian military junta was beginning its so-called 'dirty war' against supposed subversives - between 9,000 and 30,000 people would be 'disappeared' by the military over the next seven years - Argentina's foreign minister met with Kissinger and received what he believed was encouragement for his government's violent efforts. A few years later Kissinger travelled to Buenos Aires as the guest of dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla and praised the junta for having done, 'an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces.'
As the declaration goes 'All human beings are born free and equal', it just seems that some are a lot more free and a lot more equal than others.
Stop Press: As we went to press, Kissinger resigned!
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
As we went to press last month the Fat Engine Controller (aka John Prescott) confirmed what we have been saying, modernisation means job cuts. Prescott said there was to be a 20% cut in the workforce, ie 11,000 jobs.
The following day, one of the employers negotiators said that a couple of years ago DTLR had produced a report saying that for comprehensive fire cover the fire service needed to employ more people.
Blair and his cronies have been complaining that the firefighters have been making the dispute political. Err, is that not what Blair and his cronies have been doing from day one of the dispute?
It seems the cardinal sin was committed by firefighters' leader Andy Gilchrist when he called for the replacement of New Labour with Real Labour.
The choice is not between neo-Labour and the Tories, many Labour party members can see no difference (which is why many of them are now leaving the party). The choice is between neo-Labour and a party that rids itself of Blair and all his corrupting influence.
[BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
The Criminal Records Bureau is still in a mess. Such is the extent of the backlog that the government has agreed that vetting of staff for old peoples homes and helpers in old peoples houses can be postponed indefinitely.
Checking of old people carers is not the only problem. The voluntary sector, schools, are all experiencing delays in having staff or potential staff checked.
The boss of Crapita gave a speech to the CBI on corporate accountability and openness. When the BBC tried to interview him on the piss poor performance of Crapita he refused to answer the questions.
Crapita were awarded a £400 million contract to run the Criminal Records Bureau for 10 years. Crapita also run the BBC licence fee and man the BBC help lines.
Crapita have the contract to run London's congestion charging system.
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
The Co-op used to be on nearly every corner. Then they pulled out of corner shops, concentrating on large superstores. The Co-op has just bought ailing chain Alldays.
The big supermarkets are restricted on expansion. Out of town superstores are out, sites for town centre superstores are extremely rare (unless you can find a rotten Borough like Rushmoor that is willing to destroy its own town centre). The big supermarket chains are in a bind as to how they can continue their relentless expansion. Their approach is different.
ASDA are buying up failing out of town shopping malls, even theme parks (is there a difference), in the hope they can convert into superstores. To sweeten the pill they offer some housing on site. Sainsbury are doing this with the old Solartron site in Farnborough. Sainsbury are the site developer, the site will be a regional B&Q superstore, with, tucked away in one corner, a block of 30 flats for Pavilion Housing, earmarked for replacement for Firgrove Court which is to be destroyed for a town centre superstore for Sainsbury. Sainsbury are pulling the same trick in Brighton.
Tesco are moving into the corner shop business with Tesco Express. Tesco are currently trying to buy out the Night and Day stores (and their sister chain), to give a presence on the street corner. Tesco can squeeze 11% lower price out of suppliers than other chains. When a Tesco Express opens its doors, nearby corner shops suffer an immediate 30-40% loss of business.
In any retail centre, be it a small village or town centre, there is a critical mass. If the number of shops falls below a certain level, the centre collapses. We have seen this with North Camp an are now seeing it with Farnborough town centre. North Camp, 10-20 years ago, had several butchers, now there are two left. If we look at small villages, we see once thriving village centres, are now lucky if they have a single shop left, bus services are infrequent and extortionate. In the 1950s, Middle Wallop (in the depths of Hampshire) had two village shops, two pubs, a butchers, a village bobby and a village doctor and a district nurse, plus a nearby railway station. All that's left is one pub and one village shop, and if you are lucky, an infrequent bus.
In the 1950s there were 22,000 grocery shops, we are now down to 35,000.
It is not only villages which are suffering, many town centres are facing collapse.
In the 1950s, we were in the austerity of the post war years, rationing had not long ended, and yet, now, when we are supposedly better off (at least on crude monetary measures) we are worse off.
David Boyle, Villages reach the tipping point, New Statesman, 16-30 December 2002
David Boyle, The Money Changers, Earthscan, January 2003
Checkout Chuckout!, Corporate Watch and The Land Is Ours, July 2002
George Monbiot, Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, Macmillan, 2000
George Monbiot, Buying up Britain, The Ecologist, November 2000
George Monbiot, Brecon Reckoning, The Ecologist, December 2000/January 2002
Keith Parkins, Trashing of Farnborough Town Centre, UK Indymedia, 14 November 2002
Andrew Simms et al, Ghost Town Britain, New Economics Foundation, 16 December 2002
What's wrong with Supermarkets, Corporate Watch, April 2002
The mobile phone companies have launched Fonebak, ahead of the EU directive on recycling electrical goods which will require all electrical goods to be recycled. [EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive]
So far so good. There is no reason why any product cannot be made with non-toxic and replaceable and recyclable parts. The move by the mobile phone companies is welcome, but this is the same industry that cons the gullible and moronic teenage consumer base into buying a new mobile phone cos the current model ain't cool. 77% of the UK population have a mobile phone, 90% in the 15-25 age range.
Health Mobile phones damage your brain. Cancer cells grow more aggressively when irradiated. Irradiated mice are twice as likely to get cancers. Irradiated female nematode worms produce more stress hormones (so do we when some prat on the train yells into his mobile phone), more eggs, and grow bigger. Long and short term memory is impaired by mobile phone use. People living close to mobile phone base stations are experiencing a wider range of health problems.
Waste The average lifetime of a mobile phone is 18 months. Mobile phones are toxic waste. 15 million mobile phones are disposed of annually.
Growth It took 100 years to connect the first billion people by phone, only 10 years to connect the second billion.
War Mobile phones (laptops and other electronic goodies) use miniature capacitors, an essential ingredient of which is coltan (colombo-tantalite). Congo is rich in coltan which has driven the bloody civil war. Rwanda invaded to gain access to coltan, in what was a self-financing invasion. It was only when the price fell that Rwandan troops withdrew under the guise of peace moves. The trade is now controlled by vicious criminal gangs.
Ernst von Weizsacker, Amory B Lovins & L Hunter Lovins, Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use, Earthscan, 1997
Paul Hawken, Amory B Lovins & L Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism, Earthscan, 1999
Keith Parkins, Natural Capitalism, October 2000
May of last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that activist Marc Kasky could sue Nike for false advertising for an advert Nike ran claiming to be a responsible company. Nike are now appealing to the US Supreme Court.
In Indonesia Nike has forced wages down from the legal minimum wage of $2.25 to $2.46 to a low of $0.70 per worker per day.
Nike sent a letter to a Vietnamese politico referring to anti-sweat shop campaigners as 'enemies of the state' with a political agenda.
Nike made donations to Republican David Dreier, who has pushed for trade with China. 40% of Nike shoes are made in China, where workers who try to attempt to secure their rights are sent to forced labour camps.
Workers at a Nike factory in Mexico who went on strike for better wages were clubbed by riot police.
Nike has aggressively opposed the human rights group, Workers Rights Consortium. When University of Oregon joined WRC, Phil Knight, Nike chief executive, withdrew a $30 million donation to the university.
The first half of 2002, Nike declared a 28% increase in profits. Sales were up from $2.48 billion to $2.68 billion.
Naomi Klein, No Logo, Flamingo, 2000
John Pilger, Hidden Agendas, Vintage, 1998
Keith Parkins, Globalisation - the human cost, heureka.clara.net, March 2001
We briefly touched upon last month the crass stupidity of several councils and individuals challenging the legal agreement that stops expansion at Gatwick. Other areas facing unwelcome expansion thought the agreement was very unfair. [BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
Instead of seeking advice from Gatwick campaigners on how they too could implement a similar, if not better, legal agreement to stop expansion, Kent, Medway and Essex Councils, plus some local Stansted residents, challenged the legal agreement that protects Gatwick. Surprisingly the court ruled in their favour. The argument from Kent had some merit, why is the government recognising the sanctity of the Gatwick legal agreement, when they are not respecting the various protection afforded to the Thames Estuary marshes at Cliffe on the north Kent coast? The obvious approach, to seek the same level of protection for Cliffe, was not taken.
There has been grows hypocrisy by the councils concerned. The local council for Stansted has recently agreed massive expansion at Stansted, Medway council has been pushing for years for expansion at Manston.
Apart from seeking protection, or defending existing protection, this crass action has pitted one area against another. But then to attack the cause of aviation expansion, okay so long as we don't get the problems, would be to attack the root cause, corporate greed and globalisation, to question why supermarkets import basic foodstuffs from around the world, putting Third World land out of reach of local people, and to challenge these vested interests would never do.
The government has now been forced to throw Gatwick into the melting pot too. What this means is not at all clear. Is the legal agreement at Gatwick no longer valid? Is the legal agreement protecting Farnborough valid? Protection is probably too strong a word to use for Farnborough as the agreement is next to useless. [BVEJ newsletter #0018 November 2001]
The consultation process is now back to square one. The government has decided not to challenge the High Court ruling. Instead, rather than extend the consultation deadline, the process is to be restarted in the spring.
But none of this lets these councils off the hook. What they should have been doing is fighting the expansion process itself, not acting like a bunch of nimbys and trying to dump it on someone else.
Where was AEF in all of this? At the very least they should be acting as co-ordinators across all the aviation groups. If not, then what role does AEF have? As far as we can see, AEF serves no useful function at all. They send out a rather useless newsletter. One of recent newsletter featured aviation expansion in Germany, but no mention of actions closer to home. Did AEF alert anyone to the recent demo in London towards the end of November? If nothing else, AEF should act as clearing house for information between groups.
The AEF newsletter includes some dumb as well as useless information. Is it a newsletter for the industry? A recent newsletter had an article by John Vidal, accompanied by a query where it may have been originally published. Well, as Environment Editor for the Grauniad, wouldn't the Grauniad be a good guess? If AEF do not know Vidal is the Grauniad Environment Editor, could that explain why there is piss-poor coverage of the issues? The article itself was crap. It justified flying by regurgitation the old discredited argument of planting trees as a carbon offset. We suggest AEF read some of Rising Tide's material on carbon sinks, or maybe even the BVEJ climate change special. Tree planting as carbon sinks only works whilst the trees are growing. Once a wood or forest is established it becomes carbon neutral (trees release carbon when they decay), unless you are laying down the carbon deposits (coal) for a few million years hence. [BVEJ newsletter #0014 July 2001
AEF (or one of its alter ego web sites) recently had an article for BAA praising its green image for cleaning the water at Heathrow! Obviously AEF are not familiar with the work of Mike Riley in demonstrating the pollution run off at Heathrow. Or is it a case they want no one else to be familiar with the work of Mike Riley? When BAA recently drained the run off ponds at Heathrow (the sludge so toxic that it had to go to designated landfill), Mike took a sample of the sludge for analysis. Asked to contribute towards the cost of the analysis, AEF said no. They were not alone, HACAN only offered to fund half the cost, and FoE said no. We are talking of megabucks here, all of £500. Eventually Mike Riley and aviation campaigner Jenny Craven covered the cost out of their own pockets. No doubt these redoubtable defenders of the environment (aka pretend environmental groups) will claim the credit when the results are published as a mechanism to siphon more money from their members. [BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
We are lucky locally in the number of experts working on aviation issues. The work on risk and noise, whilst specific to Farnborough Airport, could be used by other groups, or at least it could if AEF ever made reference to it or put links on their web sites. Local campaigner and investigative writer Keith Parkins has had a number of articles published in the last year (Corporate Watch, Indymedia, Squall and Red Pepper), we make reference and provide links wherever we can, but we have never seen a mention by AEF or links from their web sites.
But it is not all bad news.
The Royal Commission on the Environment has said no to airport expansion. They have reiterated what ourselves and others have been saying about the pollution generated by aviation and its protected status. That aviation is a major cause of air pollution, and that in emitting pollution at high altitudes, a major cause of climate instability.
The final nail in the coffin to expansion at Cliffe has been hammered in by ABTA who have publicly said no to Cliffe. If the travel industry does not want Cliffe, then who does?
For those who heard it, George Monbiot had an excellent half hour on BBC Radio 4 rubbishing airport expansion. Well done George for getting the message across.
With regard to the airfield this council has bent over backwards so that noise, tonnage and safety issues are the best we can possibly get for a business airport. -- Peter Moyle
Yes, I think we can all agree, the Council has bent over backwards. It's just unfortunate it wasn't for the benefit of the local community. -- Keith Parkins
I forwarded ERM a copy of my criticisms of their main report. As they extensively quoted from my report in their supplementary report, I would have expected them to reciprocate the courtesy. But it seems the normal professional courtesies don't apply to ERM. -- Keith Parkins
At the last minute Rushmoor rushed in their comments on the Future of Aviation. A flawed paper was put before the Environment Panel, the same flawed paper, with minor modifications, was approved by the Cabinet.
Deputy leader of the Council Peter Moyle attacked the government for the short period of consultation. Whilst we too can find grounds for criticism, we also note Rushmoor has had months in which to respond, and unlike Rushmoor, the government has at least engaged in consultation.
At the same Cabinet meeting (Tuesday 19 November 2002), Peter Moyle claimed 'With regard to the airfield this council has bent over backwards so that noise, tonnage and safety issues are the best we can possibly get for a business airport.'
Yes, Moyle is correct, the 'council has bent over backwards' to get 'the best we can' for TAG.
TAG's planning application gathered dust on the shelve for several months until the Local Plan was suitably modified to meet the TAG planning application, but even then, the Local Plan was breached by the TAG planning application.
The Local Plan had a weight limit of 50 tonnes. This was increased to 80 tonnes to accommodate TAG.
It was not only weight that was increased. The Local Plan originally had a limit on movements of 20,000. This was increased to 25,000 to satisfy TAG. TAG applied for 25,000 movements. Rushmoor, to show their generosity, granted 28,000.
The noise contours agreed with TAG, will allow TAG to increase noise. It is TAG who will monitor the noise.
TAG have recently submitted their proposals on noise monitoring. Noise monitoring is a slight misnomer. There will in actual fact be no noise measurements, simply the running of computer models. There has been no consultation with the local community on the proposals submitted by TAG.
TAG have yet to carry out a ground safety study. TAG have submitted flawed risk contours, contours that grossly underestimate the risk. These risk contours are not a study of ground safety. But even using TAG's flawed risk contours, there are more people enclosed by these risk contours than at any other UK airport. A handful of people have been notified, with an extremely misleading letter, of TAG's submissions on risk contours.
Rushmoor, despite a successful High Court challenge (Parkins v Rushmoor), have yet to commission an independent study of ground safety. Dishonest officials are still claiming drawing risk contours is a ground safety study, it is not.
A so-called 'independent' study of the risk contours has been carried out by ERM. The only work ERM have carried out is to replicate TAG's work, to then make the astounding claim they get the same results! Yet another example of local taxpayers' money down the drain, the local community deceived.
But it is not only 'noise, tonnage and safety issues' where 'this council has bent over backwards'. Rushmoor have allowed TAG to discharge additional water into Cove Brook, putting residents at risk along Cove Brook, an area already identified by the Environment Agency at high risk of flooding. Already this winter, Southwood Golf Course has been turned into a lake for the third winter in a row.
Moyle has certainly bent over backwards over the airfield, but it was for the benefit of TAG, not the local community, who Moyle was elected to serve.
Not convinced who Rushmoor are acting for? Check out their response to the government consultation on the Future of Aviation, where you will find the council promoting Farnborough as a business airport.
Investigative writer and local campaigner Keith Parkins has had an expose of Farnborough published by Squall. Also check out the December 2002 issue of Red Pepper for another in-depth report on Farnborough.
Early December, Rising Tide occupied the offices of ERM for their involvement with the BP pipeline through Turkey (BVEJ newsletter October 2002). ERM are the company engaged by Rushmoor to carry out a flawed safety study (BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002).
The TAG risk contours go before the Rushmoor planning committee on Wednesday 18 December. The recommendation from the sleazy officials is to APPROVE. A second report has been compiled by ERM, mainly to rubbish the reports by Keith Parkins and others. The agenda is extremely biased, it includes reports favourable to TAG, omits other reports. It is extremely important that everyone makes the effort to attend this meeting (7pm Wed 18 December 2002, Council Offices, Farnborough). Please pass the word around. We want to see a packed meeting. In the meantime, in the lead up to the meeting, get on the phone to councillors and tell them how you expect them to vote.
On the Saturday morning before the planning meeting, councillors had a cosy little tea and biscuits with TAG in the control tower. Where they were told that TAG would be making a press announcement on Thursday that the airfield now had the go-ahead. A little premature one would think. But then why were councillors, who in a few days time, meet to consider a planning application from TAG, hob-nobbing with TAG? Will they all declare a vested interest and leave the room?
The structure and membership of the airfield consultative committee goes before the Rushmoor Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon (4.30pm Tues 17 December 2002, Council Offices, Farnborough). It is a stitch up of the local community. The only person remotely representing the local community and with any expertise of the issues is Geoff Marks of FARA, one seat out of 21 seats (7 of which are supposed to represent the local community). Did BVFoE really expect to get a seat? [BVEJ newsletter #0030 November 2002]
Clive Green, Tour won't affect us, Farnborough Mail, 17 December 2002
Clive Green and Simon Coughlin, Accused over airfield safety, Farnborough News, 29 November 2002
Keith Parkins, Big Business Jets In, Squall, 18 November 2002
Keith Parkins, Big Business Jets In, Red Pepper, December 2002
Eco-protesters target eco-consultants, UK Indymedia, 4 December 2002
The road at the back of Queensmead covered in mud (breach of planning conditions), cars parked on the pavement forcing walkers into the road, ASDA lorries unable to turn posing additional hazards to pedestrians. Why is Rushmoor turning a blind eye?
In the weeks leading up to Christmas the Halifax had water pouring through the ceiling. Just another sign of the shoddy state of KPI's buildings and lack of repairs. The Halifax is another business in town that has seen business plummet.
The Car Phone Warehouse will go when its lease runs out. How long will Argos, Wilkinson and the Triangle remain? None are doing too well, Triangle is struggling to pay the extortionate rent.
How long will the skateboard shop last? A handful of kids using the skateboard park hardly constitutes a customer base.
The computer games shop is not expected to last long. Last month KPI sent in the bailiffs and seized the owner's flash car.
A little Christmas Fayre, with bloody awful canned merriment was held in North Camp, the roads closed, stalls erected. Only there was a slight problem. The local shops found they had no trade.
The shopkeepers decided to take the matter into their own hands, and tore down the barriers. The stall holders were none to happy and cleared off home.
Were the local shopkeepers consulted over this little fiasco. Don't be silly, of course they weren't.
Ample have launched an appeal for funds to enable them to take a judicial review against the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.
Ample are to be applauded. Please do everything you can to help them raise the money.
At least some groups are willing to fight, not sit back and do nothing.
[BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
We would also like to see improvements to the speed of development - as is well-known, the planning system in this country does tend to slow down the best efforts of even the most experienced development partnerships. -- Graham Plumbe, Pavilion chairman
Spean is a bungalow and plot of land in South Farnborough. Pavilion bought the land for around £800,000 and wish to demolish the bungalow and erect three houses and a block of 8 flats. It would be overdevelopment for the plot and is out of character for the area. The proposals are strongly opposed by the affected neighbours, who suspect they are being stitched up by Rushmoor planning department.
Pavilion have now submitted revised plans. The changes are minor and cosmetic - the block of three houses has changed from an irregular block to a linear block (three houses in a row), the refuse bins have been moved a few feet. The game that is being played is submit minor changes, and hope no one objects. The planners can then claim the developers have taken on board the objections, made changes, and everyone must now be happy as no further objections have been received.
Please object to the changes. All you need to say is that the changes are minor and cosmetic, and that your original objections still stand. If you have not yet objected, please take the opportunity this offers to object.
Objections to Keith Holland (Rushmoor Head of Planning):
[BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
We believe these product lines will have a future ... Now is the time to rehabilitate the image of rented housing. Customers easily forget the enormous benefits: it is 'fully serviced' - someone will come to do your repairs at no extra cost and within a reasonable period of time, saving you all the hassle, risk and hard work. -- Mervyn Jones, Pavilion chief executive
Pavilion Housing Association was formed when Rushmoor transferred (rumour is that it was sold for £30,000,000) its housing stock to Rushmoor Housing Association in 1995. The name changed to Pavilion in 1997. The name of the game seems to be empire building. Pavilion now stretches from Basingstoke in the west to beyond Guildford in the east.
Three Rushmoor councillors serve as Pavilion directors. Curiously they do not declare this interest when Pavilion matters are discussed by the Council.
Pavilion claim the following repair regime (from latest annual accounts):
emergency (3 hours) 98.3% urgent (3 days) 94.5% routine (10 days) 91.6% other (20 days) 96.5%
Reviewing these figures (the percentages are repairs carried out within the time period) we are very much reminded of the election results in former Soviet Bloc countries. The figures certainly do not reflect the view of tenants. Tenants waiting months, if not years, for repairs seems to be common place.
These are the target figures, if not met, there are legal remedies.
But first try Pavilion chief executive Mervyn Jones. The mistake many tenants make is they repeatedly complain to Pavilion (in person or by phone) but put nothing in writing. This gives Pavilion the ideal opportunity to deny all knowledge of the repairs. If you have already complained, then start letter off with: I have been complaining for x weeks/months/years in person/phone and I am granting you y days (as above) for repairs to take place, and if no action I will take the matter further. And of course detail the repairs you wish carried out, eg water pouring down walls, faulty gutters, leaking taps, faulty heating, damp, rotten woodwork, etc.
Mervyn Jones 01252 368601
First stop should be Rushmoor Housing Department (or appropriate department for other councils). Rushmoor is under a statutory obligation to enforce repairs. At Rushmoor contact Alison Whiteley (Head of Housing). If she refuses to act talk to your councillors (yes we know they are bloody useless too) or the Local Authority Ombudsman for maladministration.
Second remedy is seek out a solicitor (free if low income or on income support) and seek action in the court to force repairs. A solicitor can also be handy to force Alison Whiteley to act. If this route is taken and the situation is bad, a professional survey would be in order. The local Citizen Advice Bureau can advise on solicitors (they should maintain a list).
Lighting may be a Pavilion or Rushmoor responsibility. Internal lighting clearly Pavilion. Lighting on paths may be Rushmoor or Pavilion, depending whose property. Street lighting is a Rushmoor responsibility. Raise street lighting with Jim Pettitt (Rushmoor Head of Highways).
At a meeting of Pavilion tenants in Aldershot (early December 2002) to discuss anti-social behaviour Don Cappleman misled tenants that Rushmoor has no responsibility for repairs. As can be seen, not true, Rushmoor has a statutory obligation to enforce repairs and is failing in its statutory obligations if it fails to enforce repairs, and has a responsibility for maintaining street lighting (which has a beneficial side effect of cutting down street crime and anti-social behaviour on crime-ridden Pavilion estates). Failure on either count is grounds for referral on maladministration to the Local Authority Ombudsman.
Three Rushmoor councillors sit on the board of Pavilion. Their function is not clear. The board membership gives the impression of jobs for the boys.
Pavilion is moving into student housing. The old working men's club in Peabody Road North Camp is earmarked for student accommodation (hell for local residents). This is an example of empire building, less about meeting the housing needs of local people, and more what the chief executive Mervyn Jones calls 'grasping new opportunities' and developing new 'product lines', a business empire in which tenants are reduced to 'customers'.
Please feel free to pass this advice around Pavilion tenants. Also any success stories, make sure everyone knows so more people can force repairs.
Pavilion are paranoid about bad publicity in the media.
The regulatory body for Pavilion is the Housing Corporation.
Samantha Chapman, This week's excuses from Pavilion are ..., Farnborough News, 1 November 2002
Cliff Mogg, Spy cameras to nab yobs, Surrey-Hants Star, 28 November 2002
Pensioner hopes council house transfer will solve flat problems, Farnborough News, 22 November 2002
Having sustained years of systematic beatings, communities all over Britain are finally imploding under the jungle-law/free-market greed-fest of smack and crack dealing and the anti-social, anti-people, anti-life bullshit behaviour it generates. -- Flaco
We're all on a learning curve and we're not sure where it'll end up. But bitching about it and doing nothing is, hopefully, no longer an option. -- Flaco
Sink estates are ghettos of social deprivation, where everything spirals downwards, people no longer take a pride in their own property, even less communal areas, streets become no-go areas, especially at night, the haunt of yobs and drug dealers. People lack hope.
Two such estates are Pavilion estates, one in Farnborough, the other in Aldershot.
In Farnborough, to their credit, the police and Pavilion, have adopted a get tough approach. Drug dealers have been driven off the streets and yobs targeted. The hardcore who would not improve their behaviour, have been kicked off the estate.
A hundred or more local residents turned out to a meeting early one December night to discuss the problems of anti-social behaviour on a Pavilion estate in Aldershot. That so many people were prepared to turn out to discuss the problems (in an age of apathy and indifference) is in itself a good sign, especially as it embraced quite a wide age range, from young kids to ancient grannies. Also heartening was that a couple of the young girls were articulate and willing to put forward proposals.
That there is a problem is in no doubt, and it is no excuse for kids to moan 'we are bored' as no one owes them a living. Parents also need to ask themselves the question why some of their kids are little shits.
The meeting started off with a lot of slagging off, which although it raised the temperature to a near riot, was probably a good thing as people were able to bring out into the open some of the problems, and until we recognise the problems we cannot move forward with solutions.
Mike Roberts was attacked for not having the guts to show his face. His recent comments in the press that there was not a problem, was widely criticised. Don Cappleman was present, but his role seemed to be to act as an apologist for Rushmoor. His claim that Rushmoor has no responsibility for repairs was plain wrong. Councillors might have more status than dog shit on the streets if they started listening to and acting for the local community. Tony Gardner was the only other councillor present. He did seem to understand the mood of those present and he encouraged the residents to move forward by taking matters into their own hands
Things will move forward if, having attended the meeting, people recognise the solution is in their own hands. If they need space, they have to reclaim their own space, not rely on the Council. Pavilion can help, by providing property, provided the kids and others are prepared to look after it. An empty house the kids are prepared to look after and run, a place where they can meet for coffee and a chat. If the kids, and other people create their own space, they are more likely to look after it. Need a space for games. Ask Pavilion or the Council for some land, then do the work yourselves, prepare the ground, lay the turf or surface.
The meeting ended, with one articulate young girl, having found a friend's house to meet the next week, willing to go away to find out what other kids wanted, then to come with ideas to the meeting to see what is viable. With parents and older people willing to help out and provide support.
For a meeting that started with anger and frustration, that is a good start.
For it to work, it has to come from the bottom up, not be dictated top down by councillors or social workers.
The response of the council to the well-being of Aldershot, is to grant planning permission for a Barratts estate on Manor Park. Corporate greed comes before provision of open space for local people.
More information can be obtained from the local residents group:
chairman Peter Sandy 01252 329919 secretary Sandra Jeffery 07951 135458
It is not only on the sink estates where there are problems. In Aldershot town centre in the daytime people are being acosted for money, at night the town centre becomes a no-go area, several people have been badly beaten up in the town. The response of the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor to anti-social behaviour and yobs on the streets is to grant Yate's Pub a licence to serve alcohol until midnight every night, and to act as an enabler for developers who want to make a fast buck out of ripping apart the town.
Flaco, Ev'ry Body Needs Good Neighbours, SchNEWS of the World Yearbook 2002
Cliff Mogg, Spy cameras to nab yobs, Surrey-Hants Star, 28 November 2002
Peter Sandy, Crime is not falling here, Farnborough News, 6 December 2002
Richard Short is a Rushmoor planning official, for those who thought he was an employee of TAG Aviation it is a very easy mistake to make.
Richard Short (in report to Rushmoor Environment Panel):
There have also been representations on submissions on planning conditions including an unsuccessful High Court challenge.
Richard Short (in tender document to ERM):
RBC [Rushmoor Borough Council] has given an undertaking in respect of a consent order in the High Court [Parkins v Rushmoor] to discontinue legal proceedings that independent advice would be taken on the details submitted by TAG for the purposes of Conditions 16 and 17.
In the same tender document Richard Short prejudices both the independence of the consultants advice (ERM were asked to advise on TAG's work) and the planning process itself with the statement: 'Flying pursuant to the permission is expected to commence in January 2003'. Does Short know something we should all know about? Has Short given similar assurances (cast iron guarantees) to TAG Aviation? In the same tender document, Short states: 'Planning permission was granted'. This displays an appalling degree of ignorance, TAG have not been granted full planning permission, they have been granted outline permission only.
It was Richard Short who 'gagged' ERM to prevent them discussing their so-called 'independent' report of TAG's work with third parties.
It was Richard Short who gave a misleading report to Rushmoor Cabinet on the function and structure of the airfield consultative committee, a report was selectively extracted from a report originally produced by AEF (relevant passages were missing). Out of 21 seats (7 each to TAG, local authorities and local community) only 3 seats are being allocated to local residents. [BVEJ newsletter #0030 November 2002]
It is Richard Short who is vetting who shall occupy the seats.
It was Richard Short who gave a misleading presentation to Rushmoor Environment Panel, then the Cabinet, on Rushmoor's response on the government consultation exercise on the Future of Aviation. It was then Richard Short who made minor amendments to the response before it was dispatched as the deadline for comments closed in.
It was Richard Short who ensured that embarrassing items were removed from the consultants' reports on CAA safety criteria and runway configurations placed before Rushmoor in the summer of 2001.
It is Richard Short who has over a very extensive period misled councillors into believing that drawing risk contours constitutes a ground safety study.
Richard Short is the planning official councillors defer to as the 'in-house expert' when the airfield is under discussion!
Richard Short is still employed by Rushmoor.
Planning officials Daryl Phillips and Judith Mee were spotted in the Quays one Sunday towards the end of last year. Was this official business or extracurricular activities?
It is not only Rushmoor that is rotten when it comes to unwanted development.
Neo-Labour Brighton Council has approved the controversial development of the old Brighton Station goods yard site. The scheme includes just what Brighton needs more of - two posh Hotels and a Sainsbury's supermarket providing crappy low paid jobs. The only reason that this scheme is going ahead is because Sainsbury's are prepared to bribe the council with 'infrastructure improvements' (ie roads) which will increase traffic in an already congested area. The new Sainsbury's will be nearly twice the size of its current store in London Road, and despite the council planning department saying, 'There is no quantitative need for additional food retail in the area', they decided to give it the go-ahead anyway.
So a supermarket, some hotels, crap housing, no playing fields - SchNEWS just doesn't understand why Brighton Council, showing SUCH vision, failed in its bid to become city of culture!
BUDD, who have been opposing the development, are now trying to have the development called in to a Public Enquiry. If they fail, work on the new site will begin in May. 01273 681166
Check out Corporate Watch: What's Wrong with Supermakets. £1 + 41p SAE to:
Corporate Watch 16b Cherwell Rd Oxford OX4 1BG www.corporatewatch.org.uk/profiles/food_supermarkets/supermarkets
We don't know what is going on, other than something stinks. But we do have some questions:
Would you deal with a Aussie con man? How is an Aussie con man and convicted criminal, only a few months into the country, able to set up these deals? Why do we let such scum into the country? Why do you need an Aussie con man to buy two flats? Would you trust someone you claim to hardly know, to buy two flats on your behalf? If this was a 'blind trust', how did Cherie know what it was buying? If you were a leading lawyer and your loony-tune friend in the pudding club asks you to pass your legal eye over the papers, would you be believed if you said you didn't give them the once over?
But why is anyone surprised? Let's look at some Neo-Labour 'figures of repute' and associates and freeloaders: Keith Vaz, Geoffrey Robinson, Peter Mandelson, Lakshmi Mittal, Hinduja brothers or scandals like 'access for cash'.
Where you can find some answers and coverage that has not appeared in the mainstream press is our sister paper The Bristolain. For months The Bristolain has been exposing the scene in Bristol of 'corrupt relationships between the City Council, property development sharks and government quangos go to the heart of the New Labour government. Now finally the corruption and double dealing at the centre of New Labour's rule in Bristol has hit the national headlines.' According to The Bristolain 'Cherie Blair has repeatedly lied about the nature of her property deals in Bristol and the Downing Street spin machine has regurgitated those lies all week.'
Red Pepper is a monthly magazine of the radical green-left. Contributors include Harold Pinter, Greg Palast, Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Hardy and Noam Chomsky. Not usually found in your average High Street newsagents, ask WH Smith why not.
The latest issue (December 2002), with coverage of Brazilian presidential elections, European Social Forum in Florence, Firefighters strike, Farnborough Airport, Iraq anti-war movement, gives an idea of the issues covered, a coverage not dissimilar from BVEJ or SchNEWS.
Described by Ken Livingstone as 'an indispensable antidote to the Millbank tendency'. We would describe Red Pepper as a refreshing change to the stomach churning corporate policies of Tony Blair and neo-Labour.
Unlike a comic we will not even mention, Red Pepper is not in hock to big business nor does it have a millionaire proprietor determining content. Red Pepper is entirely dependent on its readers and supporters.
In case of difficulty obtaining Red Pepper:
Red Pepper 1b Waterloo Road LONDON N19 5NJ tel 020 7281 7024 fax 020 7263 9345 web http://www.redpepper.org.uk
BVFoE are increasingly little more than a sick joke. Their latest newsletter (winter 2002) would have us believe they have been working so hard on the airfield. Yer right, and pigs might fly. Even the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor were not taken in and they have been denied a place on the airfield consultative committee. Contrary to their misleading report, this is not a Rushmoor committee and does not replace any existing committees. It is a committee designated by the relevant legislation.
The other activity our friendly little folks have been up to is to try a little green shopping. Yes we agree, an oxymoron here, and so close to world no shop day too, but this is BVFoE we are discussing. The first stop was Sainsbury's! Well, it could have been Tesco or ASDA. Surprise, surprise, there was lots of packaging and plastic bags. Next stop was an organic producer which has a stall on the Farnborough Farmers Market. Yes their produce is good, but no mention of the fact that it is all pre-packaged on their stall in plastic bags. Oh, we forget to mention, the reason for this green shopping, carried out via the internet, was as a possible alternative to the usual nip down to ASDA in the car!
This little group of pretend environmentalists long ago degenerated into a pathetic little social group for sad people (check out their diary). With an AGM coming up this month (January 2003), the best thing they could do is disband as they are giving real environmental campaigners a bad name.
Schnews of the World: Schnews Yearbook 2002
A must have. Issues 301-350 plus lots of articles, pictures, and delightful cartoons. At the back the infamous Schnews Yellow Pages of useful contacts (funny we ain't in it).
Phil Scraton (Ed), Beyond September 11: An Anthology of Dissent, Pluto Press, 2002
We all watched with horror as the two planes, one after the other, flew into the Twin Towers in New York. Various thoughts went through our minds, sympathy for those killed, the end of the world, the beginning of World War III. Much has been written since, much of it garbage.
One year on, an impressive list of writers - Noam Chomsky, Paul Foot, Naomi Klein, John Pilger - have each with their own contribution, in the form of an essay, tried to make sense of that eventful day, what it means in terms of criminality, terrorism, clampdown on free speech, civil liberties and human rights.
Recommended reading for the post September 11 world.
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