Archive | October, 2011

Bedford Against The Cuts

31 Oct

What with all this social media taking the fun out of things its nice to know that Bedford Against the Cuts really make you work out to find out what they are up to.

There was some sort of rally in Pigeon Square on the 22nd which clashed with the Anarchist Bookfair although there was no follow up in either free paper and I gather rather than a rally it was more of a leafleting session.

I’ve not heard anything from them by email and sad to say that despite the best intentions from those involved, if they don’t build contacts and leave things up to guesswork, no one shows up at events if you don’t badger people.

We are quite happy to help but turning up in town of a Saturday on the off chance is a bit vague.

Anyway the local director of the Citizens Advice Bureau has made ity clear who will suffer the most under proposed cuts that will wipe out most of their local resource. Its people that can least afford legal advice, people being chased by Council bailiffs, loan sharks, utility companies and the like!

In the meantime we have been having a good daily look for the minutes of the most recent full Council meeting (Oct 18th) although nothing has appeared as yet. This is the meeting where the Mayor will have pushed through the whole raft of cuts onto the next stage whilst all the £10,000 and £20,000 a year councillors shuffle about and look vaguely concerned. Over the time that is as its well dark by 8.00pm these days.

Legal Illegal

31 Oct

The media is filled with comment about an illegal rave held a brisk walk from the Bedford Bypass Bunker and under the real Bedford Bypass at Willington Quarry.

The event started on Saturday about midnight and went on till 3.00pm on the Sunday. Apparently there have been several down there in this rather despoiled industrially damaged backwater so to make sure we all knew about this one the police helicopter was mobilised at serious cost to stretched budgets at about 1.00am on Sunday. That’s just after midnight!

Never the type of folk to miss out we trooped down in the dark in the direction of the beaming light and music and as we got nearer things started becoming surreal. One minute you are watching the late film, next you are under the bypass with 1000 dancing people.

There’s something about counter culture that ticks the box for me. There’s precious little on the horizon for the majority of school levers and apart from a few crusties, much of the crowd were late teens, early 20s and trailing off into the early 30s. Sod all employment prospects, housing markets like pots of gold at the end of rainbows and long term debt. So tensions build and are exorcised in events like this.

There was a stabbing so the media are concentrating on this and Bedfordshire Police are telling us all that that’s what happens at an illegal rave. But it also happens at legal do’s with a stabbing at Nottinh Hill and Oxegen (sic) this year. Bring a substantial number of people together and you will get a nutter.

What I do admire about the organisation of this is that apart from the fact that there was a serious incident, over 1000 people tramped across fields to basically enjoy themselves pulling the wool over the police’s eyes in the process and I hope that whatever they are doing now they are bouyed up. I also the person who used the knife suffers a horrible future.
Talking to various seasoned free party goers this was quite an enjoyable event although many seemed unaware of the incident.

What I am concerned about personally is the policing cost with the helicopter costs alone being at a guess £75,000. If there’s a suggestion that this was because of the stabbing please note that it was airborne six hours before this incident. A few years back a friends son was mugged and the police took 18 hours to attend so that’s my reason why I shall be asking Bedfordshire’s finest how much its cost me (and everyone else) for this significant presence although some wan*er with a knife has made this task doubly difficult!

Maybe we should be operating more like a game, if the party goers do get into position before the police swoop, then the following should take place!

1) The Police stand back and maintain a discrete presence to act if there is violence. They can all have a dance if they want, this seems to happen at Notting Hill mostly when the BBC are filming!
2) Paramedics should attend with water supplies as this seemed to be something of a need on the Sunday morning!
3) An organised withdrawal from the site at a set time should be negotiated and agreed.
4) Locals should be invited as guests of honor.
5) All costs should be met by not having the fu**ing helicopter keeping the contents of three villages awake all night.
6) Everyone goes home happy!

OK its a bit simplistic but the other option is this eternal cat and mouse game!

News Headlines

30 Oct

The Bedford Bypass web address was printed in the free paper today so if you are visiting for the first time. hello! If you are concerned about the soddin massive incinerator at Stewartby then if you go back over the time we have been ranting you’ll find out why its almost a done deal that Central Beds will end up supporting the Covanta giant. You’ll also read why constant fudge from Bedford Borough Council is going to lead to them either sending our waste there or paying over the odds to send it somewhere else and quite possibly getting involved in a legal spat with Covanta!
You can read all about how well paid senior Council Officers take the bacon home to the places they live, mostly away from Bedford, whopping salaries, big pensions all taking our cash away from the town while the people that actually do the work languish on crap agency workers contracts. Second class citizens. Did you know that the last Chief Exec of Bedford would treat his top level managers to regular overnight jollies in a hotel in Peterborough. Small army of thm trooping up the A1 to this plush place at our expense!

You can read about how Councillors at Bedford get over £10,000 for staying quite at meetings, we list them. Then there’s portfolio holders that we are told “need the money” in this case £20,000 a year. And some of the meetings last a minute. That’s right one whole minute. To save you digging about the Borough website for these goodies, we do it for you. We are nice like that.

We come at this from an anarchist angle and before you start quaking and are unable to sleep have a look at our Anarchism for Beginners page. We don’t bite.

And we need to hear from you, its your platform if you want to keep us informed with good snippets that would fit in well! Here’s one to be going on with. As a result of a rave held nearby the Bypass bunker last night we haven’t slept much. Reason being the police helicopter has been clattering about, it was there at 1.00am and still there at 11.00am so we are wondering what that’s cost us, £20,000 we think. We couldn’t hear the rave though so to compensate the CD playing at the moment is Future Sound of London! (not the Papua New Guinea one)

Have a look at the Bedford Diary page, first scripted in response for a contribution to Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic magazine before it went on hold, its here for all to see!

Get in contact through email at mcclintongill167@googlemail.com and we hope if you like what you see you’ll return. The more hits we get the easier it is for others to just stumble on us and the more we can type away. Enjoy!

Thanks to Now or Never over in Norwich for showing what you can do when you put your minds to it and to DT for buying us the WordPress book!

Trouser wettingly funny!

27 Oct

We’ve mentioned Central Beds Council’s Richard Stay who has created an alter ego blog called Richard Stay before. It really is pant wetting, sore ribs material. Whereas the real Cllr Richard Stay is loved by all, compassionate and caring, the blog based alter ego comes across as a real right wing bigotted gob!

Just looked at his latest outpouring, the alter ego is going on about Dale Farm, the St Pauls protest and something weird about the eurozone crisis and prostitutes which I can only guess must be a Conservative in joke.

There’s even a dig at Luton. Now as locals know, technically Luton Hoo isn’t in Luton proper but its smack bang up against the border. Now the alter ego has taken the hump against this as Luton Hoo is posh and the Queen honeymooned there apparently whilst Luton is like a inner London suburb even to the point of the same design of terraced housing. Richard Stray tries to make the point that putting Luton Hoo as part of Luton is liked putting Leeds Castle in Kent as part of Leeds.

THis is the fun of the alter ego, its all total bollocks, fun in the extreme and we love Richard Stay for being being a real pompous prick. We also adore Cllr Richard Stay for being so nice, oozing charm and respect for one and all!

Here he is again looking like Gene Hunt from Life on Mars!

Sparkling Town

26 Oct

Its Diwali (pronounced Divali) this week so Bedford’s substantial Hindu community are livening things up with fireworks for the Festival of Light. It’s all very enjoyable, we’ve just been down near Bedford Hospital and a lot of the houses are decked out with lights so for brief minute it feels like December and then as we watch the fireworks going off near the river the scenescape resembles Apocalypse Now! as the smoke clings to the water and floats off towards the town centre.

For a couple of days the drap landscape of terraced houses and congested streets comes to life each year and we are all the better for it!

Wan*ers of the World Unite

26 Oct
 

Seems so! Adrian Beecroft is a venture capitalist and donor to the Conservative Party. His pal Dave Cameron has commissioned (asked) him to to produce a report that states quite clearly that bosses should be able to get rid of workers without any questions being asked. Paul Kenny of the GBB has described the “leaked” report as being nasty!

I’ve just had a conversation with a mate who has been squirreled away within the Borough Council for some years. On an agency contract that gets renewed from time to time they have just been told that times up, thanks for everything. Bye bye…

The staff at the Bedford Corn Exchange (live events venue) are all on notice of being what’s termed at risk in other words start getting you head round being out of work.

The town is ringed with companies that work off picking lines which means running round for 12 hours a go filling orders for books, tablets, food, whatever.

All non unionised, a casual nod towards safety, open your mouth about anything and you are history. Some tosser wants to strip away the last vestige of an employees ability to fight unfair dismissal.

There’s a wonderful (not quite the right term but I hope you see what I mean) publication on hidden agency workers produced by the TUC and you can have a look at http://www.vulnerableworkers.org

Bedford Borough Council like agency workers and you might recall a comment from Chief Exec Phil Simpkins who stated that using cheap labour to clear puke off the streets without the same terms and conditions that he enjoys is good for Bedford. He didn’t quite say it like that though! Here’s Phil, no doubt laughing all the way to the bank on £170,000 a year!

Hi! I'm Phil, I earn £170,000 a year plus a bonus for getting other people to sort elections out! I really enjoy Bedford Bypass

Back to the report, now being considered by Cameron, this shows what we are up against. The LIb Dems have oohed and ahhed a bit but at the end of the day what Dave wants Dave gets!

Luck of the Draw!

26 Oct

If anyone doesn’t knows the facts behind the on street murder of Harry Stanley over 11 years back, following a report of him leaving a London pub armed with a shotgun. Armed response units shot him only to find that the weapon was a table leg. The next thing that followed was classic police fudge. We had a similar themed incident last week in Bedford. A man armed with a handgun had been spotted, armed units responded only to find it was a doorhandle. Bedfordshire Police appear to have handled this much better than recent similar events in London.

Bedford’s a fairly quite backwater compared to a big urban metropolis, the odd severe assualt, murder, drugs bust, small gang skirmish and I’m not making light of this but by and large for the most part we are fairly removed from the 25 flashing light and siren culture. We need the Police particularly at a community level and I’ve come across some very dedicated officers that appear to have joined up to serve the public and they’ve never risen up the ranks that much. Where I get concerned is where a sub culture develops and I am under no illusions that the police force is a tool of the state, there to be used in the supposed wider public interest.

A few years back I found myself waiting to meet a senior police officer down at Halsey Rd Police Station which is the HQ for the motorbike boys. All six foot plus dressed in stormtrooper gear the whole feel of the place was edgy, testosterone filled, openly stating that they were out to target the scumbags, unaware that an outsider was sitting down in the middle of them ( I can scrub up well for work purposes) and just waiting to burn their tensions off on the street. Maybe bravado and when they go out solo they think about opera and butterflies?

I don’t imagine for one minute that the same basics that drive gang cuture aren’t to be found in amongst groups of Police Officers. That need to escape the humdrum, when the endorphins are racing, you can see it when you come across lines of them tooled up for any situation might result in public unrest, going home without a bundle would be a real let down, that rare opportunity to “let go”. You see a similar thing on those tedious cops and camera type shows, including one in which a suspect armed robber was tazered surrounded by five genuinly armed officer then carted off. Breath easy gentle viewer… but they only told us it was the wrong bloke very quicky at the end of the programme.

It takes incidents like the killing of Ian Tomlinson by a Met Officer, the shooting of Harry Stanley, that forgotten spark that started the recent riots, Brazilian electricians, free beano’s with journalists and a whole long list to shock our finest into realising why there is increasing concern over the way they operate. I’ve seen Police arrest people, I’ve stood in court and given evidence, heard them lie, seen someone convicted on the basis of lies and it doesn’t go away!

I’ve often wondered what deep down desires any officer that has been trained to act in armed response circumstances has. Possibly a thought of one day pulling the trigger when circumstances dictate and that fear of the decision. If the door handle carrying bloke had been somewhere else, it might have been a different story if not for the recent shooting that sparked the riots placing armed policing under the spotlight! Luck of the draw!

A Grand Day Out!

24 Oct

Although you can’t tell it by the stunning photo (showing faces of people I don’t know would be intrusive) several thousand people trekked down to the far end of Whitechapel last Saturday for the annual Anarchist Bookfair, for me it was my second and an earlier attempt to visit in 2009 was thwarted when a rather lovely Lurcher turned up at the house wanting a home. She’s still with us!

It was as the title says a really good way of spending a Saturday and the word “bookfair” hides the fact that in addition to being able to bag some cracking tomes, its the whole bag, literature, badges, CDs and more importantly ideas and meeting up with people previously hidden behind faceless email!

A good old catch up with the Now or Never team (who have a new website by the way) and the Cunningham Amendment “mullahs” previously from Yorkshire and now just over the border in er…Norfolk although they did explain why! Gill couldn’t make it but kindly sent them some Gingerbread people and dropped me off at the train station!

Mister Bone did a very encouraging rant and got everyone going and there was so much stuff to look it it became a bit bewildering so butties and coffee seemed a good idea!

Jolly good fun aside, one of the most “spot on” leaflets that were liberated and returned to humdrum Bedford spoke very clearly of the need for the Bookfair to be the start of something rather than the end result, to shove people off the comfy chair and to get them thinking and acting!

I’m going to do both, there’s ideas forming but one of the main things I was looking for was at the fair was ideas and examples where limited numbers with limited resources have had serious impact and thanks go to various folk producing such titles as The Hackney Howler, The Haringey Independent and so on, free four page affaist containing far more info than 50odd page free newspaper with adverts for comfy chairs!

Dale Farm

20 Oct

As a legal consultant I often find myself working with existing teams of people mostly from the public sector. Yesterday I found myself halfway through a week long stint with a local authority. The main topic of conversation as the day went on was about Dale Farm. My temporary colleagues held an almost unanimous view that flame throwers should be used on the Dale Farm defenders, that random use of bulldozers would help dislodge them from the main scaffold tower and a rather more sedate view that they had broken the Planning Laws and needed to have attack dogs set on them.
Now I’m going to admit that the traveller community is marginalised, despised and its activities in some areas can cause concern more so when elements target vulnerable people.

But then does this not reflect wider society and our need for scapegoats. The BBC have made it into “boo hiss” programming by showing various dodgy dealers on Rogue Traders, travellers bodging up roofs and drives are regulars and don’t we hate them. Then there are shyster electricians, gas fitters and more but when it comes to gypsies, don’t we just hate them!

There’s been several very prominent and very savage assaults around Bedford and the murder rate is slowly increasing but don’t we hate it when gypsies arrive near Cardington leaving their rubbish when they go. It offends our sensibilities whereas when a man gets severly assualted and dies several days later we can turn away. But we will always hate gypsies!

We hate them for leavin this pile of rubbish down the bottom end of the old Cambridge Rd don’t we? The local council have opted to leave it there for three years and the travellers come and go. I firmly believe that those responsible for this pile of rubbish should be flamed alive, tazered and bulldozed. Although it wasn’t gypsies it was workers clearing the land next door on behalf of the fabulously rich Sir Samuel Whitbread, as it’s public highway they can be prosecuted but we wouldn’t want to upset our lords and masters. If we send Sir Sam down his large house could be then be used to alleviate the housing crisis.

The days of the travelling community working their way round the UK following agriculture, cropping and fruit picking are gone. Many of them want a halfway house, the caravan with a settled space, an ability to educate their children. Its true that Dale Farm or at least about half of it is an illegal encampment, now I don’t know the full history and maybe I should but throughout this region everytime someone suggests a location for a traveller site, there’s uproar, calls for vigilante groups and other nonsense. The planning system just rolls on without resolution. It must be adhered to say objectors however when it comes to use of planning in a wider context all you have to do is say “jobs” and the environment is yours for the wrecking!

The green belt must be restored said one neighbour of the Dale Farm site on Radio 4. The site a former scrap yard financilaly supported by the council was eventually cleared of debris and sold to the traveller community so there’s a selective memory being given radio airtime here. The same council that preaches the law is also selling off public open space, but then again they are “the council”.

There’s a local issue here in that the obvious effect from making 50+ caravans worth of family homeless is that they are going to go elsewhere and they themselves state they don’t want this. Now they can either spend the next few years going round  the illegal sites of Basildon and Essex so that an increasing number of communities can grow to hate them, the council will put bollards and fences up then can go further afield maybe to Bedford where we are already quite good at getting steamed up. The problem just continues. The children of travellers remain unsettled, restricted to their communities and educated to the priorities of their parents way of life which may or may not result in a star turn on Rogue Traders.  Or it might just be to go out and earn whatever you can however you can to keep going.

Anyway it all made for good news coverage yesterday, a bit of indiscriminate tazering and the leader of the local council with a big yellow jacket going on the media trail at the same time as the local MEP was manhandled away from the site.

Today its Gaddafi and we hate him don’t we!

GMcC

We Predict The Future

17 Oct

Bloody hell we’ve done it again and predicted the future. We have been telling anyone who will listen that the plan to build a fucking massive incinerator at Rookery South claypit was a foregone conclusion and that all the fuss of a public hearing was a big expensive box ticking exercise.

To recap, the former County Council were caught out trying to develop the former claypit without having informed the locals and since then something called the Central Bedfordshire Energy and Recycling Project have been developing a contract for waste. Their last move was to put Covanta on the shortlist for bidders although in true style the Council team forgot to tell people through their website. Alan Fleming (Project leader earning £95,000 a year) told us when we pointed this out some four months later that they were busy.

I will predict the future again. Central Bedfordshire will end up awarding the contract to Covanta so despite all the rhetoric they will ened up making the plant financially viable. They don’t really have any alternative as no other waste company is seriously going to consider proposing another waste burner nearby and given Central Bedfordshire’s dire financial situation can it really entertain trucking its waste over to Oxfordshire or down in Hertfordshire.

The same applies to Bedford and Luton both of which are keeping their cards very close to their chest. Always one to wave a flag where there is a crowd the Mayor of Trumpton has been a vocal opponent of Covanta to the point where their Barrister told him off as he’s not really supposed to get involved in planning matters. In doing so he’s placed the Borough Council in a position where if it doesn’t allow Covanta a fair chance to deal with Bedford’s waste the council could find itself in a long running legal dispute.

One thing that is equally certain is that by the end of this process we will have spent £millions on arriving at a predictable conclusion this being that our local councils always wanted to see a fucking big incinerator smack in the middle of what was once a leading regional site of importance for wildlife!