Archive | November, 2011

V for Vendetta

28 Nov

In this case V stands for Viridor! A year or so back Colin Drummond the boss of Viridor Waste Management did the undercover boss bit for the telly, going round the shop floor, realising what life was like on the front line then doling out a bit of money, pat on the back, bit of training, a proper job rather than agency work and then getting on with being the boss, at which point it all seems to have gone back to normal.

Last year at the Bedford recycling centre Viridor who operate the site did something similar and sent in a “spy” from posing as an agency worker to snoop on the staff at the site, organised by some bloke from Peterborough. It all kicked off when accusations were made against staff of drug dealing and ended when police sniffer dogs were brought in. Nothing was found, not a whiff. Nothing. Makes you wonder if they used a reputable firm of snoopers as there are all manner of implications here i.e. RIPA legislation (Investigative Powers). While the undercover sting got in the paper the drugs aspect of things got hushed up, some nodding dog called Nigel Wright made a few daft comments trying to make sure the staff were put in their place, no apology. Undercover boss!

Its all kicked off again last week. Here’s the story, the Contract Manager from Bedford Borough (a council employee) wanted a flat screen telly so he asked two of the site staff (Viridor employees) if they could help him, so they duly obliged. One was asked to carry out gardening work round the site, he obliged and at one point rescued an old strimmer from the skip, and took it home to repair. This chap has a history of mending gardening kit for use on the five sites Viridor manage. Anyway the undercover boss has sacked one and suspended two others and to all intents and purposes given that the Council Contracts Managers (the paymasters) actually asked them to carry out these activities this has all the makings of victimisation and entrapment so as you can see its not a happy camp.

Anyway Viridor now have a growing resource this being totally disgruntled staff quite prepared to talk and act on behalf of their colleagues and its brilliant. We have issues about performance, health and safety, contaminated water and a Central Bedfordshire councillor regularly taking stuff away from a site for his own ends.

What we have are staff dismissed and kicked as a result of carrying out the instructions of their superiors. We have site CCTV on site placed there to protect staff being used to spy on their working day. There’s also a big chunk of duplicity!

We have the Peterborough connection again, we have mentioned Bedford Borough’s love of all things from this city including more than a few that tootle down daily to work for us in the waste section. Its hard to believe that staff at Bedford didn’t know about the undercover spy business as the bloke from Viridor that organised it comes from…Peterborough and they must have worked with him or had contact.

Anyway apart from Nigel Wright who is Viridor Contract Manager you’ll notice we haven’t mentioned names reason being this is now in the hands of Unison at regional level. Its a waiting game however in the meantime just to show the happyier side of Viridor here’s a picture of Alan Munson, Viridor Peterborough at some event or other! Guess which one it is!


Union Blues

25 Nov

Been a busy sort of week, I met up with two former colleagues in Ampthill on Sunday who filled me in on a real tale of woe concerning workers at local recycling centres. Turns out one has been dismissed and two more suspended for what, having devised and managed the contract for more than a few years I regard as totally fabricated excuses to get rid of people plain and simple. This is ongoing, losing your job is traumatic and the guys affected at this time appear to have been shafted by the local branch of Unison (County Branch). I’ve had run in’s with the branch before, all seconded council officers they are good at organising trips to the pantomine, theatre or the circus but when it comes to turning up to redundancy hearings and tribunals it’s often been too much. THis appears to have been the case with the dismissal in that the employee turned up and without witness or union support was sacked. I gather he’s been a member for nine years.

Part of the support has been to get Unison at regional level involved however if anyone at Unison HQ or any other union for that matter is crying into their pint pot wondering what happened to the glory days of mass membership and wildcat walkouts when bosses acted like mafia lords there you have it.

Banner Theatre sing a ditty called Little Red Mole about a communist shop steward who management refused to agree despite being supported by the mass membership (Rover plant, Birmingham), the Union convener gets brought in, spitting fire and brimstone and in the words of the song “After whisky chasers all day long, he comes out singing the bosses song, (In a drunken slur) sorry mate, you don’t belong your the man they call the mule (mole) you are. Its a brilliant song and it echoes those scenes in Made in Dagenham that clealry show how unions very effectively sell out leaving members adrift. Please not this does not apply to Unison Bedford Borough Branch.

Undercover coppers!

25 Nov

Bloody hell there’s no end of them. These are all plain clothes coppers that infiltrate protest groups, alternative view meetings and anything that the state doesn’t like. Well done to Fitwatch for brightening up a bleak week!
Go find them!


22 Nov

Private Thomas Lake became the 389th British soldier to die in Afghanistan. I posted an entry just over a week back and one of our friends over at Now or Never posted a reply (which we say thank you for) which took the subject on to another layer.

For those troops that are fortunate enough to return, at least physically intact, just incase PTSD hasn’t already left them vulnerable enough to alcoholism, they can look forward to that first push towards a life on the street sipping cooking sherry courtesy of a misguided campaign by the British Forces Fouundation.

I’m still something of a novice with wordpress, editing, RSS feeds but hopefully you can connect to the article by clicking above. I’ve had something buzzing round my head since the initial comment. Most mornings after dropping DT off at work and Debbs off sometimes I see a guy walking to work. I know him in passing. He has a haunted face, somewhat derelict and distracted. I know his history and he served in the Falklands. We appear to have excised this from history apart from when Margaret Thatcher said “Rejoice” three times shortly after our brave forces sunk a ship that was sailing away from the islands and out of the exclusion zone. (see The Belgrano Affair by Clive Ponting).

There was a stunning BBC docu-drama some years back called “Tumbledown” with a young Colin Firth. It outraged the moral right because of its depiction of the true nature of war, a young Argentinian man being bayoneted to death and pleading, thank goodness we have X Factor to dull our senses these days. The same drama showed the way severely injured and maimed troops were hidden away at the later memorial celebration and for some years the BBC refused to rescreen it. Rejoice she said!

Back to the chap I worked with and I have to be very diplomatic here. I recognised he carried something with him and when I found out his past it made sense. Shellshock trauma is the nearest thing I can think of. The walking wounded, all the damage is mental. Rejoice she said.

Thousands of young soldiers, many trying to escape the blinding depression of sink estates being put into conflict, seeing what I can only imagine is “hell” then returning home coping with severe psychological damage that the links explore. Rejoice she said!

A darkened room!

22 Nov

We need to go for a bit of down time in a darkened room, we have had such a shock! We’ve mentioned Cllr Richard Stay of Central Bedfordshire Council as a shining example of virtue, people squeal with pleasure when they know he’s about and to boot he has a really funny website in which he portrays himself as a real pompous right wing twat, an odious pile of sloppy dog doos and far removed from the real Cllr Richard Stay.

Now we know the real Cllr Richard Stay, kind, adored, just scrummy! yet it appears that people who live near him and have more to do with him than we appear to have misinterpreted Richard’s warblings on his website as the genuine outpourings of a man that never quite made it to the top.

Look you people that deal with him far more than we do, its so obvious that Cllr Richard Stay is a man of talent otherwise Central Bedfordshire Council wouldn’t have created a “job” at public expense when he failed for the second time to get the top job as Council Leader. Seems to us that there’s a suggestion of this post being created just to pacify Cllr Stay and this is a scandalous thing to say about a man, a superior man, who has given his life to helping others.

Anyway if you want to have a look at what’s being said here’s the link. And I thought Bedford Bypass had a cutting edge!

(thanks for pointing that the link didn’t work)

I can’t seem to place Cllr Richard Stay’s website.

In the meantime and totally unrelated to the above in any way whatsoever we shall keep you updated on the matter of a very large complaint against a Conservative Central Bedfordshire councillor.

Wake Up Debs!

21 Nov

Debs has got up off her slender backside to write a review of the Chumbawamba gig last Friday (18thNov) see Things to Do!

Enjoying one’self!

21 Nov

I’ve spent a fair bit of time trying to explain my stance on the recent free rave that took place in Willington quarry a month back. I sent a letter to the press pointing out that a) the quarry is a bit of a dump, b) that its not a bad place for such a do, c) that the police costs when I eventually find out what they are will be frighteningly excessive and finally d) there’s someone walking about with a knife and prepared to use it whilst at the same time the police harass the very people that might be able to point this person out. As a result some of the neighbours have got the hump with me.

I’m not supporting raves or the state that they left the site in, nor am I against them, I’ve just tried to make the point that if you are aged late teens to say early 30s you really have got things stacked against you job and education wise so go on and enjoy yourself, maybe try and tidy up as you leave. Its not a new phenomena and the police wading in nicking the speakers, arresting people and waking half of Bedford up with two helicopters ain’t going to stop it so lets start thinking a bit more pro-active.

Admission time, in the early 80s me and my gang of pals would jump into several VW Beetles (I still own mine) and a green escort and go party for free for a few days at Stonehenge and I guess the experience still lives in me and a little light comes on when I think of it.

I tried to get to the stones at the solstice the year when the Police waded in, an “event” termed “the battle of the beanfield” though I didn’t witness the actual brutality that coined the name, this and the miners strike (1984) sort of scotched any notions I had of the Police being a force for public protection.

Here’s an image from one of the Stonehenge Festivals that I was at, not mine so thanks goes to some wiki person!

Its 30 years ago and I feel old somedays. When I wandered around the Willington rave site that few weeks back, I had a wry smile and whilst I never intended to upset the folks back in the village I knwo what I’m opn about and if you don’t speak you eventually lose the ability!

Going Religious!

17 Nov

Well its finally happened. Religion has entered our lives. It happened last night, about 7.30 maybe a bit later. Steve experienced a blinding flash and was taken away to another level of being where he met the Elder Guardians of Boo!

They are now giving him titbits of ancient knowledge and he’s going to write a book, a holy book. Here’s a taster ” The fly will wriggle in the web, the fountain will flow and all things will be sort of reasonable” Not bad for a start eh!

You can share in this wonderful event by becoming a Follower of Boo! We have been instructed to hire a village hall by a sort of disembodied voice called Bossephelon, dress up in old curtains, do a bit of wailing and if you are lucky and committed the Elder Guardians of Booboo may look down on you and let you in on the secrets. That though is down to you having faith in us as representatives of the Alder Guardians of Boobly Boo. No money back but we havent mentioned costs yet have we!

OK, lets get on with the money bit, the Ancient Boo’s have said we aren’t allowed to spend any of our money and apparently we are required to go in search of an ancient well on the Island of Ibiza next June for a few weeks so to keep this font of goodness flowing there will be secondary costs, enlightenment don’t come cheap so we’ve set membership at £1000 for a years worth of mumbo jumbo dressed up as specialist unique insight into how we came to be decended from the ancients who landed here from the planet Boomaloo. That’s only if you sign up with £1000, if you don’t your just a normal boring type and when you die you won’t be taken to the planet Boomaloooma or whatever we called it earlier.

Notice how the story is developing, that;s cos we are special! so get on board with the Double Deckers and sign up. Paypal accepted, badges and newsletters cost extra but we are working on that bit.

Jim Never Replied

15 Nov

I might as well jump on the Jim’ll Fix It bandwagon. 30 plus years back I was at Colquitt St College in Liverpool in a vague attempt to kick start my working life. This was in the city that Alan Bleasdale was using as a template for Boys from the Blackstuff. In the College library they had this sorted book on embalming techniques for mortuary technicians which was a very specialist course they ran.

Now this was decades before Gunter Von Hagen started exhibiting those plastic coated corpses who some have suggested are the result of Chinese state executions. So this book was pretty graphic in that it showed what happens to most of us when we are dead unless you are lost at sea.

Now I’ve always felt that death need be a bit more available and not taboo or the preserve of religious mumbo jumbo so I wrote to Jim’ll Fix It asking if I could take part in an autopsy as by the time I’d managed to sweet talk the librarian into letting me read the book (it wasn’t on the shelf) I quite fancied the idea as a career and what better than to join the tap dancers, junior pop stars and so on being fixed by Jim’ll. Its all the rage these days with specialist drama shows on the BBC but I missed out. Jim never replied.

Colquitt St College is no more and the seven story building was falttened ground last time I walked past.

Its still one of those jobs that doesn’t automatically come up at careers fairs and those that end up there tend to come in either through the family or through the back door but I still hold a view that we are far to stuffy on death and keep it a hushed subject.

I an imagine it, . A careers fair, line of tables, join the Police, be an accountant, work in marketing, learn how to stitch up old people, but then they might confuse them with politicians!

Bankrupt in Bedford

14 Nov

I’ve been having a dig about into the Borough Council’s policy on using bankrupty process to cover debt and oddly enough it turned up in one of those terminably boring committee meetings last month. It actually makes for interesting reading!

Council’s can make you bankrupt if you get into debt for council tax and in a similar vein they can deduct overpaid housing benefit direct from your earnings regardless of your financial situation.

Now we all hate fiddlers don’t we, yeah, booh hiss, throw rotten veg sort of thing. I’ve come across a real swindler who lives in Kempston. I tell you what she did the low down scumbag…she had a brain anuerism and by the time she’d recovered and gone back to work (trying to get by on statutory sick pay) her financial profile was shot at and she ended up 18 months behind on council tax payments but staved off reposession. The Council took her through their recovery process and she was declared bankrup with a little notice in the paper.

Switch to the other side of town and a single parent. Her son has a life limiting brain tumour and has been declared unable to work as he is prone to fits, this didn’t stop the system from making him jump through hoops despite several trees worth of confirmation. Mum has been working for an agency for long enough to have given up hope of working a proper job again at the same time as keeping the mortgage paid and in need of remedial surgery on her hand but unable to afford time off. At the same time her son was undergoing some serious surgery our nice Council was chasing mum for overpaid housing benefit with the result being that payments were taken in effect by force, no option of making arrangements. Further down the well of debt.

Now both these stories are now resolved. In the first case the friend with the bankrupty order suffered another personal tragedy when her husband died last year and another little notice in the paper. Part of this process has lead to the bankruptcy being lifted. In the second case, mum managed to get a proper job and her employer was gracious enough to ensure that the surgery for an arthritic inflamed joint didn’t get put off (there are angels out there) so after three weeks off without worry plus a plaster cast she’s sorted. You might recall a blog some months ago when we ended up outside Bedford Hospital one friday when junior had a major seizure, so things are slightly better. Just slightly!

I came across these two people because they are friends and I’ve tinkered with things enough to muddy the water but they exist. Real people struggling to keep the roof and daily ration. What saddens me is how many more people out there are in similar position and being pounded in similar fashion. Groucho Marx said “Never hit a man when he’s down, he might get up and the two people detailed above certainly did and their contributions when this blog really gets going will be most welcomed!