Archive | February, 2012

Minimum Security and Code Green

29 Feb

Something to share is the top notch work of Stephanie McMillan, US based artist who produces two regular strips “Minimum Security” and “Code Green”. Here’s a taste, raw, fresh, cutting:

Get lost in Stephanies website at http://stephaniemcmillan.org/

Some things are just made for sharing and you might notice that as there’s no such thing as a free lunch the site also features a donate link to keep the thing going!

In a rare peak of enthusiasm I’ve added some info on Stephanie in the Beyond Bedford page! Enjoy!

Gill McC

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Going for Gold!

29 Feb

Seems like everyone is getting excited, some sports pitch in Bedford is being used by some team from somewhere no-ones heard of for a sport taht no one’s heard of and it’s Bedford’s claim to fame that we are part of the whole jamboree.

If there’s a Gold Medal for completely buggering up on costs we win, no arguing there, no photo finish or anything. Orginally coming in at £2.7billion. (that’s billion) its now put at £12billion with the latest being this statue thing below which if you head to the Olympic site from central London and then take a right turn and head towards Weymouth you’ll see it.

If there’s a consolation in the form of a legacy, if we do end up in another spat with Argentina and we have to look for another location for Total Wipe Out all we need to do is save up a load of old mattresses from the Olympic village, fasten them to the side and there we go, they will bounce off. I’ve not thought about what happens when they land on the concrete as yet!

In the meantime Len McKluskey is set to be burnt alive for suggesting that workers could strike during the games. Various talking heads have suggested no one could possibly support this but they’ve not asked me. I do!

Monday’s top tip!

27 Feb

Here’s a top tip for a Monday morning! There’s nothing any self respecting anarchist likes to do more to unwind after a hard days activism than a bit of planet wandering, not physically but visually from the safety of the back of your house. To make this so much more fun simply drop repeated hints about how much you like astronomy to your partner / parents / sister and I guarantee that within 20 years these will have taken hold and a second hand telescope will be yours. It worked a treat for me so try it and let me know how you get on!

Here’s a very basic guide to what you can see, there’s Orion which is three in a line and a bit like a kite though I guess kite’s hadn’t been invented then* so it got called Orion as he had. The Plough looks a little bit like a plough hence the name, the rest are just white dots, sometime lots of them together, so many in fact that you haven’t a fucking clue were the thing is pointing so there’s no point trying to work out what you are looking at, just enjoy the view. The big white thing is the moon and its full of craters, a bit like parts of Syria and it sort of comes and goes, up there at present are Jupiter and if you look though binoculars you might see three or all four of its own moons, tiny so stay still. Then there’s Venus and just to make you an expert the bright stars are not the north star, that a fairly dull star in comparison near the Plough. It doesn’t move as it’s smack bang above the north pole so sailors and the inebriated can use it to navigate their way home.

The constallations like Taurus are all made up so do the same and if you see something you like give it your own name like the Zebedee of Heinz or the Skateboard. Don’t take it too seriously!

Mars aka the red planet can be seen as well and yes! it has a salmon pink sheen to it. So after twenty years of looking through binoculars held against a wall to stop me wobbling I’ve now got a telescope and this simple delight can be yours, just be persistant!. I come from Oldham which is where TV poster boy star gazer Prof Brian Cox grew up so there’s my claim to fame. Another connection is that he has the opposite sex falling all over him and to keep the balance of the universe in check I have the opposite affect!

*I think the chinese had invented kites but they can’t see the Orion

Guns guns when do we get guns?

24 Feb

Lost you with that title maybe, its from the Police Academy film and the character “Tackleberry” who’s basically just wants the job so he can fire bullets at things. I find it funny when people get obsessed with things or go over the top trying to be great and I came across a bog standard security guard over ten years back who had a belt stuffed with gizmo’s that would make Batman look underprepared. He’d made a little sign saying “dog unit” and stuck it on the door of his Ford Escort. An absolute fuckwit!

Some of our local Councillors have got the same overenthusiatic approach to life and have been buying hand held speed detectors and hiding behind bus stops wearing yellow coats.

They have been buying these things with their “councillors ward allowance” which cutting to the chase is public money. They can’t really do much with them apart from scaring people but it seems the new craze with the latest Cllr to jump on ther bandwaggon being Carol Ellis who is my councilor and usually trundles round Great Barford on a motorised scooter and try as I might I can;t find out who gave her permission to spend our money on the thing. Carol is upset because her speed gun thing has got lost at Police headquarters and as a result there has been carnage and mayhem on the roads hasn’t there?.

I’m not making light of speeding here, I see all sorts of stunning driving and those behind the wheel either have a death wish or like driving with their ringpiece so far inside them that it must be near their mouth, night time on the very dark and long main roads seems to be a favourite. I was once saw a car of four teenager dick heads avoiding becoming the main story on the news by seconds and only becuase the driver of the car I was in reacted to a life or death situation preventing a head on collison between their car and a lorry. Putting an expensive bit of kit in the hands of wannabe cops isn’t the way of going about things. The Police have confirmed that they are the only resource that can prosecute speeding drivers and they seem to concentrate on those areas where they are guaranteed to catch people doing 35 in 30 zone whilst ignoring the ones who will do 90 in a 40 cos it’s dark. Colleen Atkins is another voluntary enforcer though she has a band of followers to help her patrol the unsafe streets!

I’m not supporting regulation and there’s always been a strange relationship between traffic cops and the beat boys, one gives your the Jensen Button comment then adds you to the tally and the other might make you feel like a knob and lets you go unless you are a knob and I’ve always felt you learn more by the second approach.

Back to the volunteers hiding in the bushes, I imagine they will be wanting tazers at some point!
Go watch Tackleberry and you’ll see what I mean!

Spies Like Us!

24 Feb

The Freedom of Information Act was introduced to create open government and a means by which those that pay for it can look at its workings and failings. Many local authorities and similar services (Police etc) are now happily using it not to give information out but to actually block its release.

Central Bedfordshire Council have a contract with Viridor and have kindly told me that for last years they paid them £2million quid. What they won’t provide is details of contract meetings at which the actual service is qualified, in fact they won’t even tell me the the dates of the meetings although being a bit of a sneek I’m actually intent on showing (at some future date) that they specifically don’t want to play ball so in a way I’m rather pleased at the repsonse. Wake up at the back!

I’ve asked James Jamieson who the council leader if this is Council policy not to provide basic information for a multi million £ contract however it looks like I’ll have to ask the Information Commissioner to decide. It’s all time and effort and my view is that such services covered by the act try to tire you out and make you give up. Bedfordshire Police are experts at this and it’s like getting blood from a stone. I asked them how much a failed drugs bust few years cost the public and they responded with gibberish and I’ve yet to find out what the total bill was for the Willington Quarry Rave last year.

Some councils are very open and having been on the receiving end of a few FOI requests there are times when there is a genuine need for sensitivity i.e. social service work etc but for the most part having had a few years to work out how to comply with the act whilst keeping skeletons in the cupboard this is what we are left with!

Sunshine!

20 Feb

Ever get the idea you are on the right side of things? The snow has gone as has the snowman leaving just a carrot, two bits of coal and a cowboy hat. The sun is shining and there’s a glimpse of spring in the air especially with the lighter nights peeking in!

We blogged a few months back about waste company Viridor sacking three of their staff from the household rubbish site in Bedford. The sackings came by pure coincidence at the same time as Viridor are seeking to cut costs at the site.

The reasons for the sackings were and remain both pathetic and vicious. The Borough Council despite one of its staff being implicated have stuck their fingers in their ears and gone “la la la”.

We threw our support in with the three workers often having to make up for some abysmal support from Unison. Having failed with their internal appeal it looked like the only option was to go to an Employment TRibunal, pretty daunting stuff and if you want any explanation why we’ve been quiet we were brushing up and quite prepared to give it our best shot.

Then something quite staggering happened. We were approached by a person who was aware of what had happened only because BedfordBypass had been kicking up a fuss and the end result is that formal papers requesting a hearing submitted not by over enthusiastic amateurs but experts in this field and so the three sacked employees despite the trauma of being sacked after 14, 10 and 6 years are bouyed up and thinking as one.

Again the offer of support came in very unexpectedly throwing me of balance for a while but it has been gratefully received and as we wait I can’t really and don’t really want to say any more.

Every Little Helps!

20 Feb

If you remember that was the Tesco slogan! There’s a contretemps going on about the latest “wheeze” at getting people into work. Basically you get together with big business and force unemployed people to stacj floors, sweep up etc, all meaningfull tasks and threaten them with starvation if they refuse. So imagine it, you’ve lost your job with Bedford Borough Council and the only thing to offer you any form of hope in a bleak landscape is 30 hours unpaid work putting beans and cornflakes on display. I came across one such store on Saturday, not in Beford but that beside the by, its a major chain convenience store in St Albans where for most of the afternoon they have two workers and one of the placements, the unpaid chap is single handedly unloading a large van. There’s large amounts of cash in teh store and they were robbed a few years back. There’s no opportunity for a breather till the evening people turn up then all the lottery ticket devotees pile in. Sounds like someone’s boat has arrived and as a Govt spokesperson keeps saying “these are wonderful opportunities for young people”.

20plus years back it was the Manpower Services Commission, then it was Youth Training and various permutations, variations on the theme of working for tuppence without any glimmer of permanent structured employment. Without it well your life is on hold!

Activists closed down a Tesco store just opposite from the House of Commons last Saturday after it advertised for permanent workers for just expenses and jobseekers allowance. Think of the options, tube travel (£££££) or maybe cycling to your voluntary post and possibly adding to the list of people being prised out from under buses and taxis. The shop was closed by people with placards and determination. That’s all it takes to make your point.

Savage Messiah!

10 Feb

More offerings from Laura Oldfield Ford blog Savage Messiah, get lost inside it, maybe buy the book preferably from Housmans. Soak up that rich urban interpretation!

http://lauraoldfieldford.blogspot.com/

 

 

Where Next!

10 Feb

Where next for Bedfordshire’s rubbish? Central Bedfordshire as well as Bedford Borough Council have been up in arms for some years over US waste company Covanta’s decision to build a whopper of an incinerator at the old Stewartby claypit. Both councils have forgot that before Covanta came on stage, they themselves were planning on building an incinerator at the same site and were caught out telling fibs. For a while it was like a subplot of The Hustle!

Central Bedfordshire have now announced that Covanta isn’t on the shortlist so wherever the rubbish goes it won’t be to Stewartby after all Covanta did make the council team look like twats when they moved in on their secret plans. Now the funny thing about this is that this will only result in yet another company wanting to build an incinerator in Bedfordshire or more likely (as happens already) the rubbish will be trucked out to wherever, my bet is a Viridor incinerator over towards Oxford. This latter option makes “Central Bedfordshire’s Carbon Management Plan redundant though having read it, well it’s all bollocks to begin with!

How this pans out is beyond me though each announcement cheers me up no end, we may end up with a huge incinerator at Stewartby, another at Thurleigh and then whatever Central Bedfordshire council dream up, everyone else’s waste pouring into Beds and ours going off to Northamptonshire or maybe Oxfordshire. It’s hugely funny providing you don’t live near Stewartby!

Bedford man in bonus outrage!

8 Feb

The man at the centre of the £1 bonus scandal has confirmed that he is to forego the extra cash payment following pressure from MPs and the public outcry.
Bob Sanders aged 53 has been in the top job at the Gleamy Weamy Car Wash Centre on Goldington Rd since April 2011on a salary believed to be minimum wage for 60hrs per week. During his tenure the company has excelled with queues around the corner especially on Sunday since two people left for better jobs with the odd day off however the £1 bonus given to him as a result of his finding an elderly customers wallet under the seat of a his Skoda Roomster’s back seat provoked an outcry.
One Town centre spokesperson who didn’t want to be named on account that it would make them look a total twat said “it’s outrageous, getting a wage like that and then a whopping tax free bonanza on top” I think he’s done the right thing by handing it back.
A bemused Mr Sanders said in an exclusive interview to BedfordBypass said
“I can’t hand it back, the bloke drove away so I’ve decided to pool my £1 with Italian Toni’s £1.27 that he got for helping an old lady change a tyre and we are going to get some biscuits. Some nosey wan*ers need to get a life”!*&^%$

Postscript: Our Bypass Review Board considered this blogpost and found it to be poor quality, not very funny and a poor attempt to copy the quality humour to be found in Now or Never Magazine. We apologiose for this lacklustre entry and will ensure that subsequent posts are above this meagre effort.