Archive for the ‘development’ Category

Aid workers at risk

July 1, 2014

Aid workers in conflict zones are at risk of kidnap, of being killed. Now they face a further risk, prosecution for aiding terrorists.

And it is not only aid workers. We have seen journalists targeted in Egypt for talking to the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is contrary to International Law to deny medical treatment to an enemy combatant. Aid organisations face prosecution if they do.

Hamas is deemed a terrorist organisation because Israel deem them to be. This has forced most aid agencies to pull out of Gaza.

A school in Gaza, is providing music, is teaching no-violent resistance. Lack of funding means they will be probably be forced to close.

ISIS now controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Canon Andrew White runs St George’s Church in Baghdad. They run a clinic, provide food, education. They do not discriminate. Canon Andrew White is a peace negotiator. Does this mean he cannot talk to ISIS or the Sunnis linked to ISIS?

Banks act as a conduit for money for aid organisations. Fearing prosecution for money laundering, they are now refusing to transfer money.

In Transition 2.0

January 23, 2014

People are brainwashed into being consumers, when they are are not consuming, they sit like zombies before widescreen TVs, the modern day soma of our times, where they receive yet more brainwashing.

The news before Christmas, was how much are people consuming, is it enough, after Christmas how much had they consumed, was it enough?

Is that all we are, is that all there is to life, endless, mindless consumers? It does not lead to happiness or wellbeing, quite the contrary, it leads to unhappiness, leading to more consuming, the junkie trying to get the next fix. Nor is it good for the planet. We are being hit by environmental crisis every day, and they are becoming more frequent and more extreme.

In the long run, it is not good for the economy, as unconstrained growth never is, it leads to boom and bust,

We have economic crisis, caused by the the banks, being used as an excuse for austerity, which is merely a cover for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services and welfare, further transference of wealth from the poor to the rich.

The richest 85 people in the world have amassed as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That is a handful of people who could easily travel on a double-decker bus, not that they ever would, have as much wealth as the poorest half of the word’s population.

Is this fair?

Travelling around, I find people are increasingly saying no, enough is enough, the 99% have had enough.

The one thing that communities have learnt, when they put their mind to it, are more than happy and capable of running their own affairs, they do not need corrupt politicians and global corporations, telling them how to think, what to do, what to wear, what to eat.

Community run pubs are successful, those run by pubcos, or to be more accurate bled to death by pubcos, then sold off for redevelopment, are not.

Using the Localism Act, communities can register their pubs as an Asset of Community Value, then should the pubco try to dispose of the pub for redevelopment, the local community has the right to buy and six months within which to raise the money.

Transition Heathrow transformed a derelict market garden, to the benefit of the local community.

Communities have been abandoned. Their only use was as a cash cow.

The Tumbledown Dick is an old coaching inn dating from the 1720s. Once a popular live music venue, it has been abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair. The local community wished to buy it, turn it into a community run arts venue. They were shafted by their local council, who preferred to see it demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

A common reaction of visitors to North Laine in Brighton, or Totnes in Devon, or Sincil Street, The Strait, Steep Hill in Lincoln, is why is my town not like this why do we not have quirky little shops, character?

Lincolnshire Co-op, aided and abetted by the City Council, is wishing to destroy Sincil Street for a shopping centre.

Quirky little shops, usually family owned, recycle money within the local economy, increasing the value of that spent. Global corporations drain money out of a local economy, usually dodge tax too, as we see with Starbucks.

Quality local shops bring people into an area. Other local shops benefit. Money spent in the local shops, gets recycled within the local economy.

Market Rasen was a failing market town. The local shops, got together with each other and the local community, put on markets, craft and arts fairs, opened up empty shops as pop up shops, spruced the area up. Market Rasen is now a success story.

To look at the opposite end of the spectrum, Aldershot and Farnborough, where the local council has a policy of ethnic cleansing of local businesses, net result, two dead soulless towns.

Greening Alton grows food in public space. A green patch at a road junction, Alton Station. Passers by, at least at Alton Station, are encouraged to help themselves.

There are gardens, not used to their full potential, people who wish to grow vegetables, but have no garden. Why not bring together the two, and share the produce?

In Geneva, under a scheme called foodscaping, neighbours agree what to grow, then share the surplus.

In Transition 2.0 is a wonderful mix of discussion and real world examples. If it contains one underlying message, it is that of hope, we do not have to tolerate the status quo, we are the 99%, we do not have to accept what is dictated to us by the 1%, when people, local communities, cooperate, put their mind to something, they can effect real and lasting change.

Moneteveglio illustrates where local communities need to go further. They need to seize control of their local councils, the local councils then become accountable to the local community, serve the local community, where we have participatory democracy, where the local people are directly involved in all the decision-making, and the role of local councillors then becomes reduced to one of accountability and scrutiny, ensuring what the local community wants is carried out.

This is a bottom up approach, not what we are seeing now, a top down approach, where corrupt councillors and officials in the pocket of Big Business and developers, impose unwanted schemes onto hapless local communities.

It is not for local communities to work with local councils, it is for local councils to work with local communities.

Note: Apologies for including the Question and Answer Session on the film, as a disaster, badly filmed, bad sound. An experienced film maker on stage, and yet no one had the intelligence to bring the microphones close to the speakers, or worse, people off camera who were completely inaudible.

A longer version of this article published on Medium with additional notes.

Reinventing the high street: Totnes, a shining example

January 15, 2014

After more doom-laden headlines, Peter Stanford visits Totnes, which offers a model to other embattled high streets.

Totnes

Totnes

‘It’s different here because we have so many independent shops,” enthuses Caroline Voaden. “When visitors come into Totnes and see our high street, they often say to me, ‘We wish we had something like this back home.’ ”

We are standing in front of former journalist Voaden’s quirky shop, Social Fabric, at the top end of a steep Devon high street that has been labelled the “funkiest” in the country.

Close enough for an excursion from the tourist traps of the Dart Estuary or the beaches of South Hams and Torbay, it boasts its own local currency (the Totnes pound), a dizzying range of wholefood, organic and eco-outlets, several places to buy New Age crystals if that’s your fancy, and a thriving market a couple of days a week. Plus there is a hardly a chain store in sight, or a car (of which more later).

At first glance Totnes looks like a robust rebuttal of predictions made this week that the high street is as good as dead. Bill Grimsey, the former CEO of several big shopping chains, has published an independent report speaking of a “deep decline” and highlighting the 47 per cent of retail companies currently in financial difficulty. Meanwhile Mary Portas has told a House of Commons select committee that she may have been “naïve” when she delivered her own plan to revive the high street to the government, which was criticised by Grimsey: she did not expect the issue would become such a “political football”.

Back in Totnes, though, the mood is more optimistic. “There’s definitely a strong community character to our high street,” says Voaden. A good case in point is her own shop. It sells wools and everything you could want to make your own clothes, curtains or accessories, but it also hosts hands-on sessions, such as the one today where a group of local women are busy behind us learning how to make a clasp purse. On the blackboard above the till are notices for other workshops, from quilting to “knit and natter”. It is a perfect example of that blend of commercial and social enterprise that many suggest is the future of our high streets.

“Totnes sometimes has a reputation of being full of alternative people with plenty of money,” reflects Voaden, “but that’s not what I have found. Locals are not particularly well-heeled. There are a lot of pensioners. And another group I notice in our workshops are women who are caring for elderly relatives. Coming here is perhaps one of the few opportunities they have to get out.”

Social Fabric stands in the shadow of Totnes’s Norman castle, at the very top of a Mount Everest of a high street. This end of town contains the more specialist shops such as Not Made in China, offering furniture from local craftspeople, the Devon Harp Centre and the Willow vegetarian restaurant.

But it is not one-dimensional. In the mix are a coin-operated launderette and a sprinkling of charity shops. This is neither a stereotypical prosperous market town nor a hippie-dippie paradise à la Glastonbury.

“Any high street has to take account of its local clientele,” says Kay Dunbar, long-time Totnes resident and co-founder of the Ways With Words festivals. “So ours is a high street that reflects a catchment area where, for instance, people are prepared to spend money on alternative medicines and organic vegetables. Even our local Morrisons seems to carry stock that reflects that willingness.”

Once you wander down below the Riverford Farm Shop, an offshoot of the locally based award-winning organic farming and veg-box-delivery business, and beyond the Eastgate arch that stretches over the midriff of the street, there is a definite change in character. There is still the quirky (Totnes Cats Café, offering a “feline therapy lounge”), and the alternative (Aromatika, selling organic and natural skincare products) but the more familiar names start appearing: Superdrug, W H Smith, Peacocks and Fat Face.

In the window of Arcturus Books, a poster pleads “Please Save Our High Street: internet shopping is destroying local high streets across the UK. We need your support to Keep Totnes Alive and Buzzing”, but a bigger splash is made by other more Totnes-specific signs in other windows protesting against the council’s new traffic scheme. It has effectively spilt the high street in half. Cars can now only enter on to it half way up – or down – then have to go one way or the other.

“In one way, it’s nicer because the new scheme has deterred motorists and made it quieter and more pedestrian than before,” says Annie Bowie, owner of the Bowie Gallery, two-thirds of the way up, “but pedestrianisation can kill a high street. All us shopkeepers are losing that business that came when people would pop up with the car, park for 10 minutes, and go in and out of a half a dozen places.

“That is what we need to be encouraging now by waiving parking fees on some days, and by getting rid of these new traffic arrangements. At the moment at the very bottom of the high street, where people used to drive in, there is a big No Entry sign. That’s hardly a warm welcome for visitors.”

Down at the Transition Town offices, next door to Superdrug, it is local shoppers rather than visitors that concern the founder Rob Hopkins and his colleague Ben Brangwyn. This grassroots, community network, which started out in Totnes and has now spread to different parts of the country, aims to build economic and social resilience as a response to dwindling oil reserves and climate change.

As part of its efforts to encourage local people to buy locally sourced goods from locally run shops, it introduced the Totnes pound in 2007. This can be swapped for sterling on a 1:1 exchange rate, can be spent in all participating shops; the aim is to ensure that local money stays within the local economy.

There is still, Brangwyn concedes, “a long way to go” for the Totnes pound. Currently some £9,000 worth of the notes is in circulation, but versions of the same idea in Brixton, south London, and in the much bigger economy of Bristol, have taken off to a greater degree.

Hopkins, meanwhile, puts the whole Transition Town experiment into a broader perspective. “What we are modelling here in Totnes is not just about the survival of the high street, it is about the local economy in the widest sense. So here we have established a community energy company, and a community brewery.

It is a challenging vision for the future, and one in which the high street must play its part. It has also strengthened Totnes’s resilience right now. A vigorous local campaign recently saw off an attempt by Costa to open here. With plenty of independent alternatives already thriving, Totnes decided it simply didn’t need it.

“That was an important victory,” says Annie Bowie, “and shows how alive with local spirit this high street is. But the recession and other pressures have made it more fragile, and that means we will have to go on fighting to keep it the way local people want it.”

Published in the Telegraph.

Totnes shows how our towns could be. It shows how they used to be.

Contrast Totnes with Aldershot and Farnborough. The latter two towns have been laid waste by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor getting in to bed with developers and Big Business, practising a policy of ethnic cleansing of small shops, independent businesses.

The latest act of cultural vandalism by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is the destruction of c1720s Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

Spot the difference, Caroline Lucas works with local traders, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor and local MP support McDonald’s and the trashing of local heritage.

North Laine, is a lovely area of Brighton, three streets, indie shops.

One Rolex short of contentment

December 24, 2013

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by The Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools, spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse; something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.

four Rolexes

four Rolexes

burning money

burning money

bar bill

bar bill

The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl’s head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled onto her vast bed. It’s captioned “shoppy shoppy” and “#goldrush”, but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.

drowning in bags

drowning in bags

Perhaps I am projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research appears to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, which the researchers define as “a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project”, is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.

swimming pool

swimming pool

There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years appears to show causation.

For example, a series of studies published in June in the journal Motivation and Emotion showed that as people become more materialistic, their well-being (good relationships, autonomy, a sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.

In one study, the researchers tested a group of 18-year-olds, then re-tested them 12 years later. They were asked to rank the importance of different goals: jobs, money and status on one side, self-acceptance, fellow feeling and belonging on the other. They were then given a standard diagnostic test to identify mental health problems. At the ages of both 18 and 30, materialistic people were more susceptible to disorders. But if in that period they became less materialistic, their happiness improved.

giant sofa

giant sofa

In another study, the psychologists followed Icelanders weathering their country’s economic collapse. Some people became more focused on materialism, in the hope of regaining lost ground. Others responded by becoming less interested in money and turning their attention to family and community life. The first group reported lower levels of well-being, the second group higher levels.

These studies, while suggestive, demonstrate only correlation. But the researchers then put a group of adolescents through a church programme designed to steer children away from spending and towards sharing and saving. The self-esteem of materialistic children on the programme rose significantly, while that of materialistic children in the control group fell. Those who had little interest in materialism before the programme experienced no change in self-esteem.

in the plane

in the plane

Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages which cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive, more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join demanding social activities. The researchers point out that as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.

A third paper, published (ironically) in the Journal of Consumer Research, studied 2,500 people for six years. It found a two-way relationship between materialism and loneliness: materialism fosters social isolation; isolation fosters materialism. People who are cut off from others attach themselves to possessions. This attachment in turn crowds out social relationships.

The two varieties of materialism which have this effect – using possessions as a yardstick of success and seeking happiness through acquisition – are the varieties that seem to be on display at Rich Kids of Instagram. It was only after reading this paper that I understood why those photos distressed me: they look like a kind of social self-mutilation.

my painting

my painting

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why an economic model based on perpetual growth continues on its own terms to succeed, though it may leave a trail of unpayable debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. Social atomisation may be the best sales strategy ever devised, and continuous marketing looks like an unbeatable programme for atomisation.

Materialism forces us into comparison with the possessions of others, a race both cruelly illustrated and crudely propelled by that toxic website. There is no end to it. If you have four Rolexes while another has five, you are a Rolex short of contentment. The material pursuit of self-esteem reduces your self-esteem.

posing with bottles

posing with bottles

I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.

This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that more money and more stuff enhances our well-being, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness.

— George Monbiot

Published by George Monbiot on his blog.

Materialism, far from making us happy, increasing our well-being, simply destroys our lives.

In the last few days before Christmas, the news was how much is being spent, is it more or less than last year. No one questioned this mindless consumption.

In conversation with Dougald Hine in Dark Mountain 4, Gustavo Esteva makes the point poverty is relative. He worked with poor peasants and contrary to the received view, he found them to be happy.

Install a new kitchen because that is what the marketing says you want. It dies not improve the cooking skills, this despite cookbooks are the best-sellers. Quality food is not bought from local suppliers, no, the cheapest rubbish the supermarket has to offer.

We are not poor because we lack the latest iPhone, clothes with a trendy fashion label.

When not engaged in mindless consumption, sat like zombies in front of a widescreen TV watching garbage.

I only have one Rolex, a Montegrappa pen. Do I need more? No.

You’ve Made a Wager of Our Future

November 25, 2013

Following the walkout by environmentalists at COP19, a young Somali activist addressed the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw.

A mere finger can’t obscure the sun. — Somali proverb

We can’t take crumbs from the High Table. — Ruth Nyambura, Kenyan activist

It always seems impossible until it is done. — Nelson Mandela

Absurd Warsaw talks on climate show why we need to take on the fossil fuel industry that impedes all progress. — Bill McKibben

Our message to our political leaders is that nature does not negotiate. — Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Executive Director

Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

There’s a Somali proverb that goes: a mere finger can’t obscure the sun. You cannot hide the truth by deception; as any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here.

Unreported by the mainstream media, earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.

Somali had a sustainable inshore fishing industry. It was destroyed by fishing off its coast using huge EU subsidised factory ships. The Somalis then turned to piracy.

What we saw at the UN Climate Talks was a hijacking by Big Business, by Big Coal, Big Oil, by Greed.

COP20 was sponsored by Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Business.

Next year Lithuania takes over the EU presidency. The Lithuanian presidency are being given 150 cars by BMW. The family that controls BMW has given millions of euros to the ruling party in Germany.

Corporate lobbyists are welcomed, young activists who show solidarity with the Philippines’s head delegate Yeb Saño get slung out by over-zealous security, then banned.

The very businesses who are the root cause of carbon emissions, have their logos plastered all over a conference dealing with climate change.

We cannot rely on corrupt politicians with their snouts in the trough. We have to take on directly the polluters. Be it sponsorship of Tate Britain by BP, be it the Keystone pipeline, be it fracking in Balcombe in Devon.

It is like we are living in two different worlds, in the Philippines several thousand dead, meanwhile for Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Business, it is businesses as usual.

The Philippines emits 0.9 metric tons of carbon per capita. The United States emits 17.6. But the people of the Philippines are now enduring the terrible results of the strongest storm ever measured. Evidence shows that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of tropical storms.

Philippines’s head delegate Yeb Saño:

To anyone outside who continues to deny and ignore the reality that is climate change, I dare them — I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs. I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes, to see communities confronting glacial floods; to the Arctic, where communities grapple with the fast-dwindling sea ice sheets; the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, the Nile, where lives and livelihoods are drowned; to the hills of Central America, that confront similar monstrous hurricanes; to the vast savannas of Africa, where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce — not to forget the monstrous storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard of North America, as well as the fires that have raged Down Under. And if that is not enough, they may want to see what has happened to the Philippines now.

I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food … until a meaningful outcome is in sight; until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund … until the promise of the operationalization of a loss-and-damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles we have so upheld.

Please sign the petition and tell the US you want to see Climate Justice now!

Prior to COP20 in Lima in Peru, there is to be a pre-COP in Venezuela. It will be different, it will be for invited ministers to listen to what the people are saying, not the other way around.

The human race is heading like lemmings over the cliff edge.

Child 31 – The Story of Mary’s Meals

November 18, 2013
Martha Payne and Jamie Oliver

Martha Payne and Jamie Oliver

I had never heard of Mary’s Meals, until Martha Payne wrote of Mary’s Meals on her excellent blog NeverSeconds, and through her blog, raised money for a school kitchen in Malawi.

Why a school kitchen is important, is that the children get fed one decent meal a day, and it encourages them to go to school.

Battle for The Alma

November 2, 2013
The Alma

The Alma

The Alma is my business, my home and for the past 11 years everything I do. – Kirsty Valentine

Pubs are destroyed for many reasons, bad landlords for example. They are though in the main, destroyed by pubcos, who are screwing pub landlords, then when the pubs fails, it is sold off for redevelopment.

Pubs are not failing because people sit at home, as a ridiculous article in The Telegraph suggested.

The c 1720s Tumbledown Dick was a popular live music venue until it closed in 2008. Since left to rapidly deteriorate thanks to wilful neglect by Bride Hall and refusal to serve enforcement action by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

The Alma, a Victorian pub in  Newington Green in Islington, was a pub to avoid, until Kirsty Valentine took it over and turned it around from a pub to avoid to a pub to visit, Kirsty Valentine is now facing bankruptcy. Not because she cannot run a successful pub, but because she is being screwed by zombie pubco bully Enterprise Inns. The Alma now faces an uncertain future, possible demolition and redevelopment of the site.

Pubcos screw landlords in two ways

  • overinflated rents
  • overcharging for drinks, which have to be bought from the pubco not on the open market

Kirsty Valentine is forced to pay 40% higher price, than if she bought on the open market. She is also restricted in what she can buy and sell.

If you walk into a pub and wonder why they are selling rubbish when there are great beers around, why you are paying over the odds, then ask are they tied to a pubco, then you will have the answer.

The Alma are not through sitting idly by and letting the pubco walk all over them, they are fighting back.

Part of the Battle to save the Alma, is to seek a listing from Islington as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act.

To protect the future of The Alma we want Islington to recognise its status as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) under the Localism Act.  Registration of The Alma as an ACV will ensure that it cannot be sold for non-pub alternative uses without the knowledge of the pubs management or customers and must, by law, be offered to the community to buy it if they wish.
 
Pubs are widely recognised in the planning system as making a positive contribution to the residential conservation areas they sit in, both in terms of their visual appeal and the historic function they perform as meeting places for the communities they serve. ACV registrations are taken into account when planning applications on the building are made and can be grounds for refusal where this would strip the building of its use or result in its demolition.

Tourists come to London for our heritage. Part of that heritage is the traditional English pub, serving real ales and quality food. They do not come for tacky fast food outlets.

Pubs are local businesses, they recycle money within the local economy, support other local businesses.

There is certainly a strong argument to be made for the social and economic value of the community pub. IPPR in a recent report Pubs and Places: the social value of community pubs, placed the wider social value of a sample of community pubs at between £20,000 and £120,000 per pub. It noted that pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year, besides their cultural and practical community value.

Please sign the petition calling for The Alma to be designated as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act.

The Alma was a battle fought in the Crimean war.

A sense of well-being

October 26, 2013
Brighton guitar shop

Brighton guitar shop

Brighton Infinity Foods Café

Brighton Infinity Foods Café

Sincil Street

Sincil Street

What makes one place better to live than another, what makes a viable High Street, what provides a sense of well-being?

The answers have been known for a long time, but we still focus on growth for growth’s sake.

In the US, each generation had a sense they were better off than the previous generation, but not any more.

Once people have progressed beyond a certain material level, where they are not starving, where they know they will keep warm, accumulation of stuff as an end in itself becomes pointless. In a finite world, it also has dire consequences.

When large corporations move into a town, they destroy. They have no sense of community. All that matters is profit on a balance sheet. They have low pay, poor working conditions, the classic McJob. The sense of place is destroyed when all towns look the same. Money is drained out of the local economy.

For a over a decade, New Economic Foundation has been publishing research on viability of town centres, on well-being.

More recently, Mary Portas has been saying the same thing on what makes a town centre viable.

Recently published research from the government, is also saying the same thing.

What therefore are they all saying, and why is no one listening?

We need variety, we need small businesses, we need sense of community, we need heritage, we need green space, we need art and culture.

When we look around, we can find places where this is a reality.

North Laine area of Brighton. Variety, individuality, heritage.

Sincil Street in Lincoln. A Victorian Street, though the street is much older, running parallel to the High Street, the street is a bustle from 10am until 4pm, more people on the street, than in the High Street. The High Street, Clone Town writ large, the same High Street Chains, as every other Clone Town. The one rare exception, Stokes on High Bridge, an indie coffee shop. Sincil Street has individuality, indie coffee shops, a couple of butchers, a baker, a market (though thanks to the crass stupidity of the City Council, the market is a shadow of what it once was), heritage, a sense of community. The City Council, rather than recognising the jewel in the crown in the City centre, has blighted Sincil Street, by earmarking for demolition for a shopping centre.

Market Rasen, a small Lincolnshire market town, has pulled itself up by its bootstraps by focussing on what matters: small shops, mutual support, community, cultural events. This has been achieved without any input from the local council, by local businesses, local people, working together in partnership.

To look at the opposite extreme, visit Aldershot and Farnborough on the Surrey-Hampshire border. Both towns have been trashed by crass planning decisions, a council in bed with developers and Big Businesses, to the detriment of the local community, a council that destroys heritage, a council that is practicing ethnic cleansing of local businesses, a council that has arrogant contempt for the local community.

Westgate Centre (Wastegate as local retailers call it), is ruining Aldershot town centre. The latest small business to close, was Paul’s Copy Shop on Thursday. He put the blame on the local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. As do all the other retailers who are suffering. There was once three copy shops in Aldershot, now there are none.

In Farnborough, planning consent has been given to destroy Firgrove Parade, destroying four local businesses (the few local businesses remaining in the town centre), and destruction of the only green space at the northern end of the town centre.

Planning consent granted to destroy the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick, a once popular live music venue, for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The green light given, we want to shift Farnborough downmarket, to increase the spiral of deprivation, drain money out of the local economy.

A 99p Store has now opened. A planning application has been lodged for an Adult Amusement Arcade, weasel words for a gambling den.

Not surprising, a sense of alienation, crime rates high, poor health high (especially obesity and type 2 diabetes). Those with the means, visit nearby towns, Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, anywhere other than Aldershot or Farnborough, or Farnburger, as it is now called.

Farnborough and Aldershot form case studies in how to destroy once viable town centres.

It will come as a surprise to most people to learn that in the 1950s and 1960s, Aldershot was seen as the place to visit. People came from Guildford to Aldershot. But that was before the ghastly shopping centre was built, ripping the heart out of the town, when Aldershot was still recognisable as a Victorian town.

Goodbye Dick – hello McD

October 14, 2013
planning meeting

planning meeting

Last night the Development Control Committee, chaired by the young, talented and Tory Cllr Gareth Lyons had the task of considering the application to convert the Tumbledown Dick into a McDonalds restaurant and drive-through, which had been recommended by Rushmoor Planning officers for approval.

The meeting was, as expected, well attended by a little over 100 members of the public. Given the hype I was surprised there were no television crews present other than a cameraman from the poorly read Aldershot / Farnborough News Group (part of the Guardian group I believe) – I understand they have put details on their web site which I assume has more readers than their local rag. I have nothing against the local paper – just find it incredibly boring and unimaginative to the point I have stopped buying it. The Council also have details on their web site – http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk

The report prepared by officers was comprehensive and precisely set out the issues. The Chairman, Cllr Lyon, handled the meeting extremely professionally. Fran Beauchamp, Chair of the Friends of the TDD, spoke against the application and a representative from McDonalds spoke in favour. After a discussion the recommendation was approved 7 for and 3 against which means the plans can now go ahead. Which means McD now saves the TD Dick

I for one will be extremely pleased to see the area cleaned up at last, and the site used and enjoyed by local families. I’m lovin it….

— Councillor David Clifford, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

When most people read what David Clifford had posted on his blog, they assumed it must be a parody, no councillor would treat people with this level of contempt, no one would express glee that that a local heritage building, one of the oldest buildings in Farnborough was to be demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

What David Clifford has posted must rank alongside Gerald Ratner saying what we sell is crap, and John Gummer trying to shove a burger down the throat of his daughter at the height of the foot and mouth epidemic.

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

Gerald Ratner added that his stores’ earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”.

Ratner in 1991 wiped £500 million from the value of Ratners jewellers with what has become known as ‘doing a Ratner’.

Foot in mouth does not even begin to describe this blog post and the attempts at justification.

When in a hole, it is always advisable to stop digging.

It is difficult to believe a ward councillor could be so crass, so out of touch with those in his ward, or express delight at the demolition of a much loved heritage building.

Though this delight is not new. Last year, in an e-mail exchange (dated 27 April 2012) between Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, then borough solicitor Karen Limmer, and someone only identified as Richard:

Richard: This may be just what is needed … all in a gift wrapped un-solicited package … The sun is shining at last … Lots of potential for a great weekend with this package.

Andrew Lloyd: Well said!

Six months later, Andrew Lloyd, in an e-mail to councillors (dated 29 October 2012), denied all knowledge of the sale to McDonald’s!

What did David Clifford do to help save The Tumbledown Dick, a c1720s pub, until a its closure in 2008 a popular live music venue, a building that predates Farnborough, when all that existed was a few isolated buildings and tracks over a desolate heath.

Er, nothing.

Did David Clifford force enforcement action by the Council on the owners Bride Hall?

Not as far as we know.

Members of the local public tried. The Council refused to serve enforcement notice.

But what we do know, David Clifford and Gerald Howarth MP, went behind the backs of the local community and stitched up a dirty little back door deal with McDonald’s, to demolish the building and leave the façade, and even that will not remain untouched as the windows are to be changed.

He appears to be completely out of touch with the views of local people on the pub. They want to see the building retained, re-opened as a pub, live music venue, local community, arts and cultural centre.

If anyone thought re-opening the pub would cause problems of antisocial behaviour, then wait until a Drive-Thru McDonald’s opens, traffic congestion, litter, antisocial behaviour. Or visit Farnborough Gate, or read the police reports on Farnborough Gate, or see the objections the Metropolitan Police raised to a Drive-Thru McDonald’s opening near Croydon.

It is difficult to see how, in the light of appalling local health statistics, far worse than the national average, a Drive-Thru McDonalds is good for Farnborough.

A recent Public Health England report showed how bad the health and related statistics were locally, far worse than the national average.

  • 2,600 children in the Borough live in Poverty
  • In Year 6 children, 18.5% are classified as obese which is significantly above the – national average
  • GCSE attainment is significantly below the national average
  • Violent crime is significantly above the national average
  • Obese adults are above the national average

Health is a material planning consideration. At least one school is within the zone which national planning policy does not permit fast food outlets.

The Milestone Surgery (opposite the site), local doctors, a retired naval surgeon, two local head teachers had all raised concerns on health grounds.

Primary School Head Teachers objected – Mrs Sue Harris, Pinewood Infants and Mrs S Masters, Fernhill Primary. Both teachers eloquently stated how they are striving to help their school children understand healthy eating and that this undermines that, plus one of them mentioned the soft play centre and how it would encourage poor eating and less interactions within families. They both also mentioned traffic.. in fact EVERYONE mentioned traffic!!

Did David Clifford, as ward councillor, attend this important planning meeting?

From his comments, it would appear not. The chairing of the meeting by Gareth Lyon was appalling, the committee members sat around the table (with the honourable exception of Alan Chainey and Frank Rust) were a public disgrace.

Did David Clifford, as ward councillor, read the Agenda, bother to read the critical analysis of the Agenda, or take the trouble to read the 590 objections? It was necessary to read the objections, as all the Agenda contained was soundbites, and read as a PR exercise for McDonald’s, well argued objections, were not put before the committee.

Again, it would appear not.

Chairing of the meeting by Gareth Lyon was a disgrace. He came across as a clueless idiot. He was a puppet with unelected planning official Keith Holland whispering in his ear, telling him how to think, what to say.

He failed to keep order of the meeting. When councillors strayed of topic, he failed to bring them to order. When councillors lied, he did not correct.

He lacked impartiality. When councillors spoke in favour of McDonald’s, he did not ask officials to comment. When councillors spoke against, he asked officials to comment.

A chairman should have casting vote only. He declared he would be voting in favour of McDonald’s.

Gareth Lyon is a carpetbagger, hoping for a safe Tory seat. I trust any selection committee looks at the video of him chairing the planning committee, they will see how useless he is, and not wish to touch him with a bargepole.

The Farnborough News is an imprint of the Surrey Advertiser. Both are owned by the Trinity Mirror Group. I agree worthless rag, rarely worth buying, but I would expect councillors to buy it out of their tax-free allowance (something that should have been chopped in austerity).

John Wall buys it, so he can crow about a letter from his one and only supporter.

The report by planning officials was seriously flawed and read as a McDonald’s PR exercise.

The meeting was a disgrace, those councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s were a disgrace, they had not done their homework, did not know what they were talking about.

The two honourable exceptions were Alan Chainey and Frank Rust, who had bothered to do their homework, knew what they were talking about.

Far from people of Farnborough in favour of McDonald’s, 590 objections, several thousand signed a petition.

Local doctors objected on health grounds as did two head teachers.

The Tumbledown Dick did not cause a problem of antisocial behaviour, litter, traffic congestion. McDonald’s will cause all three.

65 de-skilled, part-time, low-paid, zero-hours jobs, subsidised by the State.

McDonald’s will drain money out of the local economy.

McDonald’s will externalise costs to the local and national economy: litter, traffic congestion, pollution, antisocial behaviour, health.

The site did not need clearing up, it was not a focal point for rubbish, though will be if McDonald’s occupy the site.

The building was in a very poor state of repair due to wilful neglect by Bride Hall and the refusal by the Council to serve enforcement action.

Serve a Freedom of Information request on the Council and you will see they refused to take enforcement action. That is assuming you get a reply as they are currently refusing all FoI requests, even though a criminal offence to do so.

There were more than sufficient planning grounds to reject McDonald’s, but councillors were told to ignore them.

It was perverse that the Council spent taxpayers money on legal advice to ignore planning policies, in order to push through an application on behalf of an American fast food chain.

No one asked why this was done. No one asked to see the legal advice or that it be placed in the public domain.

Planning has a quasi-judicial function. Can only determine based on the evidence. Asked to reach a decision on the basis of legal advice no one saw.

Since when was a heritage building saved by demolishing it?

I have yet to meet anyone in favour of demolition of The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. I have though met many who are against.

Anyone passing through Farnborough, the only image they will now have is McDonald’s. Mind you, the few who visit, rather than pass through, will find it is such a dump, they will agree McDonald’s is an appropriate image.

In the summer, the clowns we have as councillors, fell over backwards to destroy four local businesses at Firgrove Parade, including an excellent Indian restaurant which one of these clowns referred to as a café. On Wednesday night (9 October 2013), the same clowns, fell over backwards to promote a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The one thing we did not see Wednesday night was a well informed debate, we saw half-truths, lies, and personal prejudices come to the fore. No attempt was made by the useless chairman to bring any of these clowns to order. The two honourable exception were Alan Chainey and Frank Rust, two councillors who at least take their roles seriously and exercise informed scrutiny.

When we look around and see the state of Aldershot and Farnborough, then look at the clowns we have on the committee, it is easy to see why.

The comments that have appeared on David Clifford’s blog, indicate how out of touch he is. Probably the only time a blog post by a councillor has been read by more people than can be counted on one hand.

David Clifford has now blocked further comments on the grounds that they have become repetitive, ie they show how out of touch he has become.

But not to worry, you can write those comments here.

To add insult to injury David Clifford has today added a new post, calling for a live music venue in Farnborough!

You could not make it up if you tried.

Tragedy for The Tumbledown Dick

October 9, 2013
planning meeting

planning meeting

Rushmoor this evening lived up to its name as the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor when the dysfunctional planning committee voted 7 to 3 to demolish the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick, a popular live music venue, for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

Before the meeting, the head of planning had demonstrated his arrogant contempt for the local community by refusing to live stream the meeting over the net, make adequate arrangements for the numbers wishing to attend. The planning agenda read like PR propaganda for McDonald’s.

The meeting was packed, the venue not adequate for the numbers who attended. The screens were not visible to everyone. The Farnborough News was filming. Hopefully they will upload all their footage to the net to enable everyone to see the disgraceful behaviour of the committee members, bar two.

Excellent presentation by Fran Beauchamp to REJECT the application from McDonald’s to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

McDonald’s sent a senior executive to address the meeting. He claimed McDonald’s provided good training, excellent job prospects, would create 65 jobs maybe 100 jobs and that McDonald’s was good for Farnborough. He claimed McDonald’s was good for local communities. He claimed McDonald’s cleared litter from the local vicinity. He failed to mention the 65 jobs were part-time, minimum wage, zero hours contacts. He failed to mention the externalisation of health costs, the cost to society of dealing with obesity, type 2 diabetes. His litter patrols would appear to miss a lot of litter.

The committee was told legal advice had been obtained, to ignore planning policy. No one questioned why such perverse action, waste of public money. No one asked to see the legal advice, to ask that it be put in the pubic domain.

The committee has to act on the evidence put before the committee. They were asked to act on legal advice they had never seen, did not know where it had come from, or who had given it. No one asked that the legal advice be put into the public domain.

The legal advice sought was to ignore that health is a material planning consideration and to ignore that The Tumbledown Dick is an Asset of Community Value.

The councillors who spoke, with the exception of the two who spoke against the application, did not have a clue what they were talking about, and often rambled about stuff that was of no relevance.

The councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s, clearly did not know what they were talking about (and often blatantly lied), had not bothered to read submissions from the public.

It was claimed a police van was often parked outside The Tumbledown Dick, that it was not viable and was not very busy or popular, that there was a problem with noise and antisocial behaviour.

John Marsh was as always a disgrace. He showed arrogant contempt for the local community. He claimed health and obesity were not a planning issue.

It was referred to that The Tumbledown Dick was sitting derelict. This is not only the fault of Bride hall, is also the fault of the Council for refusing to serve enforcement notice.

Councillor Alan Chainey spoke about the traffic and on several other issues. Councillor Frank Rust spoke on health. These were the only two councillors who knew what they were talking about and said they would vote against. These were the only two who seemed to know what they were talking about.

When Alan Chainey and Frank Rust spoke, eloquently and well informed, their comments were referred by the chairman to planning officials to comment on. This was not done for councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s, no matter how ill-informed or inaccurate their comments, no attempt was made to correct, the only correction came from shouts from the public, who were immediately told to keep quiet.

Milestone Surgery across the road from the site had an application to expand rejected on the grounds of traffic. The committee was told by officials traffic from the Drive-Thru would have no impact, it was even claimed it would not generate traffic, it would be cars passing by which would drive in.

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

Fact: The traffic on this stretch of the A325, a major arterial highway at peak times is stationary or walking pace, it backs up from the roundabout to the next roundabout.

It was claimed there was no traffic problems at Farnborough Gate, the location of a Drive-Thru McDonald’s a mile up the road.

Fact: Traffic backs up from Farnborough Gate onto the A325, this in turn backs up down the slip road leading off the Blackwater Valley Road.

The committee were told to ignore health issues, because legal advice had been obtained. Legal advice no one has seen, has not been placed in the public domain. Were told to ignore that Islington has health as a planning consideration when determining the location of of fast food outlets. The committee was told to ignore the health issue of fast foods, as people could exercise.

The committee was not told that local doctors, a retired naval surgeon, two local head teachers had raised concerns on health grounds.

Primary School Head Teachers objected – Mrs Sue Harris, Pinewood Infants and Mrs S Masters, Fernhill Primary. Both teachers eloquently stated how they are striving to help their school children understand healthy eating and that this undermines that, plus one of them mentioned the soft play centre and how it would encourage poor eating and less interactions within families. They both also mentioned traffic.. in fact EVERYONE mentioned traffic!!

Nor was mention made of a recent Public Health England report which showed how bad the health and related statistics were locally, far worse than the national average.

– 2,600 children in the Borough live in Poverty
– In Year 6 children, 18.5% are classified as obese which is significantly above the – national average
– GCSE attainment is significantly below the national average
– Violent crime is significantly above the national average
– Obese adults are above the national average

Health is a material planning consideration. At least one school is within the zone which national planning policy does not permit fast food outlets.

Councillor Frank Rust spoke eloquently on health, he referred to lots of policies and statistics, the obesity epidemic at a local school, the rise in Type 2 diabetes. Obesity was not only a weight problem, it led to low self-esteem, poor performance at school, low job prospects, mental health problems.

His comments were dismissed out of hand by official as not relevant, as little weight should be placed on health.

Councillor John Marsh demonstrated his level of ignorance, by stating health was not a planning issues, referred to a Nanny State, and it was the responsibility of parents if kids were fat.

Roland Dibbs came out with the perverse comment, that he could not see a need for a live music venue in Farnborough, when there was the West End Centre in Aldershot. And for good measure he objected to the West End Centre receiving public subsidy.

Fact: Aldershot is not Farnborough. The Tumbledown Dick never received public subsidy when it ran as a popular live music venue. The local community are not seeking public subsidy to run The Tumbledown Dick as a live music venue.

Fact: The Barn in Farnham, West End Centre in Aldershot, The Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough, would establish a network of live music venues, cultural art centres, running through the Blackwater Valley. Musicians need venues to play, artists need exhibition space.

If Dibbs cannot see a need for a live music venue in Farnborough, when there is one in Aldershot, then why is there a need for a multiplex cinema in Farnborough when there is one in Aldershot, and why is public money being used to subsidise a commercial cinema in Farnborough?

Note: Originally reported that Marsh made the comments on West End Centre and no need for a live music venue in Farnborough. It was Dibbs, and this has now been corrected.

And to reinforce that he is a blathering imbecile, Marsh claimed Farnborough Abbey, Fast Museum and the Airship Hanger were older than The Tumbledown Dick. And if the public had not yet got the message Marsh was a complete moron, he claimed there was no evidence for the age of The Tumbledown Dick.

No attempt was made to correct what Marsh or Dibbs had said, the chairman did not ask the officials to comment. The only time the chairman asked the officials to comment, was when a councillor spoke in favour of The Tumbledown Dick.

Most of the time, those who spoke in favour of McDonald’s rambled on matters of no relevance. One fool, wanted to know what age were the people in the public gallery when they visited The Tumbledown Dick! When councillors rambled off topic, no attempt was made by the chairman to bring them to order.

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

Tumbledown Dick demo 2008

One of the dumb questions of absolutely no relevance to the planning application was where were the objectors in 2008 when The Tumbledown Dick closed? Could it be outside The Tumbledown Dick at a demo at its closure? Not that we would expect councillors to know this as they seem to be pretty clueless as to what actually goes on in Farnborough, let alone what people want. Though they seem to know what developers want (and be happy to give it to them).

The chairing of the meeting was appalling. The chairman was nothing but a puppet, with head of planning Keith Holland (an official) pulling his strings and all the time whispering in his ear, telling him what to say, how to think.

The committee was repeatedly told, a Drive-Thru McDonald’s was what Farnborough wanted.

Fact: 590 people sent in written objections, several thousand signed two petitions to object.

In what was a classic example of newspeak (George Orwell would have been proud), the committee was repeatedly told by head of planning Keith Holland demolishing The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s would save the building, help retain local heritage, that it was bringing the building back into use.

Whilst it is true, bringing a heritage building back into use, is the best way to safeguard a building, its demolition is not.

The best way to safeguard The Tumbledown Dick is to bring it back into use as a pub, live music venue, local community arts and cultural centre, which is what the local community wishes to do, but they are being denied the opportunity.

The Tumbledown Dick is listed as a building of local historical importance. It is contrary to that policy to demolish a locally listed building. No reference was made to the policy.

The committee were instructed by Keith Holland to ignore that The Tumbledown Dick was listed as an Asset of Community Value. Legal advice had been sought because the Localism Act was new legislation. No one has seen the legal advice. It has not been tested in Court. Thus worthless.

John Marsh praised local ward councillors and local Member of Parliament Gerald Howarth for the hard work they had done to save The Tumbledown Dick. Gerald Howarth posted similar bollocks on his website the day before.

Fact: Gerald Howarth and the ward councillors went behind the backs of the local community and stitched up a behind closed doors dirty little deal with McDonald’s. It was that dirty deal that Marsh and other low life scum councillors were determined to rubber-stamp.

When the local community tried to have a meeting with local councillors to discuss the future of The Tumbledown Dick, that meeting was vetoed by an official with the Orwellian title of Head of Democratic Services. You could not make it up if you tried. It also exposed the lie from Marsh and his cronies, that the local community had not done anything.

Why has the local community not done anything, was repeated by several of the councillors batting for McDonald’s.

Attempts to talk to developer Bride Hall, to discuss or negotiate the sale of The Tumbledown Dick have also been refused.

It is known, someone within the Council is claiming a fee of £20,000 from McDonald’s for this scheme. Who, we do not know as McDonald’s will not say. Someone within the Council had a vested interest in seeing these plans approved.

A year ago, in an exchange of e-mails (dated 27 April 2012), Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, then borough solicitor Karen Limmer and someone only identified as Richard, could not contain their glee at the news that McDonald’s were to acquire the site, subject to Rushmoor granting planning consent.

Richard: This may be just what is needed … all in a gift wrapped un-solicited package … The sun is shining at last … Lots of potential for a great weekend with this package.

Andrew Lloyd: Well said!

WTF!

Six months later, Andrew Lloyd, in an e-mail to councillors (dated 29 October 2012), denied all knowledge of the sale to McDonald’s!

Rushmoor are denying all Freedom of Information requests on their dealings with Bride Hall and McDonald’s. A matter the Information Commissioner must investigate and if necessary, bring a criminal prosecution.

Following the planning meeting, a couple of the councillors had the nerve to walk into the Tilly Shilling. They took exception to being referred to as scum, though it was pointed out to them, that was how they had referred to the clientele of The Tumbledown Dick.

There was an attempt to have a reasonable conversation with them, to try and understand why they had behaved the way they had, after all they are our elected representatives. They did not though stay to talk as they clearly felt intimidated, though it should be emphasized, no attempt was made to intimidate. All what was learnt, was that they were lay people, did not understand what was going on, and felt they had to vote how they were told by officials.

If they are not up to the job then they should not be on the committee.

In Guildford, councillors on the planning committee, know their way around the planning system, know planning policies, and do not have officials telling them how to vote.

In Waverley the planning officials say they do not tell councillors how to vote.

There should be an impartial presentation of facts. This is not happening in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

Where now?

There is probably grounds for a Judicial Review, the Secretary of State has been asked to look into what happened, how the meeting was conducted.

It is easy to see why it was not wished for the meeting to be live streamed over the net. Too many people to bear witness to the travesty that took place Wednesday night.

There should be an independent investigation into the dysfunctional planning department.

Head of planning Keith Holland should resign.

A boycott of McDonald’s?

John Marsh, Roland Dibbs, Diane Bedford, Rod Cooper, Brian Parker spoke against The Tumbledown Dick.

Alan Chainey, Frank Rust spoke very eloquently and were the only ones who knew what they were talking about, were in support of The Tumbledown Dick.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (10 October 2013).


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