PUBLIC services in West Sussex are being slashed, and 300 jobs scrapped, on the say-so of a giant multinational financial firm, The Porkbolter can reveal.
News of the job cuts, which included a spate of redundancies this Christmas, was conveniently buried near the end of a West Sussex County Council press release (PR1220) on January 15.
This quoted cabinet member and Worthing councillor Steve Waight as boasting about the extent of the cuts (although “cuts” is of course one of those plainspeaking words that politicians can never actually bring themselves to utter any more!).
He said: “The initial £15 million is well above the efficiency saving target set by the Government of £5.5 million. This has involved taking out some 200 posts, many of them through a voluntary redundancy scheme.”
The term “many of them” is clearly important here. The actual truth is less cosy, with staff being dangled the carrot of double the minimum terms if they went for voluntary redundancy. The catch was that if they didn’t take it up and were made redundant anyway, they would only get half as much - the minimum. No pressure there, then!
Mr Waight also glossed over the fact that this was just an “initial” round of cuts. In all, 300 jobs are to be slashed, as was revealed in Press Release PR718 on May 15 2006.
A big bone of contention has been the way the axe has been wielded. You would have thought that if you wanted to make sure you trimmed the right bits of any organisation, you would ask the people involved for their suggestion and planned economies. Not a bit of it. West Sussex County Council instead hired international accountants KPMG, at a cost to the tax-payer of just over a quarter of a million pounds (£261,000. Press Release PR718).
As one disgruntled West Sussex County Council employee said to The Porkbolter: “What do they know about public services?”
KMPG, which originally stood for Klynveld, Peat, Marwick & Goerdeler, is a massive firm, employing 113,000 people in a global network spanning 148 countries. Composite revenues of KPMG member firms in 2006 were $16.9 billion. On its UK website, chairman John Griffith-Jones brags about its success in Business in the Community and how it has been “working closely with the International Business Leaders Forum”.
But strangely he fails to mention the unpleasantness over in the USA in 2005, when KPMG admitted criminal wrongdoing in a multi-billion dollar tax shelter fraud (BBC News website, August 29 2005). The admission has clearly not dissuaded our morally upright Tory council from working with KPMG over here!
It doesn’t take much imagination to see a link between all this and Iraq. How can Britain, a country so broke that it has to tear its own infrastructure to pieces, somehow be able to afford to splash out billions upon billions on the invasion and occupation of a far-off foreign country (actually, make that two - there’s Afghanistan as well, remember!) as well as dishing out at least £25 billion on replacing the Trident nuclear missile system, now surely a complete waste of space when the “enemy” is no longer the USSR but a bunch of men with rucksacks scurrying around London tube stations...
But there is another more direct link to Iraq. A firm called BearingPoint, which was created out of the main KPMG in 2001, is being paid $240 million by George W Bush’s government to advise on the economic reconstruction/carve-up of Iraq. Interestingly, BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor (Independent on Sunday, January 14).
Everywhere you turn, it’s the same story - contracts and favours, taxpayers’ money and private profit. All over the world, from County Hall in Chichester to the Pentagon, the same few people play the same rigged game. And while big business is cashing in, helped by its friends on the inside with their hands on the public purse strings, the rest of us are losing out!
SUPPORTERS of the Titnore Woods protest camp are to march on the police station in Worthing town centre in protest at police attempts to ban their town centre stall.
Ever since the eco-protesters occupied the ancient woodland in West Durrington last May, to try and stop a proposed 875-home estate being built, a regular stall has been held in Montague Place, collecting names on protest letters, handing out information and also taking donations of food and cash for the camp.
But on two consecutive Saturdays before Christmas, Worthing police decided to turn up and harass the volunteers on the stall, even threatening them with arrest if they carried on collecting.
Said a spokesman for Titnore Emergency Action (TEA), which works to support the camp: “It is clear that orders have come from up above to clamp down on the stall. It seems to be part of a concerted effort on the part of the powers-that-be to cut off practical and moral support for the campers in the town.
“They know that the stall has played a key role in this respect and they have decided, for purely political reasons, to bring their jackboots down onto it and crush it.” But why would the police have any role to play in a political move like this? We know for a fact that a number of local officers are sympathetic to the campaign to save Titnore Woods. Unfortunately, though, their personal feelings count for nothing when they receive orders from their bosses.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the police force is always deployed at times of crisis to defend the rich and powerful, rather than the public interest.
In the case of Titnore, there certainly is a lot of money involved (both for the landowners and the property developers) and also very powerful people, such as property tycoon Gerald Ronson of Heron Group, part of the West Durrington Consortium.
However, the stakes are even higher than this. Worthing is by no means the only ordinary English town facing the rape of its green fields and woods by greed-driven property speculators. The story is the same everywhere, especially with the government planning to do away with existing Green Belt protection.
Imagine if word got out about the powerful protest taking place in Titnore Woods, and about the massive support it has been getting from Worthing people?
That might well set off a chain reaction of local communities deciding to stand up and actually do something to fight the destruction of our natural heritage, rather than just moaning about it and saying there’s no point trying to stop it. Where would that leave us? How many profit margins would that put in danger? How many police would it take to stamp out that rebellion?
TEA’s ‘Leave Our Stall Alone’ protest starts in Montague Place, Worthing, near McDonald’s, at 2pm on Saturday February 17 and will make its way towards the police station in Chatsworth Road.
Camp phone: 0780 4245324.
Keep up to date with Protect Our Woodland! and Southcoast Indymedia
AN UNUSUAL protest was held in Worthing town centre before Christmas, by the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society.
A report in the Worthing Herald (November 30) featured a photo of the protesters bearing placards with the message “Keep Alzheimer’s Drugs on the NHS”.
Seeking further info, we turned to the internet and discovered in a report of a similar campaign in York (www.yorkpress.co.uk) that the charity was protesting against a decision by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, which decides which drugs taxpayers’ money should be spent on.
It explained: “The NICE study recommended treatments Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl should only be funded for people in the moderate stages of the disease, because testing showed it had little impact before then.”
Aricept is marketed by Pfizer/Eisai, Reminyl by Shire and Exelon by Novartis. It seems these giant drugs firms are anxious that NHS cash should be heading their way for these drugs. For instance, the profit-denting possibility of the NICE verdict warranted a mention in a financial report on the Shire website (www.shire.com), which noted: “The recommendation potentially affected sales of Reminyl and Reminyl X in England and Wales”.
And a report in The Guardian on January 9 revealed: “Eisai and Pfizer, the two drug companies who make and market Alzheimer’s drug Aricept are applying for a judicial review of the decision and the Alzheimer’s Society announced yesterday it would join the action.”
Hidden away on the Alzheimer’s Society website (www.alzheimers.org.uk) is a legally obligatory section detailing its connections with pharmaceutical companies. The complete list of named firms who gave the charity money in 2005-2006 is: “Pfizer/Eisai £31,000, Shire £13,000, Novartis £14,000”.
What a porkin’ coincidence! All together now, drugs protesters: “What do we want? Profits! When do we want them? Now!”
A good place to start is at the Worthing Alliance, which is not an organisation as such, but an independent monthly meeting for people of all ages and types who believe in doing something. You can either join in with people already doing something or come with ideas and input of your own. Meetings are on the last Thursday of every month upstairs at The Rest Bar, Bath Place, Worthing, from 8pm, with the next dates February 22 and March 29. See you there!
“A SHINING utopia, a gleaming paradise, a 21st century jewel on the glittering Sussex Riviera.”
That was the vision of Worthing’s future set out by top planning consultant and urban make-over guru Valentine Vampyre in an exclusive interview carried out last night by your intrepid correspondent, Pinky Perkins.
“It’s all about investment,” Vampyre told me. “I like to see Worthing as, above all, a lucrative opportunity for wealth creation and my job is to facilitate progress, bulldoze over any obstacles in its path and, with any luck, pick up a few crumbs from the development dinner table!”
With this he chortled in a rather over-fed aristocratic manner that is seldom heard outside the City boardroom and the gentleman’s club.
“But what exactly do you have in mind?” I quizzed him as he strode purposefully out of the Charmandean Centre, blueprint in hand.
“Basically,” he said, “the Old Worthing has got to go, to make way for a New Worthing, a top quality upmarket Worthing with the right market profile to bring in the big boys. The dreadful area by the station, that horrid swimming pool, that ridiculous empty space at Montague Place, your pathetically old-fashioned cinema, all those useless libraries and museums, that seedy old public hospital - I’ve never even met anyone who’s ever been there! - all of this baggage is getting in the way of major investors, international players. They want luxury apartments on the seafront, gated communities, up-market restaurants, sushi bars, private clinics, exclusive brothels - think of all the marvellous jobs they will be creating for young people! Before you know it, Worthing will be the St Tropez of Sussex, the Biarritz of the Brighton postcode zone, the Monte Carlo of the Meridian TV catchment area, the..errr.. ah, here comes my hearse!”
“Hang on, Sir, before you go...!” I gasped. “This is all very well, but where exactly will it leave the ordinary residents of Worthing?” He looked at me blankly, plainly at a loss even to recognise the term. Then the penny dropped. “Oh, them....” he sniffed. “Errrm... Bognor Regis, perhaps?” And, unleashing another prestigious public school snigger, he fluttered off into the night.
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