| Friday 2nd
2007 | Issue 574
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER WORM TURNING...
Version - Download, Print, Copy and Distribute!
Of The Century | Dunediner Dunnit | Celebrity
Big Brother Shocker | Party & Protest | SHAC-KLED | ...and
OF THE CENTURY
ALLOTMENT FEVER AS SchNEWS CONFRONTS SOME GROWING ISSUES
at SchNEWS we’ve always wondered how a multi-billion pound
project to build mega sports complexes and to fly in athletes from
all over the world could possibly be ‘sustainable’.
But apparently sustainability is “at the heart” of
the ‘One Planet Olympics’ (the Martian team so unfairly
But try telling that to the allotment holders at the
100-year-old Manor Garden, Hackney. Their veggie growing exploits
have the misfortune to being right in the middle of the Olympic
Park site and are due to be bulldozed to make way for a footpath – to
be used for the four weeks that the Games take place. Historical
legacy or what? “There is no need to remove the allotments,
they can be worked around,” says Univ of East London Senior
Lecturer in Architecture - Tak Hoshino, “the current plans
will leave behind a Hollywood set for a ghost town.”
The same politicians
from the London Assembly who practically begged the Olympic selection
committee to bring the corporate sport'n'steroid fest to the capital
have, ironically, also been bigging up allotments in a recent report
on London’s disappearing growing spaces.
With the boom in interest of cultivating all that is organic, would-be
allotmenteers in the Big Smoke face a ten year wait for a plot.
Since the 1970s it is estimated that nationally allotments have
been disappearing at an average rate of nearly 10,000 per year.
Now there are waiting lists all around the country. And how do
you tackle that, Neo Labour? By trashing another 1,500 sites since
1997 of course!
Growing your own grub is sustainable as you can
be - and you’re
not at the mercy of some greedy corporation bent on controlling
and profiting from your every mouthful to boot. Take a look in
your local supermarket and the crap they want us to eat - it’s
a toxic food society, and you could be growing your own additive
free, unpackaged, fresher, tastier grub – free of charge!
We could, very briefly, also mention all the great exercise you
get diggin’ and a hoein’ but, to be honest, getting
up in the middle of the night to ‘deposit’ your garden
of its population of slugs and snails can be a bit of a nightmare...
next time you pick up the winter aubergine or fancy a bowl of strawberries
and cream in February, spare a thought for the distance such out
of season fare has traveled to get to your plate. Never mind all
the suits who jet thousands of miles around the world in business
class, our daily produce is traveling farther than ever to reach
the supermarket shelf. The centralization of our food production
system by a handful of corporate giants means that yer cow juice
is very unlikely to have come from that dairy farm down the road.
According to the government’s own research,
food miles increased by 15% in the ten years since 1992. Over 95%
of food in the UK is imported and it’s another growing contribution
to greenhouse gases and global warming that well-fed politicians
seem to care little about. And of course its not just fruit n’ veg
that travel - live animal exports are now very much back on the
cards too (see SchNEWS 542).
One of the many benefits aside from
the pleasure you can derive from planting yer own, is that you’re
much less likely to throw away perfectly good food. Whilst 800
million (and rising) people live in food poverty, consumers in
the UK throw away between 30 and 40 percent of the food they bought
- worth up to £16bn
Back over at the Olympic site, last week (16th Jan) more
than 100 supporters gathered at the endangered Manor Garden allotments.
Campaigner Michael Whale told those present the plots should not
only be “spared from the bulldozers, but should be the centerpiece
of the new Olympic development, seeing as they present healthy-living,
the very essence of what the Olympics is meant to be about...”
in Eastleigh, Hampshire council is trying to boot allotment holders
off their land so they can clear the area for a money-spinning
development of 470 Barratt boxes. The growers are saying no and
have started a court battle to judicially review the Secretary
of State’s decision to back the development. The Eastleigh
plots are ‘statutory allotments’ which means they can
only be bulldozed if there is a surplus of allotments in the area.
Which, of course, there are not. The Campaign Against Another Supermarket
in Hadleigh has been involved in a long running legal battle with
Tescopoly, fighting off a compulsory purchase order for the town’s
allotments. So far the supermarket chain has been forced into retreat
but is planning to issue another planning application to build
a store on the edge of town.
The fact of the matter is that the food business
is exactly that – a
business. With concern only for ‘shareholder value’,
you just can’t trust these people with our food. Biotechnology
and genetically modified foods are already making a come back (see SchNEWS
and autonomy over your own food supply is a sure fire way to keep
them pesky GM organisms off your fork.
area used for GM crops rose by more than 10% last year. Although ‘terminator’ seed
technology (where plants produce only sterile seeds) has been put
on hold for a while, the pause is only a temporary one. The corporations
know that the only way to really manipulate the food supply is
to control it at its source – by having a stranglehold over
seeds. Farmers’ choice
about what to grow is being restricted as the seed companies force
them to go for the most profit-worthy mono crops with high yields.
By growing yer own you are defying the supermarket monopolies,
but also helping stop the assault on our eco-diversity and protecting
our crop heritage by supporting local varieties of plant - even
some which are ‘outlawed’ because they're not registered
by the European seed list, which is all about limiting crops to
those suited to large-scale agriculture.
Great places to get yer
seeds ready for this year’s crops,
and top tips on growing 'em, are local seed swaps. Groups doing
stalls and talks at these events range from allotment holders and
small organic producers to specialized seed distribution companies – and
if you’ve got your own seeds people are up for swapping.
Getting the seeds is a start but it’s also the know-how available
at seed swaps that could be the difference between your crop experiments
being a disaster or coming up roses.
All local borough councils are statutorily obliged to provide
allotments for their local communities – there should be
information on their website (often under Parks, Recreation, Leisure
etc). For a complete list of every council site see www.tagish.co.uk/links/localgov.htm or
give ‘em a call and ask for your local allotment officer.
Even if you can’t get yer own straight away, see if there’s
some kind of community allotment project near and you and get involved!
It’s a great way to learn some of the skills and pitfalls
and meet new green-fingered friends before striking out on your
Failing that get some pots and window boxes! A surprising amount
of stuff can be produced from small spaces so you’ve no excuse
for not getting yer fingers dirty.
* For more info about getting yer own allotment…
* “The Allotment Handbook” by Sophie Andrews is an
excellent, practical book on how to campaign and save your allotment
* Check the Soil Association’s Green Directory at www.soilassociation.org for
how to eat locally.
* Tim Lang’s and Michael Heasman’s “Food Wars” is
good read on Biotech philosophy and the green fight-back (Earthscan
press, 2005) www.eco-logicbooks.com
NOT A SEEDY BUSINESS
* 3rd: Lewes Seedy Saturday
community seed swap at Southover Grange, Southover High St,
* 4th: Brighton & Hove ‘Seedy
Sunday’ at the
Old Market, Upper Market St, Hove from 10am-5pm, with cafe,
vegan food, bar, crèche, £1. For more see www.seedysunday.org
10th: Anglesey Seedy Saturday, 10am-4pm, Women’s Institute
Hall, Holyhead Rd, Llanfairpwll, tel 01248 430244 email email@example.com
11th: Blackawton Seedy Sunday, near Totnes, at school hall
(next to church), tel 01803 712611
* 11th: Fourth North Devon
Seed Swap, Tapeley Park, Nr Instow, 10am-1pm, call 01237
424029, email firstname.lastname@example.org
* 25th: Southampton
2nd Annual Seed Swap at St. Denys Community Centre, Priory
Road, St. Denys, Southampton SO17 2JZ, 10am-4pm with 14+
stalls and fair trade cafe. Entry 50p. Call 02380 643813
* 25th: Seedy Sunday 2007,
Machynlleth – seed swapping
with talks and entertainment, 10.30am–3pm, Machynlleth
Community Hall, entry by donation. Call 01654 703965, email
was delighted (well, kind of) to hear from the 365th arrestee at
the Faslane 365 continuous year-long blockade of the Trident nuke
sub base in Scotland (See SchNEWS 565). The (p)lucky lad, from
Edinburgh, when cut out of his barrel lock on and thrilled to bits
to find out he had won the prestigious SchNEWS award. “Just
receiving the honour is enough for me,” he told us (after
checking the prize wasn’t booze – which it wasn’t), “just
tell your readers to get your bodies up to Faslane and lock yourself
on to something. The campaign has been going great but we need
more people to continue to block the roads if we are to escalate
our tactics and win the campaign.”
Meanwhile people and groups
have continued to sign up and check in for their own 48 hours of
Faslannery as the campaign sustains it presence just as strongly
into 2007. Just last week (25-26 Jan), for example, a Health Professionals group
assembled from all over the country, arrived for their stint. Taking to the streets,
doctors and nurses offered shoppers special health checks, taking blood-pressure
measurements and handing prescriptions to people for the prevention of nuclear
war; prescribing ‘dialogue for disarmament - to be taken regularly’.
On Friday, nine doctors and healthworkers were arrested when, dressed in paramedic-style
clothing bearing the slogan ‘Trident Health Warning’, they lay down
on the road to the gates of the base. They told police they were upholding international
law, which prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons, as they were arrested
for ignoring a police warning to move.
So get a group you know booked in – or
just get up there yerself... See www.faslane365.org
* SchNEWS vocab
watch: A Dunediner is the proper term for someone from Edinburgh
BIG BROTHER SHOCKER
If only minor in the big scheme of things, there was a welcome
victory for the legend that is Brian Haw last week (fresh from
having his full anti-war display recreated and put on display in
Tate Britain and having been nominated for Channel 4’s political
figure of the year award – to vote see www.channel4.com/news/microsites/P/politicalawards/vote.html).
The latest court hearing regarding Brian’s one man stand
against the state for the right to demonstrate returned a slightly
unexpected verdict: that when cops swooped down on Parliament Square
last May to trash and confiscate most of Brian’s display
(See SchNEWS 545) they were actually acting, er... completely unlawfully.
In a ruling that has a wider bearing on the policing of the crazy
SOCPA laws (see SchNEWS 483), the judge noted that as the law currently
is, only top cop brass from the ‘office of the commissioner’ are
able to sign off orders imposing conditions on specific demonstrations.
In this case, cops tried to produce an undated document delegating
the powers to get heavy with Brian to a mere superintendent, and
the judge declared that this delegation was unlawful, the conditions
were unlawful, and so the raid must have been unlawful too. Great!
So will police be returning Brian’s full display? Will they
perhaps be having some of their stuff unlawfully removed in retaliation?
Ok, well fined, then? Apologise even..? Think again – it
just meant Brian couldn’t be sent to prison or get a hefty
fine as the prosecution wished, and police then merely submitted
newly issued documents, properly signed off, imposing the conditions
limiting Brian to the small display he has been grudgingly allowed
One consequence apart from vindicating Brian (in the
11th case to be brought against him since he began his vigil in
2001), and the kick in the teeth to the Met, is that two supporters
who tried to stop the Police that night by climbing on a freight
container should get off as it is hard for them to be prosecuted
for obstruction of unlawful police business...
What the case has highlighted is
what a pain to police not only Brian Haw is, but also Mark Thomas
and the rest of the ‘mass lone’ demonstrators
(See SchNEWS 560). They’ve been regularly flooding cops with
overwhelming amounts of paperwork seeking permissions to protest
(requests rising from a few hundred to many thousands since the
campaign began). The fact that relatively few people have the authority
to sign the orders imposing conditions is severely hampering the
ability of police to enforce a big clampdown.
Meanwhile in another simultaneous but less publicised SOCPA court
hearing, Barbara Tucker was facing jail for carrying out her peace
vigil around Parliament and Downing St. Barbara bravely refuses
to seek any permission for her protests and has over 70 counts
of breaching SOCPA stacked up against her. While she was spared
prison for now, with the judge granting temporary bail after Brian
Haw piped up in court with a timely character reference, she could
still well be incarcerated when her case resumes in the next few
With one Liberal peer having this week introduced a private
members bill to repeal the SOCPA legislation – to snorts
of derision from the government no doubt, SchNEWS wonders how long
it will be before a SOCPA amendment is tabled giving repression
decision making authority to any monkey in a blue uniform...
* See www.parliament-square.org.uk
* Next mass lone demo is on Feb
21st – join the fight for the
right to free protest...and get that form in! See www.markthomasinfo.com
Party & Protest
FEBRUARY: 3 – Saving Iceland benefit party. Hectic night
of live music at RikiTiks, Bond Street, Brighton in aid of protest
camps against the Karahnjukar dam and ALCOA’s aluminium smelter
(see SchNEWS 487). Acts include UK Beatbox champion – Beardyman,
concious hip-hop from Bad Science and alt rockers Kyomori. Acoustic
sets and djs/vjs all night. £3 8pm – 3am
* 6 - Defend
asylum seekers! Noise demo at UK Immigration Service, Communications
House, 210 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BR (tube: Old Street) 1-2pm.
Bring drums, pans and whistles. Email email@example.com
7 - Patient Privacy in the Database State – Public Meeting. The govt is planning to put confidential NHS patient records onto
a database – but how will it link in with ID cards and other
surveillance? At Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton,
7pm-9.30pm. Chaired by Phil Booth - NO2ID National Co-ordinator.
* 9-11 - The Fabulous
Queer Tree Planting Holiday for queers of all races, ages, genders
and sexualities. A non-profit climate change event, Friday evening
til Sunday, with party on Saturday - bring instruments for the
cabaret! Height Gate, Todmorden Yorkshire, £20
incl. vegan food and acc. - book in advance, and if you are skint
but still want to come call 0113 2252490, email firstname.lastname@example.org
10 - stall in Brighton for the Titnore protest camp outside Komedia
from 11am. The camp, near Worthing, is still going strong - for
directions there and more info see www.protectourwoodland.co.uk
* 17 - March on Worthing Police Station to protest against police
intimidation of Titnore supporters. Meet 2pm at Montague Place,
Worthing. See www.southcoast.indymedia.org.uk
* For full Party & Protest
listings updated weekly see www.schnews.org.uk/pap
Lynn Sawyer - threatened with losing her house for allowing it
to be used as the address for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SchNEWS
470) - won't be made homeless or be pursued for costs by Huntingdon
Life Sciences (HLS). However she has had to agree to a very strict
injunction restricting her right to protest against HLS, and SHAC
cannot use her address in future.
An offer to abide by the injunction
was made back in November 2004, but HLS vindictively decided to
seek money off her. The only winner out of this whole sorry affair
is sleazy lawyer (See SchNEWS 492, 537) Timothy Lawson Cruttenden,
who specialises in harassing protesters with the Protection from
Harassment Act, charging £400 per
hour to willing corporate clients.
Lynn says that of the court case, “I
did indeed have the right to fight them in court but this would
have involved not just much more of my time and limited funds,
but those of other animal rights people as well as the wider activist
* The campaign against
HLS continues: www.shac.net 0845 458 0630, SHAC will have a new
postal address soon.
News this week that direct action has finally spread to
the animal kingdom. Over in Thailand’s Ang Lue Nai wildlife
reserve, near Bangkok, the local elephants have had enough of
goods trucks steaming through their neighbourhood and taken to
blockading the main highway though the park. Whether they are
more concerned about the pollution, excess food miles or are
standing up for the 14,000 animals killed on the road is unclear
but some of the tusked young turks even smash up the trucks liberating
the produce inside. Authorities have been quick to demonize them
as dangerous terrorphants from the fringes of elephantine society
and have put an immediate dawn til dusk curfew in place.
SchNEWS warns all readers - you only reap what
you sew. Honest!
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