Sunday, 17 October 2010

More corporate greenwash from the community killers

Yet more nonsense from the corporate-led bogus ‘community’ lobby today.
According to a Radio Cowshed report (see ) the main parties behind the destruction of Douglas town centre, closure of small local businesses and the blocking of affordable consumer goods from efficient retailers want us to ‘Do your bit for carbon emissions’. Gullible members of the public were being asked by Douglas Development Partnership to give up their Sunday lie-in and lay the surface to a new cycle path into Douglas.
It all sounds very laudable, until you remember that it was DDP who got rid of all the small local shops from Strand Street in the first place, to make way for a new multi-storey car park and the same high street chain stores the greens hate so much, who have now pulled out in a recession leaving the place dead as a dodo most weeks.
It was also DDP who engaged companies who like to demonstrate caring, organic wholewheat credentials to redesign parts of Strand Street in such a way as to prevent homeless people hanging about too conspicuously. For example, benches which can be hosed down, but are also – deliberately – too thin to lie across overnight and so physically uncomfortable that people move on after resting for no more than 10 minutes.
And another thing is the way in which the once lively street culture on Strand Street has been…well, let’s just say disabled and misdirected towards the pointless.
In the 1980’s – before DDP destroyed Strand Street – it was the place to go if you were a local political campaigner. I have first hand knowledge of this, from protests on everything from nuclear weapons in the early 1980’s with the short lived Manx Peace Group to homelessness in the later 1980’s with a trade union led lobby group that wanted to start a Manx branch of Shelter.
There was always something of a gentleman’s agreement between the police and protesters on these things. You could hold a banner, ask for petition signatories and hand out your leaflets, but not block shop doorways and physically hinder people walking about or shopping. We didn’t apply for police ‘permission’, we just turned up, did our thing, and as long as we didn’t provoke an argument or harangue shoppers into signing stuff, and as long as we made some effort to clear up the inevitable thrown away leaflets, the bobby on the Strand Street beat stood back and let us get on with it.
Funnily enough, that ended when Tynwald went through the motions of setting up police liason committees. In practice, then and now, the only way people get onto those committees is because the business lobby chooses them. There is no way government, the Department of Home Affairs or the local business lobby is going to put up with a police force answerable to or even approachable by the general public.
So, inevitably, one of the results is the current tendency for dull as ditchwater ‘approved’ buskers who make your shopping experience (if possible) more painful than usual. Another is ‘political’ street campaigning only by groups which have sought police permission and have nominally green and ‘developing world’ goals decided and underwritten by government and elements of the local business community so right wing that even the offshore finance sector won’t touch them.
By comparison, when genuine ordinary members of the public have a grievance (see for example) a protest confined by DHA diktat to almost a single figure turnout is accompanied man for man by the police ‘in case of trouble’.
So, thanks, but no thanks, Chris. Maybe the general public can think about joining in your token community work when you and your fellow developers think about rejoining the community.

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