April 2012


I see in today’s paper that Sally Pickering, who ‘leads a charity working to strengthen voluntary and community action’ (i.e., GAVCA, hard as that may be for some to believe) is standing for election in the local elections for Hardwicke-Green (durr, or should that be ‘Hardwicke (Green)’? I did wonder if there was actually a place called ‘Hardwicke-Green’), and of course, making opposition to incineration her key pledge. I don’t think there’s a huge chance of this woman winning, but it’s still worth outlining here what kind of a two-faced opportunist voters in Hardwicke would have landed themselves with if they let concerns over an issue the protestors won’t succeed (and in many cases don’t want to succeed) in combating, allow Pickering a seat.

GAVCA were instrumental in the setting up of the Barton & Tredworth Neighbourhood Partnership, from the steering meetings in late 2008/early 2009, to the inaugural meeting in May of ’09. This took some effort on their part, as the residents who turned up for the ‘workshop’-style meetings weren’t very malleable, but GAVCA’s workers, Halina Pasiecznik and Helen Bone could always claim, against all the evidence, that a ‘clear majority’ backed one strategy. They also carried out the recruitment process for the partnership’s ‘community involvement officer’, which turned out to be Ismael Rhyman. People who know about this kind of thing said that process would take months, but it was a lot quicker than that in the event. If I’m wrong in thinking this was because Rhyman worked with GAVCA before, and was pegged for the role from day 1, I’m sure someone will correct me.

And as below, so above, because Sally Pickering is equally keen to ignore anything that doesn’t suit her purposes, and take shortcuts with the things that do. When, on Oct 24th, I received, through the partnership email address, an invitation to attend, with other voluntary sector reps. a ‘buffet lunch’ with Richard Graham on Nov 4th, at their offices on Eastgate Street, I accepted immediately. Certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be left out, as my travails with the chairman were just starting, and I wanted to stay in the loop as much as possible. I received no response, such as menu options, and after a few weeks had passed, decided the lunch had been cancelled for one or all of the reasons outlined below in my email. I then learned from someone else that it had taken place, and from Richard Graham (who was a bit more keen to respond to my emails back then) that the lunch had been nothing more than an opportunity to ‘monster’ him by the leftwing quangos, as typified by GACVA. After finally visiting their offices in person, which is the only way one seems to get any answers from GAVCA, I was told by Sally Pickering that my acceptance might have got caught up in their spam filter. I think, in hindsight, that if I was in their spam filter, it wasn’t an accident, but who doesn’t check their filter regularly after inviting a whole bunch of people to a buffet lunch?

So if you’re trying to get help or advice from GAVCA, and nothing seems to be happening, take my advice. Ring them up, or better still, go to their offices for answers. Look Sally Pickering in the face as she tells you that she doesn’t think replying to your emails were helping. Helping her, at least.

And Hardwicke voters, remember that they’re all as bad as each other, but the professional procrastinators are worse.

Hi Sally,

At the moment, all I need from GAVCA is the truth about Tony Ward’s claim to have received advice from your organisation and, preferably, what that advice was. If Jane Jarman can provide that, fine.

However disappointed you may have felt, you probably weren’t quite as disappointed as I was about not only not getting replies to my emails, but then waiting a week in vain after your phone call promising me you would look into the advice referred to, and then another three weeks after I had to go to the offices to remind you again. I’m glad you’re so sure I knew I wasn’t being deliberately ignored, but three weeks ago, you said you would check your spam filter, and you have my phone number. What else should I have done, if you don’t mind my asking, besides something that actually worked?

Could you confirm something for me, since I don’t have the relevant paperwork to hand at the moment… was GAVCA involved in drawing up the statement of intent which includes the disciplinary procedures Tony is currently ignoring or abusing, or was that Vera Li and the city council? Not withstanding what you said at the offices about GAVCA having nothing to do with the BTNP, you were instrumental in helping to set it up, though Camilla Hale and Helen Bone, you have provided funds for specific projects, and first Camilla, then you, oversaw the AGMs. It seems to me that you have a lot to do with the partnership, especially if Tony Ward is going to you for advice.

Cheers, Joe

In a message dated 06/12/2011 09:41:21 GMT Standard Time, SallyP@gavca.org.uk writes:
Hi Joe

Thanks for forwarding this to me as I certainly did not receive this email the first time you sent it. I’ve had a word with our IT support officer, who said he thought your emails were getting caught as spam by our spam filters, so he has now adjusted the security settings and this seems to have done the trick.

However, I think a conversation is needed about this rather than an email exchange so I have forwarded your email to my colleague Jane Jarman, who will get in touch some time later this week or next week as her role is to support community groups in Gloucester, including the Barton and Tredworth Partnership. It would be helpful for her to have your phone number so that she can ring you – can you forward that to me or direct to her on janej@gavca.org.uk

Finally, I notice that you have been commenting on the GAVCA Facebook page about not having your emails answered. I am disappointed that you have decided to do this, as I’m sure this is a matter than we can resolve between us and does not need to be posted publically. I had already talked to you a couple of weeks ago and told you that I had not received any emails from you, so you knew that you weren’t being deliberately ignored. Please can you refrain from using Facebook to air any future grievances, and phone either Jane or myself directly in the future, as, this way, we will be much more likely to be able to address your concerns.

Thanks and Best wishes

I’m looking at this story, ‘Wilderness Centre squatters evicted in dawn police move’, and that bit where a policeman says, “Squatting is a civil matter but officers accompanied bailiffs acting on behalf of the judge to ensure there was no breach of the peace and no disruption to the local community” reminded me about how much the police will use the excuse of breach of the peace, and/or disruption. This is when they don’t claim that a member of a partnership has committed theft of property of the same partnership by picking up a copy of financial details from a table and moving it five feet, then reading it.

If that sounds a little cryptic, I’m talking about a scene that was quite out of ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ at the Barton & Tredworth Neighbourhood Partnership AGM on Wednesday evening, when that action was described as ‘disruptive’. Now, it may have been slightly rude (though not quite as rude as a chairman, in fact two chairmen, giving reports about the past year without once mentioning the dismissal of the secretary, yours truly, and still failing to thank me for all my hard work over the past couple of years), but it clearly wasn’t theft, any more than I would feel inclined to dial 101 if one of my children took a bag of crisps to eat without asking. Only the police tried to argue that it was, mind.

Furthermore, the partnership has procedures it can apply in the event of disruption, if it feels that is happening. True, the final sanction is that ‘the individual should be requested to leave the meeting’, and it doesn’t cover what should happen if that individual refuses to do so, but in those circumstances, a responsible chair has two options; close the meeting or wind their head back in and continue with the meeting. Not to suspend the meeting temporarily and let two police officers make up justifications for arrest as they go along.

This is what I suffered because the acting chair, Philip Lowery, lost control of the meeting, and PC Matt Puttock (2134) decided he could arrest me over the ‘bag of crisps’, or was it for wishing to remain at the meeting, after the partnership papers had been forcibly taken off me, again, a partnership member?. The effects of having my head banged on a hard floor several times don’t show up so well in a photograph, but those of having the same policeman, Phil Hopkins (2142), then stand on my arm [kneel, as I now know in hindsight], as I was still pinned to the floor by PC Puttock and PC Damian Lea (8), do.

A great day in the history of the partnership, and Barton & Tredworth Community police. Other abuses of authority are available. If you have any information about them, feel free to relate them here, quoting incident number, 1-800-JACKBOOT.

For the record, given the proximity of local council elections, also present at this meeting were county councillor for Barton & Tredworth, Sonia Friend (Labour), city councillor for the ward, Sajid Patel (Conservative), and his colleague, candidate Nasreen Akhtar, who doesn’t actually live in the ward, and, not being elected yet, had no grounds to be at this meeting. Well, that’s what some people think. I’m inclined to think that as she hosts a radio show for GFM, just round the block, she squeaks in, but I’m the sort of person who would say, someone wants to read a document, let ’em read it…

Footnote: although the way Nasreen Akhtar ducked behind Saj Patel, when I turned my camera phone towards the loudmouth Mo Patel, suggests she might be equally inclined to duck issues as a councillor…

‘Arrest’ at the AGM