The abbreviation on the side of the building, ‘GC’, looks a lot like the one for Gloucestershire College, and is probably intended to, but there is nothing prestigious about ‘Gloucester College’. you can’t even Google it unless you add the name ‘Shahid’, and then things become a lot clearer. Another big title with nothing behind it, like the earlier ‘Colwell College’, and almost certainly no more than a student visas con trick, or a placekeeper while other plans for the building come to fruition.

At the last local elections, the fence outside this building was festooned with Labour posters. Now it’s the turn of the Tories to find favour with the owners, however they have done so, and although the first set to be put up two weeks or so back have all been torn down, more have arrived, most of them put behind the windows.

I hope that whoever wins, though I doubt it will be the Conservatives, a spotlight will be put on the activities of this ‘college’, and we’ll know what is happening in our community for a change.


The former Colwell Centre

What with the BTNP AGM being put back to May 30th, I suppose I should avoid burning my bridges with a frank (but fair) analysis of the partnership’s progress over the last year or so, in the hope of better things for June.

Instead, I thought I’d put down some thoughts that have sprang to mind, specifically the definition of a ‘troll’. In the simplest terms, a troll is someone whose views you don’t like. Perhaps better to say, ‘whose expressed views you don’t like’, because people sometimes, a lot of the time, think these views are contrived for the purpose of making the person who expresses them unlikable.

But a troll, clearly, is also someone who (whom?) the people applying the label have chosen to de-humanise, often describing such an individual as ‘it’. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, this is what the Nazis did to their victims, what most people bent on asserting their absolute will on others do, in fact. It wouldn’t be necessary, after all, if all that was required was to ignore people that are believed to be wind-up merchants (WUMs).

In my time on TiG’s new website, where posters are required to register an account, which can be ‘disabled’ if a poster breaks one or more of some occasionally excessively strict rules (especially the one about questioning censorship… whoops, moderation), I have, for the record, been ‘Joe K’, ‘Tony J’, ‘TrollhunterX’, and ‘L’escalier’. Also ‘Bartred_NP’, but that’s a slightly different matter. I’m not the only person to find themselves falling foul of TiG’s rules, and many other people have re-registered in defiance of these rules. The length some of them have lasted, in spite of, in some instances, quite appallingly vituperative behaviour, is either a testament to the staff’s realisation that they are really just spitting into the wind, or to the generally low level of reported comments, or both.

What the average onlooker should appreciate, though, is that a) TiG have brought a lot of this on themselves, and b) that ‘this’ isn’t really that big a big deal. Most of it is ‘genial spam’. If some of it goes too far, there is the ‘report’ button, not ‘This is (flame) war!’

So, whatever the paper is like at the moment, the web site is healthy. Don’t knock it, maaan.

And if anyone wants a punch-up, do it here…

Any thoughts/theories/rants welcome 🙂

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

After seeing that one commenter’s name, ‘Casinoboy’ is partially obscured because it contains the word ‘nob’, I’ve finally decided to start compiling a comprehensive list of words that fall foul, sometimes hilariously, of the word filter. If anyone has encountered ‘bad’ words that I’ve not, the more incongruous the better, they’re welcome to post them to me, and I’ll add them as well…

Scum (due to the ‘cum’)
Taffs (due to the ‘ffs’)
Whore is, I’m pretty sure, infra dig, despite ‘attention whore’ being part of the internet jargon.

And we must not forget ‘paedo’, although it’s practically Ian Mean’s favourite word.

So, anyone else want to get the **** rolling?

‘D-DAY is almost here – this is your chance to save this city.

At 12.30pm tomorrow, a massive gathering will come together at The Cross to say “no” to Boundary Commission proposals to “rip the heart” out of Gloucester.’

Three queries about this story in today’s paper. First, what does the ‘D’ in ‘D-Day’ stand for. Day? Debacle? No shortage of those in TiG. Maybe it should have been ‘B-Day’?

Secondly, ‘chance to save this city’? There’s been no shortage of readers, those that still visit the website anyway, who have pointed out that the ‘city’ is in no danger. Hypotenuse, much? There wasn’t all this fuss about Longlevens being transferred to the Tewkesbury constituency, and likewise, I’m pretty sure it continued to be served by Gloucester City Council. IIRC, Churchdown and Brockworth also belong to Tewkesbury. Or maybe Cheltenham? Something that appears to make little sense, but still didn’t inspire a march,anyway.

Thirdly, TiG is predicting a ‘massive gathering’? More than predicting, actually stating that it will happen, despite the failure of their purple prose on the subject to instill a fervour in the hearts of readers. I would have been half tempted to go into town to watch this spectacle tomorrow, but I’m afraid that I might be counted as part of the ‘massive gathering’, so I probably won’t now.

Perhaps the Citizen should ask their readers if they can think of a way to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 without some constituents getting a different MP? I wonder if some of TiG’s sister papers are running ‘Save Our MP’ campaigns?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The proposal to move Wesgate ward to the Forest constituency may have been inspired by political mischief on the part of Lewis Baston, but alternative proposals haven’t demonstrated that there is a better alternative that involves Gloucester. If the Forest needs more voters, can’t they take a chunk out of Tewkesbury, instead of Gloucester, which seems to have just the right number at the moment?

Whatever proposal is accepted, it doesn’t seem like an urgent matter, since no seat will be abolished as a consequence. Is anyone getting such a great service from one Tory MP in Gloucester that they fear what they might receive from a Tory MP in the Forest?

There is a ‘Big Issue’ piece in this week’s Citizen, relating to Barton & Tredworth, entitled There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism.

In the article, members of a local mosque offer to dispell ‘misconceptions’ about Islam in a single day session or over a few days, and the piece cites several ‘sterotypes’.

The main theme of the piece, as exemplified by the title, though, seems to me like a straw man. Saajid Badat notwithstanding, in the twenty plus years I have lived in Barton, violent Islamic extremism has not been the problem, but rather a creeping assimilation of property and resources, what some would call ‘Islamification’, of the ward, coupled with poor or non-existent interaction with the ‘indigenous’ community. Local people are a lot more bothered, for example, with the traffic disruption caused by the ‘Islamic school’ on Stratton Road, when they were assured a decade ago that the building would be a community centre for everyone, and not a place where parents would clog up the road with their cars, not just in the morning and afternoon, but evenings and weekends as well.

The Working Man’s club on Barton Street is now the Friendship Café, dedicated to the benefit of (Sunni) Muslims. At least three properties on Charles Street have been bought up so that an Islamic centre, with parking, can be built at the back. The Barton & Tredworth Community Trust runs a madressah. It’s trying to sell the premises, due to financial mismanagement, but there’s little danger that a new venue won’t be found for the madressah if the new owners don’t want to share the building.

If the volunteers really want to reassure the community, they might wish to give their assurances that the BBC report about abuse in Islamic schools has no bearing on Gloucester. Islamic terrorism really is as much of a ‘Big Issue’ here as ‘bonkers boundaries’.

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