(Part 2) TROUBLE UP'T GREEN ECO-MILL: BRADFORD'S ECO-PETERLOO...
SUSTRANS OR NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Sustrans was formed in 1977 from a modest, grassroots beginning as Bristol-based CYCLEBAG (Channel Your Calf and Leg Energy Bristol Action Group), to a big 'charity' providing sustainable cycle transport – as against the ever-expanding horror of the private car and endless streams of trucks – and initially utilising former railway tracks largely closed by the Beeching axe of the early 1960s. The object was to bring about safe and healthy riding working in collaboration with seemingly benevolent organisations like British Waterways improving towpaths and the like. Quickly Sustrans mushroomed into something much bigger with a scheme for a National Cycle Network morphing from predominately rural districts into big cities and former industrial conurbations like Cleator Moor in Cumbria, Sunderland, the East Durham coalfield, Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, London, Cardiff, Swansea, Manchester, Derbyshire and the Ex-Notts coalfield, Sheffield and West Yorkshire, etc. But then collaboration embraced things much more dubious, Sustrans becoming a large corporate institution, with nearly 200 staff and 14 offices around the country, responsible for spending millions of pounds of 'public' money channelled to them from central and regional government in addition to hefty donations from more aware individuals comfortably embedded in the professional classes. No longer much of a 'charity' like any corporation, money became less and less accountable and the language more and more Orwellian........
Before 2013 we knew of Sustrans but vaguely, though if asked, we would have naively said that as a charity considerably reliant on donations from wealthy, well meaning individuals, they were doing reasonably good work in facilitating cycling tracks wherever they could, utilising abandoned urban spaces especially former railway line arteries. We realised most likely we wouldn't have gotten along with Sustrans, mildly criticising them as woolly-minded, well-intentioned liberals, not remotely anti-capitalist in any theoretical or gut way, though acknowledging they probably had a more holistic, sensitive approach to wild nature. On the downside, we had rather wanly noted who some of their sponsors were: people like the money grubbing Labour party Kinnocks, the architect Lord (destroyer of Paris 1968) Rogers, Jeremy Paxman, Lord Young, the Channel 4 newscaster John (but is it art?) Snow, Green party man, Jonathan Porritt etc., so we at least were of the persuasion that there was some social schizophrenia at work here but maybe it wasn't that bad. Little did we realise just how schizo and we were to get the shock of our lives......
But first dear reader let's begin by SHOCKING YOU, let's interrupt this flow of potted history with a few inspired comments we emailed to Sustrans sometime after they'd destroyed in partnership with Bradford Council one of the finest wildlife industrially derelict sites in northern England wending its way through Bradford's Briggate only for them to completely walk away in denial from a scene of carnage like despicable rapists leaving utter desolation behind ..... This area, this oozing, loathsome area of amazing bio-diversity, this post-industrial masterpiece of oddity, "as beautiful as meeting a mushroom that fed on cloth soils" as Lautreamont might have said, was to be the final staging post marking the end of the Great Northern Trail. (And here the emphasis is on staging, meaning the theatrical stage of media events, sport spectaculars and 24 hour sports TV......)
Below is an extract from a fuming letter written in agony after the full extent of the ecological destruction in Briggate had finally sunk in......
Dear Sustrans, (23rd April 2013)
"Yes, it's us again; the old gits who take a perverse delight in making a nuisance of ourselves. Roll on the golden dawn when euthanasia ceases to be voluntary and tiresome ecologists are herded up and transported to the EXIT camps (previously clinics), whilst all around there reins an ever-greater silence. The Sustrans cycle trail of destruction would then be able to proceed as planned: along the way, for the amusement of an ex-humanity, you could pin butterfly dead stock to artificial flowers and paper dragonflies to plastic trees. Belonging to the past of natural history museums, this would only be a tenth rate, interim measure. Something more digitally interactive is required. Within a decade or two we will be able to look into the synbio branches and see ever more life-like robotic birds flitting in and out of the fictile foliage. As life becomes evermore a digital totality of "additive manufacture", we could play the game of what is real and what isn't: is that an insect or a 6-legged soldier - an assassin bug in other words? For war also will have become miniaturized and everyday life a democratized war zone in which everyone can be a combatant. The art of war will cease to be virtual, the new, real gaming, an update bellum contra omnes.
At the entrance to each Greenway, Sustrans could run a rose coloured spectacle business, each cyclist able to purchase a pair of glasses they can talk to, the translucent lenses projecting an Edenic version of the devastated "travelling landscape" (a Sustrans term) they are passing through. At the grand finale where the cycle track ends on Leeds Road you could show, at a digitised comfort stop, holograms of nature as it once was, the very idea of 2D images spun off a reel and projected onto an opaque screen, as in Green Soylent, just so uncool. However such images could provoke an overpowering sense of loss and anger, such as we feel when we look at passe 2D photos of the Briggate site as it used to be. In this brave new world of memory prosthetics, there are some memories best forgotten. In the interests of social peace, let desertification precede apace Sustans style, so damn the memory holograms."
But, of course, as we know Sustrans must be innocent, clean as a whistle. Moreover in their defence, Sustrans are going to say – copping a plea – when it comes to the Briggate destruction that those who were in partnership with misled them. Yes, they were misled, both by the Con Dem's Nick Clegg's regeneration front organisation, the Aire Valley Rivers Trust and then by Susan Stead, the leader of Bradford Urban Wildlife Group. Nonetheless, Sustrans have their own posse of official ecos but like any other organisation of similar status these so-called experts are useless. Any real eco worth their salt would have realised within a matter of minutes that the Briggate site was being looked after in some ways and moreover, that the site's diverse ambience had an astonishing feel to it that should be investigated more.
The area at the big of Shipley Stn comprising the Big Field and industrial gorge of the Bradford Beck hemmed in by big cliffs on either side possesses a microclimate. It is (or rather was) a mosaic of habitats concentrated in a relatively small area, an ambience that made the place so strange and remarkable. Now much of the ambience and stark contrasts have been destroyed as Briggate has been homogenised by Sustrans aborted development, the wild terrain of so many different plants from English bluebells to garden escapes eliminated replaced unbelievably with verges of lurid green lawn seed. It is horrifying, as if it wasn't enough having to deal with the strain of perpetual weather weirding!
In a little over thirty years, Sustrans had expanded from naive, plain beginnings, laying down functional simple cycleways well clear of oil guzzling, predatory, monster motorways into something far more disturbing. In no time after 1977, the organisation began to take on board much bigger projects involving the construction of low key arty trails such as the old railway line running from Bradford's Low Moor to nearby Dewsbury (what became the Spen Valley Greenway). Now however, it was accompanied and decked-out with occasional daft, welded scrap iron sheep as pathway sub-sculptures competed with something like Private Eye's resident poet, E Jarvis Thribb's cretinus add-ons affixed to various bridges. Despite the growing pretentiousness it stimulated nothing more than a cornball laugh as we weren't that irritated by the display. (Indeed it appears that West Yorks is especially gifted with Sustrans doggerel as nowhere else is sub-poetry mentioned in Sustrans blurbs even if sub-sculpture is.) But that was during the more benevolent ambiance of the 1990s............
Below: Some of the odds and ends decorating the side of the Spen Valley Greenway. When heavy rain falls its quite pleasant sitting in the ex-jaws of giant earth moving machinery listening to the heavy patter of raindrops on rusting steel. It would appear Sustrans encouraged local welder engineers to let their whimsy roam producing fairy-like kitsch far surpassing the efforts of art conscious egos, indeed somewhat on the lines of Asger Jorn's theses in Trivial Banalities penned in the late 1950s. Alas Sustrans was to reinstate the artistic ego in the years to come. And how!
Then the real game changer kicked-in paralleling increasingly serious aestheticisation inseparable from a greater financialisation of the economy in general as Sustrans later new cycle bridge across Bradford's Manchester Road drew obvious parallels, something like a self-conscious mini pastiche of Sir Norman Forster's execrable, grandiose, deliberately unworldly giant Millau Viaduct bestriding the clouds across the Tarn River Gorge through the Massif Central in France (see last photo below). Gone was the simple Greenway, replaced with notions of display heralding a future of aestheticised urban renewal. What we now have is an imposed total experience makeover, a vista of a surrounding landscape resulting in blanding, composed of utterly anodyne new machine-like features amounting to the death of a wild nature having being remorselessly bulldozed and vanquished. Yet these new masters of the evolving urban universe of total alienation had the cheek to say this is nature sensitive even a moment of 'wilding' complete with horticultural vegetation bereft of anything to do with autonomous nature - that real intense nature these nature bureaucrats despise - who merely want a greenwash domesticated add-on, an extension of the suburban garden and the hanging basket on the porch wall behind which lurks the pornographic hell of a domesticated petite bourgeois everyday life.
Above: Views of Sustrans Manchester Road Bridge in Bradford. What other city can boast a look-at-me designer bridge courtesy of Sustrans like that which wings its way over the Manchester Rd? Besides which Bradford is the jewel in Sustrans crown even though increasingly a failed city, hopelessly mired in a model of development that has spectacularly failed and that will never be resuscitated, one that privileges commercial / domestic property values, retail development and a consumer free for all based on unlimited credit. The highly conservative planting / landscaping regime which surrounds this bridge is a reflection of this, the theory being the more conservative the planting regime is, the more it is likely to attract inward investment. Pampas grass, mown verges, mulching regimes, evergreen shrubbery and ghastly floral displays is nothing other than a semiotics of despair, a sign that Bradford is at unprecedented cross roads and rather than face facts is in retreat before them.
Below: Norman Forster's Millau Viaduct in France normanfoster
Despite their initial good intentions the reality today is of a Sustrans that has done nothing more than further facilitate the ultra commodification and gentrification of cycling. Gone forever are the glory days of a casual functional cycling, that mass transport vehicle toing and froing from a relatively locally based workplace, as we knew it in the first 50 years of the 20th century when workers in giant waves of handlebars and wheels whooped out of the shipyard and factories of an early evening as the giant gates closed behind them. The Encyclopaedia of Nuisances text, The Despotism of Speed (see RAP web) notes this change neatly saying, "Whatever one might think of the rather unenviable character of this perpetual motion of business men, of those charged with "responsibilities" or of Mr. Average young man who nearly always seems to have leapt on his mountain bike from a Metro entrance or from an office – unfortunately one has to admit their allure has become a model. The irony of history is to have given to the May '68 slogan "life without dead time" this ever so pathetic a content". Yes, the financialisation of cycling is finally upon us, what Iain Sinclair - that all-things-to-all-people, neo-psychogeographer – has called "a naked propaganda for anarcho-liberal bikes-for-all schemes funded by the generosity of corporate bankers" resulting in a spectacular PFI (London's Boris Bikes) spearheaded by Barclays providing a much needed facelift, otherwise known as "insurance reputation" papering over the bank's essentially crooked core; a core its CEOs can have no control over as the mechanisms that make up a functioning capitalist mode of production seriously disintegrate. The present day grim reality is that Sustrans has now become the avant-garde seemingly nature sensitive harbinger of a brutal developmentalism far worse than any previous bureaucratised urban planning organised by the state since the end of the second world war.
It wasn't that Sustrans were on their own regarding such an intense developmental agenda whereby all surrounding ambience and history must be altered from top to toe, it was also relentlessly driven by the need to eliminate autonomous nature. There was simultaneously a much more general movement afoot, one which we vehemently denounced especially the horrendous estate agent like "views from the neo-house" makeovers unleashed on the Yorkshire colliery spoil heaps in the early years of the 20th century. Elsewhere in the north of England (and no doubt in other places) an ever widening leisure industry perspective demanded that designated terrains replete with new landscape designer coastal pathways etc., had to be accompanied by freshly manufactured views clearing away everything that was imperiously thought of as vulgar and tawdry such as sheds, allotments and raw spoil which also included amazing scrubland wildlife areas. Turning the Tide (1997-2002) on the east Durham coast trounced all that had been left of its industrial past on the local topography meaning a chav nature in all its raw energies also had to be vanquished along with a former chav working class both henceforth to be regarded as the scum of the earth. Blatantly called "nature conservation" spoil was declared a "pollutant" at Easington and Horden replaced by a "brand new golf area with tree and shrub planting along the coast." Large cliff top spoil heaps were removed as the spoil was spread evenly across the sites which were then capped and covered creating what was then sickeningly declared a "public area" at Easington and "habitat creation" at Harden. To add insult to injury further enhancement of the landscape included working with local communities (what was this: holding a gun to their heads or oodles of flummery?) to reduce the impact of "eyesores such as allotment fences" (!!!!!!) an enhancement it seems that improved the chances of habitat survival for the Purple Sandpiper in the north and Little Tern in the south of this designated 'improvement' area. Has the outcome on the east Durham coast been any different to the wholesale destruction of the protected Little Ringed Plover in the Yorkshire pit spoil heap makeovers? The sheer, philistine pig ignorance of these so-called eco-developers becoming more arrogant as the years roll by, simply beggars belief.
The trouble was because there were no "down and dirty" ecos in these places who knew the real quality of particular sites of industrial dereliction and had the means and determination to communicate these facts to a wider public by making (in the old slogan) "shame more shameful by giving it publicity" meant such destruction took place past minus loud cries of indignation and fury. As the old slogan by Nick Brandt reminded us, "Money talks, People grumble"......... Oh yes, and the butterflies weren't destroyed were they? And, yes again, the so-called East Durham Heritage coast (after a still living and breathing heritage was destroyed) also became part of the National Cycle Network through a Durham coastline that hosts 92% of the total area of para-maritime magnesian limestone grass land habitation in Britain.
Of course we never met up with the real culprits who organised the destruction of the Briggate site i.e. Sustrans alongside Bradford Council and the Aire Valley Rivers Trust and not forgetting the crucial part played by Bradford Urban Wildlife Group (see the web, Bradford Urban Wildlife Group morphs into Bradford Urban Deadlife Group) and though we knew the leading lights of the latter group we immediately cut dead all personal contact. Henceforth all communication took place through letters or emails condemning in lucid though heavy language the different aspects of what had been brutally destroyed. The intention was simple as it was straightforward: Freak the whole fucking lot of them out armed with a clarity and a totality none of them could ever possess unless they were prepared to make the painful attempt to change their lives completely; and in so doing creating a lifestyle that is anti commercial, anti hierarchical, anti careerist and anti aesthetic. All the culprits however who made up these groupings and bodies frequently asked us – nay even exhorted us at times – to join with them on a face-to-face level to discuss matters in hand. But why should we? Why should we meet with our executioners, these hideous monsters that had destroyed an arena of vibrant nature; a site of transcendental possibilities, an arena of the 'new' sublime? This was murder and there's no two ways about it. We made and make no deals. We could only repeat Bunting and his Beavers maxim on the Humber Levels in the 1970s: "No means no"!
In any case what was there to discuss? Moreover, seeing our anger was so intense, some form of violence could easily have been the initial outcome, which these creeps would have relished in order to discredit us. But what we really had at our disposal, our essential weapon, was sheer intransigence, the stance that is the most influential, the most enduring and the most crippling for the enemy to endure. Inevitably, there are nuanced subtleties and as much as we would have despised ourselves for it, we actually would have sat down and talked to some of these creeps face to face if we has been informed initially of the devastating changes in the offing. Officialdom probably sensed we could put a spanner in the works merely by point blank verbally throwing at them a barrage of legal objections relating to the flouting of local planning and bio-diversity laws. Moreover, there were enough people around who knew of our dedication to this amazing place yet we were deliberately marginalised. Crucially this role was carried out by Bradford Urban Wildlife Group precisely because it could have stolen the thunder of their 'great leader' who might then no longer be able to usurp credit for this rich wildlife site to add to her CV and ill-deserved conservation medals, (again, take a look a, Some general thoughts on ecology, nature reserves, developmentalism, revolutionary ecology and Bradford Urban Wildlife Group.)
People could legitimately say parleying with the avowed enemy was a potential compromise on our behalf and we would have to agree. However one major reality must be born in mind: If a building is marked for conservation and a few walls are knocked down it can be rebuilt in a reasonably sensitive way guided by the practical ingenuity of those sufficiently old-fashioned, ever dwindling body of skilled trades' people. However, in no way can this happen if an ecologically rich site is brutally destroyed. It is kaput, dead, gone forever. Desiring a viable ecological future, real conservation cannot wait for the morrow of autonomous social revolution, it must begin this very minute, fighting every step of the way pushing the capitalist mode of destruction back and back and back until there is the final violent conflict with the evil machine whereby the beast is finally eliminated. If we leave everything for that moment of true liberation (liberation when viewed simplistically like this essentially conceived in a somewhat mystical way) we will have gotten nowhere because we are only going to find what we really want in the on-going crucible of combat with the decadent, aestheticised developers massively ranged against us. Such a strategy must also be anti party political and autonomous and in no way is such a perspective similar to the eco popular frontism advocated by most Green outfits and parties.
Also were we at fault contacting 'famous' dissident eco intellectuals knowing full well they weren't revolutionary? And isn't such a manoeuvre to some degree in the same vein as going to see Sustrans / Bradford Council officials regarding the bio-diverse riches of the industrial gorge if such a meeting would have saved the area from slaughter? Incredulously, after a few months we knew the slaughter was not stopping and that we were facing a brutal, mean machine that had closed ranks on us, ready maybe even for our elimination. We were by now not only freaked out but heavy-hearted and when were thugs going to be unleashed? Moreover, once this nature slaughter had taken place and the diabolical act immediately hushed up from all quarters, we were completely isolated having few contacts in the unknown but big Diaspora of real ecos out there (but where?) and most likely, in any case disgusted with the antics of official ecos. Contacting 'big' names was also a way of protecting ourselves against the omnipresent, interconnected and ruthless Mafia ranged against us in this situation of omnipresent omerta with major facts suppressed and official webs redacted. We did receive very sympathetic comments from the likes of Jonathan Meades, George Monbiot, Simon Jenkins, Patrick Barkham etc, as they obviously sensed there was possibly much truth in the passionate and detailed way we stated our case. It could be said this tactic was opportunistic seeing we keep proclaiming that autonomous activity is essential (the essence of unitary wilding and related activities) but we preferred to cover our backs quoting Debord's comment regarding "necessary opportunisms" in certain situations. In the face of the huge, compound lie we were confronting we only had samizdat means to combat the neo-liberal total assault knowing that somehow we had to get the facts out there and by any means necessary!
Finally readers if you think we have made a mistake in deploying such tactics we sincerely apologise.......
What follows are a selection of emails, flyers, addendums and ripostes placed roughly in chronological order pinpointing Sustrans – in league with Bradford Council's – destruction of Briggate. Inevitably in the following there is repetition of detail and incidents ...
SUSTRANS/ BRADFORD COUNCIL /and The Local Green Party..........
OFFICIAL THUG AND WAXWORKS (SUSTRANS?) ECOS TURNING THEIR HEADS AWAY IN SHAME - AS THEY CONFRONTED US - DATE: 14/02/2013 TIME: 14.11 (A little later and THUG deployed his personally chosen fascised sturm arbeiters against us) (violet1)
The NOTICE SAYS: "THIS TREE CONTAINS A COLONY OF RARE BUTTERFLIES. DO NOT CUT DOWN!" DATE: 17/02/2013 TIME: 14.44. (The tree was then cut down.....)
Below: later commentary one of us made on the above encounter
Right from the start, the cycle path / linear park project breathed sheer lunacy. We were made vividly aware of that the fateful day we encountered, in February 2013, the site supervisor who was taking a couple of ecos attached to Sustrans around the future scene of apocalyptic annihilation. We had been cutting up branches left by the council where they fell, piling up the logs into habitat suitable for hedgehogs, we having just approached Marian Crawley of the hedgehog rescue centre in Keighley,with a view to introducing them onto the site - though in fact they may have already been there, no survey ever having been undertaken. When the site supervisor caught sight of us, he went rigid, pointing like a human setter and we his prey: here, at last, were the bastards who had taken it upon themselves to wild Bradford city, who had coppiced carr woodland, translocated plants, scattered wild flower seeds, delved dirt steps into banksides and cut wild flower plugs into council maintained, ryegrass monocultures, etc. He could barely contain his fury and clearly wanted us banged up, hoping we would take a swing at him. This clown was kitted out in protective goggles and a hard hat to guard himself from everything nature was likely to throw at him - a falling leaf perhaps, or cross-eyed midge that mistook him for a barn-door. To cut a long story short, he told us that he, and only he, would allow hedgehogs onto the site and that the planting of dog violets (to attract perhaps the gorgeous Dark Green Fritillary and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary) was prohibited, only he able to lift the prohibition. We informed him that we had been questioned by a couple of gracious Asian troubleshooting council officials when translocating cornunculatus trefoil from Gaisby quarries, they thinking we were fly tipping because the plants had been brought down in heavy duty, builders rubble, sacks. When told what we were doing, they instantly gave us the thumbs-up, our thug paragon of ecological virtue, however, going into a blue funk when he heard, immediately insisting we give him their names. Had we told him, we don't doubt he would have done his level best to get them sacked. (By the by, because we raised such a ruckus, our voices carried to workmen at the far end of the site, we going right up in their estimation for promptly getting heavy with this thug, who was obviously as much against workers' rights as he was against the rights of nature). Under the pretext of getting a pen, one of us took out a camera, and before you could say kill everything took a photo, simply saying "smile please", the young ecos instantly turning their heads away. To this day we don't know who they are - but they do, and obviously hope the destruction they have been party to will not blow up in their face. By now "Dog Violet"(as we immediately renamed him along with Sir Dog Violet or Lord Dog Violet) was furious - and bent on revenge, he suspecting we were not just zimmer frame eco warriors' but also "commie bastards", a more sinister combination impossible to imagine.
Which is what our urban re-commoning implied, Sustrans under the heel of Dog Violet determined to prevent that from happening, whatever the cost. Notices would go up every 50 yards warning that fly tippers would face fines of up to £20,000 if caught, we and everyone else familiar with the site knowing that serious fly tipping had ceased long ago, the real purpose of the signs was to deter criminals, like ourselves, from going onto the site and doing something to stop the destruction taking place. Signs were also erected that implied people who actually used the footpath that crossed council land were, in effect, trespassing, even though a footpath had existed here from time immemorial, linking the sheep pastures of the uplands with the market town of Shipley in the valley below. An appeal to common law would almost certainly have established this fact and the notices judged illegal.
That not so rare species, the Greater Purple Faced Dog Violet almost certainly was responsible for the posting of a sign that read, "Private Property. No liability accepted due to injury caused by trespass"- which was a bit rich considering he was quite prepared to blow the place to kingdom come. At the height of the enclosure movement, each act of enclosure had to be agreed by Parliament and which often came into conflict with common law i.e. the precedent set by non statutory, judges' law. William Bunting and his Beavers from 1970s through to the 1990s used in vigente ancient law when combating the peat barons out to strip the Humber Head Levels, proving in court that the common law had been broken which meant Levingtons etc could no longer claim ownership of the land they were denuding of peat. By declaring a right of way to be private property and those who use it on an everyday basis guilty of trespass, the person who ordered the notice mentioned to be posted, and which mainly applied to the movement of the Windhillies (and ourselves), has in fact taken upon himself the right to interpret the law as he sees fit, which he is not entitled to do. But we doubt if this offensive, provocative, legally questionable notice will be taken down.
In our letters to various authorities when not kicking off in realms beyond their limited grasp we pandered occasionally to the brutality of a very limited bourgeois democracy with its eternal emphasis on fines, jailings and torture, i.e. in the language they could understand. In truth, we had no wish to jail those we held to be responsible for the eco holocaust; rather we wanted their brain cells to explode having encountered a lucidity beyond their ken. However, we would have liked to see the worst culprits forced to engage in re-educative wilding practises with say, Dog Violet ordered to personally plant thousands of dog violets, preferably in torrential rain.
EMAIL TO CLAIRE WRIGHT OF LEEDS SUSTRANS, April 3rd 2013
Regarding the appalling destruction of the finest bio diverse in Bradford – certainly more diverse than Ilkley Moor – all we've encountered from all quarters are lies and obfuscations. Nobody has been straight with us and, yes, we have noted that Sustrans has redacted the section on the Briggate 'improvement' and other pertinent matters from their website. We have enclosed an attachment containing two separate photos. The first relates to the crude smashing up of notices that were displayed across the site indicating nature sensitive areas. The one here is of a wych elm tree that contained a colony of rare White Letter Hairstreaks. The notice was pulled down and the tree destroyed. The other is a mug shot of a vicious anti-eco fascist, possibly the sit supervisor (?) who ordered all concerned, knowledgeable eco's off the site. Here he is accompanied by two very ashamed, waxwork ecos who've turned their heads away from the camera. We want the name of this thug and also of the two young 'ecos'. Most likely they belong to Sustrans 1,500 strong volunteer force, or if not, are possibly from that department of Leeds University, Sustrans has links with. We are sure you will know who these people are. Is it too much to ask that, in the interests of transparency, and common decency, you divulge their names?
Quite simply the law has been broken regarding (1) correct planning procedure and (2) the legally binding bio diversity requirements. In the first instance no notices were ever posted in public places giving warning there was to be a major landscaping event. So this brutal aesthetic makeover, which ripped-out the heart of this wonderful place situated between the proposed cycle track and Bradford Beck, went ahead quite illegally. The Rio bio diversity accords of 1992-3 were torn up in the process, the whole constituting a double felony. It is no longer a civil but a criminal i.e. a police matter, wouldn't you agree?
There is more. On the day after the heated exchange with the hard-hat psycho seen here wearing protective plastic goggles (in case he should be attacked by the occasional winter midge, perhaps!) it would appear he went berserk and ordered a hit and run raid on a spinney at the back of the M&D auto repair garage on Leeds Road. He knew it was being sensitively looked after by sincere ecos and therefore all the more reason to make it a target. This thug had been so empowered (and protected) he felt he could do so with impunity, nay, with complete approval. It is not just a sacking offence but a jailing one, wouldn't you agree?
Tweedeldum & Tweedeldee
PS. Some choice reminders from Sustrans bio diversity web.
- Sustrans aim is to maximise (!) the beneficial impacts of our routes for bio diversity conservation.....
- To support this goal we have published a biodiversity action plan for the national cycle network.
- We are seeking to work in partnership with local councils and wild life organisations [our italics!] to identify opportunities and possible funding sources for enhancing biodiversity along those stretches of our routes.
WHAT HUMBUG. IF IT WASN'T SO TRAGIC WE WOULD DIE LAUGHING
IS THE REICHSTAG BURNING (April 8th 2013)
Dear David Hall, (CC: Claire Wright, Susan Stead, Lorna Leeming, Head of Bradford Council)
The title refers to the burning of the German parliament building ordered by the Nazi party in 1933; a false flag operation immediately blamed on Van der Lubbe, an innocent Dutch, council communist who was then executed. In the late 1960s Is the Reichstag Burning was the heading of a pamphlet brought out by Italian Situationists correctly accusing the Italian government of instigating the bomb explosion in Milan's Piazza Fontana blaming the act on the activities of working class insurgents. Thus began the Italian state's "strategy of tension", that state-manipulated terrorism whose example has since been followed worldwide.
We visited the Shipley Sustrans / Bradford Council site today after an absence of one month due to ill health brought on by depression caused by the orgy of wildlife destruction. We aren't saying this to garner sympathy and can be medically proven; though it may come as surprise some people actually are deeply committed to nature conservation and know the future of the human race now depends on it.
We were able to confirm that the trees in the spinney had been felled with a chain saw, the gashes those a chain saw makes. The cut a hand saw generates is altogether much thinner and where a hand saw leaves sawdust, a chain saw leaves wood chippings, we took forensic photos as we are compiling a dossier of damning photographic evidence. The people who maliciously cut the spinney down were professionals and the finger of suspicion is directed at the council as who else would be motivated to do such a thing? Our careful pruning and care for the wild life we were seeking to protect has been laid waste to. We felt sick just looking at it - and very angry. Is there no end to the destruction of this outstanding site? It seems not.
We were also deeply shocked to find fires had been set at various intervals in and around the site. Though meant to look like the work of vandals, we immediately suspected a dirty tricks campaign. We are on sufficiently good terms with the 'skivers' of the Windhill Estate to know they don't do this sort of thing - at least not on this sort of systematic scale. On closer inspection the burnt areas followed the path of the buried gas pipeline and patches were to be found next to a once open duct now covered with a sheet of ply and weighed down with breezeblock. Burnt patches were also in evidence by the side of the former canal where we had intended to plant dog violets and had been creating habitat for hedgehogs before being apprehended by your site fuehrer. Logs had been pulled off the piles of sawn branches we had stacked up with the aim of providing shelter for the mortally threatened hedgehog and wantonly scattered around. Also heaps of rubbish we had cleared from the garage site and stacked neatly on the spinney slope had been set alight and a fire started in the spinney itself. These fires had been started on very wet ground before the mid to late March snow came and would have required considerable quantities of petrol if they were ever to ignite - just the sort of thing a psychotic arsonist of a construction council manager would have little trouble getting his hands on.
Many empty - too many - white lightning cider bottles had been strewn around and which also aroused our suspicions. Now from time to time we would chance on an alchi, this being one of the few park-like areas they could drink in unmolested without fear of being moved on. Not wanting to draw unwanted attention to themselves, they were never any trouble and always amiable. We never saw more than two together and then only on warm days. However this wild party which every alcoholic for miles around, it seems, had been invited to, had taken place in the open in the worst possible icy, snowy weather! It takes some believing, wouldn't you agree? Alcoholics are a fire risk in hostels because of their tendency to pass out with a lighted cigarette still in their hands. However we have yet to see a mob of them drunkenly setting fire to a field in sub zero temperatures! - and we doubt if anyone else has ever witnessed an event of this highly improbable kind. If not alcoholics then who else could have been setting fires? Why preteen estate kids of course! Except during all the years we have been monitoring the area for wild life, we have never encountered anything even remotely comparable. Besides young tearaways tend not to drink white lighting brew because alcoholics often are amongst their favorite targets, peer pressure preventing preteen and teeny hoodlums from downing white lightning in public. The whole thing stinks and in our considered opinion is a set-up, designed to 'get us' and people like ourselves. However there is worse to come and after you have read the following you may well agree. CSI tape should now have been stretched around the site. However we doubt you will bring the police in because the repercussions could be enormous and the story would go national.
What really disturbed us was to find that two 18m thick tubular steel pipes with a diameter of around 5 inches had been uprooted that had been sunk into the earth at the opposite ends of the gas pipe that runs parallel with the bridge. These white pipes topped with a red for danger band had been driven into the ground around 3 years ago and gave warning of the presence of the gas pipe. One of these pipes (that would have required a weight lifter to shift) had been thrown into the beck like it was a matchstick. A teenage vandal, an alcoholic enfeebled by drink? WE DONT THINK SO! It would have required several muscular young men at the very least, and which was a physical impossibility because only one of the stripling Mr Universes could have got the arms around the post at any one time: and then they would not have been able to get a good grip because the metal paint it was coated with forbade that. When we inspected the hole that had once contained this tonne weight, we found no evidence of any digging around the rim, the post which had been buried 18 inches deep having been yanked clean out of the ground in a trice, a chain, we think, having been wrapped around the post which was then attached to a hydraulic lifting arm. We actually did find marks of a caterpillar tread close by. The 14 ft post was then tossed into the beck and it was fortunate indeed that it did not strike the gas pipe line a mere 2 ft away from the bridge parapet. Had it done so and fractured the pipe, a spark could have caused a massive gas explosion and endangered the lives of umpteen Windhill Estate residents. This reckless disregard for their lives was hypocritically hidden behind a smoke screen of concern for health and safety issues and anyone who can do what we have described above is psychologically very ill indeed and should be instantly removed from public office and placed in a psychiatric institution.
Also there is a clear view of the bridge from the flats above. We do know the council tenants who live in these flats are very vigilant and will phone the police or the council if the suspect anything untoward, like fly tipping, is taking place. Increasingly over the years they have begun to see this area as their green space, especially once it became apparent the place was being cared for, despite its de facto abandonment by the council. Only a correctly dressed outfit in hi-viz jackets and hard hats could possibly have carried out this reckless act and gone 'unnoticed', as it were. This is yet another damning, salient fact which, after a moment's reflection, is surely obvious to anyone as familiar with the area as we are.
We hope you will agree that our reading of the trail of tell tale signs is worthy of a Native American and may well have sprung from our sensitivity to habitat - which we only wish more people possessed!
The weight of evidence forces us to conclude this was not vandalism but black propaganda, a counter insurgency measure aimed at genuine ecos like ourselves who really do care, the blame to be laid at the door of the Philpott sub class of the Windhill council estate. IS THE REICHSTAG BURNING AGAIN? During all the years we have frequenting the area we have not encountered one instance of seriously destructive behaviour. Picnic litter, discarded bottles of cider and lager cans even the occasional barbecue fire - one of which unintentionally burnt an alder buckthorn sapling - yes, certainly, but nothing as calculated and sinister as this. In fact the Windhillies (as we came to call them) were coming to respect the place and began to feel it belonged to them the more bio-diverse it became through careful tendering, and also, it has to be said, because they respected us, knowing what we did was not done for money but for love and we were at the opposite extreme of hated officialdom and people to be regarded therefore. It was heartening to have tough youngsters greet you with "hello lads" or "friend", especially given the very considerable age gap. We doubt if that has happened to anyone on the Briggate site and it says a lot. Our social re-appropriation of nature struck a chord and we firmly believe this is the only way forward if humanity is to be spared a horrible end.
The person responsible for these dreadful acts - and we all know who this dreadful person is- should by-pass jail and go directly to Broadmoor. He and Peter Sutcliffe might find they have much in common - and not just the fact they hale from Bradford. How come this dangerous lunatic (and we do now know from private sources he has an evil reputation) was ever put in charge of such a sensitive project as this? We suspect it was a deliberate choice and that his evil reputation was his best testimonial, guaranteeing his appointment to his position of ober gruppen fuhrer. Nor do we think this psychotic asshole would have done what he did off his own bat. He must have felt he was under some kind of protective shield and he was only doing the bidding of his superiors. We are of the view he carried out his acts of arson and unspeakable sabotage with a view to getting the bridge across the beck closed off and hence the path across the big field which has been a public right of way for centuries, and which the railway company that built the railroad into Shipley sometime during the 1840s, respected by providing an especially built bridge under which the foot path could pass. It says something about the agenda of his employers that he felt able to push ahead with this perverse anti social, anti nature goal. He almost certainly was responsible for the posting of a sign that read, "Private Property. No liability accepted due to injury caused by trespass"- which was a bit rich considering he was quite prepared to blow the place to kingdom come.
When we encountered the thug referred to above on the 3rd of February, we specifically mentioned that the Marbled White butterfly had been seen across the beck from where we were stacking logs. This remarkable sighting merely increased his determination to cleanse the area of all that made it remarkable. Henceforth he would bear a particular grudge against the field through which the common law footpath passed and was astute enough to see, as psychotics often are, that it was in the process of becoming easily the richest, post industrial butterfly meadow in the Bradford area. But not if he could help it. Our forensic examination shows he was prepared to kill over it. If something is not done about him - and seen to be done - the harm, particularly to Sustrans reputation will be incalculable.
Email: April 23rd 2013
Dear all, (Sustrans, Bradford Council, Bradford Urban Wildlife Group, etc. etc.)
We include here another collection of our outrageous lies, this time (again) relating to the poplar trees on the Briggate site. Obviously nothing ever happened and in any case if some were chopped down it was due to a posse of non-accountable aliens from outer space. Therefore everyone is innocent - apart from ourselves. "Simples" as the Meercats say......
(For further information see Part 4 of Eco-Peterloo: Of Red Underwings, Black Poplars, Mulches, Cyber Beings, Nature Poets and Fallen Elms which deals specifically with the cutting down of the Black Poplars)
The following letter was sent sometime in June 2013 the various developmental forces having continued with their anti-nature, malevolent project.....
Where are the Whistleblowers? Running in fear of Bradford Council's cloak and dagger thugocracy??
Hello again Unsustainable Sustrans,
Congratulations! The criminal cohort that is Sustrans and Bradford Council has done it again. If any of you have had the courage to visit the environmental crime scene that is Briggate, you may have noticed that an acre of charlock now covers what was once an ancient nettle bed and that was formerly the centre of Bradford's largest population of Small Tortoiseshells, Commas, Peacocks and Red Admirals. In fact there is so much charlock (rape seed) you could qualify for an EEC subsidy should you care to apply to Brussels for one. A nice little earner! You are to be praised for grasping the site's commercial potentiality when all we sentimentalists could see was a haven for wild life. With a bit of luck it could provide you with an income in perpetuity for the cash crop is bound to spread, rape seed a very difficult plant to eradicate once established to the extent it now is on the Briggate site. The threat posed by rampaging charlock has, over the past couple of years, even made on at least two occasions into the pages of the Southend Echo. Carted in by couldn't-care-less developers, it threatens "England's Rain Forest" in the Thames estuary on Canvey Island. In fact what you have been up to is as incommensurable as a child welfare officer caught out watching kiddie porn. Would that the T&A was able, for once, to demonstrate a similar sense of responsibility and expose this far greater ecological crime. How fortunate for you that Bradford has such a nauseatingly compliant local press, campaigning journalists as abhorrent to the T&A as they are to America's National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ. And so, for the moment, a Mafia style law of omerta rules, guaranteeing silence, persistent thuggery and law breaking. But not forever.......
Charlock was only marginally present on the site this time last year and was well under control. We can only conclude that the destruction of the nettle beds and the importation of alien soil from the outside (despite official denials to the contrary) has caused this invasive plant to spread in such choking profusion, the seed able to lay dormant for more than 50 years, each plant producing somewhere between 2000 and 4000 seeds. Useless to demand what are you going to do about it for the place is now a wasteland, the Aire Rivers Trust's unbelievably asinine judgment the site was "ecologically worthless" now a self fulfilling prophecy you can all safely hide behind. You have the power and the money and therefore could escape prosecution when, by rights, an example should be made of the guilty men and women in Sustrans, the Council and the Aire Rivers Trust. All we have on our side is the truth and the growing conviction around the world that authority's word is not to be trusted. Increasingly it is a force to be reckoned with and Bradford won't indefinitely buck the trend, despite its so far successful attempt to gag and intimidate all opposition and one that has been vastly helped by the shameless complicity of so-called independent bodies like BUWG and BEES. Just as George Bush would not have dared go to war in Iraq without PM Tony Blair's blessing, so this wanton destruction could never have taken place had it not been for the craven acquiescence of Bradford Urban Wildlife Group.
We have also noted that rabbits are increasing on the Briggate site. Why? Because a fox den has been destroyed by the illegal linear park makeover you all hoped to push through on the sly without due consultation. (May we bring it to your attention that it is the council that is charged with the task of superintending planning law, not the breaking of it as happened on the Briggate site). Some 13 years ago the rabbits overran the area around Shipley Station and there was talk of a cull. Like a deus ex machina, the urban foxes arrived and ever since the rabbits have ceased to be a problem. Should they become rampant again, we know who to blame, don't we? Nor did any of you notice the amount of feral cats on the Briggate site which suggested there was a considerable population of small mammals. But not anymore thanks to your potlatch of wildlife. What will it take to make you feel ashamed?
Perhaps the fact bats have been observed on the site? Well, we have it on the trusted authority of eco friends in Calderdale (and they were right about the Dingy Skipper after all) that they have observed bats at night on the Briggate site. Until you anti-eco vandals came along, the Briggate site was an insect heaven and that, combined with an abundance of roosting spaces like hollow trees, would also have attracted the bats, all bats in the UK being insect feeders. So we are putting you on notice that we intend visiting the site with a camera that has the night vision app switched on. We are sure you are aware that it is unlawful to develop a site without first checking if bats are present, the Bat Conservation Trust stressing that "you will be committing a criminal offense if you intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats." But since you have the law in your pocket, the destruction of bat habitat matters as little to you as does that of the White Letter Hairstreak, the Purple Hairstreak, the Brimstone, the Brown Argus, the Orange Tip, the Small Tortoiseshell, etc, etc.
Anyhow you can't complain we haven't given you fair warning and that your hired thugs and nature assassins should now be alerted to be on the lookout for likely suspects with cameras. One further observation: how ironic that Sustrans, not yet a year ago, were commended for going to the trouble of saving bats on the Bath / Bristol cycle trail. But that was Bristol where the Mayor, George Ferguson, takes his entire salary in "Bristol £s" (a local currency), the city council giving the staff the option to take part of their salary in "B£s." Imagine this happening in Bradford! You simply can't for in Bradford the totally unimaginative holds sway. And with such disastrous results for when the shades of night gather in Bradford, the owl of Minerva is instantly shot by the council and Sustrans when it takes flight. (And since we are dealing with blockheads, the allusion to Hegel's famous comment is bound to go unnoticed!)
Tweedeldum & Tweedeldee
July 12th 2013.....
REPLY TO SUSTRANS WHO NOW WANT US TO GET INVOLVED IN CLEARING UP THE DESTRUCTION OF BRIGGATE'S INDUSTRIAL GORGE...............
Help clear up the irresponsible and irreversible MESS that IS the Briggate site and that is NONE of our making? You are having a giraffe! An absurd request deserves an absurd reply:
Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu,
dll rrrrr beeeee bö
dll rrrrr beeeee bö fümms bö
rrrrr beeeee bö fümms bö wö,
beeeee bö fümms bö wö tää,
bö fümms bö wö tää zää,
fümms bö wö tää zää Uu:
Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu,
Dedesnn nn rrrrr,
mpiff tillff too,
Rinnzekete bee bee nnz krr müü?
ziiuu ennze, ziiuu rinnzkrrmüü,
rakete bee bee,
Rrummpff tillff toooo?
Ziiuu ennze ziiuu nnzkrrmüü,
Ziiuu ennze ziiuu rinnzkrrmüü
rakete bee bee? rakete bee zee.
Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu,
Uu zee tee wee bee fümms.
(The above is an extract from Kurt Schwitters Ur Sonata, a Dadaist sound poem. There are other, less compromised, aggressively anti-aesthetic, cries of outrage flung in the face of an absurd world. But this will have to do. Incidentally in 1966, we helped move and then restore Schwitters last Merz Bau from the Cumbrian Fells into the sanitized precincts of the Hatton gallery in Newcastle, a fact Tate Britain has been obliged to give prominence to in their recent pathetic Schwitters retrospective in an age when the exhibition has lost all life enhancing raison d'etre. As is well known we later criticised the removal of the Merz Bau from its original cow bier high on a mountain slope just as we deplore the destruction of the post-industrial ecological profundity that was once Briggate).
Batmen & Robins
(Seeing bats and robins along with virtually every other living creature lies dead at Briggate)
Below: a later commentary we made on the above incident
As for ourselves, of course we can't be sure what affect our undoubtedly superior knowledge had upon Sustrans, but there is one incident worth recounting. Work came to a halt on the makeover in the early spring of 2013 in response to our objection that the law had been broken and proper planning procedure ignored. Caught with their cocks in the custard, Sustrans and Bradford Council knew they had little choice but to make a show of observing proper procedure - and it was a show, no notices ever posted around the site to say there were going to be major alterations, which again was a legally binding stipulation. Meantime, having covered the nettle beds, the trefoil, the Aarons rod etc., in contaminated soil that had been brought in from the outside, charlock began to choke the site. We emailed David Hall boss of Leeds Sustrans (we had long denigrated him as "Al' Fall – don't worry we'll catch you") pointing this out to him and that the matter had even been raised on at least two occasions in the Southend Echo, charlock also beginning to spread like wild fire across the lower Thames estuary, (an area that had come to be acknowledged as "England's rain forest") due to the importation of contaminated soils from the outside. The impudent critter came back with the absurd demand: what did we intend doing about something that was none of our own making? Though it may have been a last, desperate attempt to get us to the negotiating table, this was really too much and so we replied to the absurd with the absurd, sending the jerk a meaningless sound poem, a Dadaist / Lettrist tactic that we thought must have outlived its usefulness. However the effect would be similar to the avant-garde provocations of the first decades of the 20th century and which, we have reason to think, really flipped Sustrans lid, they responding by stepping-up the insane orgy of destruction we had succeeded in only temporarily postponing. On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the first world war, it was like a homicidal General concluding the deaths on the Somme were not enough and that the numbers had to be doubled, an absurdist sound poem by Raoul Hausmann convincing him that the only way to purge civilisation of such insane symptoms was by totally engulfing it in madness masquerading as the most high-minded reason. Just prior to Al Fall of Sustrans sending his troops over the top to commit further atrocities against urban wildlife that will forever tarnish the organisation, he would describe us as "raving". In fact, for want of being unable to lay our hands on sound poems that were much more aggressive in intent, we sent Sustrans a transcript of Schwitters innocuous Ur Sonata, which delights in the inconsequential aesthetics of sounds, and was therefore an attempt to make an art form out of a disinclined genre that was really an open-ended, anti-art howl of protest. Our qualified reservations went right over the heads of Sustrans, they managing to do the impossible, the ensuing destruction the poem was at least partially responsible for, bestowing on Schwitters a consequential radicalism he so conspicuously lacked in real life when compared with other German Dadaists, who were forever berating him for his notorious petite bourgeois tendencies. Long dead, this posthumous moment has to be Schwitters finest, alive; he never sparking anything as remotely far-reaching in its implications.
Extracts of letters sent to Sustrans Bristol CEO from August 15th to September 16th, 2013 which collected together we fronted with a recent comment from Miguel Amoros:
"If destructive growth required an environmentalist disguise, destruction would have to be presented as the environmentalist act par excellence"
............ "We write this letter with the deepest reluctance. However West Yorkshire Sustrans has been deeply complicit in the worst act of ecological destruction we have ever witnessed. We stress 'complicit' as other bodies were involved, namely Bradford Metropolitan Council and the Aire Valleys Rivers Trust. The most we can say in mitigation is that Sustrans may now feel aggrieved that it heedlessly went along with the moronic view put out by Bradford Council, the Aire Valleys Rivers Trust and the Nature Conservancy Officer on Bradford Council etc. that the site in question was "ecologically worthless" whereas in fact this two acre site in Briggate, Shipley, was more bio diverse than the whole of the neighbouring, picture postcard perfect Ilkley Moor.(The aforementioned degree-holding donkeys and professorial junkies simply could not see beyond the dereliction and detritus, and, in so doing, went against the grain of contemporary scientific awareness that brownfield sites are where it's at nature-wise).
In the space of four days the most ecologically rich urban site in the whole of Yorkshire and possibly the north of England and Scotland was devastated , in order to make way for a Sustrans cycle track, or rather the "linear park" that was to accompany it. The facts speak for themselves; at no point were notices ever posted to say a "linear park" had been proposed and the public invited to express their views. The council simply swept aside official procedure and brutally went ahead in clear breach of the law. (We have all the details and the attempts by the council to cover up a de facto state of affairs by making it appear de jure after the event). Not only was planning law flouted (despite the fact councils are charged with the task of seeing it is observed) but a number of bio diversity laws were also arrogantly disregarded, which, if justice was served, should land their perpetrators in jail and this in addition to the hefty fines that should have been imposed and that would act as a salutatory reminder to other councils etc. not to even contemplate doing the same."................................
............. "The scale of the destruction is simply unbelievable and we still have difficulty in coming to terms with it in this day of so-called heightened 'ecological' awareness. Frankly it is like a bad dream we shall shortly awaken from. It hurts just to go on this sterile, treeless waste and, not least, to note the ash trees that were ruthlessly cut down (as if Bradford Council / Sustrans were impatient of the tardiness of ash die-back disease to do the job for them) their trunks clothed in ivy around which the Holly Blue would jink. And please don't be so impertinent and ask what happened to the holly bushes! And as for the hollow trees in which the Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers would nest, plus the abundant small mammal population and at least two families of foxes; all that has now become the excruciatingly painful memory of "beauty been". According to eco-activist friends, the hollow trees were also bat roosts, as was the large abandoned boiler that was removed because it was an eyesore to the hydrological philistines of the Aire Valley Rivers Trust and The Friends of Bradford Beck who literally have no feel at all for these "landscapes of contempt" and who are in dire need of some kind of re-education before they commit even more irreparable damage. All of this activity is illegal and punishable by law and it is our belief that West Yorkshire Sustrans knows this, as do Bradford Council, the Aire Valley Rivers Trust etc. but who hope to get away with it by maintaining a Mafia like law of silence (omerta) because they know if the truth should ever come out someone is going to do time at her Majesty's (and our) pleasure.
We believe that Sustrans / Bradford Council were under pressure to deliver and to get the job done before the shock therapy of the new financial year kicked-in, which would have automatically ruled out an indulgence like a "linear park." Had it been allowed to continue at the expense of essential front line services, it could easily have sparked a classic rate payer's revolt. As it is the waste of council taxpayers money on this ecologically ruinous scheme has been colossal and enough in itself to unseat the ruling junta in the town hall if even a smidgeon of the truth were to come out. Beware of the city that was the centre of physical force Chartism and that gave birth to the Independent Labour Party! What we have in Briggate, Shipley, is nothing less than the big hole Mark 2. just in case you don't know, the big hole is the derisory name canny Bradfordians give to this folie de grandeur which involved demolishing nearly the entire city core in the expectation, courtesy of Westfields, this was what was required to launch Bradford into an blue sky future of high end shopping malls and de luxe riverside developments grouped around the headwaters of a reopened Bradford Canal that Ruskin wrote so dazzlingly about - though in terms of a contemporary River of Styx, which hardly makes for advertising copy. But out of the clear blue sky of this dreamscape there would hurtle, in 2007, an economic meteor which has left the former city centre looking like it has been hit by a near earth object and brilliantly characterised by the renowned graffiti that appeared on the encircling fencing: Best Amongst Ruins. Desperate to redeem the 'horror' of its manufacturing past by reinventing itself as a city synonymous with the new consumer / leisure industries, all Bradford has managed to do is reinforce its negative image both locally and nationally. The well off dales residents Bradford is so anxious to attract, once more view this unique city with repugnance - and give it a wide berth. How then offset the damage done by a sink hole of geological proportions? We now know what the answer would be: create another one!
The financial meltdown of 2008 meant the third reopening of the canal would have to be postponed - indefinitely. And in its place a more modest proposal has gained credence centred on the Bradford Beck, this free running stream (that Ruskin immediately appreciated must not be hemmed in but left to find its own way otherwise deaths would follow) now a site of aesthetic remodelling, the planned 'water features'' a proxy for the sculpted lock gates that would feature on the now abandoned Bradford 'conceptual' canal, the usual lock gates deemed beneath contempt. Roughly following Canal Rd, and also that of the proposed Sustrans cycle route, in the haste to grand stand 'art', nature and heritage would be swept to one side as damaging the economic potential of the Canal Rd Corridor growth pole. And so the stone slabs that once made up part of the Bradford Canal were tossed aside even though we had made a desperate plea for them to be preserved. We had even seeded the surrounds of these stones with trefoil in the visionary hope of seeing the lovely Common Blue flitting about these mysterious industrial cromlechs........There was just no end to the mindless destruction. It was like we were face to face with metaphysical evil.
To railroad the job through in double quick time, a psychotic, right wing, thug of a clerk of works was put in charge. To that end he was granted carte blanche to do much as he pleased, resorting to a black propaganda of the deed, He (we have a photo of him and nicknamed him variously "thug" or "dog violet" because he tried to prevent us planting dog violets) tried to discredit our voluntary conservation work of the past few years by maliciously felling trees in other ecologically sensitive areas close by, (and at the beginning of the nesting season - a criminal act, incidentally), and by setting fire to a meadow where the rare Marbled White butterfly had been seen last year, making it look like it had been the work of vandals from the nearby Windhill Estate. (Actually the "Windhilies" watch their unofficial 'common' like it was their own treasured back yard and will contact the council at the merest hint of fly tipping. The present overkill of notices threatening fly tippers with £20,000 fines are not aimed at fly tippers but at eco activists like ourselves). Of course all these allegations are going to be officially denied. The bureaucratic class in Bradford has no other option but to deny them and stereotype us as dodderers in the early stages of senile dementia. For should the real truth ever come out, Bradford would be headline news. This dark episode has a fascistoid reek to it, especially so in its disregard for bourgeois law, and, disturbingly, could well be a sign of things to come......................................................
............. The Common Blue is not the only butterfly you can add to the heaps of other you have already destroyed. This year, we have (again) been reliably informed by eco -activists, the Dingy Skipper was seen on the rockery at the end of the basin. All the more reason, therefore, to cover this beautifully metamorphosed leftover from Bradford's industrial past with soil and kill the damned thing off. Bravo Sustrans, natural born killers that you are. In fact the entire project (both cycle track and linear park) is a disgusting obscenity from start to finish. The fact that the disgraceful ecos Sustrans employs can't distinguish a Dingy Skipper from a dishcloth is no defence. And as for the unusual array of plants, were you aware there were still a couple of plants of Aron's Rod that did not flower last year, due to the bad weather? They did this year - until you decided to entomb them. They have become increasingly rare in West Yorkshire (possibly because of the increased use of herbicides by Network Rail) and so it was a joy to see them flourishing here until you sinister lot and the other living-dead cadavers you consort with, decided otherwise.
We would hazard a guess that the cycle track has been resumed in the Shipley area simply in order to attract next year's Tour d' Angleterre. There has been so much chat regarding this financialized, media orientated, cycling event in the local rag (the T&A) that we felt it was only a matter of time before Bradford would publicly make a bid to get the Tour to follow the cycle trail through the city, highlighting, in particular, the Sustrans designer bridge across Manchester Road and the grand exit where the Sustrans cycle track comes out onto Leeds Road. Given this bread and circuses scenario, nature just didn't stand a chance, the model for this sort of sport / art spectacle being the 2012 London Olympics. We rather suspect the erasure of the splendid feature that was the basin and the destruction of its remarkable wildlife has no other purpose (other than provide a foundation for grandstands from which to view the Tour) than to show case a pathetic, sub Claes Oldenburg, piece of shit, maybe a giant spoon perhaps or clothes peg of the type that Sustrans loves to display on its website as cutting edge and innovative and, if the truth be known, was already a yawn in the 1960s when people could be forgiven for thinking it "daring". These sad bits of rubbish (and not to be compared with the real nature rich rubbish that could be found on the Briggate site formerly) and that Leeds Sustrans hope will feature on prime time TV when the Tour passes through should, as we have said before, be regarded as funerary monuments to the irreplaceable wild life that has been destroyed to make way for them. ...........................................................
...........Once the bogus consultation process was over, Sustrans than continued with its wrecking spree that it had illegally embarked on in late winter. Our letters have been completely disregarded and the anti ecological thuggery continues unabated. What has to be one of the best Orange Tip butterfly sites in the country has been obliterated and presumably so has the Dingy Skipper, which, though not a red list butterfly, is an increasingly threatened one. It is beyond belief that this industrial scale slaughter of the species continues unchecked. Driven by the quasi-religious precepts of its pseudo scientific instigators, everything on site has to die in order to be reborn in virtuous innocence. In fact this purge of nature has a feel of demented religiosity about it, the extraordinary bio diversity of the Briggate site needing to be cleansed of its former guilty association with industrial dereliction. On a social level, nature must be broken to ensure ever greater human enslavement. The disaster that is now Briggate is, courtesy of Sustrans, a demonstration of brutal, machismo power over nature - nature tamed to the point of extinction. Nothing in nature is henceforth to be left to chance, the main aim being to ensure this predictable, impoverished nature is no longer extraneous to particular developmental goals, to growing inequality, finance, shopping and never ending property price rises. This barbarism could easily result in the cold blooded liquidation of the Marbled White that was found in quantities around Shipley Station earlier this year. Given that Sustrans has not given a toss about destroying the butterfly on the Briggate site, what is to stop it going in for the kill over the entire site? This dread thought may already be a reality."
Again, surprise, surprise we never received a reply from Sustrans!
To: Head Office Sustrans,
Bristol BS1 5DD
September 10th 2013
Dear Malcolm Shepherd and Sustrans Head Office,
Bhupinder S DevMTCP (HONS) MA.UD PgCert Mgmt MRTPI
Team Leader, Development Plans
Planning, Transportation and Highways
Tel: 01274 432012 / Mob: 07582 100063
Floor 2 South, Jacob's Well, Bradford BD1 5RW
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Department of Regeneration and Culture
We say in our first paragraph here ALL representations though this is in fact a blatant lie. We sent in the objection copied below for your perusal. Of course our 'objection' wasn't even acknowledged which is customary procedure nor was it printed later in the Summary of Representations released in early August 2013. This proved to be yet another outrageous, deliberate illegal cover up. No defamatory language was deployed which we understand is good cause for censorship as, on the contrary, it was the truth itself which had to be censored. (In the copy reprinted below we have omitted our telephone number which was forwarded in the original communication precisely because we did want acknowledgement). Now however knowing we are dealing with such obscene skulduggery we want written replies and explanations........
OBJECTION TO CANAL RD / SHIPLEY GREENWAY, PROPOSED ROUTE
This is not a rectifying of the planning process but its abolition (see Dept for Communities and Local Government pamphlet on consultation: "Streamlining the planning application process" January, 2013. Prior to asking the public's opinion on the Canal Road Greenway Proposed Route, part of the 'proposals' have already been acted upon in Briggate, Shipley in clear breach of planning law.
The following was also sent to the executive of the Green Party in London. Again there was no reply:
What we're specifically complaining about is the near complete destruction of the most bio-diverse site in the whole of the Bradford area and was a living proof that sites of industrial dereliction can contain more biodiversity per square foot than the typical nature reserve. This site is a post-industrial gorge through which the Bradford Beck runs and will shortly become a Sustrans greenway cycle track. During the boom years of fictive capital values a barmy plan was hatched to reopen the Bradford Canal. This was abandoned in all but name after the crash of 2007 and another plan was hastily cobbled together: The Shipley and Canal Rd Corridor Action Plan. Consultation on what it could be like began on 16th of April 2013 and is due to end on the 31st of May 2013. According to the local newspaper, the Telegraph & Argus the new canal greenway will have routes for cyclists and pedestrians, water features and a "linear park..... a high quality new green corridor could provide similar regeneration benefits ,,,,,,,,,enhancing the green space along the Bradford Beck." HOWEVER BEFORE THE PLAN WAS THROWN OPEN TO CONSULTATION, THE BRIGGATE SITE WAS IRREPARABLY TORN APART BY EXCAVATORS.THIS WAS AN ILLEGAL ACT. OTHER BIODIVERSITY LAWS WERE ALSO DEFIANTLY BROKEN. For instance, no notices were ever posted - a legally biding requirement under EU law - nor was an environmental assessment ever undertaken - another legal requirement under EU law. We, who knew more about the sites biological riches than anyone else, were duped and then aggressively marginalized.
Tweedledum & Tweedeldee
As if this wasn't enough once the bogus consultation was completed Sustrans then went brutally ahead as if nothing had happened completing the final leg of destruction in late summer what the organisation had embarked upon in late winter. All of our critiques had been utterly disregarded. It is beyond belief. Now the wrecking has been total as the leftovers of one the best Orange Tip colonies in the whole of the country has in the last month been completely obliterated. No doubt the rest of the Dingy Skipper colony is next as the anti-ecological thuggery continues unabated. Obviously by now we guess Bristol head office will have been well taught by Leeds Sustrans on how to kill off the sites of the "new sublime". As is well known neo-psychogeographers praise these sites among which can be included Meades, Sinclair, Self, Macfarlane (along with many another) and maybe the Leeds Sustrans philistines just hope nothing of this shame and rank philistinism ever emerges to Sustrans eternal detriment. We have had already a host of sympathetic and horrified letters especially so from Jonathan Meades. Moreover, 38 Degrees have said they will help in a campaign. Even Simon Jenkins has added personal support........
We are so devastated we cannot even go to view the destruction you have unleashed as it is so heart breaking and for the sake of our health have had to exile ourselves from Bradford's official ruling thugocracy. Now we have no choice but to do what the old adage says: "MAKE SHAME MORE SHAMEFUL BY GIVING IT PUBLICITY" and for certain Bristol's exemplary eco anarchists will be among the first to be informed.
Tweedeldum & Tweedeldee