Melon Farmers Original Version

Bollox Britain

2011: Jan-March

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30th March   

Modern Puritans...

MP tables 10 minute rule bill to have a rant about alcohol
Link Here

Tory backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston will put forward a private member's bill to restrict children from alcohol marketing.

Wollaston believes that a repressive French law known as Loi Evin could be adapted for the UK. She will put forward the proposal as a 10-minute rule bill.  This allows her to make a speech in Parliament, although the process rarely leads to legislation being passed but is instead a chance to raise awareness about an issue.

The British Medical Association and university 'experts' said the move would go a long way to protect children.

The French legislation was introduced in 1991 and totally bans alcohol promotion through mediums such as television and social media.

Professor Gerard Hastings, a social marketing expert at Stirling University, told the British Medical Journal the law had helped to reduce alcohol consumption in France. Removing this profoundly unhealthy influence is, unsurprisingly, recognised as a key public health priority. So along with their cafe culture, the Loi Evin is a French innovation that the UK needs.

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents the drinks industry, said: The UK already has some of the strictest rules in place to prevent alcohol being marketed to children or in a way that might appeal to them. The call for a French-style advertising ban is entirely unfounded.


12th March   

Britons Offended by Crap Policing...

Police threaten public order prosecution over jokey football sticker
Link Here

A Manchester United fan was told by police she faced legal action unless she removed part of a car sticker which teased Manchester City.

Sarah Webb-Lee had a sticker on the rear window of her car which read: On the first day God created United then completely fucked up and created City.

A local councillor passed on to police a complaint they had received from a resident about the wording of the joke and a police officer was sent to the motorist's home.

Mrs Webb-Lee and her City-supporting husband Graham were informed that the sticker was supposedly offensive under the much abused Section 5 of the Public Order Act. They were asked to either remove it or some of the letters within the swear word, and they did the latter.

Mrs Webb-Lee told the Manchester Evening News: I couldn't believe it when the police turned up. We don't have many rights left but freedom of speech is worth hanging on to. I won't take it down. It's just a bit of banter and you hear worse on the terraces. I see lots of things about United and take it on the chin.

Inspector Stephen Gilbertson said: We received a complaint about the language contained in a car sticker that, by law, is offensive.


20th January   

Update: Happy Shoppers...

Photographers still being harassed
Link Here

Police insist they had every right to stop an innocent 78-year-old who was taking photographs in Norwich city centre but have refused to say why his actions were deemed suspicious .

A security guard had approached retired university professor Howard Temperley after he was seen taking pictures of people doing Christmas shopping. Howard, who was using a compact camera, told the Norwich Evening News: No sooner had I begun taking pictures than a security man was at my elbow asking me what I was doing. I said I was taking pictures of happy shoppers.

Howard planned to turn his photos into computer-generated sketches for Christmas cards.

After leaving the shopping centre police stopped him in nearby St Stephen's Street. Officers reportedly allowed Howard to continue on his way - but only after recording his name, address and date of birth and checking his details with the force's headquarters.

Chapelfield Shopping Centre managers defended the move, saying that the building and its immediate surroundings were private property. In a statement, the centre's marketing manager Sheridan Smith told AP: Our security team will always challenge members of the public taking photographs in and around the centre, especially if the photographer is photographing the building itself or groups of shoppers who are obviously not friends or family of the photographer.


19th January   

Update: Cheers!...

British government minimum alcohol price not so miserable as feared
Link Here

The Coalition has finally unveiled its alcohol minimum price regime in a statement to Parliament.

The minimum price for vodka will be fixed at 10.71 a litre, whisky at 8 for a 70cl bottle, cider at 40p a litre and 38p per 440ml can of lager or beer.

The minimum price will be based on the rate of duty plus VAT, not on the cost of producing the drinks. Thankfully shops will only have to raise the price for a small  number of products.

Miserable campaigners were somewhat disappointed. Professor Ian Gilmore, chairman of the UK Health Alliance, said: To bring in a measure that we know in practice will have no effect at all on the health of this nation I think is disappointing. It's a step in the right direction, but I have to say it's an extremely small step. It'll have no impact whatsoever on the vast majority of cheap drinks sold, for example, in supermarkets.

Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale with self interest at heart, said the price levels were too low to help the struggling pub industry. Chief executive Mike Benner said: The decision means pubs will continue to close as they are undercut by supermarkets selling canned beers at pocket-money prices.


11th January   

Offsite: Going Down the Tubes...

Transport for London are illegally trying to restrict the use of date obtained under freedom in information
Link Here

Adrian Short' submitted an easy-to-answer Freedom of Information request to Transport for London (TfL) about usage of Boris Bikes. He is a big fan and, having helped to promote them, wanted to plug their success.

But... he wrote:

if I want to get a response to my FOI request from TfL I am asked to enter into a contract with them whose terms include:

2.1.2 [You shall] only use the Transport Data in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and the Syndication Developer Guidelines, and not use such information in any way that causes detriment to TfL or brings TfL into disrepute. The rights granted to You under these Terms and Conditions are limited to accessing and displaying or otherwise making available the Transport Data for the purposes stated by You in Your registration.

So not only is TfL's contract explicitly asking me to state my motive as a precondition of access, it also constrains me from using the information for any other purpose and arguably prevents me from using that information to criticise TfL, thereby causing it detriment or bringing it into disrepute . If I don't agree to this they can deny access altogether and if I subsequently break the agreement in their view they can revoke access. This is a funny kind of free information.

That is absolutely disgraceful. No public authority has the right to withhold data on the basis that it might be used to the detriment of that authority. Part of the point of the Freedom of Information Act is that it might reveal something to the detriment of the Authority in question - that's the purpose of facilitating openness and scrutiny in the first place.

We at Big Brother Watch are extremely concerned by this development. If TfL behaves likes this and can get away with it, then others will follow.

So - this is a call to arms. Please link to this blog post or to Adrian's original original write-up   on Facebook, on Twitter, on any blog to which you might have access. If you care about the future of Freedom of Information Act - or about the future of information, or the future of freedom - then it's up to you.

...Read the full article


5th January   

Dreddful Policing...

British driver prosecuted for warning other drivers of a speed trap
Link Here

A driver has been convicted of a supposed criminal offence for flashing his headlights at oncoming motorists to warn them of a police speed trap ahead.

Michael Thompson believed he was doing his civic duty by alerting drivers on the opposite side of a dual carriageway.

Thompson was pulled up. He claimed the officer involved was a Rambo character who was acting like Judge Dredd in using the law unnecessarily.

When stopped by a police officer Thompson disagreed with the suggestion that he was perverting the course of justice and was then allegedly told: I was going to let you off with a caution - but I'm not now.

Thompson denied the bollox charge of wilfully obstructing a policewoman in the execution of her duty on July 21 last year, but was convicted after a trial at Grimsby Magistrates' Court. He ended up 440 out of pocket after being fined 175, ordered to pay 250 costs and a 15 victims' surcharge.

One solicitor at court criticised the decision to prosecute as a ridiculous waste of taxpayers money' and said the defendant, who represented himself, should be praised for his actions.

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