“Anti-Terror” Stop and Search at Cardiff Central

stop-and-search

The South Wales Echo has reported that armed cops are carrying out stop and searches under Section 44 of the terrorism act at Cardiff Central railway station.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the coppers to stop and search anyone in a specific area.  Before this law was introduced they could only stop and search individuals if they had “reasonable grounds” and certain criteria were met. This is no longer necessary, and in recent years we’ve seen these anti-teror powers used against anti-war, anti-climate change, and anti-capitalist protestors.

Human Rights group Liberty still insist that, “the power to stop and search under anti-terrorism powers should only be used when there is evidence of a specific terrorist threat”. But cops yesterday revealed the searches in Cardiff were not led by specific intelligence about a threat, and were instead a “routine” operation.

Sergeant Alan Muggleton from British Transport Police said:

“These operations are carried out as a matter of routine to make the railways as difficult a target for terrorist activity as possible. We hope that, as well as disrupting and deterring possible terrorist activity, it will also provide visible reassurance to the travelling public that the police are being vigilant for their safety.”

A spokeswoman from British Transport Police underlined that this was not linked to any credible threat:

“This is not intelligence-led and there is no reason to believe these areas are more at risk from terrorism than anywhere else. This is a routine operation the like of which British Transport Police carries out at various locations. It aims to disrupt and deter potential terrorist activity and we assure the public are being active in ensuring their safety.”

Just to translate from cop-ese into English: “There’s no specific terrorist threat in Cardiff, but we’re going to patrol your streets with guns and search people’s bags at random anyway, and there’s nothing you can do about it”.

We see the use of ever more draconian surveillance techniques as an invasion on our personal freedoms, and a blatant attempt to use an ill-defined yet seemingly ever-present “terrorist threat” as an excuse for the state to infringe on our everyday lives in ever more invasive ways. The fact that they are done at random lends weight to this idea.

But even if you don’t share this belief, anyone can see that sporadic random searches like this in different cities accross the country are a singularly stupid way of trying to stop terrorism on the railways. Looking for terrorists at random in a crowd of commuters is at best like looking for a needle in a haystack, and at worst will end up with ignorant rozzers stopping disproportionately high numbers of young Asian men and further alienating this group (something the Islamic Human Rights Commission are clearly worried about). And surely if a terrorist wants to blo up a train they aren’t going to try and do it in plain sight of armed police. They are far more likely to target a quiet secluded spot somewhere along the 1000s of miles of virtually unguarded track that lies outside the heavilly poiced metropolitan areas.

St Athan Slaughter School Plans Unravel

rhodri-morgan-celebrating

Here's to more death and destruction!

Two years ago Westminster politicians, Ministry of Defence top brass and their cronies in big business were slapping each other on the back about a new military training academy in St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan. In Wales first Minister Rhodri Morgan popped the champagne corks on the Senedd steps and the Welsh media crowed about a £14 billion contract and around 6,000 new ‘high-quality’ jobs.

It’s taken a while, but the plan is now unravelling as it becomes clear it’ll be a complete failure.

South Wales anarchists have been saying this all along, of course. The deal would mean the privatisation of military training. The power to train soldiers, navy and airmen and women would be handed to a bunch of dodgy arms dealers who make up the Metrix Consortium; companies like Raytheon, who manufacture cluster bombs which kill thousands of civilians.

We talked to the unions representing those who train the army and found out most of the instructors were against it, too. They didn’t want to move to St Athan, and they didn’t want to work for private companies.

Researchers looked at the jobs claims and found out that the 6,000 figure was pie in the sky – most of the ‘new’ jobs would be relocated from other parts of the UK and the small number left over for locals would be low-skilled service jobs such as cooking and cleaning up after trainees.

We went to the Vale and talked to residents and found out there’d been no proper consultation and that hardly anyone had any idea of the scale of the new academy. They had no idea that St Athan would be turned into a massive garrison town through which every new member of the UK’s armed forces would pass.

Slowly, everyone else seems to be catching up with us! A string of setbacks has meant that the project looks in danger of going under. The lucrative ‘phase 2′ of the project was scrapped much to the annoyance of its supporters. Staff at the Open University,  who are involved with the consortium of ‘defence firms’ behind the project, have started to complain about consorting with such scum. The scheme is running over budget with the price rising from £11bn to £12bn and senior MOD officials have joined opposition in the rank and file, one senior general describing it as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. A top air force officer complained that allowing companies to profit from military training would lead to cost-cutting and would put UK forces in danger. Tory MP Mark Pritchard has said that moving training from RAF Cosford to St Athan ‘would put frontline operations at risk‘ and others have questioned how realistic the plans are. And, most damaging, the MOD’s senior defence training review board has voiced serious concerns about the viability of the plans, suggesting it is not affordable, and it poses ‘intolerable’ risks.

This time, we actually quite like saying ‘we told you so’!

LORD OF EXTORTION?

 

Lord Marcher of Trellech aka Mark Roberts aka Mark Andrew Tudor of Friar's Point, Barry Island; owner of Tacticall Radio Hire of Trecader Court, Barry, or would that be 11 Wayne Street, Trehafod?

Lord Marcher of Trellech aka Mark Roberts aka Mark Andrew Tudor of Friar's Point, Barry Island; owner of Tacticall Radio Hire, Trecader Court, Barry or would that be 11, Wayne Street, Trehafod?

 

Who thinks this man is fit to be a councillor?

 
Not Glenys Phillips, an 86 year-old disabled widow living in Ferndale, Rhondda, that’s for sure. Mr Roberts bought up the freehold property of her home for £6,350 three years ago without her knowledge and is now demanding up to £20,000 for the leasehold of the house she’s been living in for 60 years. Mrs Phillips will just have to go on worrying about being evicted while the case is considered by the leasehold tribunal. That can take 18 months!

Julie Foster and others living in Peterstone Wentlooge, near Newport, may not be overjoyed to have Roberts ‘lording’ it over them either. Over the years Roberts has bought up 60 manorial titles, including that of Romney, which covers common land in and around Peterstone. Having paid £10,000 for the hereditary title at an auction, Roberts then sent letters to the residents, demanding sums of up to £45,000 in return for access to their homes across paths and verges – access they’ve enjoyed freely all their lives! The letter threatened litigation if villagers didn’t cough up immediately. Housing officer Ruth Winstanley faced an £18,000 bill.

“I was flabbergasted when I received the letter demanding I pay for the right to park my car in my own drive, I’ve never heard of such an outrageous thing in my life.”

Julie Foster and her neighbours paid out £100,000 before the legal loophole was closed and Roberts handed a hefty bill for legal costs. A resident of Alstonefield, a village in the Peak District where Roberts tried a similar scam said:

“This is the 21st century and we feel trapped, prisoners on our own land.”

The fishermen of West Wales certainly wouldn’t consider Roberts fit to be their councillor after he tried to establish title to half the coastline of Pembrokeshire and exclusive fishing rights! Who’s to say what fishermen would have been asked to pay? Fortunately, Roberts lost this case as well and earlier this year was handed another bill for hundreds of thousands of pounds, which may explain why he’s now targeting vulnerable people like Mrs Phillips.

Plaid Cymru, however, would be only too pleased to see Mr Roberts, dubbed the ‘lord of extortion’ by the press, in a position of authority. In fact, such is Plaid Cymru’s conviction of Mr Roberts’ integrity and of his commitment to civic duty and social justice, that they backed him as the Plaid Cymru candidate in not one, but two council elections in St Athan in 2004 and Buttrills in the Vale of Glamorgan in 2008, where he finished a respectable 4th out of 6 candidates. Watch out for Mr Roberts at the next Welsh Assembly elections! A bright future as housing minister may be in the offing. Homeowners, check your leases now!

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