_ Closer to the
Be honest now: did you hook up to Manhattan Cable for the chance to glimpse the lives of ordinary people not normally seen on television, or the chance to glimpse Laurie Pike?
The producers of a new access television project hope it wasn’t the Pike factor that made the late-night collage of New York’s open channel a cult hit. They’re planning a British. celebrity-free equivalent for early next year, which will test the water for access television on Channel 4 and give wannabe programme makers the chance to grab up to two minutes of video fame.
Takeover TV, produced by the company that made Manhattan Cable. will be a series of eight programmes, each screening around 30 clips of videos sent in by the public. The objective is fast-cut entertainment for post-pubbers with many videos likely to be spoofs of movie genres, people doing weird things (a tape ofa man doing an impression of Loyd Grossrnan with his bottom has already been received) and other oddities. But behind the malarkey is a fairly radical idea: throwing open the airwaves tojust about anybody, obscenity laws not withstanding.
‘The idea that ordinary people should have access to the airwaves is anathema in the UK,’ says co-producer Fenton
Bailey. ‘Television made by ordinary people is a refreshing alternative. You couldn’t do it ten years ago but camcorders have put the means of production into people’s hands.‘
Switch over to the other channel, BBCZ’s Video Nation has gone some way to opening up the airwaves. albeit in a rather more disciplined way. For the new series which begins this month, over 50 people. chosen to give an approximate demographic spread of Britons, were given basic training in operating a camcorder and advice on the required ‘video diary’ style. But with less emphasis on wackiness, Video Nation may come closer to representing ‘ordinary people’.
‘There’s no question that camcorders
Flushed with success: Takeover TV contribution by Adam Buxton
are transforming television,’ says producer Mandy Rose. ‘What’s happening is the structural equivalent to 60s documentary-making when there was a radical new feeling that you could get close to people’s lives. What's happening now is the next wave of that. with the notion that there is a truth, and the BBC presides over it, constantly being questioned and challenged.’ (Eddie Gibb)
Uncut. a series of longer. unedited pieces by Video Nation contributors starts on Sat 5 Nov; Video Nation Weekly isfrom Sun 6 Nov. Send tapes (VHS. S-VHS, Hi8 or VHS-C)for Takeover TV to: World of Wonder. 2 Tunstall Road, London SW9 SBN. or t‘alll 07/ 737 2222for details.
_ Diver'sron tactics
The future of the proposed Ayr Road Route through Glasgow’s Pollok Estate could be in doubt if an environmental group succeeds in taking on the might of Strathclyde Regional Council — all the way to the European courts.
Friends of the Earth Scotland hopes to raise enough money to seek a court lnterdict against the council, delaying its plans to award a £51 million building contract for the controversial M77. The environmental pressure group needs £3000 to pursue the lnterdict which if granted, could delay road building by up to six weeks.
FoE Scotland believes the council has broken European legislation by failing to carry out a full environmental impact assessment. A European directive which came into force on 3 July 1988, requires an assessment to take place before development consent can be granted. FoE Scotland claims this requirement applies retrospectively to applications still under consideration when the legislation came Into force.
‘Europe has given us an indication of their view, which we think means that road is definitely in breach of the EC dlrectlve,’ says FoE Scotland researcher Dr Richard Dixon. ‘We have been advised by our lawyer we have quite a good case and he would like to
take it to a Queen’s Counsel. The only thing stopping us is a shortage of money.’
if granted, an lnterdict would force the region to stop construction work until the matter was reviewed properly, says Dr Dixon. He hopes the subsequent delay would give the European Commission time to consider whether to intervene.
Strathclyde Regional Council defends the procedure it followed before :pennission was granted by the Secretary of State and insists the next stage of road building will start in December. ‘We conducted an environmental impact assessment off our own bats,’ says council spokesman Tom Harris. ‘The European legislation did not exist at that time and we followed all the procedures. We were then given the approval of the Secretary of State, who i believe is
probably kept abreast of European legislation matters.’
However, Lindsay Keenan of Glasgow Earth First! voices fears shared by an alliance of environmental groups — Stop the Ayr Road Route. ‘We’re getting a motorway which doesn’t have a full environmental impact assessment in a very sensitive area, going through Pollok Estate, destroying green belt, adding pollution to already polluted and deprived housing estates.
‘Everything in 1994 suggests you should not go ahead and build more motorways.’
Responding to growing pubiic concern about the M77’s environmental implications, the liational Trust for Scotland (MS) has joined the opposition. ‘We are asking Strathclyde Regional Council to undertake an assessment of the impact of the road, which hasn’t been done,’ says spokesman Peter Reekie.
The trust was made responsible for conserving Pollok Estate under a 1939 agreement initiated by the then owner Sir John Stirling Maxwell of Pollok. In the 1970s when the Ayr Road Route was first proposed, it agreed to waive the conditions of the agreement so the road could go ahead. ‘There is now greater concern about conservation of the landscape,’ says Reekie. ‘lf such an application was to be made to us now, it would never be granted.’ (Kathleen Morgan and Mark Brown)
Anyone interested in helping the campaign should contact FoE Scotland on 031 554 9977.
I Oppose The Bill The Criminal Justice Bill becomes law on 3 November. but opposition to it continues. The Scottish Alliance Against the CJ B has organised a mass demonstration in Glasgow, from noon in George Square on Sat 5 Nov. After a march through the’city, there will be speakers and bands in George Square. Details on 041 552 1179. Buses from Edinburgh leave Waverley Bridge at 10.30am (£3/£2), details on 031 552 9169.
I Splat VAT on Fuel! The Lothian campaign against VAT on domestic fuel meets on Thurs 9 Nov at 7.30pm at the Unemployed Workers Centre, 103 Broughton Street. Edinburgh. to organise a demonstration on budget day, Tue 29 Nov, when the Chancellor is expected to increase VAT on fuel to 17.5 per cent. All welcome.
I No More Roads! While legal attempts are being made to stop the M77 Ayr Road Route (see story, left), more vocal opposition against proposed roads continues. Earth First! has organised a major demonstration for Thurs 10 Nov in Edinburgh, outside the main entrance to New St Andrews House at 10.30am. The demonstration will highlight opposition to the Ayr route, the proposed second Forth road bridge and possible extension to the M80.
I Nuclear Free Edinburgh CND is holding its Annual General Meeting on Mon 14 Nov at the Peace and Justice Centre, St Johns Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh from 7.30pm. While the ‘cold war’ has gone tepid, CND argues that by acquiring Trident nuclear submarines from the United States, the UK is in breach ofthe nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT is up for renewal in April 1995 and CND says any abuse of the treaty by the nuclear states would mean Third World countries currently without nuclear capability are likely to opt out ofthe NPT. The AGM will be addressed by a speaker from the Faslane Peace Camp. I Nature Conservation The British Association of Nature Conservationists is holding a public meeting at the National Trust for Scotland, 5 Charlotte Square. Edinburgh on Wed 16 Nov at 7.30pm. John Forbes ofthe Midlothian Enterprise Trust will talk about the role of local enterprise trusts in bridging the gap between business and nature conservation. £2.
l Sleeping Rough The Rock Trust is organising a sleep-out to highlight the plight ofthe homeless on Fri 2 Dec. To take part or help with the Edinburgh sleep-out. contact the Trust on 031 557 4059. The Rock Trust Bedrock project provides supported accommodation for people aged between 16 and 21 years who would otherwise be homeless. Other sleep-outs are likely to be organised around the country. For details, or if you can organise one in your own town, contact the National Trust for the Homeless on 021 454 6950.
I if you have news of any events or courses which you want publicised in this column, please forward them to ‘Actlon’ at The list, 14 High Street, Edinburgh Elli HE and include a day- time phone number.
The List 4—17 November 1994 5