Sunday, July 10, 2016


Paul Little: Nimbies battle flight of fancy

The long read - Janette Miller

This Sunday Paul Little an independent columnist with The Herald on Sunday wrote an article about the residents of Northcote Point and their battle with SkyPath entitled Nimbies battle flight of Fancy  which is about the only part of the article he got right. The link is there so you can read it for yourselves. He was particularly scathing about me and  my voice and completely wrong.

In the past it was easy for columnists in the Herald to destroy a project or person because it was the only show in town. Now it is not.

It is fashionable on Sundays in the world media to have a Long Read so I thought in the interests of fair play, and I feel sure Paul Little will want to be fair, his article has become the topic for my first Long Read. It is usual to introduce Paul Little so that readers can get to know him and where he is coming from  so here is his Linkedin profile and an article by Whale Oil  Paul Little Blithering idiot for reference. It is easy to ascertain that Paul Little is in favour of SkyPath and sometimes the Herald runs sponsored articles but I shall give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Paul Little is passionate about SkyPath. He can see no problems at all except for people like me  or The Northcote Resident Association who point out a few issues that might just spoil his dream. For them he shows no mercy and of course the NRA cannot hit back.

As this is a Long Read, I intend  to publish it again in sections so I can elaborate in more detail exactly what Paul Little got wrong and why he is misleading. One has to trust a paper's reporters and they must get the facts right. Paul Little has not. Then one has to trust that that the reporter is not prone to discrimination of any kind if he/she shows any discrimination to one person in an article then he is likely to do it to others. Just living in an area, or having a different type of voice is no reason why these people should not be taken seriously. Is Paul Little biased? Does he give the other point of view? Does he make fun of people because he does not appreciate their voices? If in doubt it may be time to change your paper.

So to begin - The easiest way is to publish the letter with all the links that I wrote to Paul Little who has no idea who I am except that I have IT skills above the average for my age, he is right about that, I have a posh voice, which appears to get up his nose and I care enough about the safety on SkyPath to do something about it enough to make a video. He did not add a link to this video so I have placed What Bike The Bridge did Right - a lesson in crowd management at the top of this blog.

The  Long Read for Sunday Herald reporters.

Dear Paul Little

Regarding the inaccuracies in above article I really do not know where to start!  Good balanced accurate reporting it was not! So here is some ref information for your next article.

My name is Janette Miller.
I reverted to Miller after my husband  a Heffernan died because I got so much racist abuse and an assault for being thought to be Southern Irish because of my name! I am English/Scots.

Here is my live CV 

BBC Monitor  Britten Noyes Fludde  Aldeburgh featuring Janette Miller and Michael Crawford 1958

This  CV was made shortly before I caught Clostridium Difficile  or gangrene of the stomach.

My  web site is Janette so you can see what my company produces. The Bookbinding series  Bookbinding with Peter Goodwin on DVD made a few years ago is still an Amazon Best seller.

Anyone on Northcote Point is NIMBY

Just because the residents of Northcote Point wish to object to SkyPath does not make them NIMBIES. They live here and they are aware of the problems. The size of the crowds is going to be a problem. The image shows about 1,000 cyclists, there was another 1,000 stretching back to Smales Farm.

I live near to a 400 seater theatre, a 50 seat restaurant, a 50 seat cafe, a 100 seat Senior Citizens Rooms and an antique shop. During one period on Northcote Point, I lived near to Junk and Disorderly, a junk yard and I have lived happily on Northcote Point for 43 years. Never had a park outside in years! NIMBY? I don’t think so.

I made and narrated  What Bike the Bridge did Right  as evidence to show the Mediation Court, that even 2,000 is too much to host at Northcote Point without serious crowd management. I stand by every frame of the footage. I am an independent and solely interested in safety aspects of this project. Whatever Paul Little says these problems will not magically disappear if the NRA cannot continue with the appeal and will have to be faced by someone in the future.

The Minister of Transport Simon Bridges and NZTA are aware of the safety problems of Northcote Point. At the invitation of the Minister I was invited to a formal on the record interview which was not in confidence at NZTA where I was assured that SkyPath would not be built unless it was safe. I was very impressed with their understanding of the problem and I was totally reassured  that this will be done, even though it may mean SkyPath although desired may not be built. 

I asked if I should stop publicly campaigning on the safety issue and was told they had no objection to me continuing as at present  they could say little to get this point across officially. Anything that could be done to inform the public of this problem would be welcomed. 

There is no doubt that Northcote Point is not able to become a major transport hub simply because there is no room for the infrastructure required. That is a fact. It cannot be changed unless huge earthworks and demolition of the Point is undertaken. The residents of Northcote Point know this and so does the Minister and NZTA but the media coverage by the cycle lobby has ensured the NRA is pilloried for the greater good. On the whole the general public has no idea of the major problems of hosting SkyPath at Northcote Point under the present design and accommodating the numbers required to make it commercially viable. The public think it is OK  as the media constantly refers to them as Nimbies and the residents are making a fuss just because the residents peace and quiet will be removed. If a resident is interviewed the article is usually hostile. 

This video was made as evidence for the Mediation Court that had to take place before the Environment Court proceedings. It shows clearly 2,000/3,000 cyclists cycling over the Bridge. However it does not show 2,000 cyclists on the Bridge at the same time as SkyPath proposes as the cyclists had evened out before they got there and of course no pedestrians and two way traffic. This was a simple one way run.

Cyclists take up a lot of room and they go fast. The video  also shows which the design animation does not the camber/gradient on the bridge which is flattened by the animation. Although SkyPath allows  use of SkyPath's images in public by crediting Reset Urban design I chose in fairness not to use any of the images in public against SkyPath  but the one below I shall use and credit  below as this is in the public interest.

You can see it is very different and deceptive as it makes the SkyPath look flat. It isn't. SkyPath is a 1.2 k enclosed tunnel just 4.5 m wide( 6.5m in a few places to allow people to stand and look).  I am told the speeds a cyclist can reach on the downhill run are 50+ kph! The first child that is hit or even a small pile up of bikes that can block the enclosed tunnel are  problems that have to be faced. Saying one can reduce speeds is not an answer because we know with visual evidence that on many flat open bridges with  pedestrians in the way cyclists speed. SkyPath is enclosed and that is the big difference. Cyclists are good at ignoring instructions and take risks. It is what cyclists do! If you want a sensible discussion on the safety aspects I am happy to give them to you. This is just one on the Bridge, there are other issues for Northcote Point!


Paul Little takes exception to my voice. 

Paul Little did not mention me by name but he did say incorrectly that is was made for the Northcote’s Residents Association. It was not. I do not belong to that association. In fact I removed the video from the site.

The effect of this  would be classed racist if I exchanged one or two words for opponents. It  is like saying: 

These black people aren't a fusty old bunch of dinosaurs!

 ( These black people are smart not like the usual ones!)

The black people were clever enough to even make a Video on YouTube.

 (WOW! These black people  who we thought were rich and stupid were clever enough to make a video that is the evidence to prove them right to protest!  It was so dangerous to our cause that we are not going to embarrass them by showing it)  

It voiced by a narrator with an unacceptable black accent that is so unacceptable even for her own black community!

( People with voices like that are not to be believed)
Paul Little did not mention me by name but the effect is the same. It is me! It could not be anyone else. My name is on the Janette Miller YouTube Channel. The article is implying that because my accent is unacceptable then I must be unacceptable even to my own community and my word not to be trusted. I find this deeply offensive and cruel. By smearing the messenger you reject the message. If this was the 16 century I should be burnt as a witch by now and I am not joking. Making fun of me for raising a serious issue is unacceptable.

I cannot help it if I speak proper! I speak the regular BBC received English. I am considered  by many to have one of the best voices on YouTube  and I made a living in UK doing voice overs. 

Obviously I do not do this in NZ. It is a NZ accent that is wanted and I don't do Kiwi! Many in UK find the NZ accent funny too but would be too polite to say so.  I am allowed to speak as I like, after years it is hard to change and it could be considered discriminatory to dismiss the contents of my film just because of my voice. If you attacking my voice, you attack the contents by association.

My cousin who lived in Woodford Green has what is called an Estuary Accent which she hated but her schoolfriend Helen Mirren has the same accent as I do and is still acceptable to The Royal Shakespeare Company today. I should not have to defend my accent.  

Paul Little imagines that I must be a middle class, rich unpleasant person who is just interested in herself. Well, appearances are deceptive.  Yes I am middle class, I married an Oxford educated GP, my working class accent would not go down to well in Oxford even now. It would be tolerated though. Marrying an Oxford man is quite special, not too many of them so I must be quite something. They have the pick of everyone and only go for the best. Why? Because I am intelligent and nice. I care about people. I care about safety.

Actually my family come from the slums of Manchester and Glasgow. I was brought up by my working class grandfather who was the son of man who made coal wagons for the railways in Manchester, rather like living Coronation St in 1900. My grandfather Henry Thorpe was brilliant, He went to night school, passed civil service exams and eventually went on the manage Wembley Stadium for 40 years. He gave the world the FA Cup and the Olympic Games and he managed crowds. I was brought with the crowds, my grandfather brought me up while my own father was in  the War. He taught everyone in Wembley Stadium to respect crowds as he had had two occasions where but for luck there could have been 2 horrific disasters, You can look them up on Google. One was the first FA Cup and the second the Zeppelin of 1929. He had a large framed photo of that incident on the wall of his office to remind everyone to keep safety in mind.

When I bought on Northcote Point in 1975 nobody wanted to live here. Now they do. I can see why people want to live here. It is wonderful so why ruin it by overcrowding. Yes I do have a valuable house but only because I did not pull it down. In 1975 I was told to pull it down in the name of progress. I was right  to keep it.

SkyPath should limit numbers or give the cyclists a lane on the Bridge now. It could be done today with a couple of traffic cones!  

You might me interested to know my background. Here is my amazing grandmother born in a slum raised to a Lady.

Road beside mainline railway in Manchester where Henry Thorpe and his family lived in a two up two down cottage

The Northcote Resident Association

I do not belong to the Northcote Residents Association but I did allow them to use my video for their Give a Little Appeal. I did give them a donation and I am happy to do so. They deserve a chance to put their case across in a NZ court with real judges not laymen. I have found NZ Justice to be fair and just. NRA does have a genuine case and it should be heard.

The What Bike the Bridge did Right  video does not form part of the NRA Environment Court Case at all and will not be presented in evidence. I could not afford to join this appeal so the safety aspects of SkyPath will not be considered there although SkyPath again gives the impression that they will. Safety is considered later but safety will be considered. However the video does show visually that Northcote Point will have  problems in managing the crowds that will use it. The video is on YouTube and anyone can use it via a link. Both the NZ Herald and Stuff did this and so can NRA.

Bike the Bridge management obviously thought differently. I learned later that they did not want to be associated with this appeal and felt that even though the video is full of praise for the management of their event, which I think is exemplary, they had it taken down themselves saying they owned the video which of course they don’t. Give a Little would not give me the name but being pressed told me it was Bike the Bridge.

When  I went to my YouTube page I found out who it was as Callum McNair  owner of Bike the Bridge had left a very offensive comment which I felt I had to remove. I then wrote to him on his FB page asking him to contact me which he has failed to do because he does not check his FB messages. I waited for days for his call.

Instead of getting in touch with me he contacted Amelia Wade of the NZ Herald and she explained the situation and after thinking about it I could see his point  and so although it was not necessary for me to do so  in the interests of fair play I instructed the NRA to remove the video from that page of the Give a Little site.

I need not have bothered. The media still reported that I had made the video for the NRA. Stuff slightly changed there story but the Herald has not. 

Again I have nothing to do with the NRA. I do not belong but my video is being used against them as if I did. It seems that fair play is only allowed on one side. 

Again with or without an appeal to the Environment Court the safety management issue of crowds descending on Northcote Point will not go away and will have to be addressed.

Len Brown's vanity Legacy project and the 11,000 submission from all over the world

Big public support for Sky Path says Len Brown.

Len Brown knows that once the Resource Consent is obtained then even if the opposition has serious reasons for objection  it is virtually impossible to take an appeal to the Environment Court. Law costs money, that is why there are rich lawyers. It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and until NZTA gives the go ahead no one knows if it can be built or managed safely.

Because SkyPath won the resource consent it is fully funded for the Environment Court by lawyers paid for by The Auckland City Council via the Ratepayers of Auckland. Only in the Resource Court can ordinary people speak for themselves. Once it goes to a real court expensive lawyers are required.

Those that wish to appeal any appalling judgment must pay a barrister. If they cannot pay, the appalling judgment wins. It is not that the SkyPath is correct it is just the other side hasn’t enough money to pay the court expenses. That is how appalling judgments in the Resource Consent get through. It is all done by which side gets to chose the resource commissioners.

In this case Len Brown said publicly he needs to do everything to ensure SkyPath wins and he has and still does. Len Brown with a majority on the Council got to chose the Independent Commissioners who are paid by the council and he said he needed decision makers who would do what they a required to do. They did!

The judge,  in the pre trial last public judgment, said he felt the commissioners had been “hasty” and The Northcote Residents Association should not have to fight a case before it was known if SkyPath could be built.

Again I do support NRA's  right to go to court and the lack of their being able to go does not prove they are wrong only that they cannot afford it and Len Brown can!

As for the 11,000 in favour. Well when it came to the submissions to the  Resource Court this came down to around 3,500 in favour. It is a lot but not the 11,000 in favour that were used  and still are to justify SkyPath. These figures can be obtained off the council web site.

 Video evidence  to prevent disaster

Lastly is it wrong to show people evidence that they might find upsetting? Even the Table of Major Stampedes above is upsetting.  People think stampedes/panics/crushes are unusual and never happen or they happen to others but they do happen. The Hajj  had approx 1,600 dead this year not the 2,000 as stated by Paul Little. It happens every few years as the authorities never learn. See above 1420 crushed in 1990!

The  official concentration camp film in 1946 was considered too difficult to show even in a court of law because it might upset! The Allies said it had to be shown because it was so horrific that no one would believe it if he/she didn’t see it. It happens all the time, disasters that could have been avoided are not shown because people are upset.

The first video I made which is not publicly available was for the Resource Consent Court as I wanted to show the results that can happen when bridges first open. There were 347 dead and 755 injured, and I am not going to show you the footage. 347 dead sort of trips off the tongue like 2,000 cyclists, I did show  the cyclists and it is a lot.

However this week a brave woman had the guts and  ability to show the world what happened when the police killed her boyfriend when stopped and asked for his license. I am not going to show you that either. But Google it and look. The video shows graphically the horror that this woman lived through. Video evidence does make a difference.

I showed mine in court where the commissioners are supposed to be adults. Three found it uncomfortable. One wished to have the evidence stopped.  I told her to look. They asked no questions, they dismissed the evidence and yet a panic on this project is very possible. Smoke wafting down from a car fire on the Bridge, there was one last year, is very real. Asians are known by research not to panic. They are very calm under stress but all children can with smoke, bikes, children and only 2 exits one maybe a kilometre away and a panic is very likely.  I cannot show you this. You will have to imagine it. But is has to be considered and actioned. At the moment it is considered by the public, if not NZTA who do know and will do something when they can, as irrelevant  until  one child is badly injured then the question will be asked why did someone not foresee this and who is responsible now for this oversight.

Paul Little cannot win it appears even with gangrene!

I was nearly killed by Clostridium Difficile or gangrene of the stomach and had to give up all thought of work and struggle for my life. The drugs given to me were horrific. To make fun of gangrene to those who have suffered from it is despicable but then Paul Little likes to create conflict. Bad luck Paul Little chose gangrene as an example!

So there we are! The Long Read reply to Paul Little but I shall add further blogs on each topic and I might even re voice over the video with my working class accent to see if he prefers that. Very easy for me to do! I was brought up in Wembley!

Sadly this is no laughing matter. SkyPath is deadly serious. It is a dream and sometimes dreams become nightmares. One thing is certain if SkyPath is built it will be safe. I asked NZTA what was the acceptable death toll for the greater good and NZTA quickly said not one and I believe them.

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