How strange. How very strange and sad. I just watched the local news and heard the shocking story that the founder of the Community Garden Project on Lewes Road, Brighton, has been found brutally stabbed to death at his home. Police say that 'a man in London has been arrested', who the victim, Gordon Stalker, 'might have known'.
The Argus, Brighton's local newspaper, on the other hand, have not reported, as yet, Gordon Stalker's role in the Community Garden Project which has attracted much attention in Brighton. Like London Road, Lewes Road is a bit grim. A group of 'guerilla' gardeners took over the derelict property, a forecourt of a disused petrol station which had become a derelict eyesore and turned it into a rather pretty community garden, loved by the local community and maintained by volunteers from Brighton. Okay, they are 'anarchists', but they are the kind of anarchists who you could take to see your Grandma and do her garden, probably for free.
So far, so Brighton. But here it gets murkier and darker. Gordon Stalker's role as founder of this Community Garden project has not attracted the attention of The Argus. They have also not reported his spearheading of the 'Say No to Tesco' campaign to have their efforts to build a new store on the very site that the gardeners have beautified, stopped in its tracks. The Argus have reported the story, which should really be headlined, 'Lewes Road Community Garden Project Founder Murdered', as this...
A man has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing a Brighton man to death. Detectives are today interviewing a 40-year old man who was arrested in London late last night.
The 40-year-old suspect is being questioned in connection with the death of Gordon Stalker, who was stabbed to death at his home in Elm Grove on Monday. Mr Stalker, 51, of Elm Grove, was found dead in the hallway of the address where he had lived for 16 years. A post mortem found he died as a result of multiple stab wounds to his chest and side.
That was this morning. Obviously, this is a big story, so it needed updating later in the day. After all, a pillar of the community of Lewes Road has been murdered. His community gardening project had attracted much local fame and publicity. What follows from The Argus, this evening, is this piece of impressive investigative journalism.
The family of murder victim Gordon Stalker thanked his friends for their tributes tonight. The 51-year-old died after he was stabbed several times at his home in Elm Grove, Brighton, on Monday.
A 40-year-old man was arrested last night and is being questioned over his death. A statement from Mr Stalker's family, released tonight, said: "Gordon was a much-loved son, brother and uncle.
"He spent his younger years with his family in Cumbria, before making his home in Brighton. Gordon was a popular, fun-loving man with many friends in the Brighton area. He loved his work in electronics, an interest he shared with his Dad. He will be greatly missed by the whole family, and also by his friends down in Brighton. We would like to thank all Gordon’s friends for their kind words and tribute messages that have been left on his Facebook account. This is obviously a very difficult time for us, and the circumstances of Gordon’s death are very difficult for us to understand."
May I offer my condolences and sympathy to the family of this inspiring man. I am sure, however, that they will forgive me when I say that he wasn't just a 'guy into electronics'. He was a leading member of the campaign against Tesco in Lewes Road and their bid to rob him and his friends of land they had made into a community garden. And, guess what? It appears that they already had.
On Tuesday 24th November 2009, The Argus reported that,
'Residents have reacted angrily to news a Tesco convenience store could replace a garden built by residents on a derelict petrol station. Rumours have circulated that the supermarket giant will move into a unit in a complex of two shops and seven flats due to be built at the site of the Lewes Road Community Garden, a former Esso at the corner of Lewes Road and Edinburgh Road [...] However Tesco yesterday refused to confirm or deny the rumours while the site's owners, Alburn Minos Development Ltd, have insisted no contracts have been signed for the units they will build, although they said they expect one to be a convenience store.'
Alburn Minos Developments Ltd are another one of those companies with no website or phone number. According to the Council, their contact address is 'c/o GMK Associates', whoever they are. Click here for a google image of their plush residence in Belfast and have a scroll around. Anyhow, I digress. Yet only four days previously, on 20th November 2009, the same publication had reported that...
'Belfast-based Alburn Minos Development Ltd has planning permission to build two ground floor shops and seven first and second floor apartments and has signalled its intention to start work.'
Hmm...Mis-reporting rife in The Argus? Or press releases getting out a little too early? Rough Music, a local free community 4-page newspaper, reported very recently in their most recent issue...
'Having got wind of the rumour that Tesco was the supermarket involved, one canny guerilla gardener phoned the company to ask if any jobs were coming up, to be told - yep, on Lewes Road. '
Murdered: Gordon Stalker, Founder of Lewes Road Community Garden Project. Rest in Peace.
Who gives companies planning permission? That's right, Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Department, who clearly gave the all clear to this firm, without too much consultation.
Let us be honest here. One of these two publications, out of Rough Music and The Argus, is a publication interested in the community of Brighton and Hove. One of them, most certainly, is not. I'm not saying, of course, that Gordon Stalker was killed by a hitman hired by Tesco. Such a wild accusation would be unfounded. I'm just saying that something doesn't feel right about his mysterious murder and The Argus are not reporting the full story on the horrendous killing of a man who stood up against a big corporation whose greed, as we all know, knows no bounds.
You can sign a petition against this new Tesco development here. Whoever killed Gordon Stalker, I think we can be safe in saying that the 'Say No to Tesco on the Lewes Road' campaign will have been left shaken by this murder and may even be fearful in considering their continued opposition to the food giant to whom 'no' is just not an acceptable answer. For those town planners amongst you, here is the planning decision by the Council in full.