Wakefield MAG February 2010 Newsletter

Dear Wakefield MAG member,

Welcome to the Wakefield MAG e-newsletter. If you canít attend our Wednesday meetings regularly, itís the next best thing to keep you up to date with what we are up to.


1) Wakefield & District MAG Annual General Meeting
2) Post Christmas Auction
3) Riders are Voters 2010
4) Wakefield MAG is going to the dogs
5) Pet Food Run
6) New MAG Groups
7) Sussex Police & Hi-Viz Clothing
8) Road Tax to rise
9) Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards 2009
10) Fred Hill Run - Sunday 21st February
11) Forthcoming Events (for February and beyond)
Fred Hill Obituary

1) Wakefield & District MAG Annual General Meeting

The branch held itís 8th Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 13th January 2010 at the Grey Horse. †We had a most impressive turnout of 20 Wakefield branch members, all the more notable given that the weather was absolutely terrible (snow and icy roads). †The Yorkshire Region Rep had to send apologies as he was snowbound in Huddersfield and couldn't get through. †We quickly checked the MAG constitution to see whether the proceedings would be legitimate without a regional observer, but we were OK, as local group AGM's do not necessarily need a Regional observer (although it is a recommended best practice). †We took an initial vote to check with the meeting attendees whether we wanted to postpone the AGM, but it was a unanimous decision to 'crack on'.

The reps report of our branches activities took an age, as we have packed a truly enormous amount of activities into the year, including 11 ride-outs, 3 demo runs, numerous social events (both our own and supporting other branches), hosting a number of our own events (auction, bike show, treasure hunt, quiz), numerous rallies attended and marshalled, and lots lots more.

Finance wise, we have had our most successful year in the history of the branch, donating £1,400 to the MAG fighting fund over the course of the year (Wakefield are the biggest fund-raising group in the region, who don't run their own rally). †Our revised raffle format, introduced early last year to raise extra funds, has proved to be hugely lucrative, raising £1,102 (against costs of £170), more than doubling what 2008's raffle raised. †The Branch finances were looking very healthy so we voted to make a further sizeable donation of £250 to the MAG fighting fund, at the next Yorkshire MAG Region meeting.

Our new branch committee for 2010 was voted in, and this is:

With virtually the same committee as last year, it bodes extremely well for yet another successful year for the branch. †A huge thanks to our outgoing (in more ways than one) committee members - Ian, Lorna, Sue & Corinne, who have given absolutely sterling service over the past few years and thoroughly deserve their well earned break.

Our branch heroes for 2009 were:

We discussed and agreed our branch activities and development plan for 2010, and we have lots planned for this year (more updates to follow).

The full AGM minutes will be published on this website shortly (i.e. when they have been written up !!!).

A huge thanks to everyone who struggled through the snow to attend the AGM, 75 branch points duly awarded and well earned !!!!

2) Post Christmas Auction

We held our 6th Post Christmas Auction on Wednesday 27th January at the Grey Horse and what an auction it truly was. We were happy to welcome along members of Leeds, York & Barnsley MAG branches, together with our auction regulars, from Wakefield and further afield (familiar faces, who turn up every year just for the auction, some of whom are not even bikers, but happy to support us and bag that bargain !!!).

We had less items donated this year, but everyone agreed, what was lacking in quantity was more than made up for in quality. Not that there wasn't much for sale Ė we had hundreds of items on the table and the quality, was absolutely unbelievable. For biking gear, you could have completely kitted yourself out with gloves, boots, trousers (leather and textile), jackets (again, leather and textile), heated vests, lids and a whole host of water proofs, in various ages (new & nearly new to well worn) and sizes to fit all, right from child to multiple adult sizes. Bike accessories included screens, multiple tank bags and tail packs, rucksacks, intercoms (pillion and bike to bike) and spares (set of brake pads for a Buell Lightening anyone ?)

Lots of household goods (kitchen ware, chandelier, pictures, ornaments, electricals and bathroom accessories), smellies, beauty products, chocolates, beer, clothing, books, CD's, DVD's, video's, exercise gear (stepper and skipping rope, ideal for the new years resolution !!!), car accessories, cuddly toys, and the list just goes on and on and on.

Wakefield MAG members Eddie Johnson & Daz Pearson would have made Flt Lt Hendley proud (the scrounger in the Great Escape) by obtaining hugely generous donations from local dealers and traders (see list below).

The auction started just after 8pm and lasted well over three hours with no breaks. There was particularly frenzied and competitive bidding for a good number of items and Lisa was very pleased indeed with her orgasm key ring (don't ask !!).

Our auctioneers Chas & Martin did a most sterling job, and Chas excelled with his motorcycle related pen joke, which had folks queueing round the block to buy one his 'special' pens !!!

We managed to clear virtually the lot, with only a mere handful of items remaining unsold.

The auction this year raised over £425, which, bearing in mind the bidding on a lot of items started at 50p, is a staggering and truly impressive result !!!! This is pretty much the same as we raised last year, although our raffle also raised over £42, so in total, we did beat last years seemingly unbeatable total.

We advertised a split of the proceeds of 2/3 to MAG and 1/3 to a charitable cause so the MAG fighting fund will be healthier to the tune of several hundred pounds !!!!. We will take a vote at this Wednesday's meeting on how much we round up the total, and to which charitable cause(s) we donate the 1/3 to (one of which will be the Pinderfields Hospital Ward 5 charity, who looked after Wakefield MAG member Daz Pearson after his bike accident last summer). More news on the exact amounts donated in next months newsletter.

Particular thanks have to go out to the following local dealers and traders for their most generous donations:

They are all heroes and thoroughly deserve your business.

We will be holding another Post Christmas Auction in January next year so, hope to see you there.

3) Riders are Voters 2010

MAGís General Election campaign to consult with all political parties and candidates standing for election to Parliament at the next general election (May 6th), is well under way.

The major parties have started to roll out their manifestos, although few of them seem to be making firm commitments just yet.

The ground work MAG has been doing is already bearing fruit with an increasing number of riders coming forward to get involved. By mobilising the UKís riding voters we can boost the number of activists, individual MAG members and MAG groups. With over a million active riders we could start to make a real difference in some key constituencies. Whoever arrives in Westminster to form the next Parliament, they will at least understand whatís on ridersí minds and what is expected of them. In the wake of the expenses scandals and public anger over political standards, the next intake of MPs may well prove a little more attentive to what their electorate say. Both the BMF and MCI are officially working with us to make RAV2010 a success. This should mean we avoid duplicating a lot of effort and that RAV2010 is more effective as a result. It is also clear recognition of the role MAG has played over many years in raising awareness of the importance of motorcycling and the positive contribution it makes.

MAG was invited to Parliament to explain the purpose of RAV2010 in early January and a mailshot to prospective candidates in each constituency will be sent shortly. Talks are ongoing with dealer networks to identify suitable venues to hold local meetings where bikers can quiz parliamentary candidates on their intentions.

With around one-third of all MPs likely to be replaced with new ones next year, this is the best opportunity we have had in years to make a real difference to the way MPs and ministers think about biking.

RAV2010 is for every rider. Every scooter riding commuter needs to hear that we are on their side and care about how they use their machines, as much as Harley or R1 riders.


a) Visit the campaign website (www.ridersarevoters.org) and tell us what are your biggest concerns:

b) Volunteer to actively participate with the RAV2010 campaign. MAG is looking for able/willing volunteers in all geographical areas to contact and solicit answers from prospective parliamentary candidates. This is so that we can ensure blanket constituency coverage for the campaign and ease the burden on the small number of MAG's paid employees (There's no point MAG Central doubling up a work load that volunteers are happy/capable of doing). Full details will be provided together with RAV specific questions and a concise list of candidate's contact details. If you would like to help, let me know and i'll pass your details on, or contact MAG Central directly, via the campaign website (www.ridersarevoters.org)

Get involved, tell your mates !!! Help make RAV2010 the biggest, most effective, political campaign this Century !!!!

For all the latest info, go to www.ridersarevoters.org or search for the 'Riders Are Voters' page at www.facebook.com.

4) Wakefield MAG is going to the dogs

Wakefield MAG is going to the dogs (literally !!!!) ......... at Kinsley Greyhound Stadium, on Friday 19th February. Thirty Five of us are now booked, including our very good friends from Barnsley, York MAG and Huddersfield MAG. The races start at 7.45pm, with the last race at 10.30pm. The bar is open until midnight. We have been asked to arrive by 7:00pm so that we get good seats. The dog racing costs £12, but that includes a meal, a pint and two complimentary betting slips, so it's a bit of a bargain all told, and promises to be a great night out.

There is still time to join us, so if you want to come along, all we need is a £5 deposit (non-refundable) a.s.a.p, to secure your place, and a further £7 on the night.

Hope to see you there.

5) Pet Food Run

As reported in the last Newsletter, we are looking to hold a charity pet food run to deliver dog food and other doggie treats to dog rescues in the Wakefield area. Whitehall Dog Rescue in East Ardsley and Ponderosa in Allerton Bywater are two we are aware of in the Wakefield area, but if you know of others please let us know. Although at the early stage of planning, we are provisionally looking to organise this to coincide with our March rideout. More details as and when we have them, and I hope you will be able to join us (and start collecting those doggy treats in preparation !!!).

6) New MAG Groups

New MAG groups have been popping up all over. Last year saw new MAG groups started in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, South Wales and Northumberland. This year will see, by popular demand, new groups starting in London, Rugby, Towcester, Leicester, Cambridge, Dorchester, Chichester, Winchester, Beachy Head, Bedford, Basildon, Hertford, Inverness, Glasgow & Norwich. Other towns are being added to the list all the time and don't be surprised to see new groups in Yorkshire in the not too distant future.

The growing number of local MAG groups, will play an important role in getting local riders to take an interest and show our voting power cannot be ignored.

7) Sussex Police & Hi-Viz Clothing

You may have heard about a recent initiative by Sussex police concerning Motorcyclists and High Visibility clothing. What follows is a letter from Ian Mutch, Motorcycle Action Group El Presidente to Sussex Police. Bang on target Mr Mutch:

I have read that Sussex police are stopping motorcyclists who are spotted riding without reflective clothing. An article in the weekly 'Motorcycle News' states that police officers are providing advice on the use of reflective items, handing the riders reflective vests which they are urged to wear, and checking their bikes for road-worthiness.

As a body that exists to represent the interests of motorcyclists we are concerned that riders are being stopped on the highway when they are doing nothing wrong and implicitly told that their behaviour falls short of what is deemed appropriate.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is concerned that a tactic whose value in reducing road accidents is unproven, is being promoted in a way that does not appear to reflect the uncertainties and sensitivities that surround this issue.

MAG is uncomfortable with the implicit suggestion that riders are partially to blame when involved in accidents with motorists who claim not to have seen them. MAG has a philosophic commitment to free choice over the clothing style and standards which riders adopt and so we view any attempt to coerce riders into a code of clothing conduct as worrying.

MAG remains sceptical of driversí claims of not seeing motorcyclists. It seems reasonable to speculate that no driver at the scene of a typical intersection accident would admit to seeing a motorcycle but pulling out anyway in the belief that there was enough time to complete the manoeuvre. MAG believes that the issue of Ďunseení motorcycles is more complex than many think. Moreover there is concern that riders who wear reflective kit believe themselves to be more visible to motorists in all circumstances and subconsciously ride less defensively in consequence, sometimes with tragic consequences.

As the road safety debate has evolved to a more sophisticated level, the aspects of human behaviour I have mentioned here are enjoying more serious consideration, certainly the phenomenon of risk compensation is pretty much now universally accepted as axiomatic.

Against this background your initiative, though obviously well motivated, appears conspicuously simplistic and worrying inasmuch as it shifts the onus of responsibility to the riderís detriment. †We would value your comments on these observations and hope that you will take this letter as an invitation to an ongoing dialogue in pursuit of enhanced road safety for all road users.

I wonder in conclusion if you would consider an operation that involves stopping motorists for random roadside eyesight checks? Operation spectacle perhaps?

8) Road Tax to rise

Although 'Vehicle Excise Duty' (Road Tax to you and me), has been frozen again for Mopeds and 125's, bigger bikes will see a hike (again) in April. MAG's position on this is quite clear - We want 0% road tax (VED) on all powered two wheelers due to their congestion busting abilities (both on the road and when parked), the fact they don't damage infrastructure and have a low carbon footprint (to run, manufacture and dispose of at the end of their useful life).

Lobby your current and prospective MP(s) if you too feel strongly about this. MP's contact details are on the Local MAG page. Prospective MP's details can be found on the Riders are Voters website.

9) Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards 2009

Bristol City Council joined Saint-Gobain and Stirling Lloyd in London to collect their Prince Michael International Road Safety Award, after being nominated by the MAG Foundation for their work involving Anti skid covers.† Bristol MAG were instrumental in these covers being trialled and launched in Bristol.

It is the first product to comply with current CEN regulations and was specifically designed to meet the needs of motorcycle and scooter users who are extremely vulnerable to sudden changes in grip.

The award is a worthy recognition of the efforts of all those involved with this road safety product.

Hopefully in time these covers will be adopted nationally.

10) Fred Hill Run - Sunday 21st February

This is the first of the Yorkshire Region events for 2010 and will also be our first rideout of the year. The Annual Fred Hill run is always very well attended (despite whatever the weather throws at us) and is an event not to be missed. The run assembles at Squires at 11:00, and leaves at 11:30 for a marshalled ride to the Sun Inn at Norwood near Otley. Wakefield MAG will meet at our usual point (Stork Lodge Tea Rooms, Thornes Park, Thornes Road, Wakefield) where we will have a mass ride-in to Squires. Meet at Stork Lodge at 09:30, leaving at 10:00 for Squires where we will meet up with other Yorkshire MAG branches and MCCís for the Fred Hill memorial run.

As this run counts as a MAG Demo run, attendance at this event will earn you 75 branch points (as opposed to 10 for a normal ride-out). As points really do mean prizes, what more incentive could you possibly want to attend !!! Hope to see you on Sunday 21st Feb.

N.B. Note change of date (The run was originally planned for Sunday 7th February).

(If you don't know who Fred Hill was, check out the Obituary at the end of the newsletter)

11) Forthcoming Events (for February and beyond)

Saturday 13th February - Leeds MAG Valentines Party

DJ and Raffle. From 20:00 at The Dragon, 150 Whitehall Road Leeds LS12 4TJ. Come and get loved up with Leeds MAG !

Friday 19th February - Wakefield MAG is going to the Dogs

As detailed above

Sunday 21st February - Fred Hill Memorial Run

As detailed above

March - Wakefield MAG Pet Food Run

Details TBC in next months newsletter.

That's all for this month and I hope to see you all soon.

Ride Safe
Steve Travis
Wakefield MAG
0772 078 4734

Wakefield MAG meet at the Grey Horse, Kirkgate, Wakefield at 8:30pm every Wednesday. New (and Old) faces are always welcome.

Fred Hill Obituary

Fred Hill died in prison on the 10th February 1984 while fighting against bureaucratic interference with his choice to ride a motorcycle without wearing a crash helmet. Many people may have heard of Fred Hill but not actually know who he was and why he is remembered with such respect by the Motorcycle Action Group. Fred Hill was not a natural rebel, let alone a candidate for public enemy status. Born in Yorkshire, he spent the war as a despatch rider, after which he pursued a peacetime career as a teacher of mathematics.

Fredís involvement with MAG and the anti helmet law campaign began in 1976 after the Sikhs gained and exemption from the law. There were those at the time who were uncertain about Fredís motivation, fearing that it might be racist, born of the resentment that an immigrant minority were enjoying preferential treatment. Those who met Fred, heard his speeches, and got to know him a little, were re-assured that this was not the case. If Sikhs did not have to wear helmets then nobody should have to although he rarely ever made any reference to the Sikhs' preferential treatment.

While Fredís personal campaign was passive, it was absolute, in that Fred never wore a helmet and never paid a fine. In consequence, huge number of summonses began falling through his letter box, when a journalist from the motorcycle press went to interview him in his home in Hayes, Middlesex, Fred produced a sizeable suitcase packed with summonses that he kept as souvenirs, all unpaid. It was his refusal to pay the fines, rather than the helmetless riding offence, that led the courts to imprison Fred, the charge being the more serious one of "Contempt of Court". Although he was always polite to the authorities that pursued and imprisoned him, Fred was totally unimpressed by people in high positions, and was never intimidated by them. On one occasion a woman magistrate was endeavouring to chastise Fred for breaking the law, to which criticism, Fred, implicitly referring to Emily Pankhurst and the female emancipation movement, replied, "if it hadnít been for a woman breaking the law, you wouldnít be sitting there now madam".

Fred was sentenced to a total of 31 prison sentences over the eight year course of his campaign, sometimes for as little as twenty-four hours, rising to a maximum of two months, his final spell which he half completed in Londonís Notorious Pentonville prison. On one occasion, when his one day sentence was to be served in a police cell, the desk sergeant who hadnít bothered to lock the cell door, told Fred, "stick around until no-ones looking Fred and then bugger off". He didnít always get off so lightly however. Once during spell inside in the winter time, some tools went missing from the prison work shop, and Fred, along with all the other prisoners implicated, was strip searched outdoors in the freezing cold. Fred wrote to his friend Brian Nicholas at the time, expressing doubts about how much more of this kind of treatment he could take. Fredís attitude to prison life was not cavalier; he hated being locked up, particularly when he had to share cells with unsavoury people which, inevitable, he often had to do.

Besides enduring many prison sentences, Fred boosted the anti helmet law campaign by attending many MAG demos, at which he made speeches. Despite his age, Fred would ride considerable distances for which purpose he traded in his moped for a 250 Honda. No matter how far he had travelled or how bad the weather conditions were he always rode home the same day after a demo for his wifeís sake, and declined offers from MAG to provide him with bed and breakfast accommodation.

Fred was invariably booked for riding helmetless on demos, and on more than one occasion arrested. In 1978 a run was held in Eltham, south East London, without police permission. It was only a small affair but the SPG were sent in to break it up, and Fred was arrested for assaulting a police officer. The charge was bizarre and caused the police considerable embarrassment as Fred pursued the case through the courts until his name was cleared. In his own neighbourhood however, the police usually turned a blind eye to Fredís legal indiscretions as he rode around in his characteristic brown beret. Fred risked more serious charges by often pointing out, to the crowds he addressed and in the presence of police officers, that if everyone followed his example, the helmet law would be repealed. He could arguably have been charged with inciting others to break the law and it is to the credit of the officers present that they never chose to pursue this line.

It was during Fredís 31st prison sentence that he suffered a heart attack and subsequently died while still in custody. An enquiry, held to establish whether Fredís treatment had contributed to his death, found no evidence for this. Clearly the stress of being incarcerated in a hostile and uncomfortable environment, particularly for a man aged 74, can hardly have been an irrelevant factor.

Surprisingly the national media never latched on to Fredís campaign, as one might expect they would, although as a human interest story his was a very powerful one. A significant exception to this blanket of silence was provided by the journalist Auberon Waugh, who not only wrote about it at the time in the Daily Telegraph, but made a point of honouring Fred each year on the anniversary of his death as long as he held the Telegraph column. The MP Matthew Parish also wrote a splendid piece charging the political contemporaries with hypocrisy in promoting freedom when such liberality cleared obstructions to making money, but inhibiting personal liberty where individual freedoms are concerned.

MAG owes Fred Hill a colossal debt for the example he set us. I hope that this article will make people realise why MAG continues to argue for voluntary helmet use. The best way that we can attempt to repay the dept we owe Fred Hill is to keep alive the issue that he believed so strongly in. Please note that MAG is not against the wearing of helmets, merely the infringement of personal choice in being forced to. The helmet law marked the start of the long series of laws imposed upon bikers and scooterists by misguided politicians, who think we need protecting from ourselves, which have culminated today in flawed proposals for legislation including leg protectors, air bags, day-glo clothing and design restrictions, most of which have been proved to do more harm than good while destroying the concept of the motorcycle as a cheap, economical, environmentally friendly and fun form of transport.

Source: Ian Mutch, Chairman, Motorcycle Action Group (UK)