Our blog is generating a lot of heated debate about the housing and barrage elements of the Riverworks proposals, and attracting new readers all the time.
One such new reader is Phil Widdows, the Lancashire Evening
Post's opinion columnist, who has his own blog where he
posts personal opinions, that whether you agree with them or not, are entertaining and forthright: Shooting from the Lip.
"rather earnest protesters getting hot, bothered and holier than thou about the idea of building a barrage across the River Ribble" - (How Phil Widdows sees us!)
Here is what he has to say on his blog about Save The
Ribble's article Riverworks, the Housing Sums That Don't Add Up:
Sold Up The River?
The rather earnest protesters getting hot, bothered and holier than thou about the idea of building a barrage across the River Ribble to turn what is too often a dribble into a useable leisure facility ("but won't anyone think of the little birdies?!?") have finally hit on something that deserves serious answers.
At their blog they point to all the stuff other than the barrage itself - including the jolly wheeze of building houses and commercial property on what is and will be a
flood plain - included in the bloated and bonkers Riverworks scheme and ask, if Preston and South Ribble have an official oversupply of housing, why is the council
spending money on feasibility studies, and asking for much more money from the National Lottery to push these ideas forward?
They then add:
One thing is clear, the Riverworks housing and barrage proposals are ideas that are being driven by the potential profits of developers, rather than by the wishes or needs of residents of Preston and South Ribble.
Whether the barrage itself is a good idea or not is up for debate (it's far too expensive and will never get built, but that needn't spoil a good fight). What must not be allowed to happen is for Preston City Council to spend public money on studies to test the feasibility of a housing scheme which, under its own planning policy, stands as much chance of coming to reality as Togo have of winning the World Cup.
Step carefully, councillors, or the barrage could quickly turn into a very different kind of "water gate" to the one you expect...
As Deep Throat (no, not that one) said ... "Follow the money".
Phil Widdows is right to be pointing out the mess of contradictions the council is getting itself into - here is a link to the council policy on housing development that is being blatantly ignored by supporters of Riverworks in the council: Draft SPG9
This policy states clearly:
The tightened control rules out the building of new houses on “greenfield” land and cuts back the number of houses to be approved on “brownfield” land.and limits the number of new houses that can be built in Preston to just 180 a year until 2016.
An oversupply will contravene the policies of both the Regional Plan and the Lancashire Structure Plan
Given the clarity of this policy, how do we explain the enthusiasm of so many people at the Council to build 4000 houses in this area?
We say it is time for Preston's council officers to start listening to their own council policies, and more importantly, to the views of Preston people, who are becoming angrier at the Riverworks housing and barrage ideas every day.
We will carry on asking the council awkward questions - the 350,000 birds in the Ribble Estuary ARE important, as are the people who live near the river, whose homes would be at increased risk of flooding if the barrage were to cause the water table beneath them to rise.
One thing is clear - blogging is working - the council can no longer get away with weasel-worded hype and every detail of the Riverworks proposals is now beginning to be carefully scrutinised by people who care about the River Ribble, it's people and it's environment.
Blogging reaches the places other campaigning methods cannot go!