Riverworks "Undemocratic": Michael Lavalette
Another councillor has joined the ranks of those on Preston City Council with serious objections to the Riverworks Barrage and Floodplain housing ideas.
Last week we reported how Councillor Swindells, a Labour Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability had written in to the Lancashire Evening Post to say that "the formation of a weir/barrage is a step too far...the River Ribble is a joy to behold and a precious gift to all of us that we should not do anything to change without the backing of all Prestonians".
The Riversway Labour councillors, Bhiku Patel, Jack Davenport and Linda Crompton are on record as saying about the Riverworks Proposals "Not all the ideas may be appropriate to this area" and that "many of the ideas look promising, while others seem barely feasible".
And today we read of how the secrecy and lack of democracy or accountability that surrounds the Riverworks ideas has angered Respect Party Councillor Michael Lavalette.
Councillor Lavalette is frustrated at the lack of democratic accountability displayed by those behind the Riverworks proposals
His letter which you can also read on the Lancashire Evening Post Website states
"At recent council meetings I have asked questions about the proposals, about removal of green space and about various rumours regarding 'development' to recreational and historic sites in the City. Each time the response from the Cabinet was 'there are no proposals for change' 'nothing is happening'...but now the Evening Post confirms what many of us suspected".
He goes on to say "It seems full council is no longer the place where councillors are informed of decisions about our city. These decisions, taken by unelected boards... are relayed to ordinary councillors via the press. What is happening to democracy and democratic accountability - under Labour in Preston?"
Councillor Lavalette's letter to the Lancashire Evening Post. (Click on the image to enlarge it)
Preston City Councillors have been known to debate for hours about the redesignation of a parking zone or the rerouting of a bus, so it seems outrageous that this Councillor should feel he is being kept in the dark about a scheme that could cost upwards of £650 million, with the barrage on its own potentially costing £50 million. It seems traditional in Preston that the larger the amount of money and the greater the environmental stakes, the less openness, democracy and accountability there is in the decision making process.
We are sure there are many more councillors, in Preston, South Ribble, and other areas that would be affected by the proposals who are uneasy and unhappy about the flood risk and threat to the environment posed by ideas like a barrage or floodplain housing, and by the secretive conduct of the unelected 'Vision' Board - it is time for these councillors, and everyone else who wants to stop the Ribble barrage and greenbelt housing ideas to come forward and make their views known, before it is too late...