Lunch Is On Us
Preston Vision Board, is already being dubbed by some as "Preston's real government", because it is making key decisions that will affect the future of all Preston's people. Yet the group is unelected and represents property developers such as Grosvenor Estates, and other businesses involved in the construction industry. This is the group which first came up with the notion of barraging the Ribble, and building over 4000 houses in it's floodplain.
The group is only now beginning to release minutes of it's meetings, going right back to it's first meetings in 2003.
We at Save The Ribble have got a copy of the minutes of their meeting held on 20th December 2006, courtesy of a Labour councillor who is angry at the Vision Board's record of failing to inform or consult elected members on the Riverworks proposals.
He said "We should continue to press forward with our views to ensure the Vision Board, unelected/appointed by who I do not know, listen and act according to what the local community want rather than dictate to us their opinion based possibly on commercial interests"
Minutes always give a very limited picture of what actually went on at a meeting - this one was attended by 11 people, including David Borrow MP.
From the minutes we learn that the feasibility study into the docks project has been funded with a £120,000 grant from the NWDA. This feasibility study does not cover the proposals to build a barrage across the River Ribble, so one can only imagine how much extra public money the study into these proposals is likely to cost.
Jean Hunter of South Ribble Borough Council confirmed her authority's 'continued support' for the Riverworks project. (This is likely to come as news to many South Ribble councillors, who like the Preston Councillors, have largely been kept in the dark about the Riverworks proposals).
Jim Carr suggested that Riverworks could contain consideration of 'sustainable energy production' - If he means using the barrage to generate hydro-electric power, then this really is a non-starter, the amount of electricity that could be generated from the Ribble would be absolutely tiny compared with the immense environmental damage a barrage would cause. In order to get the 'head' of the river high enough to generate electricity for any length of time, the water level would need to be raised even more, vastly increasing the flood risk to locals.
The Vision Board are also having a big Public Relations drive, a 'contact strategy', which seems to be aimed at leading figures in the local media, as well as 'briefing key decision makers' (no mention of informing or consulting those people likely to be directly affected by their proposals, such as local Prestonians and South Ribblers living near the Ribble!)
Michelle Surrell, Managing Director of Rock FM and Magic 999 is to be invited to join the Vision Board, as well as this;
"a target list of decision makers to be developed with input from Alan Roff, Jim Carr and Jean Hunter and a draft script/key briefing points developed. Volunteer Vision Board members (preferably not local authority) requested; lunch to be provided/paid for the VB members....
Malcolm McVicar, Jeremy Gorick and Nicola Turner to arrange lunch with the editor of the Lancashire Evening Post"
We at 'Save The Ribble' are sure that the editor of the LEP has such high standards of journalistic integrity that he will not allow a lunch with these people to prevent him from fairly presenting both sides of the Ribble Barrage debate - though we would like to extend a cordial invitation, as part of our own 'contact strategy', to the editor to join us in a kebab from the Barakah Takeaway on Fishergate Hill, he can even have extra chilli sauce...