A Barrage of Democracy?
In a week when Gordon Brown, the new PM, declares his determination to re-democratise politics and restore the trust of the people in our elected political representatives...
in a week when 74% of residents vote NO to a Ribble Barrage...
PRESTON CITY COUNCIL HAVE VOTED TO REMOVE THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS REGARDING THE RIBBLE BARRAGE OUT OF THE DEMOCRATIC FRAMEWORK OF THE COUNCIL CHAMBER.
Councillor Jack Davenport, Riversway Ward, sent in a comment to our previous article on the overwhelmingly anti-barrage LEP vote to say that in the Council meeting last Thursday (28th June):
"both the Tories and Lib Dems backed and passed proposals to move the power and decision making over large grants from the Council to the City Centre Committee. This effectively means that in the future most Councillors will not be able to get a say in large scale projects (for example, the feasibility study for the Barrage). This removes the bulk of democratic opposition (or support) to any project and renders voter representation virtually mute on the subject. The report presented to Council mentioned the Vision Board frequently and it looks increasingly likely that the Committee will become a rubber stamping body for whatever the Vision Board wants to do or recommends."
Save The Ribble Campaign are not politically partisan as we are local residents who come from all walks of life and are of all - and no - political persuasion, and we receive support from Councillors in Preston and South Ribble from all political parties. Only today, the Lancashire Evening Post reports that whilst Ribchester suffers serious flooding, Tory shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth is raising concerns in Parliament about proposals to built thousands of new homes near rivers vulnerable to flooding.
Nonetheless, Preston Council chambers appears to be politically-divided, with the ruling Tory and Lib Dem group determined to remove the decisions regarding the Riverworks Barrage from the Democratic process.
This is an infringement of their democratic mandate, which is to represent the interests of the people who voted for them - 74% of whom have made it clear they do NOT want the Ribble Barrage.
This is an infringement of democracy and accountability. The pro-barrage lobby will use this to push the barrage proposal through behind closed doors and effectively ignore the wishes of local people as well as the environmental and economic consequences to the River Ribble and our local communities. Ignoring what local people and environmental organisations - such as the Environment Agency - say seems to be becoming something of a habit... As Peter Ainsworth says, "At present, a quarter of all planning applications opposed by the Environment Agency still go ahead"...
What is YOUR Councillor saying about this issue?
Does YOUR Councillor support this undemocratic decision?
Does YOUR Councillor represent YOUR interests?
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Read more about the PRESTON CITY VISION BOARD'S FUNDING here