Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vision Board to be Made More Accountable - But Who To?

Local residents will welcome the announcement in the Lancashire Evening Post this week that Preston Vision Board may be "re-organised" to be made more accountable by including locally-elected politicians as members... but the potential appointment of the Leaders of Preston City Council and South Ribble Borough Council to the Vision Board still leaves us with serious questions which need to be answered...

-How will this really ensure that the Preston Vision Board will be fully accountable to the local residents whose communities and quality of life are at risk because of the Vision Board's AND Preston Council's barrage and building development plans?

-How will this ensure that what local people WANT to see happen in their communities will finally be listened to?

-How will this really ensure either democratic accountability or transparency, especially in view of the fact that the Leader of Preston Council, Ken Hudson, has led the new political alliance at PCC which has voted to remove decisions about big funding bids (such as for Riverworks, say) from the democratic scrutiny and decision-making process of the full Council of our elected representatives into a small select City Centre Committee?

-How will these appointments ensure that the views of the people will hold sway over Preston Vision Board's commercially-driven and narrow-minded Vision for the area, given that the Leader of Preston Council, Ken Hudson, has made the Council's intentions to pursue the Riverworks barrage and the associated building developments on the Penwortham Green Belt and floodplain abundantly clear?

-How will this ensure that the Vision Board have to consider the views and wishes of local people given that so far, Preston City Council have themselves endorsed the pursuit of the Riverworks barrage and building developments in the face of significant evidence that:

a. a large majority of local residents do NOT WANT THESE schemes;

b. both developments would damage the environment on a national, international, as well as local scale by threatening the natural intertidal functions of THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ESTUARY RIVER IN BRITAIN on the one hand (and the internationally important numbers of bird and fish species which depend on it) and destroying a significant area of Green Belt on the other – Green Belt which is also the floodplain which actively protects our communities from flooding and so far, Preston Council’s ruling political partnership is not taking the floodrisk issues of Riverworks seriously .

c. both developments would actively increase floodrisk in the area whereas our flood defences in Broadgate are in a very poor state of repair and need urgent action NOW;

d. Both schemes would waste outrageous sums of money which would be better spent on some of our estates in Preston which are officially acknowledged by Government figures to be amongst the most deprived wards in the country.

-How will these appointments lead to the blinkered Vision for barrages and floodplain developments that both Preston City Council and the Vision Board share being abandoned once and for all in favour of investment in the communities and people who really need it - instead of destroying our finest natural assets for the benefit of property developers and other vested interests?

-And HOW will these appointments make the Vision Board MORE ACCOUNTABLE to the people of Preston when the Chairman of the Vision Board and Vice Chancellor of the University, Malcolm McVicar, says that "Having council leaders on board is a good thing" but also says that "It's my responsibility as chairman to make sure it doesn't slow the process" !!!

You can read more Ribbleside news - such as how you can help out at Brockholes and how you can enjoy exploring the Ribble Way from the comfort of your armchair, and there will be more Tales From The Riverbank from local people posted on the blog soon...

...and the Preston Bird Watching & Natural History Society commence their 115th consecutive Winter Season of lectures on Monday 24th September. Non-members are welcome. For details visit the Preston Society website.

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At 6:39 am, Blogger Dogs Dad said...

It's interesting to hear something of South Ribble representation on the Vision Board. I feel need to understand more about the links between South Ribble and the Riverworks Project, given the potentiasl huge impact on part of the District I live in. If you search for Riverworks on the website you'll get "nil" returns on "riverworks". Any thoughts?


At 2:13 pm, Blogger Reigh Belisama said...

That's a very important point Dog's Dad, and the nil response is because Riverworks is entirely a Preston City Council project, and any queries to South Ribble BC will find you referred on to Preston.
Although the Chief Exec of South Ribble has been to Vision Board meetings and expressed South Ribble support for the project in months past, South Ribble's noted good record for listening to what their residents actually want - along with the recent change in political leadership being partly due to the Conservatives campaigning very successfully against Preston's merger bid & building-all-over-Penwortham agenda - leads us to be fairly hopeful that South Ribble may not continue to be supportive...
Those of us who live in South Ribble have ascertained that local councillors along the Ribble wards are opposed to the barrage and building development schemes - as they are in Preston - and it is clear that the level of opposition both sides of the river is large and growing. This is also true of other borough councils further up and down river, including Fylde and Wyre, who have expressed their opposition to the scheme. It seems fairly clear that those councillors in Preston who are in favour of the scheme might be just about managing a very slim majority in votes on Preston Council at present - the last 2 votes connected to Riverworks issues only managing a majority of one or two - but they are clearly a tiny minority in favour of the scheme when other council areas are taken into account, so local residents continuing to make their own views known to their councillors is making a significant impact...

Thanks for your comments.


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