As I See It: Action, not words

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LAST week it was reported Councillors Ranson and Hill held a meeting with David Cameron regarding the over development of the Ribble Valley.

CRAG welcome any efforts to reduce opportunistic money grabbing development schemes, but did a “meeting” take place? It might seem a strange question, but what is a meeting?

One dictionary defines a meeting as “a gathering of two or more people that has been convened for the purpose of achieving a common goal through verbal interaction”.

The question is – was a common goal achieved? If it was, last week’s article did not tell us. In fact last week’s article gave absolutely no indication of what thoughts the Prime Minister had on the Ribble Valley housing situation and what he could do to help us.

Then again, it’s very doubtful he agreed to assist our cause. Recently David Cameron announced his full support to build on two million acres of our countryside. A few thousand lost acres in the Ribble Valley will not cause him sleepless nights.

Perhaps we were supposed to be impressed by the fact that two members of RVBC had met their boss. Personally I would have been more impressed if they had been able to report what had been achieved at the meeting. There appears to be an epidemic sweeping the Ribble Valley. It’s called the “meetings with prominent people that achieve nothing” syndrome. Not only have our two councillors had a meeting with no reported outcome, our MP suffers from the same problem.

My “in box” is full of correspondence between Nigel Evans and myself on the subject of housing. Unfortunately not much of it contains many answers, but it does explain the many “meetings” he has held with the PM, Grant Schapps, Eric Pickles, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

But once again there is no mention of what the meetings achieve. Last October a question was asked regarding a developer wanting to triple the size of Barrow without providing an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Nigel Evans’ response was that he held a “completely private meeting” with the Secretary of State who “listened intently”. He understood the “depth and intensity” of our MP’s feelings regarding “the over development of the Ribble Valley”.

He also notes that the Secretary of State is “in no doubt as to the level of opposition amongst residents and the feeling of disenfranchisement from the entire process”. The EIA issue was raised with “the strength of feeling against the application” being put forward by our MP.

So a very important high-powered meeting took place. Nigel Evans made the Secretary of State aware of the anger he and Ribble Valley residents felt regarding large-scale over development of the area. But what has changed? What will change?

At present the Barrow developers still do not require an EIA. Greed ridden, opportunistic development applications are still forthcoming. Inspectors still insist we get houses we don’t want... the list is endless.When will we see these meetings result in action and not meaningless words?