The Clitheroe Residents Action Group (CRAG) is misleading the public on what is happening in relation to the Clitheroe Market Quarter development project and in calling for a no confidence motion in the Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind when infact the decision was made by the majority of all 40 councillors in Full Council.
Cllr Ken Hind comments, ''CRAG does not understand the procedures of the Council. Ribble Valley Borough Council operates a committee system in which councillors vote on all key decision making issues which are subsequently ratified by Full Council of which every councillor is a member.''
The spokesman for CRAG, Steve Rush, who is a past chairman of UKIP and a previous Borough Council Candidate in the Salthill and Littlemoor wards, firstly for UKIP then subsequently as an Independent, appears to be trying to turn CRAG into a political party. Whilst some current councillors share ithe views of CRAG Members on the development of the Market Quarter it should be recognised that what is being decided is for the benefit of the entire community right across the Ribble Valley as a whole and that we are working collaboratively for the good of Clitheroe.
Cllr Hind continues, ''In relation to the Market Quarter Redevelopment Ribble Valley Borough’s Full Council Meeting went into camera or part 2 as it is called in order to decide whether or not to progress the project with Barnfield Construction. It was decided they would do so in principle and a majority of Councillors voted to negotiate with Barnfield to finalise the design, negotiate a contract, identify land and access issues and agree costings. There is therefore no final design as yet to put before the public. Until design negotiations are completed and some of the issues raised by councillors in debate are addressed, no final decision to go ahead with the project will be made. RVBC may decide not to go ahead if the council is not satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations.
Cllr Hind continues, "The council went into camera to discuss the way forward based on legal advice from the Council’s Officers including the Chief Executive, Marshal Scott and the Borough Solicitor, Diane Rice because as explained above these negotiations are continuing and the project remains commercially sensitive. All designs proposals are created by Barnfield Construction and as such belong to them exclusively at this stage.”
CRAG or should that be Steve Rush is suggesting that there should be another consultation.To date there has been a wide ranging consultation carried out across an entire cross-section of Ribble Valley Residents by the consultancy Infusion including Clitheroe residents, customers, various groups including the market traders, the Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, the Clitheroe Civic Society and others. The proposals currently being considered in negotiations are as a result of listening to a wide range of people and groups.
Nothing is being kept from the public as there is nothing yet finalised.
Cllr Hind continues further, “Since the debate in council there have been meetings with the market traders' steering committee in which I explained the way forward and their role in the process together with representatives from the Clitheroe Chamber of Trade. The traders needed to know and understand the process and direction decided by the majority of RVBC councillors which was duly presented to them. No insult to councillors not included in as invitations to one would have necessitated invitations to all with Clitheroe councillors rightly demanding to be present This was not intended to be a re-run of the debate but was instead a report back session on what had been decided and an explanation of how the Council intended to move the negotiations forward.These meetings had been diarised in advance.”
Cllr Hind concludes, “CRAG or should that be Steve Rush clearly does not understand that RVBC operates on a Committee System in which all Councillors that are members of the Committees that will play a role in deciding the fate of the Market Quarter Development - Policy & Finance and Planning & Development and ultimately Full Council and get a chance to voice their opinion and vote on the issue. Even those that are not members of the Committees concerned can still attend and are granted speaking rights. Ribble Valley Borough Council, unlike other neighbouring authorities does not operate a Cabinet System with the Leader of the Council playing a Prime Ministerial Role. The Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council is primes interpares - the first among equals, according to the Latin phrase and like all the other Councillors has just one vote. The decision on the redevelopment of the Market Quarter was made democratically by a majority of RVBC councillors both in committee and full council.”
Cllr Hind further concludes, “When they invite people to call for a no confidence vote in the leader of the Council CRAG is deceiving the public. There is no mechanism enshrined in law for the public to be able to force a vote of no confidence in a particular Council Leader. That can only be done by the Councillors themselves. Instead a petition can be presented to Full Council which can result in an issue being debated in Full Council and the Public being given speaking rights to articulate their concerns as did the four individuals who spoke at Full Council on the issue of the redevelopment of the Market Quarter including the CRAG Representative, Steve Rush. Indeed the public already have rights of participation and speaking rights should they so request it in any of the proceedings of the Council’s Committees which is enshrined in the Council’s Constitution. CRAG’s call for a Vote of No Confidence in the Leader of the Council is therefore a call for a Vote of No Confidence in All of the Councillors on the Council. I would like to remind CRAG Members that they will get ample opportunity to do this at the ballot box in 2019. In the meantime I would like to point out that CRAG do not represent the views of All Ribble Valley residents. Infact they do not even represent the views of anything like the majority of Clitheroe Residents - many of whom I have spoken to over the last few days and have told me in person, not via a n on-line survey with only one answer, that they do not support the views of CRAG or Steve Rush.”