AD Plant Ramsbottom Planning Appeal

Last month I wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP explaining the importance to Ramsbottom of the appeal against the decision by Bury Council’s Planning Committee to refuse the application to build an Anaerobic Digestion Plant at Fletcher Bank Shuttleworth. Today I have heard from the Minister for Local Government Kris Hopkins MP ( who has replied as being the matter falls within his Ministerial responsibilities)  that he has decided to ‘recover the appeal’.

The Public Inquiry which is presently taking place in Bury will still proceed.  The Inspector will still prepare a report and make a recommendation as to whether the appeal should be allowed. The matter will then be determined by the Secretary of State impartially and in light of all the facts.

Lancashire Day

David (Centre) with Paul Morris (r) and Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Lancashire Day was of course yesterday but as the House of Commons was not sitting the day has been marked today with a celebration of Lancashire produced food and drink held in the Jubilee Room off Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster.

I was particularly pleased to be able to welcome to Westminster Paul Morris from The Chocolate Cafe in Ramsbottom. The Chocolate Cafe was joined by representatives from Dewlay Cheese in Garstang, Crossmoor Honey Farm, Drinkwaters Mushrooms, the Fuzzy Duck Brewery and the Lancaster Brewery, Uncle Joe’s Mintballs from Wigan and Williams a family run bakery from Preston.
We were joined by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Lord Strathclyde and as proof that the War of the Roses is over I was invited to read the Lancashire Declaration as follows:

” Know ye also, and rejoice, that by virtue of Her Majesty’s County Palatine of Lancaster, the citizens of the Hundreds of Lonsdale, North and South of the Sands. Amounderness, Leyland, Blackburn, Salford and West Derby are forever entitled to style themselves Lancastrians. Throughout the County Palatine, from the Furness Fells to the River Mersey, from the Irish Sea to the Pennines, this day shall ever mark the peoples’ pleasure in that excellent distinction – true Lancastrians, proud of the Red Rose and loyal to our Sovereign Duke”.

With this the first elected representatives from Lancashire were summoned to Westminster by King Edward I on 27th November 1295.

Local Area Partnership meeting

On Monday evening I attended a meeting of the Ramsbottom, North Manor and Tottington Local Area Partnership held at Tottington Methodist Church. Various reports were given including an update on the children’s centre and the latest crime statistics from the police.

Yesterday I joined in with some doorstep canvassing when as usual there were more people out than in but those we did find in were more than happy to chat. You can never draw conclusions from just one session of canvassing but from all the canvassing done in recent weeks it does seem that peoples views about the parties are beginning to crystallise and many people who gave the benefit of the doubt last time to Tony Blair do seem reluctant to support Labour again. I suspect that many of those who say they are undecided will probably not vote at all. We know from the last election that around one third of those eligible to vote chose not to do so.

Yesterday afternoon in between taking three blind and partially sighted persons to their social afternoon at Walshaw Sports Club I attended the funeral of the father of Khalid Hussain the Conservative Candidate in Redvales Ward who had sadly passed away on Sunday. I spoke to Khalid who whilst naturally very upset was comforted by the fact that his father had not suffered.

This morning in addition to attending morning Communion Sue and I took CeeCee to the V.E.T.’s for his booster injection. At lunchtime I attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Bury where as the scheduled speaker was unable to attend I stood in at the last minute and spoke on the subject of the working of polling companies. This afternoon after a meeting with my agent I have been out helping with our leaflet deliveries.

Ramsbottom. Tottington and North Manor Local Area Partnership

On Thursday evening I attended a meeting of the Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor Local Area Partnership (LAP). These bodies used to be called Area Boards and whilst I agree with the principle of devolving power down to the most local unit possible unfortunately I have to say that the way Labour have forced the Area Board’s to be renamed and reorganised has not been a great success in terms of increasing local involvement. Despite the valiant efforts of all those involved in the meetings, especially the LAP Chairmen and Managers, the attendance by members of the public is woefully low. Only when a local issue raises the political temperature does attendance increase. Attendance used to be better under the previous Area Board system and whilst the idea of LAP’s may soung good in theory in practice I, for one, remain to be convinced.

The meeting on Thursday was held at Ramsbottom Fire Station and the highlight was undoubtedly a display by the fire cadets who are raising money to travel to the Czech Republic to represent the Country in a competition against other Cadets from across Europe. They performed with great skill and organisation and I hope they perform as well when they have their chance on the international stage.

RNLI Coffee morning

David with members of the Ramsbottom branch of RNLI

David with members of the Ramsbottom branch of RNLI

I attended a coffee morning organised by the Ramsbottom branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. It was well attended and I believe raised a over £300 for the work of the RNLI

Local Area Partnerships

I managed to get back to the gyn on Monday and then after doing some work in the office and helping out with some leafletting I attended the Bury West Local Area Partnership ( “LAP” ) meeting.
LAP’s used to be known as Area Boards until just before the last local elections they were rejigged by Labour so as to change the format and the membership. The whole point of Area Boards was to take democracy out to the different parts of Bury and give people the chance to discuss local problems at a local level. The meeting on Monday was held at Elton Primary School and I calculated that very roughly one person in a thousand turned up.
Last night I attended the Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor LAP held at Christ Church Walmersley. 19 people at the top table including Councillors, police, fire brigade, NHS, and several others but just 13 in the audience even if you count the local journalists and me. Local democracy in action. I did mischievously wonder if any one has ever added up what it costs for all those public employees to attend a meeting like that!