Correspondence with a councillor
My local County Councillor is Tim (20 mph) Ashton,
The Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Lancashire County Council can be seen here crossing Lytham Square, whilst apparently contravening rule 64 of the “Highway Code Rules for Cyclists” which states that “You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129″.
At a meeting organised by Frack Free Fylde before the elections he was asked what he knew about fracking. He humbly professed not to know much at all. As nearly all the prospective councillor’s took the same tack, we did wonder whether this was a tactic to avoid having to answer any awkward questions, but to be honest he didn’t betray any sign of any knowledge which might have called his claim into question that night.
Here’s what we wrote at the time
Conservative candidate, Tim Ashton appears to have been able to ignore all of the furore over the last year or so as he claimed almost total ignorance of the subject. This is surprising as he sits on Fylde Borough Council so he surely can’t be unaware of FBC’s Task & Finish report on Fracking, and I know he has received the Refracktion newsletter as I delivered it to his house personally. Whilst this “ignorance” might excuse him for not expressing a view, it would suggest a total failure, as councillor currently representing Lytham, to engage with one of the biggest issues which will impact his constituency. He’ll have to forgive me for wondering if his ignorance was real or feigned, as I refuse to believe he is as dim as all that. Cllr Ashton left after the discussions and before the meeting finished, probably secure in the knowledge that as a Conservative candidate in Lytham he doesn’t need to bother over much with such trivial matters to get elected.
Anyway, after his triumphant re-election I wrote to County Councillor Ashton saying:
I’m very concerned about the prospect of fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – in our area.
Fracking has been linked to contamination of water supplies and atmospheric pollution, as well as increased traffic to construction sites. The government has promised lower energy bills if gas and oil from fracking is produced, but even the fracking companies admit this is unlikely to happen.
Given that Cuadrilla are planning to carry out fracking in this area, I would be grateful if you could let me know your position on the matter and what steps I can take to register my objections.
I would be grateful if you could keep me informed of any future developments.
I too am concerned about fracking, but realise that there needs to be a balance struck between energy supply and environmental and safety concerns.
I am therefore doing all I can to ensure that environmental and safety concerns are addressed.
To register your views I suggest you write to the relevant cabinet member at Lancashire County Council.
Well, to be blunt, I haven’t seen much, if indeed any, evidence of any activity here, but I’ll give a man the benefit of the doubt. He might have been beavering away behind the scenes.
Thank you Cllr Ashton
Could you please share with me some of these things you have done to ensure that environmental and safety concerns are addressed.
He came back with
The actions that I have taken and meetings that I’ve taken have been numerous and various over a long period of time. Please be assured that as your elected representative I am doing what is right for the people of Lytham, Fylde and Lancashire.
However if you have any particular questions that you would like answers to or concerns that you would like raised please forward them to me to pass on to the County Council.
It all still sounded a bit vague so I replied again
I am delighted to hear that “The actions that I have taken and meetings that I’ve taken have been numerous and various over a long period of time. Please be assured that as your elected representative I am doing what is right for the people of Lytham, Fylde and Lancashire. ” Indeed I would expect nothing less.
I did ask you to share with me some of these things you have done “to ensure that environmental and safety concerns are addressed”. It seemed a straight forward enough request to me, but if it needs clarification do please let me know.
Maybe you could provide a few examples of the various actions that you have taken “over a long period of time” and list a few of the various meetings you have attended?
5 weeks later he finally replied:
I have had meetings with the following:
LCC officers at many levels and professions.
FBC officers at many levels and professions.
The Health and Safety Executive
The Department of Energy & Climate Change
The Environment Agency
Fylde Borough Council’s Development Management Committee Members including the Chairman and Vice Chairman
Lancashire County Council’s Planning Committee members including the Chairman and Vice Chairman
Mark Menzies MP
Sajjad Kareen MEP, Sir Robert Atkins MEP and Jackie Foster MEP
Lorraine Fullbrook MP
Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for The Environment and Planning
Fylde Borough Council’s Cabinet Members for Planning and The Environment
During all the above meetings I have studied the fracking process and made my concerns known regarding both safety and environmental impact.
I have attended a public meeting organised by Mark Menzies MP and a Pre Election Meeting organised by Frack Off.
I have listened to residents’ concerns and passed these on at the appropriate time.
We can only assume that all this has happened since he professed in May to know almost nothing about fracking. He really has been a busy chap hasn’t he! 🙂