Live Magazines’ Tedd Walmsley voices his concerns over the Clitheroe Food Festival and urges the council to act swiftly over a match-funding offer to improve pavements
It’s official. I am persona non grata – public enemy number one. It would appear RVBC have cut off all communication with me and the magazine. I’d laugh but it’s not that funny. My only crime seems to be to ask for answers to questions tabled by clients and readers and ask for comment and clarity on some of the decision-making processes within the council.
Running me a close second in the unpopularity stakes is Dan Johnson – director of local company Crafty Vintage. He too has become very frustrated at the speed of response to the questions he has asked. He’s now gone much further in his pursuit of answers by using the Freedom of Information Act – sadly, the information (at the time of print) still hasn’t been received. He is particularly interested in the cost of the Ark report and was told recently that the report’s findings, which recommended an urgent RVBC communication strategy, will be to commission another report on how to implement the recommendations of the first. That’s going to be costly – to state the obvious. Indeed, I might pitch for the work myself but here’s some free consultancy on how to implement the findings.
Talk to all stakeholders in the Ribble Valley – residents, businesses, charities, religious groups and community groups. Ask them for their opinions.
Be transparent in requests for information.
To save money use your paid-for officers to implement the findings and recommendations in the first report.
Don’t cut off relationships with the media in the area or indeed anyone else who dares to ask questions.
Lastly – I will submit a tender.
We are all still uncertain as to whether the Clitheroe Food Festival will go ahead. In a report I have seen, it suggests a ‘dumbed down’ version with neither sponsors nor any publicity and, as at 25th May, a fraction of current food stall holders plus a worrying increase in non-food attendees. Forgive the pun but I’m not sure this is a recipe for success. With six weeks to go I’ve seen no signage or social media and my offer of free publicity in this current issue of the magazine, has been ignored. I’m not sure on the accountability of this event but it will be interesting to see the outcome, which I will cover in my next article in September.
The latest on the ‘Mumbai street’ improvements was a positive visit from LCC and this has resulted in an offer of match funding of around £350k if RVBC wants to join in. The snail like pace and lack of urgency worries me – please get this agreed before the money is spent elsewhere. Let’s not end up like Padiham with incredible pavements – but no shops. I’m reliably told that seven shops in Clitheroe are now empty. Is this a blip or a worrying trend? Use them or lose them is the mantra and one we support wholeheartedly. However, the work needs to be planned and communicated to those affected – you only need to look at the months of chaos in Whalley as testimony of how not to do it.
One positive this month was to meet members of the Clitheroe Town Team, who are about to launch an interactive website to create a conduit between the group and the council. To paraphrase its mission statement, its purpose is to support and initiate projects that deliver key advantages to Clitheroe. A volunteer group made up from many walks of life including politicians, council officers, students, businesses, hospitality, faith and community groups, it is welcoming to all and a super idea. Its challenge of course will be to effect change. If it can, it will be a huge asset to the community. We will talk more to the group in future magazines and see how they are getting along but you can contact them by email on: email@example.com or visit: clitheroetownteam.org
This is my last column until September, and I want to urge everyone to support each other and our wonderful local businesses. I think we are all concerned about having some tough months ahead with inflation, the cost of living crisis and petrol pump madness, plus the potential for further energy price increases in the autumn – we need to avoid a summer of discontent. Your support is vital to our local economy so let’s think local, be kind and respectful to each other and I wish you a fabulous summer.
The views above are my own and I’d be delighted to get some replies to my questions and will report back on any progress and positive outcomes.