Friday, 22 February 2008

Reassuring words from Joan?

Following Andrew Brown's comment on my previous post, I dropped a line to my local MP Joan Ruddock to ask if she knew what was happening on the station redevelopment.

Fair play to Ms Ruddock, it did only take her a few weeks to reply - much quicker than I was expecting. Unfortunately the letter, which came on official House of Commons notepaper, was inspiring in its blandness and lack of information. The envelope was probably the most exciting thing about it.

Three of the seven lines were taken up in telling me that she had been looking into the matter (which I already assumed since that's what she was responding about). The other four lines were vaguer than a government press release.

Apparently "there were some concerns regarding the architects which had the potential to delay the start of the project". There is no elucidation as to who had these concerns, what the concerns were, where they came from, why they had arisen etc. Were the architects potential crooks? Were they about to go bankrupt? Were they revealed as having faked their qualification certificates?

But not to worry, apparently these 'concerns' have now been resolved! Hurrah for whoever did the resolving, whatever it involved. It's obviously not my place to be appraised of the details.

Apparently whatever it is that has been happening, has set the project back 'a couple of months' but 'certainly not to the degree you mention in your email'. Now, as the email was submitted via Joan's website and I don't have a record of what I said, I can't defend myself here. All I know is that I submitted what I thought was a rather measured enquiry. I certainly wasn't in rant mode! I probably alluded to the fact that the station redevelopment plans have been in the pipeline for at least two years, if not more. If I root around in my records I will be able to find the letter for the original planning application, which was more than two years ago. And every time I have met any of Cathedral's or the architects' staff at exhibitions, and asked them about timescales, it has always been about to start 'in the next six months'. I still have the card they handed out at last year's festival promising the craft market 'Autumn 2007'. In case you hadn't noticed, it's now nearly March. Sorry Joan, I'm not making it up.

All the same, the letter finishes with the bland reassurance 'all the parties concerned now believe the project is deliverable and plans are progressing'. Plans for what? The market, the station, the live-work units? In what way are these plans 'progressing'? Does that just mean that the documents are on someone's desk waiting for an approval signature, or is someone actually mobilising staff and equipment as we speak? Is the funding in place? If so, how much funding is in place and what will this cover? If not, what are we waiting for? How long is the wait likely to take? Once work starts what is the timescale? Are there any further hurdles that need to be cleared?

It's good to see that our MP is responsive to requests for information. It's just a shame that her response is so bland and devoid of any facts.


Anonymous said...

Bland answers; not much use are they!

max said...

Yes, I recognise the style, I wrote to her too and the reply was not just completely void of facts but you couldn't even understand where she stood on the issue.