Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chamber of Commerce celebrates go ahead for M6 Link

Jonathan Barker, President of the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy Chamber of Commerce
Jonathan Barker, President of the
Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce.
Photo courtesy Chamber of Commerce
(Updated with Chamber of Commerce response to comment added by Chris Satori, 21/3/13)

Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the announced decision by government to invest in one of the largest public sector road building projects currently in England.

"This is excellent news for the whole district, but particularly for Morecambe where the majority of benefit will be seen," said a spokesperson for the Chamber, an independent membership organisation representing over 500 local businesses.

"The new link road will provide a vital infrastructure asset, assisting in bringing about much needed improvements to the industrial and commercial viability of the area.

"The Chamber has campaigned extensively for this new investment in infrastructure, which will ease access to Heysham Port, allowing it to fulfil its potential as a competitor to Liverpool.

"The road will also help tourism visitors explore beautiful Morecambe Bay, boosting revenue for local tourism businesses, and will reduce congestion for locals commuting to and from the peninsula, allowing people to access employment sites more easily."

Jonathan Barker, Chamber President commented: “It's great to see that the economic case that Lancaster District Chamber fought so hard to promote has been listened to, and that central government's new system for infrastructure planning has been seen to work."

Chris Satori of Virtual Lancaster has added to this story:

"One faction of the CoC has indeed campaigned hard. In fact back in 2007 when the Public Inquiry was held they took out a full page advertisement in the Citizen newspaper in support of the road, publishing a list of local businesses and organisations which they claimed had 'bought and paid for' the advert. The ad was timed for use at the Public Inquiry into the Link Road in a submission by CoC's David Taylor, claiming to speak for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce in support of the Link.

"However a few minutes of checking by Virtual Lancaster discovered that a substantial number of the names listed had in reality declined to contribute and were in fact unaware that they had been listed as supporters. Folly, one of the publicly funded organisations on the list, pointed out that they had "explicitly declined to contribute towards the cost of the ad when we were asked and we have no position as an organisation on this or other political campaigns." See our previous story published on 25/7/07:
Chamber of Commerce admits Link Road 'misunderstanding'.

"A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority was upheld in October 2007 - after the Inquiry had closed. See previous story published on 8/10/07:
ASA upholds complaint against Lancaster Chamber of Commerce untrue link road advert."

Responding, Ann Morris, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Commerce says:

"In 2007 as part of our campaign, all those listed in the advertisement gave written confirmation of their support. I made sure that I had that in writing before including names on the list. Some provided direct funding for the campaign and others funded it through virtue of their membership of the Chamber.

"The issue arose as a result of the denial by Taylor Nuttall, CEO of the Folly and at the time a member of the Chamber Board, that the Folly did not commit its support for the campaign.  However, I had an e mail from Taylor which indicated their support. The Chamber did not contest the issue to save embarrassment for Taylor Nuttall who as CEO of a Charitable organization, claimed that the Folly should not/could not express an opinion on this political issue.

"The contention over this did add wider publicity to the Chamber’s support for the northern route of the M6 Link.

"The Chamber still holds copies of evidence to support the above."


Anonymous said...

The Road has gone ahead get a grip and find a new project to de-rail.
Sick and tired of a small number of people in the city against progress.

Chris Satori said...

I do not think it is at all appropriate to suggest that Taylor Nuttall, or folly, were guilty of any malpractice. Folly was given as an example because Taylor was also a CoC director. Even so, the first he knew about folly being named in the ad was when we phoned folly to enquire about it, and he was very upset about it, to say the least. He had not consented to the charity he led being named as a link road sponsor. In fact he had declined, politely. There were other publicly funded organisations on the list in the same boat. Evidently whoever drew up the list did not know how charitable bodies are constituted, and did not ask for consent to name them as sponsors or supporters, which they were bound to refuse. As Anne Morris also confirmed to me (and presumably to the ASA) at the time, the majority of the names on the list declined to contribute. I contacted several of these businesses and heard a similar story. Perhaps they were just being polite to me too? Who knows? I didn't get consent to quote them either. So I didn't.