10/06/2012 Sunday Politics East


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 10/06/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



How the plans for a flagship aquarium could have hit the buffers.


And the prospect of lifting the hosepipe ban comes too late for our


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1707 seconds


Good afternoon. Coming up - doubt that a multi-million pound project


in Bedfordshire or a state of-the- art aquarium will ever come about.


First let us meet our guests. Jim Paice, MP for South East


Cambridgeshire, at the Hodgson, Liberal Democrat Mayor.


Let us begin with a brief word about the Jubilee celebrations. An


incredible outpouring of support for the Queen. Has that put an end


to questions about the future of the monarchy. It was good to see so


many people coming out despite the weather. Lot of things happening.


recent poll showed around one- quarter of people in this country


are republican. There are those voices. They are keeping themselves


very Hedon, because I do not think it is a fraction of that. It is at


tiny minority. What we have seen over the last weekend remind us how


lucky we are to have a monarchy. may have rained on the Queen's


Parade but after two try a winter's most of that East is the only


region still in the drought zones. Even though a hosepipe ban in may


be lifted soon our farmers are still at the sharp end. They are


calling for a new water storage facilities. They are calling for


compulsory meters in homes. Will the government's Water Bill do


anything to help? How much what to do you use in


total? We used 140 million gallons per year. This man is the estate


director of this estate in Suffolk. In common with farmers across our


region he agreed to a cut of 20 % in the what if he abstracts from


rivers and boreholes. But that has had a profound effect on his


business. We took the decision in January of this year it to reduce


our or irrigated crops in a year by 20 %. We lost 200 acres out of our


or rotation. What has that cost you? �100,000. They rain in April


helped farmers and so has the recent warmer weather, but they are


now irrigating. At these farms they can abstract


126 million gallons per year. is a salad type of potato. We would


budget on irrigating them at seven or eight times over the course of a


season. Why do you not grow a variety that requires less water?


If we cannot sell the variety that we have grown with less water there


is no point. In December this had got nothing in it.


Back on the estate this man invested more than �1 million in


this reservoir. He feels that farmers have more than done their


bit. The hosepipe ban he says was too little too late. He once the


water companies to invest more. have agreed to this 20 % reduction.


We are the first to be hit. There is the potential that they will ban


all abstraction from groundwater. The hosepipe ban is a sticking


plaster. Will water industry has spent �100 billion in the last 20


years. It is part of a planned investment. It covers 40,000


kilometres of pipes. It covers drinking water. It covers sewage


and waste water that we deal with. What happens next? The Government


is planning to reform the entire water industry. That will include


reform of abstraction licences. This man says the drought has led


everyone with an interest in what had to communicate better than they


have done before, but he says there is more to do. We have got to


invest in infrastructure. We are prepared to do it is far worse. The


water industry should be prepared to invest in the future. The Water


Bill was mentioned there. It is designed to allow businesses and


public sector bodies to improve their efficiency by allowing them


to switch suppliers, allowing new entrants into the market, making


them respond better to customers, unlock the new sources of water


supply, and to regulate their abstraction of water.


However Luton MP Gavin Shuker says the bill is toothless and it could


be 2000 the 30 before things change. The key issue is abstraction. The


process of taking water out of the natural environment. The Government


themselves have said that this process will take until 2030. That


is too far away. Climate change will make drought more prevalent in


the coming years. Jim Paice, do you want to respond to that allegation


that you are dragging your feet? is a bit rich coming from a party


that was in government until two years ago. The reality is that will


take a long while to make the changes that we want to make. But


there are some changes that have started happening. We are now


encouraging farmers to fill the reservoirs were never there is


enough water and the rivers. We encourage said to trade abstraction


right. -- encouraged them to trade abstraction the right's.


They Institute of Civil engineers come up with some ideas recently.


One of those was compulsory water metering. Do you agree with that?


It is a matter of fairness. There is a lot the public can do as well.


In Bedford we have signed up to a 20 % reduction in the water we use.


There is an education programme to try and encourage people to use


less water. If we can get that reduction of 20 % it will alleviate


the problem. With the Water Bill could there not be more in it to


regulate abstraction? Yes. There is a lot in it. All abstraction is


regulated. There will be tighter regulations. The Bill is going to


put a time limit on some abstraction right that some people


have had since ancient history. There is a great deal more


regulation going to take place. It is already happening. You heard in


the report how the water authorities have had to impose


restrictions. The Environment Agency can implement abstraction


restrictions almost overnight. have got a background in farming.


Do you share the frustration of farmers at the moment? They are


taking the brunt of this. They are getting the hardest hit while the


water companies are taking the products. I understand their anger


about that. But things have moved on. A lot has happened in the last


two or three months. We have changed the rules about obstruction.


We have set up a grand scheme. That means farmers can get grants


towards new reservoirs. This reservoir. Is interesting. A lot of


farmers say it is a great idea that we're having to jump through


millions of books when it comes to planning permission. That is


something the government back could make better. The government back


has just announced a new national planning framework which loosens up


the regulations. We are not going to bid extra restrictions on


reservoirs. We have stopped that. We are freeing it up. But


development need planning. Dave Hodgson, is this all about all of


us taking what are too much for granted and can education play a


role? Of course it is. One of the bits of the Water Bill is about


opening up to competition. If it is competition that is a good thing.


The water companies will have to be more competitive. They will have to


look at their leaks. We will have to look at green water. -- grey


water. More from me in a moment. We are going to stay with water and


plans for an aquatic Centre in Bedfordshire. The Nirah project was


planned seven years ago with an estimated cost of up to �500


million. Despite more than �3 million in public loans the


developers still have not submitted full planning permission.


At disused quarry in the middle of Bedfordshire. It was once used for


it claimed it end there brick industry. This is what it could


look like. Costing up to �600 million, the ambitious project


called Nirah, complete with a freshwater research park and


leisure facilities, has been dogged by controversy and delay.


Nirah is dead in the water. It is not going to happen. It is an abuse


of public funds. It was an error on have of the previous county council


that no longer exists. It was naivety and lack of commercial


expertise. Any council going across in the future I hope will learn


from the mistakes of what was the former Bedfordshire County Council.


It is here at this form her quarry that they it Research Centre was


supposed to have been built. It still says on a Nirah website that


the project was due to be completed by spring 2012.


But in the place where bricks used to be made, not a single one has


been laid. What went wrong?


There was a dispute over ownership of the land which ended up in a


High Court. The businessmen behind the project won that fight, but the


battle to secure the millions to pay for it continues to evade them.


Accounts showed debts of �10 million. It is not just private


money. Nirah was loaned �3 million of public money from the beginning.


It is shocking. Where has the money gone? Will we get the money back? I


doubt it. The money has gone. It is public money. No other planning a


ever incurs public money from day one. This is where Nirah says the


money was spent. �400,000 went to directors. �1.3 million went on


professional fees and consultants. �1.1 million went on planning


applications. The worst scenario is that the


company goes to administration. We have money secured on 200 acres of


land. We take possession of that site. We get our money back. I am


hopeful that the money comes forward. I am hopeful that we can


get our money back. I am hopeful that we will get the jobs and


investment. If none of that happens? We are down at �3 million.


Main Eye blames the economic downturn for the delays and say


they are still seeking investment. Nirah has two more years to get


full planning permission, otherwise many will say the project really is


dead in the water. We invited Nirah to join us today.


They were unavailable, but they Some former members of the East of


England Development Agency told us that because the Department of


business, innovation and skills now has responsibility for the project,


they could not speak to as. Joining me now is a former Labour


MP for Bedford who supported the decision at the time. Also joining


as is at councillor. He helped make that decision.


Let me put these criticisms to you. You heard them in the report. An


abuse of public funds, naivety, and lack of commercial expertise.


back to 2005 When we were approached by the Nirah team, along


with representatives from Liverpool and South Wales, to build an iconic


scheme that would have put to better chip on the map. We were


delighted to be part of that project. We were delighted to be


part of an idea which are still has a very good chance of happening.


But that project be is still a hole in the ground. Let me put the


criticisms to you again. An abuse of public funds, naivety, lack of


commercial awareness. Nadine Dorries is entitled to her opinion,


but she is wrong. A you believe the scheme will go ahead? It stands a


good chance of going ahead. I am not saying it will. Where we are


today is the public purse is protected. Those loans are


protected. But we still stand a good chance of this happening. But


it does not we get our money back. Do you agree with that? I want to


pick up on the point of his being and I need use of public money. If


that attitude had been applied to a project in Cornwall more than 10


years ago, one of the most successful leisure projects in that


country would not have taken place. There is no absolute guarantee that


a project will succeed straight away. Many people are disappointed


that Nirah has not got going. But it is not over yet. It is premature


to write it off. Debt of nearly �10 million. �1.3 million spent on


consultants. Should alarm bells not have been ringing? I have never


found any evidence that it was a competition. In the current climate


no private sector project would get �3 million. Richard talks about


securing the land. Nirah bought the land for �1. Where they would get


�3 million, I am not sure. They have been here for seven years.


is a question of if they can get the money. In this climate and


nobody has the money. When this was first thought of, we were and


benign financial -- we were in the Apennines financial situation.


There was no private money. Where was the private investment? The


county council put the money in. I am worried about getting the money


back. It is about accountability is it not? That is what people are


frustrated that out. Who is accountable? Nirah is responsible


for getting this delivered. As far as the money that is Britain from


the public sector is concerned, that was scrutinised, it complied


with state aid rules. Similar projects have been successful


elsewhere. It Eden Project had money from Cornwall County Council.


Argue happy that you back the plan? I absolutely. Even with hindsight I


am delighted at the back it. I still back it. It is something we


can look back on in years to come as an eye contact Park or better


Chia. Thank you all very much. Time for our weekly political round-up.


At what a week it has been. -- what a week it has been.


Whatever the weather the party started across the region to


celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Over the past few days


there was an outbreak of happiness around the country. Celebrations


continued in Chelmsford, making official the city's status it was


granted earlier this year to mark the Jubilee. This will create jobs


for Chelmsford. All of our local businesses are changing the way


they market themselves. The 68 anniversary of the D-Day landings


was commemorated this week. Read were laid at a service in Norwich.


The England squad visited their sponsors at Vauxhall headquarters


in Luton before flying out to Euro 2012.


Spirits remained high at the Suffolk Show with the Environment


Secretary assured us there will be no shortage of water for the


Olympics. We made provision for those Olympics sites to be provided


with water. That would be sure that the going is good for the horses.


Download Subtitles