Row over river barrage leaflet blunder

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Red-faced town hall bosses in Preston were today accused of confusing residents after a council newsletter suggested the controversial River Ribble barrage is back on the agenda.

Last month the Evening Post revealed how the contentious scheme, part of an 800m proposal, had been scrapped for good after a huge public backlash.

It was feared the barrage could lead to serious flooding in parts of Preston and South Ribble.

Now, just weeks after council leader Ken Hudson sparked celebrations by saying the barrage "would not go ahead" under his administration,

residents have been left perplexed by the council's latest Prestonian newsletter.

The publication, which went out to around 58,000 homes in the city this week, contains an article headlined 'Riverworks explained' which outlines a brief for consultants to "examine the detailed implications of constructing a barrage across the river."

Council bosses today said the confusion was because the publication deadlines for the Prestonian are well before Coun Hudson made his announcement.

But opposition councillors and campaigners have branded the mix-up "chaos."

Labour Coun Jack Davenport, councillor for the Riversway ward, said: "This is outrageous. Assurances were given by the council leader that the barrage was off the agenda. Now we have this publication going to every household in Preston. Council policy is in chaos and people will be very confused about the mixed messages."

Jane Brunning, of the Save the Ribble Campaign, which opposed the barrage scheme from its inception in 2005, said: "They need to send something out as soon as possible to all the houses who have had this leaflet to clear up exactly what the situation is."

Coun Hudson is due to make a formal announcement about the barrage scheme at the council's next full meeting.

Preston Council chief exectuive Jim Carr said: "Deadlines are to blame here. The magazine was sent to the printers on November 16 and the article reflects the position at that time."