Wednesday, 31 July 2013
RAG stands for Reserve Advisory Group. It started off with some sort of official status but it was always hard to say what. By now it's a bit of a joke. When SWT first took over on Blacka there were regular meetings and groups who are identified by SWT, Sheffield Council, etc as 'stakeholders' attended. These were people from CPRE, Ramblers, various wildlife groups the Council itself, even councillors, although these have never seen this as an area that interested them, plus a number of local people and users of the site, when they eventually found out what was happening. The meetings were regualr at first, every two months or so. Over the years almost all of the original attenders have gone, 'stakeholders' rarely bother to come and many local users have lost interest, knowing their influence is less than minimal. SWT still try to maintain a fiction in their 'official' documents that the RAG has some significance but it doesn't. Those who turn up have no wish to get engaged in helping to guide any decisions - those people have long since become disillusioned. Apart from the occasional newcomer the only ones who bother to turn up to the very occasional meetings are those who are quite happy to listen to what SWT have chosen to talk about and fill the time. SWT don't want and don't expect serious questions or to be interrupted, certainly not participatory decision making or informed scrutiny. So those who've found out over the years that their views will be ignored or marginalised or misrepresented have simply found better things to do. The meeting becomes a cosy home for those who accept the official line. A bit like the old cap-doffing to the landowners, this time it's paying your respects to the managers and officers.