If theres to be a public inquiry, make it a short one, says Raleigh MD

On the BikeBiz bulletin board Biro writes that at last weeks Raleigh product launch the Raleigh MD said £20m had been secured to build the new Raleigh plant. But if the land deal with Nottingham City Council is referred to a public inquiry and its a long one Raleighs relocation plans might have to be altered
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Its possible that Raleighs plans to move to an industrial estate a few miles out of Nottingham could be stalled if the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions allows a public inquiry to go ahead.

Raleighs plot is currently a series of allotments owned by Nottingham city council. The allotments are in a non-development zone and the council is breaking its own rules by setting the land aside for Raleigh. The DETR could call for a public inquiry to see whether all parties agree that the deal should go through.

But Raleigh needs to be out of its current factory by 2003 as its land was sold by the Derby Cycle Corporation to the University of Nottingham. A lengthy public inquiry may delay Raleighs move.

"We are not quitting production in the UK and we would love to be in Nottingham but we can't sit on our hands indefinitely, Raleigh MD Phillip Darnton told the Nottingham Evening Post.

"We have a time schedule and that allows for a reasonable time for public scrutiny. We produce 500 000 bikes a year and it takes a good time to find and build a suitable site."

Nottingham North MP Graham Allen warns that Raleigh jobs could be lost if a public inquiry goes ahead.

Allen has written to deputy prime minister John Prescott, head of the DETR.

"I am anxious that having secured a wonderful deal to secure jobs in Nottingham, it could be under threat if a call-in becomes a reality," Allen told the Nottingham Evening Post.

"Delay is death in these circumstances. It would be bad news for jobs in Nottingham. I want Raleigh up and running in Bulwell as soon as possible.

"Most allotment holders appreciate the difficult decision and understand jobs are very important in an area of high unemployment."

The allotment holders are being offered new allotments close to their existing ones. Even their topsoil will be moved.

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