More facts please… but change is on the way

[image:3:r:s=1:l=x]Ashford MP Damian Green wrote this opinion article for save-wye.org after Monday night’s meeting.

As you would expect a large number of Wye residents have been contacting me about the Imperial College development proposals. The fact that something like 400 people turned up for the public meeting on Monday January 9th shows the degree of concern.

We need to know local consultation will have teeth

It was clear that a section of those attending was just straightforwardly in opposition to any large-scale development. Indeed the point was made that some people move to Wye specifically because its lack of easy road access leaves it relatively isolated. As an example of how difficult it is to please a majority when making public policy this is telling, as many people in the village have been complaining to me and others for years that they want better road links, and specifically that they want the level crossing to go.

I sensed that a more widespread disquiet was that a deal had already been cooked up and that the people of Wye were being kept in the dark. If this were the case, then it would certainly be a disgrace, but I am inclined to accept the assurances both of the college and the local authorities that they are at a very early stage of thinking through the various issues involved, and that they will now set up systems by which individuals in Wye can make their feelings known.

Looking ahead, a number of basic facts need to be revealed quickly, and I will be pressing for this to happen. First, we need to know what amount of land will be used. Secondly, we need to know in broad terms where each part of the development will be situated within this land. Thirdly, we need to know how much funding is expected from the various different sources, such as central Government and the European Commission. And fourthly, we need to know whether the local consultative body will have any teeth.

As I say, there will be a number of those in the village who are just opposed in principle to any large-scale development. Obviously I respect this point of view but I do not share it. I think there will be a mixture of benefits and problems caused by the proposals, and the trick will be to maximise the former and minimise the latter. The message came loud and clear on Monday that the people of Wye do not want to be kept in the dark as the proposals develop. I have made sure in private that Imperial College recognise the strength of feeling on this issue. I also want to make sure that the consultation mechanisms which are set up are genuine, and reflect the full range of views from within the village.

The decisions will be made over the next few years rather than the next few weeks, so there is time to have some influence. I am sure this site will provide one forum for energetic debate.

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About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome. Most recent book the novel of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
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