’Tis the season for Concordats

The Wye Concordat was not the only one to hit Kent last year — simply the one that caught all the headlines. Another of the blasted things was signed back in the summer too… and parts have an oddly resonant ring to them.

You can find the full document — all 59 pages of it — here, though we suggest the proximity of alcoholic beverage should you undertake the task of reading through every last line. The Concordat was signed between the Government Office of the South East (Mr Prescott’s chaps) and KCC, on behalf of the Kent Partnership (of which more later).

There is a list of eighteen ‘high-level outcomes’ which the document seeks to engender in Kent (health, happiness, and economic prosperity being among them, naturally, though there is no mention of English success in the World Cup, possibly on grounds of political correctness). Of particular interest is the desired ‘outcome block’ of ‘Stronger and Safer Communities’. Outcome number thirteen is ‘to increase the capacity of local communities so that people are empowered to participate in local decision making and the delivery of services’. The lead partner in this thoroughly praiseworthy venture is to be your local district council, in conjunction with parish councils. One objective is ‘increased perceptions of community cohesion’.

We now know that, at the time this Concordat was being agreed, Ashford District, KCC and Imperial were signing a document with potentially far wider-reaching concrete consequences in the real world, and would later manage to keep the entire thing secret for seven months, even from the Wye parish council. Is it possible one Concordat group didn’t think to talk to the other? Probably not, actually.

This particular Concordat was signed under the aegis of the Kent Partnership, a body that embraces public groups and councils and private industry. Among the members of the partnership and its sub groups at the time were Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, then leader of KCC, Paul Clokie, leader of Ashford Borough Council, KCC Cabinet Member Alex King, and Pete Raine, Director of Strategic Planning for KCC.

As we now know through the FoI documents obtained by this website yesterday, Mr King was meeting Imperial about the future of Wye as early as November 2004. Mr Raine was ‘exploring proposals’ in March last year. And come April 29 Sir Sandy and Mr Clokie were signing the initial Concordat, although no-one felt any desire, in the pursuit of ‘increased perceptions of community cohesion’, to tell the residents until the following December.

The largest representation on the Partnership from a single private sector company at the time came from another company with an interest in Wye too, Pfizer, with no fewer than three members. Clearly Pfizer met with Imperial too, on this subject, though the FoI generally stumbles when it comes to meeting with private companies, so we can offer you no further illumination on that subject, at the moment anyway.

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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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