Revealed: the secret agreement behind the sham

Signing

All smiles for the camera: KCC and Ashford council
join Sir Richard Sykes and Professor Sir Lezsek Borysiewicz
for the sanitised public Wye ‘Concordat’.

There are two different versions of the ‘concordat’ to redevelop Wye.
JUSTIN WILLIAMS uncovers the one they never wanted you to see.

ITS EXISTENCE was unknown until a month ago. But the publication today of the first secret ‘concordat’ between Imperial College, Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council — nearly 12 months after it was signed — suggests that the version signed in December last year may be little more than a sham designed for public consumption only.

The first ‘concordat’ was signed by Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, the former leader of KCC; Paul Clokie, leader of Ashford Borough Council; and Sir Richard Sykes, the rector of Imperial between April and May last year. It is similar in outline to the version released to the public in December but differs in several important respects:

  • The first is far more enthusiastic on the part of the local authorities, committing them to regular meetings and putting their ‘personal and organisational support to this exciting plan’.
  • The ‘concordat’ signed in April and May commits the parties to secrecy saying that ‘the sensitivity of the proposals is well recognised and we will maintain the confidentiality of issues raised and discussed at all times’.
  • In the April and May agreement, KCC and Ashford council go further down the road in agreeing to large-scale housing development. The document states: ‘The parties to this concordat will work together to secure external funding recognising that the total costs of Phase 1 will be circa £300 milion. Imperial College will need to sell part of its estate in Wye to fund any “gap” and the Local Authorities understand this fact’.
  • * Further proof, if any were needed, that the local authorities were willing to act as unpaid PR consultants for Imperial. ‘We will agree as part of our action plan a communications strategy for all stakeholders including Central Government’.

The document raises important questions about Ashford council’s rapid rejection of the Wye Future Group threat of a judicial review of the legality of the Wye Concordat, not least — which concordat, in the council’s opinion, does not have force in law and why was the faux concordat toned down so much from the real agreement that Paul Clokie, the leader, signed in April?

Read the ‘real concordat’ here

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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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