KENT County Council may pull out of the ‘Wye Concordat’ or scale back its commitment to Imperial College’s science park.
The sensational move would throw Imperial’s entire scheme into doubt and leave Ashford Borough Council as the only enthusiastic supporter of the plan. The county council’s legal department has told the Wye Future Group that the leader, Paul Carter, is shortly to hold a meeting to ‘further consider the concordat’ and may decide that the agreement can be ‘better expressed’.
The revelation comes as save-wye.org has learned that the county council has been ‘stunned’ by strength of opposition to the plans and the anger over the secrecy surrounding negotiations between Imperial and the two councils.
One senior county councillor told save-wye.org that he had even been told that Ashford council was ‘reeling’ from the response. The councillor said KCC had been ‘taken aback’ and it was ‘quite possible’ that it would now seek to extricate itself from what many at County Hall believe to have been a public relations disaster.
He added that the county council had been ‘naive’ and it was widely believed at County Hall that senior officers had ‘caved in’ to a threat by Imperial College to pull out of Kent entirely. ‘I think that KCC fairly naively went into this thinking that it was an opportunity to stop Imperial carrying out its threat to pull out of Wye,’ he said.
save-wye.org has also learned that KCC’s business plan for the year ahead currently has a blank space under the ‘Wye’ section. We have been told by a councillor that Leigh Herington, the county planning officer, has left the space blank ‘while KCC makes up its mind what it’s going to do about this’.
One county councillor said: ‘I’ve been told we may just put something very bland in the space.’