Not important enough for the Tories

This is an independent, non-partisan site which, if that doesn’t make things sufficiently clear, means we will take a pop at anyone. Today let’s make it the Kent Conservatives who rule our County Council — one of Imperial College’s biggest fans — with a Ceausescuesque majority of 57 seats out of 84 if you please.

The leader of KCC, Paul Carter, and his predecessor, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, have made much of what a great thing the coming Wye Park is, while insisting, of course, that it’s ‘only an idea not a plan’, (a refrain we’re hearing so often these days we may well abbreviate it to simply ‘OAINAP’ — pronounced ‘Oi-nap’ — in future).

So what do Kent Tories make of this billion pound miracle on their very own website?

Take a look yourself using the link here. You won’t find a word. Even better, go to the left sidebar and choose the link for ‘leader’ or the Conservative-dominated Cabinet. Do they know something we don’t? Probably not, sadly. Their top featured story begins, ‘Michael Howard has welcomed the opportunity to take on Tony Blair at the polls after Gordon Brown unveiled a “dodgy” pre-election Budget which heralds yet more tax rises if Labour wins a third term.’ The leadership race is over, but it seems the ‘name that century’ contest is still under way.

This uncertainty about whether Wye Park is real or not does not extend to Imperial College however. Alan Paterson writes to us to say…

I have been given an article from the winter edition of ‘Imperial Matters’, their journal for alumni, entitled “World Class scientific research centre planned for Wye”.

The article opens with the simple statement “Wye is to become the home of a new £1 billion world class science research and manufacturing facility.” Later it adds “The Wye Concordat, signed in December 2005 by Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and the Rector, establishes a common and workable framework for cooperation and collaboration between the three parties.”

Nowhere in the article is there even a hint that planning permission is needed or the status of the land as an AONB.

How can Councillors Clokie and Carter claim that the document has no legal effect when it empowers Imperial to make such statements – they have given very great comfort to Imperial, who would certainly not be so bold without the Concordat. Surely such statements are further evidence in a legal sense of the artificially advantageous position Imperial are in? And how can the Councillors be so naive as not to realize that that they were being ‘conned’ and that a large part of the population they represent would recognize that as the truth and be deeply angered by the total absence of any democratic process, until information was released when the Imperial PR machine dictated.

How dare Messrs Clokie and Carter have proceeded so undemocratically, keeping months of prior negotiation from the elected representatives and the public they lead and represent?

Do let us know when you spot this kind of thing. We’d love to pass it on.

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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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