KCC demands government money for new road to Wye

Our elected representatives and their officers deny its existence and insist that nobody has even sat down to sketch a line on a map. But without a single word of public debate, Kent County Council has given notice to the Government that it will want in excess of £5 million of public money to build a new road from the M20 at junction 10a to Imperial’s proposed science park.

A plan for the road — which both KCC and Ashford council continue to insist does not exist — is now county council policy and is scheduled to be built between 2011 and 2016. It was adopted as policy at a meeting of KCC last week without a word by councillors, including Wye’s representative, Charles Findlay.

Reference to the road — described as ‘Wye – road to proposed research centre’ — was slipped onto the council’s agenda by Cllr Keith Ferrin, Cllr Graham Gibbens and Pete Raine, the strategic planning director, in a report to the Cabinet on the Local Transport Plan for Kent 2006 to 2011. The transport plan, which was originally submitted to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last summer, had been sent back to KCC for refinements and because it “did not take a realistic view of funding from all sources and contained unfunded aspriations” and “lacked long-term transport vision”.

The LTP submitted on July 29 contained no reference to the road to Wye, but as part of a ‘reexamination and rationalisation’, reference to the new road was added even though this had nothing to do with ODPM’s complaints about the original document. John Prescott had sent the document back to KCC because it ‘did not take a realistic view of the limited available public sector funding’. But this was not enough, apparently, to deter KCC from demanding even more government cash to build a road to serve a scheme that it continues to maintain is ‘only an aspiration’.

Charles Findlay
Charles Findlay: silent

Astonishingly, the road was adopted without being debated or even mentioned at the meeting. A marathon address by Cllr Dan Daley, in which he pleaded for the Leeds and Langley bypass to be brought forward in the spending programme, succeeded in ‘talking out’ the agenda beyond its scheduled finish of 1pm. Under standing orders, all other agenda items — including the road to Imperial’s science park — were adopted as council policy and the revised LTP has now been sent to John Prescott for final approval.

Cllr Finlay, was present at the meeting but did not comment. One senior county councillor expressed surprise at this and said that Cllr Findlay ‘really should have commented’.

The councillor said that he thought that the adoption of the road to Wye as KCC policy had been put in to ‘appease Paul Carter [KCC’s leader] and Pete Raine’, the county council’s leading cheerleaders for Imperial. He added that he was surprised that this was being put up for public money when the science park is a commercial scheme. In these circumstances, he said, ‘the developer would normally be expected to pay for it’.

‘I just cannot understand why it has been stuck in there,’ he added.

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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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4 Responses to KCC demands government money for new road to Wye

  1. John Osborne says:

    Little wonder that Mr Findlay keeps a low profile in the village. Had he shown his head above the parapit he would have learnt that the last thing most of the people he is supposed to represent want is a new road linking with the M20 scarring the beautiful surrounding countryside.

    Since the bombshell was dropped on the village in December (with Mr Findlay appearing rather smugly in the group photograph of the concordat colluders) nothing has been heard of or from him. Until that is his agreement to KCC applying for government money for a road his electorate do not want!

    As he has ceased to represent us there is only one honourable course of action open to Mr Findlay and that is his immediate resignation from KCC. This will enable an election to take place so that the issues involved can be fully debated and the electorate choose a candidate who will better protect and fight for the future of this area.

  2. Ian Cooling says:

    May I chip in?

    What we are seeing here is not a planning application (though one will be needed in due course), it is a budgetary exercise that will ensure funds are set aside for our roads. To allocate funds up to five years ahead (as opposed to spending the funds) does not require detailed plans. So I’m afraid none will exist at the moment Justin, but by all means check.

    Our job now, all of us, it to make sure that when those spending decisions are made, they are the right decisions. We need to start planning our lobbying (as opposed to name-calling) to ensure that we do not have the A2070-style slash across the countryside that I have already firmly set my face against (ouch!).

    I’m hearing from many (though not all) villagers that we do need the existing routes into and out of the village up-graded. The Hinxhill road in particular, is in sore need of work for its full length.

    Problems at the level-crossing mean that more and more vehicles are using that route and there are regular bumps and scrapes due to its narrowness and the number of blind corners. The same is true, albeit with less traffic, of the Godmersham road. And I do emphasise that I was hearing of these problems long before Imperial’s “vision” emerged.

    In setting up our lobby, we shall need to assemble all the skills, contacts and experience we can find. Shouting names at Charles Findlay, however therapeutic, is therefore a pointless and probably self-defeating exercise. I have known Charles for many years. I and others who know him (possibly better than the name-callers?) have a great deal of respect for him as a skilful, behind-the-scenes operator, with excellent political antennae.

    We also recognise him, with some relief, as the sort of politician who does not feel the need spend his time pontificating away on soap-boxes (there’s quite enough of that from Cooling!). Make no mistake, we shall need Charles’ knowledge and experience of the KCC players and procedures to pilot us effectively through those shoals as we engage on the roads issue.

    Am I right in seeing a job here for WFG – perhaps a specific “Roads” sub-group?

  3. jack woodford says:

    a reply on the ‘proposed junction 10a relief road’ to wye…during canvassing in recent elections i found no evidence that anyone along the proposed route, smeeth, brabourne, brook, hinxhill, nacolt, wye, had any wish for a new road along this section of the countryside…for kcc to push this idea through, appears to me and many others totally undemocratic…certain of our elected representatives, could engage more with the electorate…we all know that old style political meetings, are now out of fashion! but there are other ways of keeping in contact with those constituents who are interested in local affairs

  4. Jo says:

    You may call me naive, but wouldn’t the fact that funding has been applied for tend to suggest that there is indeed a plan, even if it’s not a very firm one?

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