Professor Mike Blatt worked at Wye College for many years before moving to a new senior post in Glasgow. He returned to Wye recently and was shocked by the attitude of Imperial Estates Security. Here he explains what happened.
A new development and the future of Wye? Returning to visit as a former member of Wye College, and taking a stroll around the environs of Wye, I was this afternoon accosted by Imperial College security outside Withersdane informing me that I was ‘trespassing on private property’.
After brief discussion — and naturally an apology (somewhat bemusedly) on my part — I was informed that ICL was now forced to raise the level of security around its holdings in the area. Why? I asked. Because of fears of terrorism and growing public awareness of al-Qaida in the university, I am told.
Well, this is news to me. I don’t mean that ICL is allegedly the latest hotbed of terrorism. I cannot comment on this matter (though in the minds of many locals, this might be an appropriate description for ICL’s management). Rather, that the next stage in ICL’s dealings with Wye should (at least in this conception) take the form of barriers erected to prevent historical patterns of movement around the local environs.
Practically speaking, of course, this is absurd — it would imply that much of the land around Wye (including the Crown) is now out of bounds to all but the select few of Imperial College. Sadly, however, the attitude does seem to reflect the current breakdown in the relationship between Imperial College and surrounding community.
As someone fond of Wye, I can only hope that the College has the wisdom to prevent any further deterioration in its relations with the local community.