Friday, April 7 UPDATE: We are redrafting our submission to SEERA in the light of new information that we have uncovered in the last two days. As a consequence, we have taken our pro forma submission down. We hope to repost it within 48 hours. If you haven’t sent your copy to SEERA, please hold on to it for the moment. Sorry for any inconvenience
12pm UPDATE: save-wye.org has, in the last 24 hours, uncovered shocking evidence which calls into question the integrity of the South East Plan and the relationship between property developers and those put in place to regulate development. We will be publishing this material shortly.
Four days ago, the South East Regional Assembly sent its draft of the South East Plan to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and in doing so, started the first process of consultation which will end at 5pm on June 23.
The plan lays out the overall guidance on development in the South East until 2016. If you are familiar with this shabby saga, then you will know that in section E3 on employment, the plan makes specific reference to supporting a high quality proposal to expand the scientific centre at Imperial College’s campus in Wye. You will also know that this inclusion in such an important document was made without it ever being discussed by councillors in open council at Ashford Borough Council and that our parish council has not been given an opportunity to comment.
This shameful perversion of democracy — which is being fought by the Wye Future Group — was carried out by the Executive of Ashford council with the enthusiastic endorsement of the council leader, Paul Clokie, and its chief executive, David Hill. Regular readers of save-wye.org will know that Cllr Clokie, the local cheerleader for Imperial’s plan, signed two concordats — one of them in conditions of absolute secrecy — without the authority to do so being granted by the council. He did so on the ‘advice and encouragement’ of his chief executive.
Before signing these two documents, Cllr Clokie was shown the advice offered to Mr Hill. He did not seek his own advice and, faced with legal action by the Wye Future Group, the council has now indemnified him. That means that if the council loses a judicial review and the concordat is quashed, you — the long-suffering taxpayer of Ashford — will foot Cllr Clokie’s legal bill.
The time of reckoning for all those who have conducted or are complicit in this disgraceful episode will, we hope, come when Imperial’s plans are soundly defeated and at the ballot box next year. But now the need is for urgent action to get the ODPM to remove the reference to Wye from the South East Plan. Only then can this scheme go back to the drawing board and our councillors — both borough and county — re-engage with the democratic process instead of behaving like pre-Perestroika Soviet bloc puppets taking their instructions from the Politburo in South Kensington.