For those enthusiastic about Imperial College’s plans to turn Wye into the non-food crops equivalent of Silicon Valley, it was to be the social event of the year. The names on the guest list read like the signatories to the mother of all concordats: Sir Richard Sykes, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Paul Carter, Alex King, Paul Clokie, Damian Green, Ian Cooling and Charles Findlay. The token woman and voice of the environment was to be Dr Hilary Newport, the director of the Kent branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.
But there was a problem with the lunch organised by Kent’s Lord Lieutenant for those involved in the Wye Park scheme to get to ‘know each other socially’ and, wouldn’t you just know it, it was a family problem. Alan Willett, who was hosting the get-together at his house — Cumberland Cottage, in Chilham — on May 23 has a son-in-law who is very interested in science parks, is the Labour MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey and had only gone and spouted off about it in the House of Commons.
In-laws, eh? Aren’t they just a pain in the bum? Derek Wyatt outside Parliament
The relationship between Mr Willett and Derek Wyatt MP was revealed on save-wye earlier this week as was Mr Wyatt’s enthusiasm for Imperial’s plans which he commended to the House on March 29. Mr Wyatt wants the Kent Science Park at Sittingbourne downgraded in favour of the obliteration of the village of Wye.
Unfortunately, it appears that he never mentioned this to the father-in-law and so, with great regret, Mr Willett has had to cancel his lunch. He has written to all those who were due to attend saying: ‘It has come to my notice that the proposed development at Wye has been debated in the House of Commons [no mention who was involved in the debate, though].
‘In view of this, it is no longer appropriate for me, as the Lord Lieutenant of Kent and therefore HM the Queen’s representative in the county, to host the proposed luncheon for those concerned with this matter.
‘I trust all the invitees will understand that to go ahead with the luncheon would now prejudice mine and, therefore, the Queen’s total neutrality on all political issues.’