Anyone missing the ancient art of Kremlin-watching — where distant observers had to read internal reshuffles in Russia to find out what was really going on — may care to transfer their skills to Imperial College. Changes are afoot there, and they concern two people well known to Wye, and very prominent indeed at the infamous January meeting.
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, deputy rector and key proponent of the Wye Park project, is changing responsibilities. And so is Mr David Brooks Wilson, who is relinquishing the job of estates director to concentrate on ‘special projects’.
So how do we read these particular runes?
The current consensus among Imperial-watchers is this. Prof Borys, who is an academic after all, not a natural property developer, has had a rough ride in the last six months, starting with that infamous comment at the January meeting, ‘Let me try to explain this in words you will understand’. Frankly, it has all been downhill from there, with a string of baffling and contradictory public statements. The latest is to insist in interviews that there never has been a plan to build a science park at Wye, but a ‘research park’. This presumably is to distance the plan from the failed Eureka science park just three miles away which is now a boffin-free zone.
Any hacks interviewing Prof Borys from now on about this subject (if indeed he does any more interviews) should, perhaps, go along with this… a slide from the formal presentation made to the Imperial Council on December 5 last year about Wye Park.
The presentation was given by… Prof Borys. Given that there is still a hope within the tiny band of supporters of Wye Park at the summit of Imperial that the Council will rubber stamp the plan in July — less than eight weeks away — perhaps people are starting to get a little nervous about this kind of thing.
The changes have not, sadly, been couched in the kind of language mere mortals like us can understand. Indeed the version that has gone out to the public does not mention Mr David Brooks Wilson at all, strangely enough. That is reserved for a private, internal document sent to Imperial staff, a copy of which you will find at the foot of this article.
It reveals that…
- Mr Brooks Wilson, the former Eurotunnel property executive who is very familiar with the Ashford area from his past work, is to move from the estates division ‘to work on special projects, reporting directly to the Rector’.
- The Capital Investment Planning Group will be restructured into a Portfolio Review Board chaired by Prof Borys, and reporting to the management board.
So the interesting Mr Brooks Wilson would appear to be in charge, and if you’re unfamiliar with the chap you might care to inform yourself on his antecedents from our profile. Mr Brooks Wilson, one assumes, has been promoted in this reshuffle. Given that he has moved on from a department that had a budget of £28 million, one can only guess at the size of the ‘special projects’ he hopes to tackle in the future.
We contacted Imperial’s PR machine for Wye to inquire about this before we had a copy of this notice and were told…
David Brooks Wilson is Director of Estates at Imperial and as such has a leading role in developing and strengthening the College estate. He has always had a major role in the liaison with the village and surrounding area, as has the Deputy Rector.
There has been no change to this and both Mr Brooks Wilson and the Deputy Rector continue to be involved in investigating the delivery of Imperial’s scientific vision at the campus in Wye.
Make of that what you will. Anyone wishing to play the Kremlin watching game in our comments here, or in the new forum, which is positively panting for your thoughts, will be most welcome.