So, Sir Richard, who is in charge this week?

Who is in charge of the Wye Park project and could Imperial College organise its way out of a paper bag?

Forgive us for asking these questions but the staff of Imperial must be asking the same ones after being told in two separate memos that David Brooks Wilson, former estates director and now special advisor to the rector, Sir Richard Sykes, is suddenly in charge of special projects — including the Wye ‘vision’. Not only that, but in the first memo — dated May 24 and issued by college secretary Tony Mitcheson — staff were told that Mr Brooks Wilson was reporting ‘directly to the rector’. You can find the first story we wrote about this here

Then, on June 6, Mr Mitcheson felt compelled to reinforce this first memo with one that was more specific about Mr Brooks Wilson and the Wye Park project. Mr Brooks Wilson had been, the memo said, appointed as College Property Advisor with immediate effect, reporting directly to the Rector.

‘He will advise the Rector on strategic property matters and, in particular, take responsibility for the Wye Project and the delivery of current large construction projects such as Southside and Burlington Danes. He will be a member of the Portfolio Review Board and the Property Advisory Committee.’

You can read the story we wrote about this more specific memo here.

But we got a bit concerned about this because it seems that the man Mr Brooks Wilson was replacing as Wye Park visionary, deputy rector Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, was still writing to all and sundry and is apparently still in charge of the project. We asked Sebastian Hanley of Tamesis, Imperial’s public relations company on the Wye project, who insists that Prof Sir Leszek is still in charge. Mr Brooks Wilson, Mr Hanley says, is merely advising Sir Richard on the property aspects of the project.

Mr Hanley says: ‘The deputy rector remains the leader of the project. Mr Brooks Wilson, as college property advisor is responsible for delivering the property-related side of the vision, as well as that of other major college projects. He held this responsibility as director of estates and the recent internal reorganisation had not had any impact on roles within the Wye project.’

Imperial insists that Mr Brooks Wilson is reporting to Prof Sir Leszek on the Wye Park project, not directly to the rector as clearly stated in the second memo, and has not taken responsibility for the whole project … again something clearly stated in that second missive. wonders why, if he is still very much playing second fiddle, Mr Brooks Wilson had a meeting with Richard Alderton, Ashford council’s head of planning, a few weeks ago to press for changes to the Local Development Framework consultation if he is only in charge of ‘the property aspects of the Wye project’. We also wonder why it will be Mr Brooks Wilson reporting to Imperial’s management board on the state of the vision at its meeting next month.

We also wonder why Prof Sir Leszek had a meeting estates staff in Wye on Monday to tell them that they won’t be transferred to the employment of the University of Kent when that would surely have been the remit of one of Mr Brooks Wilson’s former minions in the estates department.

We are also rather bemused as to the fate of Prof Sir Leszek’s black Mercedes and driver and why the deputy rector decided to travel to Wye by train — we do hope in the comfort of first class and not steerage — for the meeting.


About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome, Pieter Vos in Amsterdam, adaptions of the Sarah Lund stories in Copenhagen, and versions of Shakespeare worked for Audible.
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