‘The enemy’: What ICL really thinks of you

They’ve been bleating about consultation, community involvement and keeping us informed for months. But, as some of us have suspected all along, it’s claptrap designed to make us feel all warm and cosy towards Imperial College.

The truth, in case you hadn’t already picked it up from Borys’s ‘let me put this in words you can understand’ comment on January 9, or David Brooks Wilson’s harrumphing impatience with members of Wye Parish Council, is rather different. So what do those ‘nice’ people at Imperial really think of Wye? This:


diana_pound.jpgNigel Buck is the acting director of estates at Imperial and was intervening in a debate between David Traske — the campus manager at Wye — and Kevin Cope, the property services manager. The ‘enemy’ that Mr Buck refers to is Diana Pound, Wye resident and advisor to the Wye Future Group, pictured right, who had the temerity to ask about the possibility of taking some office space on the campus for her company – Dialogue Matters. After a meeting with Mr Traske, Mrs Pound said that she wanted an office with ‘four desks, four bookshelves, a couple of filing cabinets, some storage, light and airy, loo nearby, access to drinking water for tea and coffee. Good decorative order, phone line/internet access or reduced rental to reflect the need to have it put in’. Mrs Pound said she would prefer something nearer the front of the college.

After some internal discussion, Mr Traske offered Mrs Pound the former Wyseplan building in Occupation road but admitted that it would need to be redecorated and was ‘a bit sub standard’ which is like saying that Fountains Abbey is missing a few peg tiles. It is at this point that Mr Traske realises who Mrs Pound is and decides that he ought to inform his superiors:


Mr Cope, clearly realising that he was on the brink of allowing a cuckoo into the nest, informs Mr Buck and washes his hands of it. Mr Buck then lets slip his true feelings about the Wye Future Group to Mr Brooks Wilson.

In the end, Mrs Pound did not pursue an office at Wye College, thus sparing the blushes of Mr Traske who, we assume, would have been given the embarrassing job of fobbing her off. Or perhaps somebody would simply have written to her, thanking her for her interest but saying that Imperial is not in the habit of providing billets for the enemy when there’s a war on.


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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5 Responses to ‘The enemy’: What ICL really thinks of you

  1. Ian Cooling says:

    This is grotesque.

    Buck has a lot of explaining to do, preferably on his way to collect his final paycheque.


  2. David Hewson says:

    It is grotesque, I agree, Ian. But I have to be honest and say I am deeply unsurprised to see this confirmed in print. It seems to me to sum up the attitude of this small clique of Imperial’s would-be property developers through and through. What it does not represent, I think, is the general attitude of Imperial’s staff as a whole, many of whom will be as offended by this kind of thing as everyone else. I’m sure they never expected a college of international repute to turn up in Wye and start behaving like some medieval baron.

  3. Ian Cooling says:

    You are right David,

    We are not alone in having seen a very sharp difference in the whole style and culture of the London end of Imperial compared with with Wye end.

    The business of the hideous signs all over listed buildings a few months back being a good example. That was imperiously driven from South Ken and against the advice of Wye.

    But what makes this latest episode especially unpleasant, is that it should be Diana, of all people, described in such terms.


  4. Justin Williams says:

    It is grotesque, Ian. We are in the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your point of view) position to have been provided with a huge number of documents and emails about Wye Park from within Imperial. We continue to receive leaks each week. Most of these are internal but there are a large number between the college and outsiders … some from Wye. The thread that runs through all of these is that ICL, for all its talk of us being stakeholders in its ‘vision’, regards this as a war in which it will triumph by imposing itself on the people of Kent. As we have already seen, ICL regards public servants like Richard Alderton, Ashford’s planning chief, and Pete Raine, Kent’s director of environment and regeneration, to be mere bag carriers. Councillors – borough and county – are classified as ‘on side’, ‘helpful’ or ‘anti’. Even the ‘helpfuls’ are treated with distrust. It is why, at the lunch you attended on May 23, some were in ‘Group B’, ‘Group A’ having met an hour and a half before the others were allowed into the hallowed company of Richard Sykes and co.
    David’s comment about ‘would-be property developers’ is entirely correct. This is exactly how Mr Brooks Wilson and his underlings in the estates department at the college regard themselves. It is why people like Jeremy Newsum, Simon O’Donnell and Robin Worthington have been put onto the governing council or property advisory committee. It is why, as we will demonstrate in the next few weeks, those three men are particularly interested in the battle for Wye – and a looming battle at Silwood. It is why Monday night’s meeting of the LDF Task Group is absolutely vital.

  5. sue powell says:

    Mr. Buck explain? Collect his final pay cheque? Pigs flying?

    Mr. Buck is only doing his masters’ bidding. This is not a difference of ‘style’ or ‘culture’.

    Welcome to Stasiland!

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