I want to bring you up-to-speed with the developments on the Kent Science Park.
I have written to the Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pointing out the inconsistencies in the independent panel set up to make observations on the Draft South East plan. It is a nonsense to suggest that there will be no environmental impact.
Please understand that if a future Labour Government ever sanctioned the current plans for the extension of the Science Park that I would resign from the party.
It is now clear that both the Tories who control Swale Borough Council and the Tories who control Kent County Council want the development of the Science Park and with it the 5,500 extra houses.
They want the Science Park because they think it will bring them added value jobs. It won’t. There has never been a privately funded science park in the UK before. And never one as large as is proposed. It will be bigger than the one at Oxford University and slightly smaller than the one at Cambridge. All our science parks have as a supporter, a major substantial university, sometimes two or three.
Kent Science Park will be a science park in name only. It will be a glorified business park. The Tories have seized on it because by sanctioning what is called a Section 106 in planning law, they can make the developer pay for a southern ring road from the A2 to the M2. Bu the only way the developer can pay for this is by building the housing for over 12,000 extra people.
At the moment the Highways Agency is more concerned with Exit 5 on the M2 at the Stockbury Roundabout. This is becoming dangerous at rush hour and I raised this with the Secretary of State for Transport over the Summer. I asked for the timetable for its improvement to be brought forward. My guess is that we will need to spend c£60 million to correct the design faults. It follows that until this is done that any talk of a further exit off the M2 is premature.
I have raised the matter of the KSP in the House of Commons on three occasions:
Adjournment Debate: 14th July 2004
Adjournment Debate: 2nd February 2005
Adjournment Debate: 30th March 2006
(You can access the Ministerial responses on my web site at www.derekwyatt.co.uk; open the site, click on “Local Issues” and then click on “Planning & Regeneration”; incidentally, there are 108 entries about KSP).
There hasn’t been an MP since 1997 who has managed to persuade The Speaker of the need for so many debates on a single subject.
I was the only Kent MP to go to the Kent and Medway Structure Plan hearings in September, 2004 (no Tories or Lib Dem councillors or would-be candidates or General Election candidates bothered). It was the same again at the Kent Science Park Inquiry held at Swale Borough Council in June 2006. No Tory councillors, media correspondents, would-be candidates or spokespersons turned up, sent in evidence or asked to speak.
This week, I have written to Mark Bilsborough, the CEO, of Swale BC, to ask him to put into the public domain all the correspondence, emails and telephone logs he, his officers and politicians have had with KCC and the owners of the KSP.
The fact remains though that the Tories will ride roughshod over local opinion on this major development which will change Sittingbourne for ever and ruin five ancient parishes.
We must maintain our vigilance and oppose these plans. Together we can succeed.
Derek Wyatt MP