"To put the record straight, the owners of Kent Science Park have no wish to develop homes in the vicinity of the science park"
Countryside protection group’s Downing Street delivery
The Five Parishes Opposition Group (5POG), dedicated to saving some of north Kent’s finest countryside from destruction, took its message to the top on Thursday 8 March. The group delivered a 3,200-signature petition to 10 Downing Street, then met with ministers in an effort to persuade central government it must not allow greenfield house and road building to fund the sprawling development of the Kent Science Park.
From left to right Dr Hilary Newport CPRE, Beverley Willis (Bredgar), Derek Wyatt MP, Monique Bonney (Rodmersham), David Hardy (Milstead), Sue Sills (Tunstall) and Andy Hudson (Bapchild)
FPOG representatives were accompanied to Number 10 by local MP Derek Wyatt and Dr Hilary Newport, director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Kent branch. After delivering the petition, they spoke at length with transport minister Dr Stephen Ladyman in what FPOG spokeswoman Monique Bonney described as a ‘highly successful meeting’.
‘We highlighted to Dr Ladyman the danger posed to the five parishes – and Sittingbourne itself – by the current KSP proposals,’ Monique Bonney said. ‘We gave a presentation which covered housing, the proposed road link and the issue of job creation and regeneration. We felt our comments were well received and positively supported.’
FPOG also met Jim Paice MP (shadow rural affairs minister for the Conservative party). Mr Paice has agreed to come to Swale later this month to discuss the issues relating to the KSP proposals with local conservative spokesperson Gordon Henderson and leader of Swale Borough Council Andrew Bowles. ‘Mr Paice has science parks in his constituency,’ Monique Bonney said. ‘He therefore clearly understands what constitutes a science park and what is merely a business park.’
The meeting with Yvette Cooper MP, Minister for Planning and Housing, is being rescheduled for FPOG’s next visit to London on 28 March, when meetings will also take place with Judith Armitt, CEO of Thames Gateway, Caroline Spelman MP (Shadow OPDM Cons), and Dan Rogerson MP (shadow OPDM Lib Dem).
The Downing Street visit followed FPOG’s march in Sittingbourne High Street on Saturday 3 March, attended by over 450 people, at which a petition was presented to Swale Council leader Andrew Bowles.