Science park chiefs jeered by opponents

27 Jun 2008

KENT Science Park workers came under fire for alleged speeding, abusive behaviour and speaking on mobile telephones while driving during a heated public meeting.

Park bosses are pressing for a multimillion-pound site expansion and called the meeting at Tunstall Village Hall on Wednesday night to reveal their plans for the next five years.

They want a four-hectare expansion outside the perimeter, a new entrance to the science park and two new technical units costing £2.75 million, and predict up to 500 jobs will be created.

But parent Joe Cox, of Ruins Barn Road, claimed he was too frightened to allow his children to cycle to school because of speeding vehicles.

He accused park employees of being "moronic" drivers and its chiefs of "lacking respect for local people".

He was backed by Nigel Jar-rett, also of Ruins Barn Road, who said: "Children can't play outside - they can't even stand on the path.

"We get abuse from Park employees who use their phones and make gestures to us."

They are now planning to use radar guns to monitor speeds.

Beverley Willis, chairman of the Five Parishes Opposition Group, claimed Kent Science Park said a recent economic study commissioned by Swale Borough Council had outlined negative prospects for expansion and claimed the existing park was grossly under-utilised.

James Speck, the park's new director, said he recognised travel to and from the park was a key issue and a draft travel plan was being prepared, hut denied plans included the development of an M2 link road and up to 5,000 new homes.

Residents asked why expansion outside the site was needed, and urged demolition of existing buildings.
Giacomo Maini, director of pollution experts Ecologia, said: "We are committed to staying in Swale, but we need purpose-built buildings."

Park bosses were accused of failing to address existing highways issues and there were jeers when park planning consultant Paul Sharpe said intended measures included 30mph speed limit signs and red tarmac with road-marked speed signs.

Mr Sharpe said Kent Science Park would not appeal against the council's refusal on highway grounds to approve planning permission for two new units in the park in January.