Blaming Prezza is a smokescreen

18 Oct 2006

MUCH as I love to see Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott being nailed to the wall for his incompetence and misdemeanours, I do think it might be just a little unfair for Don Jordan (Letters, October 4) to blame him totally for the greedy expansion plans of the Kent Science Park.

Yes, it is true that this development falls within the Thames Gateway, Prezza's pet scheme to concrete over Kent, and it is true that our illustrious deputy leader has neutered the powers of local councils, but we must remember that it was Swale council (Spin City), Swale Forward and the wealthy land speculators who so eagerly seized the opportunity to use Thames Gateway to achieve their ends.

Spin City wanted a free south-ern relief road; Swale Forward needed something to justify its expensive, useless existence; the under-utilised science park wanted to grow its portfolio value for the Mars Pension Fund and the wealthy land speculators just wanted to make a packet.

What Sittingbourne and the surrounding villages wanted was neither here nor there.

At the first public meeting to discuss the expansion plans of the science park in a packed-tocapacity Rodmersham parish hall in March, 2004, who was on the platform outlining this scheme to the audience?

Who presented this plan which included 1,000 houses (subsequently 5,000, then possibly up to 10,000) and a southern relief road?

Who told this meeting that this development was the way for-ward for Swale and the people of Rodmersham and was to secure the future of our children?

Who was flanked on the plat-form by a planning officer from Spin City and the science park manager, with the land specula-tors rubbing their hands in the wings?

Who offered this as the best thing since sliced bread? It was our councillor for West Downs, Don Jordan.

By the end of the meeting there was almost total hostility from the audience.

Sliced bread was no longer in vogue. Indeed, the chairman of Rodmersham Parish Council was reported in the press on April 2, 2004, saying: "We are concerned the owners of the science park and the councils are going about this in a devious way.

"Swale council must have known about this plan for a long time, but it hasn't made it public."

After this presentation by our elected representative, it was decided to set up an opposition group which actually represented the views of the people.

Two-and-a-half years in politics is a very long time, but it is truly amazing that we are now expected to swallow the spin and forget that the science park's expansion plans were secretly backed by just a handful of officials and elected representatives who were – and are – intent on ignoring the wishes of the majority.

Some are now distancing them-selves from these plans, while others are seeking to rewrite history.

If nothing else, it is heartening to see that people power may be having some impact on our leaders.

Is it any wonder that politicians are held in such low esteem?

John Bonney,
Rodmersham Green.