Thursday, 1 May 2008

A GROWING SENSE OF UNEASE

The more I have dug around ' China Gateways' in Manston and in Wigan the same picture seems to emerge. Am I the only one who considers that politicians, Westminster and local, seem to be far too close to big business?

It is probably wishful thinking but I would like to see more interest by local councils in maintaining their traditional areas of responsibility to the highest standards for and on behalf of the community they represent. I do not want to see Glossy Magazines, TV Stations, PR Teams and running businesses in competition against local businesses as KCC reputedly does. It may be more mundane and less glamorous but looking after the infrastructure and townscape is what we expect amongst a whole realm of municipal responsibilities. Which brings me to East Kent Opportunities LLP.

KCC owns 70 acres at Manston and TDC owns 40 acres at The Eurokent site and together formed a Limited Liability Partnership in February to deal collectively with these land assets that strictly are the community's. They have advertised for an Executive Director to be employed with a salary of £70,000, who as well as maximising job creation , has
"to make a return on investment for the LLP's investors". Note the similarity with CGP's blurb on previous posts.

I commented on a post of 17th April ( The Business Barons Carve Up Thanet) that a nice little scheme is being hatched to put all industrial sites at Manston which would then free up the Eurokent Site for more retail, leisure and housing development. So East Kent Opportunities LLP is a cosy vehicle to do this. Perhaps my post should have read 'TDC, KCC and Business Barons Carve Up Thanet'?

The Gateway in Wigan is on an old Power station site (Westwood Park) and is truly 'brown- field' and I firmly believe that The China Gateway, Manston should be likewise restricted to the earmarked area for development and not be allowed to grow to the size envisaged by CGP. Pundits elsewhere report the 'plans' at Manston have doubled the value of about £30,000,000
of CGP assets at Manston to over £60,000,000. (Their share price seems to have fallen from 170p to 125p though). But with East Kent Opportunities LLP (KCC and TDC) also in the property game with developers, what chance have we of seeing the development limited to its designated area.?

So whilst our politicians get stuck into the game of new property development and allowing development to extend onto precious agricultural land outside the Thanet Plan, Margate quietly dies. The one piece of land that was critical to its recovery (Dreamland Site) still festers.
Instead of allowing Waterbridge's asset to double in value by ignoring The Planning Inspectors report, TDC and KCC would have been better off playing the property game by compulsory purchase of Dreamland.

Hence my growing sense of unease about local politicians 'cuddling up' with big business; 'Qui bono?'

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's already a useless brownfield site near by they could build - it's called Manston airport.

Anonymous said...

"And they highly rate the former power station site because of its natural environment and its proximity to the West Coast Main Line, the motorway network and the town centre." ...about Wiggan, so why on earth aren't they looking at the land on Richborough Power Station instead of our water aquafier?

bertie biggles said...

Perhaps because its not in Thanet and if you remember Petbows received a great deal of incentive (EU grants) to move a few miles across the 'border'to set up as Cummins when co-operation between Dover and Thanet could have and could still sort out that huge ramshackle area called Sandwhich Industrial Estate. Firms like nice green field sites on agricultural land and being in the country-side. The other problem is that Dover/Thanet do not want to spend any money clearing up Richborough. Wigan has used up £19 million of 'grants' to turn a derelict area into an attractive location. The inbalance of funding to 'labour ' heartlands 'oop north' is apparent here perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I remember this one...did not the power plant poeple say in the end that they would not produce the jobs commensurate with their grant?