I know some of you have been following my dialogue about Eurokent with our new chief executive with interest, anyone who missed this and wants to know what it’s about should click on this link http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/07/eurokent-business-park-thanet-district.html and then this link http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/07/eurokent-consultation-update-and.html
Anyway the gist of this thing is that I suppose building a housing estate on agricultural land and a playing field, given to Ramsgate, that will ultimately house thousands of people seemed important to me. So much so that I asked the council about aspects of this through their customer feedback system.
This is an important issue to local people and I have tried to ask the right questions on behalf of the thousands of local people who read this blog, as most of you must know we have been denied access to the council’s press department, in fact I had thought that all of the local bloggers had. That was until the news about the councils position on animal exports was announced on Thanet Life two hours before the press release appeared on the council’s website, so I suppose it is different rules for cabinet member bloggers to the rest of us.
This is a ramble so I wont' bother to apologise for rambling again, sorry.
Anyway I was pleased when our new lady chief executive replied to us directly and thought this was appropriate to the scale of the matter.
Now something seems to have gone wrong and the response to my email that started:
“With the consultation having to be in by Saturday there is obviously no time to follow the instructions on the Eurokent website and make a foi request to TDC to find out what this issue is about in financial terms.”
Sent: 07/07/2011 16:34:08 GMT Daylight Time
Subj: Thanet District Council - Information Request Acknowledgement
Ref No:29224 / 1795271
Dear Mr Child
Thank you for your communication of 05/07/2011 requesting information about the ownership of Eurokent Business Park and Rose Farm Estates involvement in it.
Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.
If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
Information Request Assessor.
Anyway I banged off an email to Sue saying:
Fwd: Thanet District Council - Information Request Acknowledgement
Fri, 8 Jul 2011 11:54
Sue, I assume you did read what I sent:
“With the consultation having to be in by Saturday there is obviously no time to follow the instructions on the Eurokent website and make a foi request to TDC to find out what this issue is about in financial terms.” Etc.
Now I have several thousand readers who from my web stats have been taking a considerable interest in our correspondence about the Eurokent issue, I also clearly pointed out that if you have any off the record observations that you don’t want me to publish you only have to say so.
I don’t really know if the email
I have also contacted EKO who promised to email me details of the response to the previous consultation, well the consultation deadline is tomorrow and I still haven’t heard from them.
Perhaps you consider I have some ulterior motive here in trying to find out exactly who and what EKO comprises of, what their relationship is with the existing Eurokent Business Park, which seemed up until this consultation to have been reasonably successful given the current economic climate, I don’t really know.
What we have at the moment is a consultation about a project to build a large housing estate with the council as major stakeholder on the one hand, while on the other hand the councils press department are issuing press releases that seem to pretty much exclusively be saying. “We are making more tractors”.
Basic information like who the council is partnering with and what the results of the previous consultation were, would seem essential information for completing this consultation.
My experience with TDC foi requests is that information can take nearly a year to obtain, indeed I have one about the current situation with the Pleasurama development that seems to be taking an inordinately long time.
I should also point out that as the email I sent to you, which presumably instigated this foi request isn’t included in the response it seems very unclear which of the questions I asked you are to be answered in this way.
Best regards Michael
As I said I also phoned up the people at East Kent Opportunities who promised to send me the answers to my questions before the consultation deadline today.
The net result of this was nothing turned up, so I have just filled in the consultation, I will try and make the questions a different colour to my answers eventually:
What do you think about the proposed Eurokent masterplan?
I have contacted EKO and asked for some basic information about this project that I considered I needed to fill out this consultation, I was promised this information by email prior to today the consultation deadline and I haven’t received it.
I also asked TDC and after some dialogue which essentially delayed the issue I received a notification this Thursday that my answers would be treated as an foi request and I could expect a response in about a month.
The main things I asked for were a summary of the previous consultation results and a more detailed breakdown of the ownership of EKO. I also asked if the Eurokent Business Park was wholly or partly owned by EKO and an update on exactly how much of a failure or success accomplished site has been. This request was made in the light of the recent TDC press release http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/eurokent_business_park_success.aspx that said the business park had been a successful venture.
Obviously when the intention is to turn agricultural land into housing land the potential for financial gain is enormous and so I would like to properly understand the justification for this, some sort of reasonable evidence that the parts of the site already developed have been a failure, Marlowe Academy, Eurokent Business Park and so on, would be helpful.
Also in view of the huge profits involved I would like to understand who outside of the local councils stands to gain, a particular consideration here is Rose Farm Estates and if there is an aspect of councillors or council officers having administrative or personal share involvement in the business.
It is difficult to tell from the outside if this venture is a situation where the council are trying to recover the losses incurred by bad financial judgment, if the EKO always intended a residential development here, or what exactly has happened. There is also a sense that EKO appears to be distancing itself from use of this site that has been successful, loan of part of the site to extend Jacky Bakers, Eurokent Business Park etc.
The main information part of the EKO website doesn’t work http://www.eurokent.org/news.html and the information contact seems to have been removed from this page, this doesn’t help when trying to respond to this consultation.
There is also the concern that turning this site over to residential could lead either to residential use or expansion of the other EKO site at Manston, without this site and with the environmental problems with the Manston site it difficult to understand where business expansion it to occur in Thanet when the economic climate improves.
Aspects of the mock-up design on the EKO website are very concerning, for example see http://www.eurokent.org/pages/high%20street.html this shows a High Street design with no apparent shops, non conventional building materials used to produce what looks like dated and dense council housing of the type that is now causing social and economic problems.
The also seems to be no explanation how residential accommodation would sit around a road layout designed for large commercial vehicles, now used as a rat run to and from Westwood Cross.
Essentially aspects of this consultation are unclear to the extent that it is impossible for me to support a mixed development on this site.
We are looking for feedback on a future name for the Eurokent development, which is more suitable to a mixed-use scheme. What do you think the new community should be called?
What sort of community facilities would you like to see as part of the masterplan proposals?
I suppose that depends on what sort of community is envisaged there, as this development would, if built it would connect Westwood Cross with Newington community facilities would have to reflect the needs of both existing developments.
Oh yes back to the ramble, it is Saturday evening and this is a long ramble, so you may need a drink at this point.
We now come to Jacky Bakers as some of you may remember EKO had a bit of Jacky Bakers by swapping it for a bit that had already been taken away, or some such thing, this is the council’s explanation http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation/closed_consultations/jackey_bakers_sports_ground.aspx and even this bit if your computer can manage a pdf http://www.thanet.gov.uk/PDF/eurokent.pdf
After WW1 what with one thing and another the vote was given to women, this was done quickly and without much fuss, as they had been running most of the essential services, I don’t suppose the men at the time had much option.
Here in Kent Ramsgate was the first place to have a female mayor, Janet, and it was this Janet who gave Jacky Baker’s farm to the town, this is what she had to say about it:
“ In providing the ground for the young people of the town a new lung had been added to the borough [Ramsgate] which would be appreciated not only by those alive now but by their children’s children.”
The pink bit of Jacky Bakers is the bit the council seem to want to build houses on, I hope it comes out shocking enough for you, its always difficult to tell with colours and computers.
The picture if you click on it to enlarge it and then click on it again is a high resolution scan of my copy of the 1791 print of Ramsgate a smaller version of this forms the frontis of Richardson’s Fragment of History, available from good bookshops.
I recommend printing it out and sticking it on the wall for a bit.