This post mostly relates to the complaint I made to the council about the Eurokent Business Park consultation.
Here is the complaint I made to the council.
|Subject:||Official complaint ref C2|
|Date:||21/06/2011 13:35:49 GMT Daylight Time|
This relates to the council failing to publicise a public consultation that they appear to be partly or wholly funding, the Consultation appears to be being held in the three main Thanet shopping centres this week.
Although this consultation seems to be being held under the Eurokent banner, it says on the Eurokent website: “Any Freedom of Information requests about the Eurokent and its budget should be made to Thanet District Council.”
The substance of my complaint is that this is in reality a public council funded consultation that the council for some reason is trying to conceal from the public.
Of course as the council now see my local news website, that several thousand local people read, as non accredited I no longer receive press releases, so I don’t really know if the council have published a press release about this but have been delayed in publishing it on their website, as has happened often before, or if the council are genuinely trying to conceal a public consultation about an important local issue.
Best regards Michael
29/06/2011 16:26:58 GMT Daylight Time From: ********@Thanet.gov.uk
Sent by *******, Corportae Information & Communications Manager on behalf of Sue McGonigal, Chief Executive.
Dear Mr Child
Customer Feedback Reference:29032
Thank you for your recent communication which was received on 24/06/2011.
In respect of your complaint that the council is, by reasons of its involvement with the East Kent Opportunities LLP, undertaking public consultation which is being concealed by the Council.
East Kent Opportunities LLP is a joint venture between TDC and KCC, set up to deliver development on Eurokent and Manston sites. It is a separate legal entity, and as such is undertaking consultation on its proposals to inform the drawing up of plans, that will, in due course, be submitted to TDC's Planning Committee for consideration. It is behaving in exactly the same way as any other building developer would in assessing public opinion of its proposals, which it is legally entitled to do.
The consultation is being widely advertised, and it is made clear on all of the documents that support it (the press statement, exhibition letter, advert and flyer) that this is a joint venture between TDC and KCC. I therefore must refute your suggestion that any attempt has been made to conceal this.
I hope that this resolves the matter to your satisfaction.
If you are not happy with our response, you may write to us with your reasons within the next ten working days, requesting a further review.
In order for us to respond as efficiently as possible, please ensure that you quote the above reference number and address your communication to ******* - Customer Feedback Co-ordinator, Executive Unit.
Thanet District Council
I have removed the officers names apart from the chief executives as I usually do, the reason for this is that the internet has a long memory.
My understanding of the Eurokent Business Park is probably inaccurate but I will do my best any corrections would be welcome.
I did go to the consultation in Ramsgate during my lunch break and I talked to a few people there, however they didn’t change my rather simplistic view of the situation, I was however very short of time.
In this country it is usually very difficult to build anything much on farmland and in this part of Kent farmland sells for much less than land you can build houses on, roughly farmland sells for about £10,000 £15,000 per acre.
Obviously if people were allowed to build houses on it the land would be worth a lot more.
What seems to have happened here is that TDC and KCC joined up with a private company, bought some farmland and got special permission to build industrial units on it, because this would provide employment for local people.
They then spent several million pounds building a large road through the middle of it to accommodate commercial vehicles and several more million pounds building a few industrial units at one end of the land.
Then Thanet District Council issued a press release saying that most of the industrial units had been taken and the project was well on the road to success, see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/eurokent_business_park_success.aspx
Then Eurokent issued a press release saying that the project had been a failure, very few of the units had been taken and that they wanted to build houses on the site.
I had rather stupidly got into my head that this was a council project and that the council should have issued a press release saying they were holding a public consultation about building houses on this farmland.
As you can see from the chief executive’s reply I was mistaken about this.
I think the crux of the problem here is that the value of land for housing is so much greater than the value for land used for other purposes.
On a very small scale I am up against this one as a small shopkeeper, obviously every town would like to have a bookshop, but frankly a bookshop on the edge of most town centres wouldn’t be able to pay the overheads related to the same space being used for housing.
The bookshop in Sandwich is in the processes of closing, something that rather proves this point.
The Thanet Labour group have put up a blog post about the Eurokent Business Park today, see http://thanetlab.blogspot.com/2011/07/east-kent-opportunities-and-eurokent.html
The Eurokent site is about 54 acres and they want to build 550 residential dwellings on the site.
I will endeavour to add to this one as the evening progresses.