Not Third Time Lucky: Council Rejects Budget Amendment That Would End £45m Princes Parade Scheme
For the third year running, Tim Prater last night moved a amendment at Folkestone and Hythe District Council to remove the Princes Parade Development scheme from the budget, but it was defeated.
Cllrs Tim Prater and Lesley Whybrow had earlier voted against Medium Term Capital Programme at Cabinet as it included provision for developing Princes Parade. They then moved and seconded an amendment to remove that funding at the Full Council meeting. All Lib Dem, Green and Labour Councillors present backed it, as did, bravely, Tory Councillor Peter Gane.
Every other Conservative, Independent and UKIP Councillor voted against, meaning the amendment fell 16-13.
After the meeting, Tim said:
"Thank you to everyone who supported our amendment to stop the development of Princes Parade tonight.
"However I'm sorry that DESPITE a £17m increase in costs, making the previously environmentally, ecologically and historically disastrous project a financially terrible decision too, the massed ranks of Conservatives and hangers on refuse to see sense. This project is on their heads."
In moving the amendment at the Folkestone and Hythe District Council Council Meeting on 10th February, Tim said:
I'm moving an amendment to the MTCP paper A/21/27 to be inserted as recommendation two. The amendment reads:
"The Princes Parade allocated budget of £45,400,579 be deleted and that a future capital programme considers the required budget for a leisure centre on an alternative site, probably at Martello Lakes."
In 2020, and in 2021, I moved an amendment to the Medium Term Capital Programme seeking to remove the development of Princes Parade.
I'm consistent. I'm moving the same amendment this evening, although the budget we're now seeking to delete has soared from £28.3 million last year to £45.4 million this year.
We can, today, still stop the development of Princes Parade. We should.
And we should do so not because the facts are the same as they were when we should have voted to stop it in 2020 and 2021. We should do so because they are worse.
We have a much clearer idea of what is in that site. We've been told how genuinely unpleasant some of those things are, and at high concentrations.
We now know that the huge majority of the site is to be capped, not cleared. Which is probably just as well, as clearance is even more hugely difficult and expensive.
And we actually know what is meant by site capping.
Now, for those of you who haven't been through this in detail, I hope I'm not being too technical here.
They are going to flatten it out a bit, stick a layer of blue plastic over it, and cover it with 3 foot of soil before building roads and houses on it.
This isn't remediation. Remediation suggests something is resolved.
This doesn't fix anything. It just covers it, buries it and prays that no-one digs a hole.
This isn't remediation. This is how they used to deal with out of favour East end villains. Allegedly.
And the team from BAM who presented to Cabinet were detailed, able and professional. If ever I want a team to flatten a large area, cover it with blue plastic, dump 3 foot of soil on it and then build a road on it and charge me £45 million, I think it would be them.
But, Council, there is the problem. We still don't.
We still end up with a 150 house development and inadequate swimming pool in the wrong place having ripped apart a site that local residents still value.
We said this was a terrible high risk idea when it said this development would cost £28 million and left this Council with no extra debt.
But that projection was wrong.
It's actually a really terrible high risk idea that will cost at least £45 million and leave this Council nearly £7 million in additional debt and expose us to legal challenge for decades to come.
And before someone says that that cost increase is mainly due to those campaigning against the development of Princes Parade: Stop Right There.
In 2021 The Medium Term Capital Report said that this scheme relied on the Council receiving about £20.5 million from the sale of the land and Hythe pool sites."
In 2022 the expected capital receipt on those sites is now £26.6 million.
And majority of cost increases are shown, in detail, to be due to it costing more to deal with the pollution on site than it was originally thought.
So the cost of delay from legitimate legal process and legal review is at least balanced by the £6 million increase in the value of the land in that time. That increase AT LEAST cancels out the additional costs added by the delay.
And while we are here, this Council should stop, immediately, its pursuit of costs from those who used legitimate legal processes to question this project. To seek costs from those people is not the way any Council with respect for due process should act.
The thing that needs to be wrapped in blue plastic, covered in three feet of soil and have a road built on it is this idea, not Princes Parade.
So, for the third time of asking.
Give this idea, and not our history and ecology, the decent burial it deserves.
Vote for this amendment. End the development of Princes Parade.
The video of the debate on the Medium Term Capital Programme, and the amendment to delete the funding for Princes Parade, is currently available on Folkestone & Hythe District Council's website.