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Still Fighting for Princes Parade: One Vote Short

February 20, 2020 10:36 AM
Originally published by Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats

Princes ParadeAt the Folkestone and Hythe District Council Full Council meeting on 19th February, an amendment to the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme proposed by Lib Dem Group Leader Tim Prater and Green Group Leader Lesley Whybrow missed stopping the development of Princes Parade by ONE vote.

The amendment, which fell 14-15, would have removed the required £29m funding for Princes Parade Development from the Council's Capital programme. The vote was lost after two members that voted to stop Princes Parade development in June - Labour's Ray Field and UKIP's Terry Mullard switched sides and backed the Conservative administration in opposing the scheme. The only Conservative Councillor to back the amendment was Peter Gane.

Commenting, Tim Prater said:

"I feel sick that people who understood the importance of stopping Princes Parade in June have failed to back up their vote then with a vote today that would have finally killed this project. What changed, Cllrs Field and Mullard - what changed?

"I'd like to thank all those across the Council that voted with our amendment, with special kudos to Peter Gane who bravely voted against the development when no other Conservative did so. We won't give up: the Judicial Review is the next stage, and I hope that finally kills Princes Parade Development."

In moving the amendment, Tim Prater said:

"I would like to move an amendment to the recommendations of this paper. The amendment is to insert a new recommendation 2 (and renumber subsequent):

"'The Princes Parade (Princes Parade Leisure & Housing development) allocated budget of £28.608m be deleted and that a future capital programme considers the required budget for a leisure centre on an alternative site, probably at Martello Lakes.'

"This amendment follows up, and build on this Council's resolution last year to withdraw its planning application for Princes Parade, and cease immediately any ongoing plans to develop that area for anything other than outdoors recreation.

"The executive has chosen to ignore the Council on this, which they tell us they are empowered to do.

"However, we are empowered to set the budget for this Council. So this amendment does one simple thing: it removes the entire capital budget to redevelop Princes Parade. We are allowed to do this, and we should. And it stops the development of Princes Parade. Tonight.

"This council has much to do. There are huge, and exciting proposals on the table that can, and do have wide ranging support.

"Plans to tackle our Climate Emergency with a budget big enough to make a difference. Plans to build 1200 new Council homes over the next 15 years.

"Projects to satisfy the most far-minded, innovative Council. Folkestone and Hythe don't NEED Princes Parade development. The people of Sandgate and Hythe and across the district don't WANT Princes Parade development.

"We went through the reasons not to develop Princes Parade in June.

  • The damage to our environment.
  • The harm to the setting of one of our most important scheduled ancient monuments, the Royal Military Canal.
  • The threat to our wildlife and ecology.
  • And the huge financial risk to this Council.

"This isn't a few new buildings. It's 150 houses, a hotel, a leisure centre, 1.5 acre surface water attenuation pond and the re-routing the existing road away from the seafront to nearer the canal.

"As this report shows, Princes Parade requires £29m of borrowing. With all grants and capital receipts included, the development may make a return of £1million. On a good day.

"But as we also know, Councillor Martin, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, has done his only figures based on industry standard costs that project borrowing would go to around £70 million and a loss of £15 million overall. And that's only if things don't go horribly wrong. And, when you are developing a site on an old rubbish tip, they might easily go horribly wrong.

"And yes, this Council has already spent money getting here. Yes, I'm suggesting writing off that money too. With this motion passed, the money spent in this year - money we asked you not to spend - will have to be written off. That's the cost of doing the right thing.

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

"When in a hole, stop digging. That goes double if your hole is in an ex-rubbish tip by the sea and a scheduled ancient monument.

"Council - you did the right thing supporting the motion in June against the development of Princes Parade. I thank Every Last One of you that voted with that motion in June, and hope you'll back up your courage then with courage now to support the amendment. The people of Sandgate, Hythe and across the district ask you to stick to your principles.

"And those that did not support the motion in June: please - think again. We need a new pool to serve Hythe - and crucially Romney Marsh - but we simply don't need it on Princes Parade.

"Remember, we know where around £10 million of S106 and potential Capital receipts towards a new swimming pool are: they are included in the Princes Parade costings.

"We know that Sports England in 2018 projected the cost a 6 lane pool plus learner pool, 4 court hall, 100 station health and fitness gym plus 2 studios at £9.77m.

"We need to do the detailed financial work, but its entirely possible to build a new centre BETTER than that proposed at Princes Parade perfectly affordably. That will almost certainly at Martello Lakes, but lets check the options while we recost those plans. Any new site needs to serve Hythe and Romney Marsh well, and continue to do so for generations.

"Please - support our amendment."