But documents uncovered by Driver, presented to the SE England Local Enterprise Partnership (SEELEP) and Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) earlier this year, show estimates have now risen by a massive 136% to £26 million (2). In 2014 the Government agreed to pay £10 million of the estimated £11million cost of building the station through its Regional Growth Scheme, leaving KCC and Thanet Council to cover the predicted £1million funding gap. With building costs now estimated at £26million, KCC and Thanet Council would need to find £16 million to plug the funding gap - a highly unlikely prospect given the huge budget reductions which have been forced upon the two local authorities.
Unsurprisingly, the SEELEP and KMEP reports now designate the Thanet Parkway construction project as facing a high risk of failure due to “current funding gap and value for money uncertainty” (3). Said Driver, “This is one of KCC’s most important and prestigious transport projects. Information on this astronomic rise in estimated construction costs has been available since January, yet not a single one of Thanet’s 8 KCC councillors has made any public statement about it. Thanet Council’s Joint Transportation Board is supposed to consider transport works programmes and be a forum for consultation between KCC and TDC on policies, plans and strategies for public transport – yet it appears the Board has not discussed this at any of its recent meetings.
I suspect that KCC and TDC officers and councillors from all 3 major parties may be deliberately and unconstitutionally withholding this information from public discussion because of the outcry these revised costs might provoke, given that all 3 parties are committed to supporting the Parkway Station”. He added “I have always argued that Thanet Parkway Station is a massive white elephant which is not needed. It will actually increase journey times from existing Thanet stations to Canterbury, Ashford and London, and it could ultimately lead to the closure of some of Thanet’s town stations”.“Building the station will also cause substantial environmental damage. A huge area of farmland will be concreted over to accommodate the platforms, 350 space car park and approach roads. Extra traffic to and from the station will cause congestion and air pollution in an area which is already very congested. If the station gets planning permission, property developers will be queuing up to submit planning applications to build houses on all the open farmland around the site, and if this happens, Cliffsend village will quickly be swallowed up by Ramsgate”.
"I have talked to many local people about Thanet Parkway station, and most believe that it would be better to spend money providing more parking spaces near Ramsgate station and improving public transport links to it. If TDC and KCC plan to continue with this hare-brained scheme, they will be wasting £26 million of taxpayers’ money on a huge polluting white elephant that isn’t needed and that nobody wants”.
1. See http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/travelling-around-kent/thanet-parkway-railway-station and then click on Draft Business Case Report. 2014 estimated construction price is on page 1.
3. See also http://kmep.org.uk/meetings/info-page/kent-medway-economic-partnership-meeting4 and check Accountability Board Agenda Packs for 8 April 2016 and 10the June 2016 which both contain references to Thanet Parkway Station increased costs and businesses risk