Former Thanet Councillor Ian Driver has called on Kent County Council (KCC) to abandon its plans to build Thanet Parkway station, following revelations that anticipated construction costs have soared. The Thanet Parkway Business Case, published in March 2014, estimated building costs at £11.2 million (1). But documents uncovered by Driver which were discussed by the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) in August (2) show that estimated costs have now risen by a massive 83% to almost £21 million (2) in just over 2 years.In 2014 the Government agreed to pay £10 million of the estimated £11million cost of building the station through its Local Growth Fund, leaving KCC and Thanet Council to cover the predicted £1million funding gap. With building costs now estimated at £20.5 million, KCC and Thanet Council would need to find £9.3 million to plug the funding gap - a highly unlikely prospect given the huge budget reductions which have been forced upon the two councils.
In June 2016 a KCC spokesperson downplayed Driver’s warnings about escalating Parkway building costs, saying that the “current cost estimate for construction is £16 million” (3). The latest documents reveal that Driver was right all along. The proposed station will require new control mechanisms and improvements will have to be made to the Cliffsend level crossing, bringing the total costs to astronomic £20.5 million (4).
Driver has condemned Thanet’s politicians for failing to alert local people to the dramatic cost escalation. He said “This is one of KCC’s most important and prestigious transport projects. Information on the growing construction costs for the station has been available since January, yet not a single one of Thanet’s 8 KCC councillors has made a public statement about it. They are clearly not doing their job and failing to keep residents informed”.
He added “Thanet Council’s Joint Transportation Board is supposed to consider public transport work programmes such as Parkway station and be a forum for consultation between KCC and TDC on policies, plans and strategies for public transport – yet the Board and its 14 elected councillor members has also failed to discuss Thanet Parkway station at any of its meetings during the past year. This lack of debate about an important Thanet transport issue is shameful. I wonder what these councillors, who have special responsibility for transport in Thanet, have be doing whilst the construction costs of the Parkway station have been skyrocketing?”
“Given that all 3 parties (UKIP, Tory & Labour) and senior KCC and TDC officers are all committed to supporting Parkway station, my suspicion is that debate on the controversial station and its rapidly growing construction costs is being deliberately and undemocratically stifled because the powers that be are afraid of the resulting public outcry, which might put an end to their plans. In fact an overwhelming majority of the comments submitted by local people about Parkway station during the 2014 public consultation exercise, were opposed to the construction of the station. No wonders senior officers and politicians want to keep this quite!”
“I’ve 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, a 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, especially on the site of the old swimming pool, and improving public transport links to it. If TDC and KCC plan to continue with this hare-brained scheme, they will be wasting £21 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.
2. Click on Related Documents link here http://kmep.org.uk/documents/KMEP_Board_Papers_-_1_August_16.pdf
and see item 9 page 44.
3. See Kent Online Kent County Council insists Thanet Parkway station won’t be derailed despite rising costs http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/estimated-costs-of-thanet-parkway-97489/
4. See note 2 above.