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Moving the Motion to Save Princes Parade

Princes ParadeIn moving the motion at the 26th June Folkestone and Hythe District Council Full Council Meeting to Save Princes Parade, I (approximately!) said the below.

You can (for a limited period) see the speech as delivered on the webcast at https://folkestone-hythe.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/418553/start_time/5466000?force_language_code=en_GB

The vote was won 15-14 after an hour long debate. There is more on the motion and debate here.

"I'm proud to be proposing this motion tonight, and delighted to here to be able to move it.

"As Councillors will know, the proposals for Princes Parade are for 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.

"This on a site that runs between the sea and a scheduled ancient monument, on an old and unremediated rubbish tip that has, for many decades, been allowed to grow wild and green and now offers - as it would have done when they built the canal - wide open views. It has an open outlook and is an area of peace and calm, appreciated by many. The last planning inspector who dealt with the site said "it has some of the finest vistas in the district."

"It's important for our ecology and wildlife, our heritage and environment and how the site handles water.

"So this motion is to Save Princes Parade. But we won't duck our responsibility to the district. Hythe needs a new swimming pool and leisure centre. Soon.

"This motion includes that we would build one, at Martello Lakes on the A259 out of Hythe.

"Why build at Martello Lakes? The site is agreed - it costs £1, for a "ready to build" site.

"I don't like giving kudos to previous Conservative administrations.

"But this was a good deal.

"You got a lot of the groundwork included, from making the site ready to getting services in and connecting the road network. It's in a good location, closer to West Hythe than the existing pool. It's easy to get to on the A259. It has good bus links for Hythe and Marsh residents.

"Well done. You did good work. Now don't throw it away.

"The Princes Parade development can do huge damage not just to our Environment, but to this Council's finances.

"By the Council's own figures, 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.

"Other figures we've seen suggest that those figures are hugely optimistic. Councillor Martin, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, projects on a borrowing would go to around £70 million and a loss of £15 million overall. That's also on a good day.

"That's all the earmarked reserves this Council has. Every. Last. Pound.

"But they are still the good day figures. What if it goes wrong?

"Princes Parade was a tip for years. You can leave it like that. If you don't build on Princes Parade, there is no need to re-mediate the site.

"But start developing it, and you open Pandora's Box. It's said that we're not going to re-mediate it, but just cap it. But the scheme requires deep piling into it, pipes and cables and services laying through it, a 1.5 acre pond building on it, and re-routing a road over it. Its not possible to leave well enough alone.

"Once you open the box, and start development, you can't reseal it. You can't stop. You then need to fix it. Your costs explode. There is NOTHING you can do to stop it.

"This Council could be looking at a £15 million loss as the very lowest end of its problems. It could be much, much higher than that.

"Martello Lakes has much less risk.

"There are, essentially, around £10 million of S106 and potential Capital receipts already budgeted into development plans. Costings by Sports England in 2018 project a 6 lane pool plus learner pool, 4 court hall, 100 station health and fitness gym plus 2 studios at £9.77m.

"That's a BETTER facility than being offered at Princes Parade, which has no hall at all.

"Index rating that brings us to under £11 million. So that's a £1 million affordability gap right now.

"This Council had an unexpected surplus of £2 million last year, which was added to reserves. We can bridge a gap of that size.

"But a loss of £15 million? More than that if its not a good day?

"That's not an affordability gap. It's a chasm.

"Listen to your head, and vote for our motion as it is massively less risk.

"And listen to your heart, and vote for our motion to protect our environment, ecology, heritage and to massively improve the access of Marsh residents to a new Leisure Centre.

"Please - vote for this motion."