25 MAR 2019

Talks over future of Kent Mining Museum

I have asked the Government's Further Education Commissioner to allow East Kent College to take over the Kent Mining Museum project in Betteshanger.

The £9.5 million scheme was said to be "85% finished" until the resignations of the deputy principal and chief executive of the Hadlow Group, which was funding the project. The Further Education Commissioner has since formally intervened over concerns understood to be related to the group's finances.

I attempted to break the impasse at Betteshanger by asking the Further Education Commissioner to hand the site over to East Kent College for educational use. Last week, I met with the project managers at Betteshanger and builders Marpaul Southern Ltd to see the situation for himself.

We need to get this project back on track. It's so nearly there. Handing it over to East Kent College could be the answer. This facility would be great for our community, celebrating its mining heritage alongside a range of activities for families to enjoy. I'm doing everything I can to ensure it's completed.

Work at the 121-hectare derelict colliery first stopped after problems building on a spoil heap, before restarting in September 2017. The Sandwich Road building is set to be as long as London's iconic Gherkin tower is tall. Set among the 250-acre country park, it is meant to become home to Kent Mining Museum, a green energy centre, cycle hire and change facilities, learning and conference spaces, a shop, a café and outside seating and decking.


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Charlie Elphicke

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