April 2015 Press Releases
Manston Airport – Search & Rescue Can Come Home - Roger Gale
The way is clear for Search & Rescue to return to a re-opened Manston Airport. That is the real significance of the announcement made yesterday by the Minister of State for Aviation, John Hayes, during his visit to Thanet yesterday, says North Thanet`s Roger Gale.
“It is a pity that the real issue was buried under a synthetic and media-generated political “row” says Gale.
“The Minister responsible for the Coastguard Service has approved a one-year contract for Bristows to operate from Lydd while discussions relating to the future of Manston continue. He has made it plain that during that time there will be no capital investment in new SAR facilities, paving the way for a swift return to the preferred operating base, Manston, as soon as the airport is once again operational. That speaks volumes. It demonstrates the faith that a significant and reputable company, Bristows, has in Manston and it states very clearly the importance that the Prime Minister and the Transport Department have placed upon Manston as a strategic national asset – because this move has the full backing of Number 10. This is part of a process that those of us who really support Manston have been engaged in for months and it has nothing to do with the General or Council Elections at all. “
Commenting on the status of the RiverOak indemnity package Roger Gale has added:
“The Minister made it plain that, based upon the indications that he has received and the contents of a letter sent to him by the Chief Executive of RiverOak, Steve DeNardo, yesterday, he is confident in saying, with the full weight of Ministerial Office, that he is satisfied that there will be no risk to the Thanet Council taxpayers in proceeding to a Compulsory Purchase Order.
I have a copy of that letter in front of me and in it Mr. DeNardo says:
“We instructed our solicitors, Wragge, Lawrence Graham, to draft an indemnity agreement between Thanet District Council and RiverOak to cover all the Council`s risks. This was because we recognised that for both financial and political reasons it would be impossible for Thanet to carry any risk, however small and however remote. I can confirm that the indemnity agreement as drafted does meet those requirements.
RiverOak is a US registered company but prior to the signing of the indemnity agreement we will create a UK based and registered company, to be known as RiverOak Aviation, to go through the CPO process and take ownership of the airport if awarded. The same company will also hold all the appropriate CAA licenses.
In support of the CPO process RiverOak accept total responsibility for making the business case for the airport to the CPO inspector. In doing so we recognise that if we are unable to satisfy the Inspector as to the viability of our business plan we will lose the CPO and a significant amount of our own capital but it will have been done at no cost to Thanet.
To this end we are prepared to deposit up to £2,000,000 into a designated escrow account in the UK simultaneous upon the mutual signing of an indemnity agreement between RiverOak and Thanet District Council”
That is the basis upon which the Minister of State has felt it possible to say that there will be no risk to Thanet. I do not believe that the situation could now be clearer.
I have made it plain to the Leader of Thanet District Council that if she and her administration now proceed to instigate the CPO procedure then they will do so with the full and non-partisan backing that I have offered to date and to that end I am prepared to put my own political reputation on the line.
Further, the Leader of the Conservative Group on Thanet District Council, Bob Bayford, has indicated that on an equally non-partisan basis the Conservative Group will back the controlling Group and will share equal political responsibility for the decision. I do not think that we can offer more and I hope and expect that reservations will be set to one side and that, on the basis of the Minister of State`s assurances, the process will now be allowed to immediately commence”.
Transport Minister John Hayes Delivers Double Boost for Manston Airport
John Hayes, the Minister of State for Aviation, has today delivered a double boost to the campaign to save Manston Airport. He has announced:
A new deal for search-and-rescue services in the South East of England: Bristow, the company that provides search-and-rescue services on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, had originally planned to base two helicopters at Manston, but the airport closed in May 2014.
The Minister of State and Prime Minister`s Special Representative has today announced that instead of agreeing a long-term contract for Bristow to base their helicopters elsewhere, he has agreed a one-year deal in which the helicopters are based only temporarily at Lydd Airport. This paves the way for the helicopters to return to Manston once the airport reopens.
He is removing one of the key barriers to the compulsory purchase of Manston: One of the key stumbling blocks to Thanet District Council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order for Manston was the perceived lack of confidence in the financial indemnities offered by RiverOak - the US firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport. Following work by PWC, who were commissioned by the Government to review all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston to date, the Minister has today told the Leader of Thanet District Council on the basis of the independent PWC analysis that he “is satisfied by the indemnity offered by RiverOak to protect the council against the costs of the Compulsory Purchase Order.”
John Hayes said: “I have been paying close attention to the future of Manston Airport throughout my time in the Department for Transport. And I believe the announcements I have made today are huge steps towards securing Manston’s future as a working airport. It is further evidence that it really is possible for Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale to deliver their five-point plan for Manston. Now, if local people want to see that plan implemented, they have to vote Conservative on May 7th - because while others may shout from the sidelines, the Conservatives have the strength to deliver.”
Craig Mackinlay said: “The good news just keeps on coming. I have wanted to give Manston a long-term future as a working airport for a long time. That’s why, back in 2001, I tried to launch a low-cost airline flying mainly from Manston to Malaga. So I’ve always been committed to the place. With the Conservative five-point plan to save Manston and the great news announced by the minister today, I am more confident than ever that we will succeed.
“The reason we are making such good progress is down to the fact that we have such a strong Conservative team, which includes Sir Roger Gale in North Thanet, important Ministers like John Hayes and the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin, together with a team of Conservative councillors, led by Bob Bayford. In contrast, UKIP - who have jumped on the bandwagon with Manston as with so many other issues - don’t have the power to deliver and to date have contributed nothing to this effort whatsoever.
Roger Gale has added:
“The fact that Bristows, a strong commercial organisation, are prepared to demonstrate their faith in Manston and their willingness to give us time to get the airport operational again speaks volumes. Search & Rescue will be coming home to the airfield where it belongs and this should send out a clear message, if nothing else does, that the Government means business and that there is no “Plan B”. I understand that there may be those who will say “It will all change after the election”. Those people are, quite simply, wrong. We are in this for the long haul: the nation needs Manston Airport, Kent – with or without the Leader of KCC – needs Manston Airport and Thanet needs Manston Airport and that is what we are going to have”.
And the Leader of Thanet`s Conservatives, Cllr. Bob Bayford, has said;
“I am satisfied that it is safe to proceed on the basis of the assurances given by Price Waterhouse Coopers via the Minister of State and can therefore say today, without equivocation, that a Conservative controlled council elected on May 7th will take immediate steps to instigate the processes necessary to compulsorily purchase Manston Airport on a back-to-back deal that will enable the airport to return to full operational status as swiftly as possible. Too much time has been lost and too much uncertainty caused already and we need to get on with this” (ENDS)
The Conservative Five-Point Plan to Save Manston Airport
The news comes just a week after Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, endorsed the five-point plan to save Manston that was developed by Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative candidate for South Thanet, and Sir Roger Gale, the Conservative candidate for North Thanet.
McLoughlin also used his visit to the area to confirm that a Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to re-open as a working airport as swiftly as possible.
The five-point plan is as follows:
Appoint PWC to report on the future of Manston: Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Transport Secretary, and John Hayes, the Conservative Transport Minister, commissioned PWC to provide an independent review of all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston in March. PWC are expected to provide an interim report soon.
Block planning consent for the proposed development: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale will lobby Thanet District Council to block planning consent for the development proposed by the new owners of Manston.
Compulsorily purchase the airport: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale are calling for Thanet District Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order, backed up with financial indemnities, for Manston Airport.
Deliver the certification needed for the airport to re-open: Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has announced that a Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to re-open as a working airport as swiftly as possible.
Enlist commercial partners for the future: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale will work with private sector companies to make sure Manston will re-open as a working airport and remain as such. RiverOak - an American firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport - has already called on the Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order to block the proposed development.
Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said: “I welcome Craig’s plan to keep Manston open as a working airport, and I can confirm that a future Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to operate as an airport in future. The election in South Thanet is a two-horse race between the Conservatives and UKIP - and it is clear that if you want to save Manston Airport, you have to vote Conservative.”
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “I cannot pre-judge any quasi-judicial decisions that will need to be made by my department in future, but Craig and Roger`s plan for the future of Manston Airport is compelling. It goes to show that the voters of South Thanet have a simple choice. They can vote for UKIP who can shout from the sidelines but deliver nothing. Or they can vote for Craig Mackinlay, who - because he’s part of a team consisting of government ministers and the next leader of Thanet District Council – that will get things done for local people.”