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Thanet Extra
15th January 2015

 

Isle of Thanet Gazette

Gale`s View – 16 July, 2014.

 

Ms Gloag has one very considerable achievement to her name. In the desire to see Manston re-open as an operational airport and in opposition to her plans to build a housing estate on the site she has united Thanet in a way that few would f have thought possible. There are, of course, a few people who are opposed to Manston airport and there are still a few local politicians who remain determinedly out of step with public opinion for reasons about which we can only speculate but for the overwhelming majority there is now a desire and a determination to see planes using the runway once again.

 

One skirmish does not, of course, win a war. Nevertheless, the cross-party support given last week to the proposition that Thanet`s Cabinet should be given the power to seek a Compulsory Purchase Order is significant. Friday`s march and next Saturday`s meeting underscore popular support for that action and in a week`s time a petition will be presented to Downing Street also calling for government`s continued support for what we all regard as a national asset that cannot and should not be allowed to be destroyed in the interests of corporate greed.

 

There will be further developments this week as Thanet`s Cabinet continue their deliberations. They need our support and, so far as Laura and I are concerned they know that they have it, and they will need the financial backing of the identified business partner to provide and under-write the resources that the Council simply does not have. The political will, though, is there, and although it will take more time than most of us would have wished – realistically probably the best part of a year – I hold to the view that if we remain united then we can and will succeed in rescuing Manston in the national and in the local interest.

 

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Manston Airport – Minister pledges help with licensing issues

 

The Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill, has told the House of Commons that the department of Transport is “more than happy to help with any Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licensing issues” relating to the future of Manston Airport.

 

Commenting on remarks made by North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, during a debate on Regional Airports the Minister said that “the tale of Manston is, I am afraid, rather an unhappy one so far although I am heartened by the fact that the local authority (TDC) is looking into what it can do and I spoke to the Leader of the Council last week”.

 

During the debate Sir Roger had reminded the House of Manston`s history saying that: “It (Manston) was acquired by Ann Gloag of Stagecoach on 30thNovember last year. Mrs. Gloag told me on that date that she intended to invest heavily and give the airport two years. On budget Day, less than four months after the acquisition, she announced that it would close. That was in my view an act of vandalism. Manston shut in May in spite of the fact that RiverOak had put on the table an offer of the asking price of £7 million. Since that time the airport has been asset-stripped.”

 

Sir Roger continued:

 

“My Hon. Friend the Member for Thanet South (Laura Sandys) and I met with Sir Howard Davies (who is conducting a review of runway capacity in the South East) recently. He rightly said that while Manston was not under consideration as a hub airport he thought that the south-east would need all the runway capacity on offer and then some. In that context, again, we cannot afford to lose Manston.

 

Thanet`s controlling Labour Group proposed to give to the Cabinet powers to seek a compulsory purchase order last week. That proposition was seconded by the leader of the Conservative Opposition and it has the full support of Laura Sandys and me. I hope that it will, if necessary, have the support of Government. We expect that a CPO decision will be taken by Thanet`s cabinet by the end of the month. We think, with Thanet and, I believe, the nation that airfield has the potential to serve the Country as a freight hub and we want it to be re-opened for that purpose”

 

And the MP added: “ The Select Committee on Transport has, I understand, agreed to undertake an inquiry into the whole business of regional airports and I hope that as part of that process evidence will be taken from Manston and also, perhaps, from Mrs. Gloag in person who would, I am sure, be delighted to appear before the Select Committee and to explain her actions”.

 

 Iris Johnson (Thanet District Council Labour Leader)…
It is with great anger that we have heard this afternoon that Ann Gloag has today rejected an improved renewed bid from RiverOak.  And the incredulous reason given is that most of the staff have already found new jobs.  Apart from believing that to be untrue, what reason is that for not selling?     Just another excuse and one that really highlights she has no intention of selling but wants to develop and asset strip.  
Congratulations to Iris Johnston for her comment on Meridien this evening that ”there will be no housing on the site”.  Let’s hope Ann Gloag hears that!
(For those who may not have heard – Iris became the new Labour leader of TDC yesterday following Clive Hart’s recent resignation.  A vote is due to be held tomorrow to decide if Ms Johnson will become the next Thanet District Council leader, which is minority Labour-led).
Back to the point of Ann Gloag’s claim that most of the staff leaving tomorrow have already found new jobs……..  Suzy Gale has sent the following:

Suzy Gale…

Meridian TV here in the South East have been putting out a story, perhaps passed to them by the Airport owners (?) saying that most of the current staff at Manston have already got new jobs.
 
If you work at Manston, know of anyone working at Manston or own or are involved in a company based at Manston and you wish to rectify a story that appears to be untrue, then please go on Facebook, Twitter etc. to give your position and to stress that we want to keep Manston open and viable.
 
You may also wish to contact Meridian at:   kevin.harrison@itv.com
Please do feel free, if you wish, to pass on this information and email address.

Save Manston Group…

And the Save Manston group are doing a survey on their Facebook page asking staff if they have or have not found jobs, so if you work or know someone who works at the airport, please participate in this survey.

Petition…

You may see that a new petition has been launched to keep open the operating licence of Manston.  At this time I don’t have full details on what is involved and have heard that Sir Roger has spoken to the relevant Minister and been told a licence would be granted, but it won’t do any harm in signing, so if you wish to do so, please go to:

Sir Roger Gale (at PMQs)…

Today, to a packed House, Sir Roger Gale raised the question of Manston at Prime Minister’s Question Time.  Here is the transcript and the PM’s response:
Sir Roger Gale:  “Mr Speaker, at the end of November, Mrs Ann Gloag, a director the stage coach company acquired Manston airport in my constituency for £1. On budget day this year Mrs Gloag announced that she was going into consultation with a view to closing an airport that is worth hundreds of jobs, is a major diversion field, and a search and rescue base. Mr Speaker, since then my Hon friend the member for south Thanet and I have sought to find a buyer. Last night the RiverOak company of Connecticut who already have airport interest put in an enhanced and realistic offer to keep Manston open save the jobs and develop the business. At present the owners are reluctant to negotiate.  Mr Speaker, I don’t expect my right honourable friend to engage in commercial negotiations, but will he seek to ensure the CAA Operating license remains open, that Manston remains open,  and that further discussion are held and will he encourage those discussions to take place”.
PM’s response: “I know that my honourable friend has been fighting very hard with the honourable member for Thanet South about the future of Manston airport. And recognises that it has played an important role in the local economy and employed local people. Ultimately the future of Manston remains the responsibility of the of the airport owner…but… I do think its important that the government is engaged and I know my right honourable friend the Transport Secretary IS engaged.  He will be speaking to Mrs Gloag about this issue and, also contacting RiverOak, the potential purchasers.  In the end they have to make a commercial decision but the government will do everything it can to help.”