Chairman’s Report to the Inaugural General Meeting
15th March 2013
Why Not Manston? has had a very successful first year. The website went public in August 2012, and within a short time we had a committee of ten. Most of the committee live in Thanet, and have considerable expertise in aviation. Also in August, a 500-word article from the Chairman appeared in the Kent on Sunday, and since then we have tried to ensure letters supporting our campaign appear regularly in the Kentish papers.
In October we attended a debate near Rochester, organised by BBC Radio Kent, where Charles Buchanan, CEO of Manston, appeared on the panel. In November the Dutch airline KLM announced they would be flying regular services to and from Manston to Schiphol Airport at Amsterdam, from 2nd April 2013. The times of departures from Manston will be 6.35am and 10.40 am to Amsterdam, from which there are well over 100 onward destinations.
In November, four of us met Laura Sandys, MP for Thanet South, and found her generally supportive of our aims. We agreed that none of us want to see regular night-time passenger flights from Manston during the night, though one or two such flights seemed tolerable. Also in November, we attended the annual public meeting of KIACC, the consultative committee on Manston Airport. It was well-attended by over 100 people, almost all in favour of the airport, and opponents were conspicuous by their absence.
In October and November, we discovered that two major enquiries are taking place about aviation strategy in the SE. The first, well–publicised, is the Davies Commission, set up by the Government, which will produce its first interim report by the end of 2013. The second, with committee proceedings being held in public, is the House of Commons Transport Committee, composed or members of parliament, which is examining aviation strategy. Their proceedings are shown on the parliamentary channel, and reported verbatim soon afterwards. Both proceedings and reports can be followed over the internet.
We submitted evidence to both enquiries. Since then, a third enquiry has been announced, being held by Transport for London. As this is under the control of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, we do not expect it to be favourable to our cause, but have submitted evidence to them also.
Having acquired some 300 supporters of the group since the website went live in August 2012, committee decided to ask for a £10 donation from each supporter towards the expenses we shall inevitably incur as part of our campaign. This resulted in some 52 paid-up members by the start of this AGM, which will help pay for the initial costs of setting up the website, and for printing more car stickers. Each new Member of the Group receives a car sticker and several WNM? business cards when they join. Further car stickers are available at £2 each. Members can vote on the Constitution and on Resolutions at the AGM: we hope they will vote to approve the Constitution at this AGM. The Draft Constitution was drawn up by the Committee and published on our website.
For the future, it is vitally important that we get both the subject, and the existence of our campaign group, publicised in local newspapers. People must realise this is not just a campaign for the Thanet area, although greater use of Manston will undoubtedly be a major help towards regenerating the area. But almost anyone in Kent will find it far more convenient to travel to Manston in under an hour, wait at the Airport for less than an hour before they fly, and arrive at Amsterdam an hour later.
We must also write in reply, not just to opponents, but to those who ignore Manston, like the MP for Rochester, who has twice written articles about how to solve the overcrowding of the London airports, without mentioning Manston at all! That, despite the fact that, either by car or train, it is quicker to get from Rochester to Manston, than to any of the London airports.
Even those in SE London will often find Manston more convenient than crossing London, or driving for two hours on the dreaded M25 to Heathwick, with another minimum two-hour wait when you get there. This means we must try to get Manston mentioned in the London papers: but this is still very difficult when it is hardly ever mentioned there.
If anyone would like to help in publicising our group in the local or national papers, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can let you know when the subject arises.
We look forward to continuing our campaign, knowing that you, and the majority of the local population, are behind us. The more of you who help to publicise our aims, the more likely it is that Manston will become a major airport, offering a preferable travel alternative in the overcrowded SE of England, and hundreds of extra jobs in the area. We look forward to your continued support.
Chairman, Why Not Manston?
Note: This Report is also the Fourth Newsletter from Why Not Manston?
The detailed Report and Minutes of our Inaugural General Meeting will be discussed and agreed by the Committee at its next meeting in mid-April. It will then be circulated to all our supporters.