Newsletter No 6, June 2014
The Way Forward
By Nicholas Reed, Chairman, WNM?
Now that matters have quietened down somewhat, we thought we should just issue a newsletter to let you know how we see the situation.
First, a call to arms! The advertisement below will shortly be appearing in local newspapers. Please sign this Petition at the website address given, and get your friends to sign it as well.
The Petition was devised and paid for by Save Manston, and we see our principal activity at the moment in supporting Save Manston, and attending the meetings or rallies organised by them. This of course does not preclude WNM from undertaking its own intiatives when it wishes.
The closure of the Airport by Mrs Gloag was, of course, a severe blow. The national media now seem to regard the issue of Manston as a dead duck. But that is just not true, as the Kent newspapers continue to make clear in their letters pages.
New Leadership in Thanet Council
It is very encouraging that the new leader of Thanet Council, Iris Johnston, has made clear her strong support for the airport. She has spoken to Mrs Gloag, owner of the Airport, and said afterwards that speaking woman to woman, and their sharing some of the same interests in charities helping women and children, was a useful background to their discussions. This must be a good sign. Iris Johnson told her very firmly that putting housing on the site of the airport was not an option.
A Compulsory Purchase Order on the Airport?
Discussion has now turned to the possibility of a Compulsory Purchase Order. Even though Thanet Council is strapped for cash, virtually no cash is required for a CPO, if it is decided that a particular facility or building is of importance to the community. If some body or company comes up with the cash required to buy or run the facility, then the Council is quite within its powers to purchase it, and then sell or lease it immediately to an appropriate company. Of course, this is all subject to the relevant legal safeguards, which is why Thanet’s leader has asked for detailed reports from their lawyers and planners. But the provisional results from a poll of Thanet Councillors run by Save Manston and Why Not Manston? at the end of May, indicates about 26 councillors in favour, in theory, of a CPO, while only four are currently against. About 24 are undecided. Watch this space to see how and if their opinions change! If the CPO is taken forward, it will take some time before matters can be voted on in the Council.
When Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, met Mrs Gloag some two months ago, she told him that she was in the market for selling the Airport, but that her asking price was £7m. (She had bought it for £1 plus undisclosed costs, estimated at about £1m.) The American company Riveroak, which specialises in airports and turning them around, felt that £3m was a reasonable offer. She turned them down. They then offered £5m, but were again turned down. Lastly, just before the closure, they offered her full asking price of £7m, but even this was turned down! Perhaps it is not surprising that Sir Roger Gale then accused Mrs Gloag of “economic vandalism”!
Some worry has been expressed, that, if the airport had been bought for “asset-stripping”, one would expect the owner to immediately strip it for its assets. This would include the radar, but, despite a rumour to the contrary, the radar is still there. It should be noted that, if the CPO were to go through, unless a price could be agreed between the Council and Mrs Gloag, an independent arbiter would determine the price. And they would take into account any assets which had been removed, and would result in higher costs to reinstate the airport.
Why Not Manston? Committee gets a new look
Since our AGM on 7th March, 2014, our Committee has been restructured and now comprises the following members:
I, Nicholas Reed, am Chairman. I set up Why Not Manston? in August 2012, with the aim, at that time, simply to get the airport more widely known and used.
With us since the beginning have been Carolyn Illsley, our Secretary, and her husband Geoffrey, who is now our Vice-Chairman. You may have seen Geoff commenting to the media at some of the recent events, or holding our banner at some of the protests organised by Save Manston Airport. Geoff’s father was Chief Engineer of both Silver City and Air Ferry airlines at Manston and Carolyn and Geoff originally met at the airport whilst they were both working for Air Ferry.
Also with us from the beginning has been our Treasurer, Martin Welch. He previously enjoyed a 27 year career with the R.A.F. – and after retiring from the military from Manston in 1986, went on to have a further career within the MoD Civil Service, specialising in static and tactical communications, before transferring to the MoD Financial Management Branch. He retired in 2003.
Our new Press Officer is Gary Easton, who is a former employee of the Airport. His wife Martha was employed at the Airport for some 25 years, and was only made redundant when the Airport closed.
Until recently, our Membership Secretary was Jan Revell. She did not just organise our membership, but also sent round several detailed bulletins by email to our 84 members and our more than 400 supporters. Jan is staying on our committee, but has now decided to step down as Membership Secretary. She is handing over the reins to our latest Committee member, Lynda Smith.
Lynda’s name may be familiar to you, as she has just run a completely successful campaign to raise £11,000 to get the Time Ball working again on the top of Margate Clocktower. Let’s hope her success there will be reflected in our group as well, now she has kindly agreed to join our committee as Membership Secretary!
Why Not Manston?
HELP SAVE MANSTON AIRPORT
Make a difference to your community and help save our airport!
Please sign the petition at this internet address: http://bit.ly/cpopetition
· The owner has closed Manston, rejecting an offer of the full asking price.
· Help us to support ongoing talks towards TDC implementing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). The CPO would be underwritten by an investor so would cost the taxpayer nothing.
· You do not need to be a resident of Thanet to sign.
· Please do not sign it more than once.
· You must use an email address as part of the online process.
· You can sign up multiple people on the same PC but you will need to close the browser fully between each submission.
· Tell your friends and family about the situation and get them to sign.
· The petition closes on the 26th June 2014 – Please act now!
· Please also contact your MP and local councillors to let them know your views and enlist their support. www.writetothem.com
Facebook Group: Twitter: Email:
Search for “Save Manston Airport” @SaveManston or #SaveManston firstname.lastname@example.org