Newsletter No 7 – August 2014
First, some up-to-date news, and how you could help.
The Sandwich Festival
Our Secretary Carolyn Illsley runs the women’s fashion shop called “Collection” in Sandwich, which is almost directly opposite the Guildhall. From Saturday 23rd to Monday 25th August, the Sandwich Festival will be taking part in the main streets of Sandwich. Carolyn writes as follows:
I intend to put a table out in front of the shop with a couple of chairs (if the weather is OK!). There is a lot going on in the town and the centre will be pedestrianised some of the time. The shop is open all day (9 – 5) on Saturday, and from 12 – 4 on Sunday and Monday. We can provide tea/coffee. If you can spare an hour or two to man the table, talk to people and give out leaflets about our Manston campaign, that would be very helpful. For details of the Sandwich Festival, please visit www.sandwichevents.info
Meanwhile, you will no doubt be keen to know about recent meetings.
The majority of our committee were able to attend the meeting of Thanet Council on 31st July, where their Cabinet discussed a possible Compulsory Purchase Order for the Airport.
Here is Carolyn’s report on the event, from our Committee Minutes.
TDC CPO Cabinet Meeting 31st July 2014 – Iris Johnston ran the meeting fairly. A large group including Sir Roger Gale, Tony Freudmann, SMA, WNM? and some antis were allowed in, some to the main chamber and others to an ante room with a TV screen. Keith Churcher of SMA was allowed a few words at the beginning and spoke very well in support of restoring Manston. There were a lot of speakers for and against and they were all given a fair hearing. All the antis were from the Labour Group. The latest viability report from the Falcon Consultancy received mixed reviews, bearing in mind that it was drawn up in seven days and used the same information that Ann Gloag had commissioned earlier. It recommended that further potential buyers should be sought, even though RiverOak has fulfilled every request that had been asked of them. A 20 year business plan will be asked for from any buyer. IJ was extremely cautious. We got the feeling that having had difficult times with Dreamland, Port Ramsgate and the Royal Sands development, she is wary of TDC making another expensive faux pas. She was determined that everything should be “in the public domain” and that any move towards a CPO will be done “step by step” and may take a long time. Russ Timpson (Lib Dem) thought that if RiverOak were successful, then other firms would show interest, like the Taiwanese group he took to Manston recently.
Petition taken to Downing Street
Previously, on 21st July, a pro-Manston Petition signed by 26,000 people was publicly handed in to 10 Downing Street, by the two groups Why not Manston? and Support Manston Airport. Nicholas Reed and Gary and Marta Easton represented WNM? For once, this event was accepted as a story of national interest, so the scene of handing in the Petition was shown briefly in the BBC national news. This was an important break-through, given that the media constantly treat the issue of Manston as only of interest to those living in Kent, so it rarely reaches the national news, either on TV or in the national press.
Reorganisation of Save Manston
Lastly, since the beginning of August, there have been some changes in the organisation of our sister group the SMA. They were set up earlier this year, after the owner of Manston announced it was going to close, and it was the SMA, and its use of social media, which collected tens of thousands of signatures to their petition calling for the retention of Manston as an Airport. This August, Keith Churcher stepped down as their Chairman, and is now active in another group, called Save Manston Airport. The SMA itself is now called Support Manston Airport, and has some new officers, but has yet to appoint a new Chairman and/or Spokesperson.
I hope I have reported that correctly, but I should mention that there are another three pro-Manston groups also in being! It all reminds one a bit of the film The Life of Brian, where you may remember the various (in that case, left-wing) groups, all with different names but identical policies. However, our policy is still to see Manston Airport reopen. In that, at least, we are united with the others!
We hope you find these Newsletters useful. They are intended to keep you in touch with what is happening. But do you think we should have a special meeting of our own members to keep you in touch with events? Please write and let us know, through the comments page of our website www.whynotmanston.org. If you want to comment, just fill in your name and email address, but you can omit all your other details, as we should have them on file already. Then put your comment or question in the box provided. We look forward to hearing from you!
Chairman – Why Not Manston?
PS Don’t forget that the most detailed news comes out every Friday in the Isle of Thanet Gazette. Last week (15th August) it devoted two whole pages to the Airport. The Gazette is also on-line, at no charge, and that version is updated daily.