My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Monday, 24 March 2014

Manston Airport

The loss of Manston Airport is tragic and I sympathise with those likely to become redundant following its  closure. I have gone through redundancy  and  know just  how devastating this can be. I hope that  airport staff  find new employment soon and I pay tribute to MPs Laura Sandys and Roger Gale for laying on special surgeries to help the staff. Well done!

 But we can’t avoid the facts. Manston’s future has been  shaky for years. Its sale to Anne Gloag for £1 and the Airport Commission’s exclusion of Manston from its  airport capacity expansion plans should have rang alarm bells. But no. Thanet Council and Kent County Council have buried their hands in the sand and preferred to talk up the airport’s prospects,   despite strong evidence to the contrary. Less than 4 months ago Council Leader Cllr Hart  launched  TDCs Economic Growth and Regeneration Strategy  which claimed “Manston Airport provides a major growth opportunity for Thanet (with) the  potential to develop significant airport-related activities (and) develop our competitive position”
Anyone with a basic understanding of economics, would have realised that betting on the airport as Thanet’s ticket to recovery was an unrealistic gamble. Instead TDC and KCC should have been working with the airport owners, the Government, businesses and the local community to develop a Plan B for the airport  site in preparation for the  possible failure of the business. They should have been discussing the possibility of  leisure, industrial and  service industry options which would  create new sustainable jobs for Thanet. And, instead of  waiting  until after the disaster happened   TDC and KCC  should  have been lobbying a long time ago  for the extension of the Discovery Park Enterprise  Zone to Thanet to  encourage new business  start-ups to locate in our district. But  they sat back and did nothing.


In all likelihood  airport owner, Anne Gloag was simply going through the motions of trying to make Manston a success. She is a very astute business woman who  was fully aware at the time she bought the airport that it did not have a  long-term future. I am sure that she  will now apply for permission to build houses on the site. This will add  to the 2,350 new houses already in the pipeline to be built on sites within a mile of the airport. This will add considerably to the traffic congestion and polluting  emissions which are already an unpleasant feature of this part of Thanet. This is something which I will strongly  oppose and this is something which could probably have been avoided had TDC and KCC  engaged in developing a Manston Plan B.


One saving grace could  be that the ill-conceived plans for the  Manston Parkway Station might now be dropped and the money spent instead on  developing a full high speed rail link between  Ashford and  Thanet. This would reduce journey times to London to  less than a hour and provide a major boost to Thanet's economy. In the meantime I do hope that the huge public outcry and the petition which is now almost at 9,000 signatures might help postpone closure. But at the same time, plans urgently need to be developed for alternative uses for the site which will create jobs for Thanet

11 comments:

  1. No more houses. No Parkway station.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was saddned and depressed to read this pious and silly blog on the closure of Manston Airport. The fact of the matter is that the airport has been killed by Thanet District Council.

    Manston Airport had a perfectly viable future - not as a passenger airport (for which it is wrongly located) - but as a freight hub (for which it is very well situated and equipped). But, instead on encouraging freight traffic at the airport, Thanet District Council, in an act of staggering stupidity, chose instead to ban all night flights in and out of the airport! Freight operators cannot and will not use an airport that is only open during office hours and so Thanet District Council, in seeking to please a few selfish but vocal nimbies, has now killed off our airport.

    Instead of inventing silly excuses it would be better if our elected representatives were to hold up their hands and to admit their mistake. Thanet District Council have killed Manston Airport and the councillors - all of them - must bear the responsibility for the jobs lost and the opportunity missed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even with night flights the airport was doomed to failure, plus it would have blighted Ramsgate which is right under the flight path. Besides there was nothing the council could have legally done to stop night flights if Infratil, Gloag or anyone else had thought they would make the airport viable. What has happened here is consecutive Conservative administrations at KCC and TDC have lied about the airport's potential for 20 years, 20 years during which they could have developed a plan which could have employed ten times the number of people that Manston did at the end. That's the real scandal.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 100% with you on this

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a load of tosh. Thanet District Council has bent over backwards to allow the airport to prosper. The restrictions on what can and cannot take place are incredibly limited and, leave the airport far more scope to expand than almost any other airport in the South East. The fact that it has not done so is down to one thing and one thing only - location. Manston is too far from the populations it would need to serve. Gatwick is the preferred airport from those in North and West Kent and East London and the population in East Kent is too thin to support an airport. The evidence for this is there for all to see. All efforts to initiate passenger services over the last 15 years have ended in failure because they have been losing money. Ten thousand people may well be prepared to sign a petition but you need hundreds of thousands of regular users to pay for an airport. However, there is a possible solution. If ten thousand people each put up £1000 of their own money they would raise a sum of ten million pounds. They could buy the airport from the Scotswoman and run it for a year. If it's viable (as they say it is) they will make money. If not, they will lose their money. As long as it's not my money being poured into a black hole, I don't care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely correct. The nightflight issue is a red herring. The restrictions are virtually meaningless and successive owners know this. The fact that they have not chosen to do anything speaks volumes.

      Delete
  6. 11,000 signers but where are the passengers? To me the pro Manston group chants mostly sound like vitriol and nostalgia rather than any realistic economic argument.
    I actually use the airport, KLM flghts etc, so i have voted with my wallet not wishful thinking. If the airport fails as a business it should close. Looking at its history its just unsustainable. Its a shame but more money / tax breaks should not be thrown at it. I don't want to pay tax to keep it open that for sure!

    As for the press attack on Golag I think its a disgrace and symptomatic of the small mindedness about local politics in Thanet. She obviously gave it a go and lost lots of money in the process, so she should be thanked not criticized.

    So who will the pro airport brigade blame next? No night flights? Cargolux? KLM? Foreigners? I think they need to look closer to home and see who sold them the pipe dream of 1000's of jobs etc in the first place!

    That's my 10 cents as they say, but as said I have supported the flights by using the passenger service a few times. Maybe more of Thanet should have done what i did if they wanted the airport to be a success.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Who, in their right minds would buy an airport which costs millions to run each year when it has a fifteen year history of being unable to attract significant numbers of passengers? Sounds like a job for someone who is used to spending money rather than making it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. how ill-informed you are - and will soon find out!

      Delete
  8. Roger Gail is an interfering person who has no concern for the residents of Ramsgate. He is trying to put pressure on Thanet Council to tear up the agreement and allow night flights for freight.

    ReplyDelete
  9. some people may be fighting to keep Gloag from lining her pockets but who can we trust any more in Thanet? how many people are willing to get out their and fight for what they believe in yes I respect anyone who has signed the airport petition but we seem to be missing about 10.000 of them when it comes to a protest meeting. maybe its about time the missing 10.000 turn out and show the likes of Gloag just what their made of because im afraid we cant do it alone.As for Manston being turned into some housing venture.which you can be sure was allways the plan. lets see this council stop them lets see this council show Gloag the door along with her broomstick

    ReplyDelete