My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Manston Airport CPO - Labour's Deceitful Smoke and Mirrors

So Thanet Council’s Labour Leader, Iris Johnston, and her cabinet colleagues David and Elizabeth Green, Richard Nicholson, Mike Harrison and Rick Everitt claim they are trying to save Manston Airport and secure a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the site.
On the face of it this appears to be true.
 
They have commissioned legal advice, added to officers workloads producing reports,
 advertised for CPO venture partners, all at great public expense, and made positive comments to the media and posted lots of encouraging comments on the several pro-Manston Airport Facebook pages. TDC even hosted on its web-site the pro-Manston petition, they couldn’t have been more helpful.  But look more closely and the cracks are now clear to see.
 
Let’s begin with Cabinet member David Green who is on record as saying, “TDC will not agree to any solution to the airport that is detrimental to Ramsgate's environment”, and “in my opinion an airport CPO is not economically viable”. His Cabinet colleague, and deputy leader of the council, Richard Nicholson was hardly an effusive supporter of potential Airport champion RiverOak saying, “we are not going to do business with people like this”. Worse still Labour dominated Ramsgate Town Council, which includes all of Iris Johnston’s cabinet colleagues, recently voted to support  a motion which condemned “proposals for the development of Manston Airport into a major freight hub” and resolved to “defend the environment against harmful development, in particular to oppose night time flying”. And just yesterday Labour Councillor, and party whip, Steve Alexandrou in a letter published in Friday 12 Sept., Thanet Gazette said, “I cannot and will not vote for a CPO”.
 
So TDCs Labour Cabinet and councillors, who were supposedly committed to saving
the airport by securing a CPO, are, through their comments and actions, openly undermining their own position. In fact a senior TDC officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, recently told me that Cabinet members are openly saying that the CPO is a charade aimed at securing votes for Labour in 2015.  This is borne out by ex-Labour Councillor and former Mayor of Ramsgate, Kim Gibson, who has said that  Iris Johnston told her that it was politically expedient for Labour to appear to be trying to get the CPO, even though they didn’t really want it. It was all about ‘politics and votes’. I don’t doubt Kim. She is an honest person who speaks her mind without fear or favour.
 
Political Deceit and Dishonesty
But just in case you have any vestiges of faith remaining in Iris Johnston and her Labour colleagues, consider her latest Facebook post about how she is trying to save Manston.  She reproaches Sir Roger Gale MP for not reconvening the Manston Taskforce “without which we are going to have problems”.  She criticises Sir Howard Davis for his “disappointing” failure to mention Manston in his latest Airport Commission report. I suspect that these comments are designed to set up fall guys and villains whom Johnston and her Labour colleagues can blame and use as a smokescreen to justify a U-turn on their support for the CPO, which I am sure will be happening soon.
 
I can see it now - with a superficial air of concern, deep sadness and perhaps a few tears, Iris Johnston announces that the CPO is dead in the water. It’s failure will have nothing to do with the Council Labour Group which of course tried its very best to get the CPO, but others - people in government and at the Airport Commission who failed to support the (lost) cause. It’s the oldest political trick in the book! Courting electoral popularity by pretending you are trying to do something, which in reality you oppose and then blaming others for the failure of your half-hearted less than genuine efforts..
 
Cynical political manoeuvres like this demonstrate that Cllr Johnston and her
Hypocrisy in Action
colleagues harbour an arrogant contempt for Thanet residents. They show that the Labour Party in Thanet is callously manipulative and deceitful, putting party interest and votes before the concerns of local people. This is probably why decent and honourable politicians like Steve Alexendrou, who are uneasy about Thanet Labour’s dishonesty and game-playing, are now beginning to speak out.  Indeed some of my friends in the Labour Group tell me that discontent  about support for the CPO is growing.
 
For my part I have been arguing for a while that the possibility of securing a CPO and the feasibility of the airport being resurrected is unrealistic and that we should now be discussing Plan B. 
 
I believe this to be the case because  it has already been made clear that the Parkway station is going to be for people and businesses and not the airport. Also in the next few weeks we shall   see important developments which will mark the end of any hopes for an airport revival. These will  include an announcement about the extension of the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone to Thanet, the approval of the Manston Green and EKO planning applications to build housing close to the airport site and of course from Anne Gloag OBE, her much anticipated announcement about transforming the airport site probably into a housing and employment zone. Labour will of course not wish to be seen opposing these opportunities and will use every excuse in the book to re-align itself behind these new proposals.
 
Thanet Green Party opposes the building of houses on rural open space. There wis already sufficient housing development land within Thanet's urban boundaries. If we are unable to stop the rural development we will be fighting to ensure that housing and employment proposals  at Manston and the surrounding are sustainable, that they support  gainful employment, have  little environmental impact and are  carbon neutral. We will strive to ensure that proper democratic protocols are followed by TDC to enable public involvement in deciding what developments take at the former Manston Airport site.
 
 

31 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more Ian. This whole thing has been an exercise in dishonesty. When you talk to these people behind the scenes you are told that none of them really believes that a CPO has a cat-in-hell's chance of succeeding. They have been pretending to back it to try to curry favour with the pro-airport protestors, even though most of these people don't even live in Thanet. They've been invited into the council offices for tea and biscuits with Iris, given a hotline to receive confidential information and had minute-by-minute updates from Iris on their web-site. No wonder they are calling her the Manston Queen. Yet we now find that one of them is not just a campaigner, he is Riveroak's unofficial representative in East Kent, receiving confidential information from Riveroak and selectively releasing the bits he thinks are important to influence councillors; and he doesn'' even live in Thanet. At what point does this become corruption?

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    1. Are you going for the record of how much rubbish and misinformation you can get in one post?

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  2. well no one cares what you think anyway,so,how much has Gloag paid you???...How OBVIOUS!!

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  3. Any building over water catchment grounds has to be stopped. This area has been declared as a highly stressed water area. The whole carbon footprint matter needs considering & needs to take in to account plane engines running in taxiing & stacking. Also although fumes go all round the world, residue over populated areas (especially take off routes) need to be short. Noise levels must be considered too & later generation planes (quiter/cleaner) need encouraging, but Manston as an airport has a lot of "Green" issues in its favour in the balance of factors. The narrow vision has to be opened out to take into account all of the factors, right down to whether the staff could cycle to work and not add to pollution.

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    1. Anonymous 14/9/14 00.35 = did you not read Cllr Driver's article? The airport ain't gonna happen. Dream on and move on.

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    2. Unbelievable. Somehow, in some weird alternative world, it would be a disaster to build houses on top of the aquifer, but it would be acceptable to open a freight depot, discharging kerosene, diesel and de-icing agents into a our water supply. If you're going to argue against housing on the grounds that it might contaminate the aquifer, you can't possibly believe that an airport would be better.

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  4. Ian In my view Labour has been the one to help Ramsgate, If it were not for them we would have had night flights and a city airport GO LABOUR

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    1. Iain I would love to say go green but you have showed support for the airport when all other parties were doing the same, When we really needed a GREEN voice of reason we had none. Now what we need is a Cllr who is brave enough to stand up for what's right and openly denounce this polluting monster of a airport city. Some have done so, as you have mentioned but we need more because lets face facts, this has always been a case of Ramsgate's sacrifice so the surrounding area's can get their airport back at any cost. "If a small airport is not viable then lets build a huge airport city" " EIA whats that. Noise monitoring whats that. Planning permission whats that. Ramsgate has suffered enough with years of uncertainty making investment almost impossible With years of expansion and night flight worries Now we have this, will there be a CPO or wont there ? This is all contributing to Ramsgate being in the run down state it is. It does not have to be like this OUR town is fantastic and I'm soooooo sure that when Manston has no chance of ever being an airport ever again Ramsgate will become the jewel in Thanet's Tourist arsenal.

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  5. labour members just thinking pay packet after 2015 elections not what is best for thanet

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  6. Beau I was writing about the Labour Party. One member of the Labour Cabinet is openly speaking out against the CPO. The Labour Group Whip has said he will not support the CPO. An ex-member of the Labour Party says that Iris told her the CPO was playing politics. A senior Council officer told me that Cabinet members are openly saying a the CPO is a political manoeuvre. Iris Johnston is lining up fall guys to blame for Labours U-Turn. How much more evidence do you need to demonstrate that Labour are playing you for fools? A signed confession from Iris Johnston?

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  7. In 50-100years time, sea levels will rise and Thanet may become an island again, surely then we need an airport. We need to think about the future and not the now.

    The airport site has 3 green options, Airport /heliport, nothing or solar panels. Amazingly all three options does not mean digging up the site.

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    1. This is utterly desperate. In 100 years time there won't be any oil so you won't be able to fly anywhere. If this is the best you can come up with it really is time to pack in your futile campaign. As a pro-airport campaigner you really don't have the credibility to start talking about green options.

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    2. In 100 years time they'll find other, cleaner alternatives to oil. There'll still be people flying everywhere.

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  8. Iris Johnson has been unequivocal in her support for the re opening of Manston as an airport. She has not been unequivocal in her support of a CPO. She has always stated that any and all options to secure the re opening of the airport must be explored. How could she or any of Labour unequivocally support a CPO before finding out if it was legal, feasible etc? As has been famously said, if the circumstances/evidence changes then so does my mind- to do otherwise would be stupid. Councillor Driver has a long track record of changing his mind. To represent doing so as a U turn is ridiculous and we'd all be a lot better off if we encouraged our politicians to change their minds in the face if evidence. IF Iris Johnston and other councillors are provided with evidence to show that a CPO is not a viable way to save the airport - this des not make them duplicitous - it makes them sensible.

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    1. The CPO is a measure of last resort. If the CPO isn't a viable way to save the airport, the charade is over.

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    2. Concerning that Iris thinks Manston should be an airport. Why? The usual Margate Nimby view? The sooner we have separate town councils the better

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    3. You need to get your head round the difference between an aim and an aspiration. Iris aspires to reopen the airport but she aims to placate SMA until the process falls apart.

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  9. Beau Webber you can nit pick all you like. It's over. Perhaps the Save Manston Airport people from far and wide would like to reimburse the public for all the money that has been wasted on this Labour Party heist. The invoices are on their way.

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  10. If Iris is being duplicitous she is playing a dangerous game. Either you are for the airport or against it. Trying to save it and failing will not carry any favour with either side. Personally I will vote for anyone who is against the airport which narrows it down a bit as most councillors are under the misapprehension that most people want to save it.

    As a footnote I see most of the comments on here from the for side seem to have the debating skills of an angry child, are these the voters Iris really wants to appeal to?

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  11. To quote Manston Phoenix in full (they seem to have correctly tramscribed megaphone man's utterances in Ramsgate Friday "Save Manston Airport and we have a deadline of the 15th October, so we desperately need you to sign our petition if you've not signed it before. Please come and sign our petition in support of reopening Manston Airport. This is a vitally important problem for Thanet if it stays closed it will become a MASSIVE OVERSPILL HOUSING ESTATE"
    The following is MP's take on the words he used
    "This is propaganda of the absolute worst sort on many levels. It is reminding us of the worst excesses of Moseley and the National Front and also the very worst of some UKIP campaigners. We are sure that SMA may have the best of intentions but to promote fear in people's minds with absolutely no proof is completely wrong in our view. The only person that has discussed housing is Riveroak's spokesperson Tony Freudman and that was for 1000 houses on the Northern Grass airstrip and that was a year ago."

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  12. Nonsensical quibbling 10:35 Ian is right that Iris is pretending to support SMA for votes knowing the Cpo is a failure. Iris has forgotten the votes of the rest of us who see through this waste...

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  13. Beau Webber. As you don't live in Thanet you may be unaware of the reality of the situation. Ramsgate's councillors haven't been asked whether they are in favour of a CPO or not. Your group bounced the council into rushing ahead with the selection of an indemnity partner. I've spoken to quite a few local councillors and my impression is that there is solid opposition to the CPO. However, they aren't going to go public with this because, if it goes to planning, they would be barred from voting because of pre-determination. I suspect the reason Steve Alexandrou is now speaking out is that they have become concerned that you and your group had somehow got the idea that the council had embarked on the CPO process. It has not. No decision to proceed with a CPO has been taken and no decision to proceed with a CPO can be taken until several things have happened. Firstly, council officers have to conduct a due diligence study on the proposed indemnity partner. To do this properly will take some considerable time. Secondly, the site has to be valued and TDC has to engage in exhaustive negotiations to try to purchase it without resorting to a CPO. Thirdly, the potential CPO partner will have to submit a detailed business plan and will be required to pay for a full environmental impact assessment based on their proposals. Fourthly, a financial risk assessment will need to be done to ensure that councillors are fully aware of the potential financial risks both now and in the future. Only when all of this has been done will councillors be in a position to sit down and say yay or nay to the CPO. It is arrogant and presumptive of you to assume you know which way councillors will vote on this important issue. If, at any point, in this process, Ann Gloag comes forward with proposals to develop the site, the council will be obliged to consider those proposals without reference to reopening the airport. The fact that some campaigners want the airport reopened cannot be used as grounds to turn down proposals for a new business park or executive housing (for example). You are only permitted to turn down proposals on valid planning grounds and the fact that some people love reading Biggles books doesn't count.

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  14. Any elected councilor of any persuasion who backs a CPO to plonk an air freight terminal in the middle of a heavily populated area like Thanet does not deserve to be re-elected any residents that I talk to in Ramsgate are glad to see the back of the airport with all the broken promises of jobs and prosperity Tony Freudman addressed a meeting in Ramsgate 15 years ago with all the same promises that he is making now and failed so lets hope our councilors are not taken in by false promises again and give Ann Gloag a chance to outline her plans before embarking on a road to disaster.

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  15. If you can't present a logical argument for your point of view you can't expect anybody to take you seriously. The pro-Manston campaigners have really blown it this time. I mean, where on earth did they get this figure of 6500 jobs? It doesn't appear anywhere on any documentation which I have seen. I am forced to conclude that they have just made up a number to dupe people into signing their petition. And where did they get the idea that Ann Gloag wants to build a massive overspill housing estate? Overspill from what and where? Again, it would seem that they have just made up the worst sounding thing they could think of to dupe people into signing their petition. And what is this deadline of the 15th of October? Is that just some random date they've chosen for finishing their petition, or is something going to be happening then that will require a petition? I think we should be told.

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  16. The rest of the airport is auctioned off next week so there's nothing there to reopen

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    1. Didn't Beau contact a government minister with a view to getting the sale stopped? What happened to this? Presumably, the minister isn't interested in saving Manston.

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  17. Beau you don't live in Thanet? What other aiports are you campaigning on to reopen or expand...

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  18. There's nothing about the CPO timeline at this link Beau. Have you removed it? Did Iris tell you to take it down? Had you seen the FoI request on No Night Flights? The council is saying that they have categorically not taken any decision to proceed with a CPO. As far as they are concerned, they have done no more than conduct a viability study. Have you made your "members" aware of this? Many of them seem to think that the CPO process has started.

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  19. People who know that the Report recommends an Airport City along with car assembly plant and a plane break-up centre are opposed to the re-opening of the airport and CPO.
    The problem is that most people do not know this, and think they are being asked to sign up to bring back the former regional airport.
    This is also an extreme deceit.

    Another issue is that these things have a way of running away with themselves, and as tens of thousands are being spent on these reports and exercises, it may be possible for us to end up along the line applying for a CPO after all, now that the beginning of the process has started.

    I would like for the people of Thane to be told the truth about the Falcon Consultancy Report and what is envisaged there.

    I think it is appalling the way that Iris Johnston is seeking to ingratiate herself with the SMA mob, most of whom do not live in Thanet.

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  20. On the Manston Pickle Facebook page, they have published an extract from the SMA, which provides a time-scale of developments for the CPO, which they state will be completed by Christmas. I wonder if this is one of the documents forwarded to them by Iris, who looks to me as if she is trying to be a double agent.

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  21. Apparently the time schedule which has been placed on the Manston Pickle Facebook page has come from
    ThanetDC, and that indicates that the process will be completed by Christmas
    Thank you Ian for bringing these matters to public attention - Iris Johnston needs to be stopped in her tracks.
    I could see that she is not a suitable person to even be a councillor when she swore at you at a council meeting

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