Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Thanet District Council Meeting Tomorrow, Animal Exports, Airport, Webcasting, Standards.

It looks like this meeting will be covering a lot of issues and I will write something here later today about them if I get time.

The picture above is of a Ramsgate Council meeting, this presumably comes from a time when one was allowed to take pictures of council meetings.

First night flights, there are some night flights occurring around this point in time, my understanding is that these are to fly food to our troops in Afghanistan, I don’t think that anyone I know in Ramsgate objects to these flights.

But it does surprise me that the airport hasn’t taken advantage of this opertunity for positive publicity.

I don’t think the airport operator has any concept of taking the town of Ramsgate with them on anything at all, minor pr opportunities like announcing when the Red Arrows or some other interesting aircraft are likely to be flying over the town, so that residents have an opportunity to take a picture, seem to be something they have missed.

One of the noisest and most disruptive businesses in Ramsgate was the Sally Line and yet this business was well supported by Ramsgate residents. Infratil just don’t seem to have got the message and will fly a noisy plane at 7am on still Sunday morning low over the town when the obviously don’t need to or carry on endless low training flights over the town when they could obviously do this somewhere where hardly anyone lives. Well now the have got lot peoples backs up and they mostly have themselves to blame.

Night flights has become a party political issue, how daft can you get, well I suppose as flights over Ramsgate have even been a racist issue, anything goes.

Rumour is that there is Infratil are keen to sell Manston and that some other operators have been sniffing around, as Infratil lost £3m last year on their UK airport business this raises the interesting question of what anyone would pay for a business that loses that much a year. 

I suppose the only logical way forward for the airport is to expand the aspect of it that has been successful which mostly relates to aviation heritage, a base for air shows and short haul flights that don’t make much noise anyway.    

There will be a question for the leader I suppose like a mini PMQ, this is what it says:

“1.1       According to Council Procedure Rule 14, a Member of the Council may ask a Member of the Cabinet or the Chairman of any Committee or Sub-Committee, a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the district, providing they have given at least five working days notice in writing of the question, limited to fifty words.

2.0       The Current Situation

2.1       On 4 July 2011, the Democratic Services & Scrutiny Manager received from Councillor Poole the following question addressed to Councillor Bayford:

2.2       “Substantial ERDF grants were given to a number of local businesses during the early 2000s, following a stringent process of selection.   Will you explain why, from 2003 onwards, there wasn’t an effective process to ensure the monies were spent according to the strict criteria used when the grants were agreed?”

I am not so sure what it means.

On to the business of webcasting council meetings, apparently at the moment it costs the council about £250 in staff costs to convert the DVD, that they already make, into the right file format and put it online.

Anyone who has ever put a dvd on Youtube will probably wonder if they paid an officer to sit there while the file converted and went up on the internet.

To me converting a video file means opening it in the right program and going off and doing something else while the computer gets on with the job and then coming back and finding the file in your Youtube account, clicking on upload and then going off and doing something else while it uploads.

When the idea was first suggested I told the council that if they sent me the dvd I would be happy to put it online for them, for nothing. The dvds get made anyway you understand.    

Then there is the live animal transport motion, this isn’t something you have to clean up with a shovel, but the following:

1.1.      Council Procedure Rule No. 16 governs the process for motions on notice being submitted to Council.  

1.2.1        The following motion on notice has been received from Councillor Fenner in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules:

“Council resolves to seek a legal opinion on whether TDC can lawfully ban the transportation of live farm animals from the Port of Ramsgate on the ground that they are ‘sentient beings’ and not ‘goods’.” 

Update, news of the council meeting is slowly filtering out, with Simon Moores rather bizarre tweet “After a very long day indeed, tonight's Council meeting was best viewed through the lens of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'”

And this from the Labour group

Nothing from the council press and information department yet.    


  1. Resident under the flight pathJuly 14, 2011 10:21 am

    Michael, I find it very difficult to read your biased nonsense and not comment. You accuse Infratil of not taking the opportunity for a bit of cheap PR. Do you think it’s PR that we the residents want? Of course not, we want a sensible working solution that will benefit everyone, not title tattle. I’m sure you would be one of the first to pick on such publicity as a cheap attempt to influence us. If you are really interested in what’s happening at Manston try

    You mention Infratil “fly a noisy plane at 7am on still Sunday morning low over the town” and “carry on endless low training flights over the town”. First, I would suggest that use of “low”, “still” and “endless” are emotive words used to accentuate your opinion and have little relevance in a sound argument. I would also doubt your mention of “Sunday” as being relevant in today’s world. The truth is that Infratil don’t “carry on” any of these flights, they accommodate them (someone has to) and aircraft approach and depart on set patterns.

    Flight times are often dictated by climatic and other conditions at the point of departure or arrival. Fully laden aircraft taking off from short runways have to take account of air density, which is a product of air pressure and temperature, Very high temperatures can significantly reduce air density and therefore the efficiency of an aircraft. In such circumstances movements are often restricted to certain times of the day when the climate is acceptable, which in turn can dictate the arrival or departure times at Manston. I don’t think the extended flying times are a cynical ploy by Infratil to upset the people of Ramsgate!

  2. Time will tell whether Infratil are just trying to fatten up Manston to take it to market. I refer you to an extract from their latest annual report. -

    "The airports in Glasgow and Kent represent 4% of Infratil’s assets and contributed an EBITDAF loss of £5 million (NZ$10 million) for the year.
    Management is very aware of this disproportionate value/contribution
    aspect and the situation is receiving the urgent attention it warrants.
    There are several solutions possible, but regrettably the preferred one,
    an improving European aviation scene lifting activity and hence income, seems the least likely."

    I guess selling it is one of the 'several solutions' the report mentions.
    For a company whose stated aim is to generated a 20% return on investors money running Manston and Prestwick are distractions they can do without.

  3. I was woken at 0355 on the 1st of July by a very noisy aircraft,this contravened the 106 so I phoned Manston to enquire if it was a mercy flight they took my name and address but up to now there has been no explanation.

  4. RUTFP on the whole I post, you comment and then I comment in response.

    In the first instance this is not about cheap pr but an attempt to communicate with local people, especially those local people effected by flights.

    It is quite simple, there are those companies that attempt to develop a relationship with the local community and become seen as part of that community, and there are those companies that are seen as outside entitles that are alienated from the local community.

    I think the truth is that Infratil either specify the flight approach or give the companies the option and as flying over Ramsgate often means that they use slightly less fuel then these outside companies that have no relationship to maintain with the local community take the cheapest option.

    The very high temperatures in the night and early morning that effect air density you mention, are not a feature of northern European airports.

    13.15 I don’t think there is much chance of fattening it up, at the moment, clutching at straws seems more apposite.

    It would be interesting if they really did look for a solution based on; the lack of an improving European aviation scene lifting activity and hence income, I am pretty sure some sort of heritage aircraft based solution with a small regional airport, is their best way forward.

    Stargazer, I imagine you like me have no qualms about being woken up by some sort of mercy flight, or a flight involving our troops abroad, it does seem that recently this is what most of the night flights have been. Strange that they seem to be reluctant to tell us this.

  5. Such tosh, no doubt instigated by airport fanatics. If only these people could use rational argument to make their case rather than resorting to emotional blackmail.

    There are no flights which go from Manston to Afghanistan. The night flights which are taking place are just cruddy old freighters which wouldn't be allowed to do this elsewhere in the UK.

    Yes, many of us have good reason to be supporting troops in Afghanistan. But flights to support troops can easily take-off from other airports, where night-flying is not going to wake thousands of people up.

  6. Resident under the flight pathJuly 17, 2011 5:35 am

    Michael, the approach of an aircraft is primarily determined by two things, wind direction, and air traffic regulations - see HERE for regulations. In the northern hemisphere winds are predominantly from the west which usually determines an approach over Ramsgate.

    With regard to the air temperatures, I wasn’t aware that flights to Manston only come from Northern Europe!!

  7. If flight paths are determined by wind direction why were all the planes taking off over Ramsgate today when the wind was westerly?

  8. Resident under the flight pathJuly 20, 2011 8:09 am

    Can only think the wind was very light so as not to be significant, or it was not westerly. You cannot deny the laws of physics. Don't take my word for it, ask any pilot.


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