Thursday, 25 June 2015

Manston Airport cpo update

The Price Waterhouse Cooper gubbins, report thingy that we may have all been waiting for has just been published, there are over 100 pages to digest.

As I have been saying in previous posts, the key to this one is liability, so be prepared for a brain numbing read, here’s the link to the report in pdf format on the UK Government’s website

My understanding is that this report cost £70,000 paid for out of UK taxes, having skimmed though it I have to say that I don’t really see what it is that the report was supposed to achieve for this amount of money.

It certainly doesn’t seem to be a mandate for any further action by either TDC or the government. 

This report however is funny, has Chris Wells crossed the floor again:

"Conservative leader of Thanet District Council Cllr Chris Wells said: “I believe the report gives us an opportunity to review the approach taken by Thanet District Council in the last year, which is in line with the request from full council for cabinet to review its decision of December 2014.
Given the need to formally review the observations in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report in detail it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

My own thoughts on the PwC report are that is summarises as: TDC should have spent £70k on using PwC to give them advice on checking their indemnity partner. However PwC wouldn’t have endorsed anything in case PwC incurred any liability.


  1. Michael Child has dismissed the report in its entirety. PW&C hang their heads in shame.

  2. That’s about the strength of it John, the UK government DFT commissioned it although the DFT have no intention of using RiverOak or anyone else as an indemnity partner in a cpo. As far as I can see it was just £70k down the drain. Admittedly there is a bit of a, if TDC had given more of our council tax to investigating RiverOak they could have done a better job of getting the same result.

  3. Michael

    I've yet to fully read the report, but it does appear that the biggest failing of TDC was in not clearly communicating to RiverOak, at a very early stage, that 3 years of financial data was an absolute requirement.

    There doesn't appear to be any attempt to evaluate RiverOak's finances, just a long list of things TDC could have done differently, all of which would have cost even more taxpayer's money.

    Thanet's political class have not served the public well on this, or many other issues.

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  5. Michael, I think JH was trying to be funny but the senior civil servant at the department of transport in his role as accounting officer believed that going ahead with the report was a waste of public money and required the minister to override his concerns.
    Looks like the accounting officer was right judging by a report that says nothing other than the council could have taken legal advice that may have enabled the council to circumvent their normal due diligent procedures. As we may find out spending more money on legal fees does not guarantee that the council can still consider RO as a suitable partner let alone guarantee that CPO would succeed.

    TDC have in the past spent huge amounts on legal advice on various topics only for its outcome to cost them plenty more. The advice given on banning live animal exports comes to mind with the high court overturning the advice.

  6. The links to the various Govt publications on Manston are no longer working on the DfT website.

    Be interesting to get a copy of the report. Not convinced it did what it should have, but then maybe the DfT were not clear in their instruction to PWC.

  7. Dee Gee, I do not know where you can find a copy of the report. But perhaps I can put your mind at rest on one point. PW&C are a world renowned company whose probity is beyond doubt. They will have assiduously followed the terms of reference set by the DfT. I am satisfied this is so because I have read the entire report line by line.

  8. Dee Gee, Michael's link above to the report was working 5 mins ago.

    The board of Tescos were not happy with the quality of PCW's work in auditing the black hole that were found in their accounts. The Financial Reporting Council are investigating both Tescos and PCW's role. Deloittes are now employed by Tescos and this month John Lewis have dropped PCW as their auditors.

  9. Yes the link worked later after I had pasted my comment and I have downloaded the report. It is very boring reading and does not provide a way forward. I am not convinced that a CPO would be successful as it has to be for the 'proper planning of the area' and I do not see anything in the local plan that requires the airport to be retained.

    It is also worth noting that Plymouth closed down and has not been able to be reopened, Prestwick was bought by the Scottish Govt and is subject to massive public subsidy (could be challenged in the EU as state aid), Cardiff has gone the same way (Welsh Assembly purchased), Newquay is struggling (200,000 passengers instead of the 1 million predicted), Blackpool closed down (now reopened but struggling), and other regional airports are struggling.

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  11. There is a very good reason as to why the report did not address either the 'suitability or otherwise' of RiverOak as an indemnity partner nor the 'reasonableness of TDC's conclussions'. This is because they were briefed specifically NOT to address these points

    Scope of Requirements

    5.4 The consultants, in the first phase of work, are not expected to reach a view on whether TDC’s due diligence was sufficient, nor on the reasonableness or otherwise of TDC’s conclusions.

    This is what they were reporting on:

    i) Any key considerations that TDC could have taken into account at the time, based on a review of the information provided to TDC (at the time).

    ii) Further key considerations that TDC may wish to take into account in any further CPO review, based on a review of the additional information provided by RiverOak to the Department.

    iii) On the basis of the findings from the above, the consultant should also provide advice on what, if any, further work TDC may wish to undertake to help strengthen findings from any future due diligence exercise.

    So all those claiming that the report is a criticism of TDC are saying that PWC are not very good at keeping to their brief.


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