Thursday, 9 April 2015

Manston Airport, trying to unpick the tangled muddle over today’s cpo press release and a ramble sketch of Walmer Castle...

Here is what Sir Roger Gale has to say:

Transport Minister John Hayes Delivers Double Boost for Manston Airport

John Hayes, the Minister of State for Aviation, has today delivered a double boost to the campaign to save Manston Airport.  He has announced:

      A new deal for search-and-rescue services in the South East of England: Bristow, the company that provides search-and-rescue services on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, had originally planned to base two helicopters at Manston, but the airport closed in May 2014.

The Minister of State and Prime Minister`s Special Representative  has today announced that instead of agreeing a long-term contract for Bristow to base their helicopters elsewhere, he has agreed a one-year deal in which the helicopters are based only temporarily at Lydd Airport.  This paves the way for the helicopters to return to Manston once the airport reopens.

      He is removing one of the key barriers to the compulsory purchase of Manston: One of the key stumbling blocks to Thanet District Council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order for Manston was the perceived lack of confidence in the financial indemnities offered by RiverOak - the US firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport.  Following work by PWC, who were commissioned by the Government to review all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston to date, the Minister has today told the Leader of Thanet District Council on the basis of the independent PWC analysis that he “is satisfied by the indemnity offered by RiverOak to protect the council against the costs of the Compulsory Purchase Order.”

John Hayes said: “I have been paying close attention to the future of Manston Airport throughout my time in the Department for Transport.  And I believe the announcements I have made today are huge steps towards securing Manston’s future as a working airport.  It is further evidence that it really is possible for Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale to deliver their five-point plan for Manston.  Now, if local people want to see that plan implemented, they have to vote Conservative on May 7th - because while others may shout from the sidelines, the Conservatives have the strength to deliver.”

Craig Mackinlay said: “The good news just keeps on coming.  I have wanted to give Manston a long-term future as a working airport for a long time.  That’s why, back in 2001, I tried to launch a low-cost airline flying mainly from Manston to Malaga.  So I’ve always been committed to the place.  With the Conservative five-point plan to save Manston and the great news announced by the minister today, I am more confident than ever that we will succeed.

“The reason we are making such good progress is down to the fact that we have such a strong Conservative team, which includes Sir Roger Gale in North Thanet, important Ministers like John Hayes and the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin, together with a team of Conservative councillors, led by Bob Bayford.  In contrast, UKIP - who have jumped on the bandwagon with Manston as with so many other issues - don’t have the power to deliver and to date have contributed nothing to this effort whatsoever.

Roger Gale has added:

“The fact that Bristows, a strong commercial organisation, are prepared to demonstrate their faith in Manston and their willingness to give us time to get the airport operational again speaks volumes.  Search & Rescue will be coming home to the airfield where it belongs and this should send out a clear message, if nothing else does, that the Government means business and that there is no “Plan B”. I understand that there may be those who will say “It will all change after the election”. Those people are, quite simply, wrong. We are in this for the long haul: the nation needs Manston Airport, Kent – with or without the Leader of KCC – needs Manston Airport and Thanet needs Manston Airport and that is what we are going to have”.

And the Leader of Thanet`s Conservatives, Cllr. Bob Bayford, has said;

“I am satisfied that it is safe to proceed on the basis of the assurances given by Price Waterhouse Coopers via the Minister of State and can therefore say today, without equivocation, that a Conservative controlled council elected on May 7th will take immediate steps to instigate the processes necessary to compulsorily purchase Manston Airport on a back-to-back deal that will enable the airport to return to full operational status as swiftly as possible. Too much time has been lost and too much uncertainty caused already and we need to get on with this”  (ENDS)

The Conservative Five-Point Plan to Save Manston Airport

The news comes just a week after Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, endorsed the five-point plan to save Manston that was developed by Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative candidate for South Thanet, and Sir Roger Gale, the Conservative candidate for North Thanet.

McLoughlin also used his visit to the area to confirm that a Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to re-open as a working airport as swiftly as possible.

The five-point plan is as follows:

     Appoint PWC to report on the future of Manston: Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Transport Secretary, and John Hayes, the Conservative Transport Minister, commissioned PWC to provide an independent review of all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston in March.  PWC are expected to provide an interim report soon.

     Block planning consent for the proposed development: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale will lobby Thanet District Council to block planning consent for the development proposed by the new owners of Manston.

     Compulsorily purchase the airport: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale are calling for Thanet District Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order, backed up with financial indemnities, for Manston Airport.

     Deliver the certification needed for the airport to re-open: Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has announced that a Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to re-open as a working airport as swiftly as possible.

     Enlist commercial partners for the future: Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale will work with private sector companies to make sure Manston will re-open as a working airport and remain as such.  RiverOak - an American firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport - has already called on the Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order to block the proposed development.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said: “I welcome Craig’s plan to keep Manston open as a working airport, and I can confirm that a future Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to operate as an airport in future.  The election in South Thanet is a two-horse race between the Conservatives and UKIP - and it is clear that if you want to save Manston Airport, you have to vote Conservative.”

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “I cannot pre-judge any quasi-judicial decisions that will need to be made by my department in future, but Craig and Roger`s plan for the future of Manston Airport is compelling.  It goes to show that the voters of South Thanet have a simple choice.  They can vote for UKIP who can shout from the sidelines but deliver nothing.  Or they can vote for Craig Mackinlay, who - because he’s part of a team consisting of government ministers and the next leader of Thanet District Council – that will get things done for local people.”

Here is what Iris Johnson has to say to Suzy Gale who sent out the press release:

Dear Suzy,
I am afraid this is not what actually happened today!

Sir Roger kindly phoned me around 11am to say John was arriving at Margate Station around 12.30 and wished to see me. I abandoned all appointments and got there in good time. Sir Roger arrived and waited on the platform. Craig McKinley marched into the cafe and wanted to know what train the Minister was arriving on. I told him Sir Roger had not advised me he was to attend or that it was Party Political event for the Conservative Party

I went out to Sir Roger who asked Craig and his 'minder' to leave. The Minister arrived and we greeted each other warmly.
Once we went back into the cafe the Minister told me had three bits of information . Sir Roger spoke to Bob Bayford who had just arrived and he too left.
I am very clear that the Minister said he had three pieces of information for me.

Mr Hayes said Bristows would go to Lydd for one year only and then come to Manston if open.
( I discovered several weeks ago that the MP for the Lydd area was lobbying to get Bristows and I made that information public)

Mr Hayes said RiverOak would put 'up to two million pounds' in a British account. They would put money towards legal fees.
This is not new news.
Again as part of any CPO with a back to back investor this and considerably more monies was a strong TDC requirement and the 400,000 dollars mentioned by RiverOak last year would hardly cover legal fees let alone pay for the compensation due to the owners and pay for 720 acres of Kent.

Mr Hayes was very clear he had not had an interim report from Price Waterhouse Cooper. Sir Roger said something to the effect that they were supportive of RiverOak as an indemnity partner. Mr Hayes reached across to him and said a clear 'no'.
He thought the interim report would be 'next week or so'.
After our meeting I immediately phoned our Acting Chief Executive who arranged for the DCLG to be contacted. She advised me that their response was that any report won't be ready 'until mid May'.

I should add that I am regularly asking TDC officers if Price Waterhouse Cooper have contacted us to discuss the papers. To date they have not and a representative of RiverOak told me yesterday they hadn't contacted him either. He is coming to see me tomorrow.

I would have expected both TDC and RiverOak to have been interviewed by PWC by now and certainly before any report either 'interim' or 'final' to be available and in the public domain.

Discovery Parks have responded to this one according to The Isle of Thanet Gazette see

Stephen DeNardo, Chief Executive of RiverOak Investments said today:

“RiverOak warmly welcomes the news that, following the PwC review of our documentation, Minister for State John Hayes has today told Thanet District Council that he is “satisfied by the indemnity offered by RiverOak to protect the council against the costs of the Compulsory Purchase Order.” We are equally delighted to hear of the one-year deal struck with Bristow which paves the way for the Search and Rescue helicopters to return to Manston once the airport reopens.

RiverOak remains absolutely committed to reviving Manston as an operational airport, home to a wide range of operators including Search and Rescue services – as well as a thriving and profitable air cargo, aircraft recycling and reliever airport operation, for the long term benefit of not only East Kent, but users of the whole of the London airports system too.”

So was there any Manton news today? Your guess is as good as mine, not really sure whether to say sorry for posting it, but there it is.

I went to Deal today, lunch at Isaura’s Fine Foods again, see if they have their own website I can’t find it.

On to Walmer Castle with four children in tow, where I got about three quarters of a sketch done before something fell on it.

Here are the pictures.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Reposted with spelling corrected!

    I always treat any statement by any political party during an election campaign with a degree of scepticism, but in this case one version is true and the other is not.

    Am I the only voter in Thanet hoping for some sort of coalition in Westminster, and a TDC with no overall control after 7th May?

  3. From the 30th of march until after the election the government's public servants and ministers can say nothing of a political nature. So any announcement about Manston and the PCW report is out of bounds. It appears that the government transport minister kept to the rules but Roger Gale can make up what he likes, and he did!

  4. The Fiasco goes on. Had the Transport minister wanted to save Manston he could have done so when the strategic transport review was sorted last year. Did he? No. Government dont care about us in Thanet and I doubt they do now. Any noise is aimed at CONSERVATIVE V UKIP and once the election is gone so will any ideas for us down here.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.