Friday, 16 October 2015

Manston cpo and why Thanet District Council can’t proceed with it, Chris Wells and the messages into the void.

Yesterday the council issued a statement detailing why they can’t proceed with the Manston Airport cpo, they have stated several reasons but the most glaring one is that in order to pursue a cpo that fell into the, “could possibly succeed, wouldn’t fall at the first hurdle” bracket, they have to make the owner an offer for the land.

As we all know the airport cpo has become a very emotive issue, and over the years one comes to realise (particularly having teenage children) that arguments can develop to the point where neither side listens to what the other side is saying and spends all the time their opponent is talking making up what they are going to say next.

I started to wonder if the split in the UKIP administration and the hostility of the airport supporters lobby wasn’t more due to this state of affairs, than a real difference opinion.

So I had a couple online dialogues with a couple of the Manston supporters, here they are with their names removed.

Michael Child *** correct me if I am wrong here, but the council seem to be saying.

Part of the cpo process that can’t be got around is that the acquiring authority (TDC) have to offer to buy the land from the owner before the cpo can start.

Say if the council want to buy your house to build a new road and the going rate for a 4 bed house in Thanet is £200,000, then the council would have to make you an offer in that ball park before they could mount a cpo.

However you look at it I think the council would have to offer at least as much as RiverOak offered, which I think was £7m and in order to do this the council would have to have access to that amount of money and as far as I can see RiverOak have said they will only put up £2m before the cpo starts.
Like · Reply · 2 · 15 hrs
*** Michael we will think on this and take advice, but my first reaction is that both TDC and RiverOak have made numerous attempts to buy the airport from Ann Gloag and Cartner & Musgrave and been turned down or quoted funny money. The problem is we are not discussing a nice pretty house with a known value, or even discussing good farmland, we are discussing a trashed airfield, only zoned for aviation use, and Ann Gloag and C&M hope to make £100m to £2b from the good people of Thanet - and London - by selling it for housing. CPOs don't consider the value of the houses you have not built or have planning permission for. That is why a CPO is the only way forward. To suggest that they are suddenly going to ring up and say they have changed their minds is improbable. And to suggest that Chris Wells still has to phone up Ann Gloag each week and ask her to sell is perverse.
Like · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs · Edited
**** To be slightly clearer - if Ann Gloag wants to sell, well that is not a CPO, and TDC are not involved at all, any started CPO process just stops and TDC have lost nothing (because of the indemnity Agreement). RiverOak just buy it from her, if they think the price is reasonable and not unduly above what the Government appointed Inspector is likely to set it at. Otherwise the offer is rejected and the CPO process is continued.
Like · Reply · 2 · 15 hrs · Edited
Michael Child
Michael Child *** I am pretty sure that, although please correct me if I am wrong, it isn’t RiverOak that have to have made an offer for the land, but the acquiring authority, in this case TDC in order to start a cpo.

I don’t think this has to be in any way related to the compensation amount, which in the case of a cpo, like your house would be basically enough to buy a similar house, or in this case land, in the same area plus your costs for moving and some compensation for the inconvenience.

My guess is that the actual cpo compensation award would be related to the amount per acre of similar land in the southeast and not in any way related to the value of the airport as a business, because cpos can only be made for land, and not a business which is what I think RiveOak made the offer for.

I wasn’t thinking in terms of anything more than the current stalling points, the most basic of which is that TDC just don’t seem to have the funds to make any realistic offer for the land, which is something I think they have to do in order to start the cpo process.

One thing that I know about councils is that the councillors can’t legally force the council to do something they don’t have the funds to do, if the council wanted to raise council tax significantly to raise money they have to hold a referendum, which is what KCC are talking about at the moment, because of central government cuts.
Like · Reply · 14 hrs
*** I see no absolute requirement in the Government guidelines, to make an offer for the land during the CPO process - the words used are "may" and "usually". This is an unusual case as there is no clear cut value for the airport land that the inspector is likely to declare.
Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs
Michael Child
Michael Child ***** you could well be right and I could be completely wrong, but it looks to me to be the main stumbling point and could be worth discussing with the councillors who seem to be falling out over it.

I think rightly or wrongly you have one group who see it as being the end of the cpo and another group who don’t, but either haven’t grasped the point, (which I think you will concede is not that easy as you are an intelligent bloke and it took several comments from me to get it across to you) or haven’t come up with another solution.

I am going to sleep on it and see if it looks different in the morning and I suggest you do the same.
Like · Reply · 14 hrs
**** Thanks for discussing - yes a good night's sleep is something I could do with.
Like · Reply ·

And this is the end of the other one as the beginning was pretty much the same as above.

///// No. Paragraph 24 of ODPM 06/2004, which refers to this only suggests that "acquiring authorities should seek to acquire land by negotiation wherever practicable." Now, even allowing for the fact that Mrs Gloag knows full well that subsequent to several decades of financial mismanagement TDC are not in a position to make an offer for my garden shed let alone an airfield, the fact that River Oak made several written offers, up to and including the full asking price and were brusquely rejectef is surely an indication that the woman doesn't want to enter into negotiations.
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Michael Child
Michael Child ///// //// as you probably know I am a shop assistant and not one of the worlds great legal minds, however my guess is that it depends what “practicable” means in this context.

I am assuming it means where the acquiring authority can’t contact the owner, which is the case with some of the derelict buildings that local authorities buy, mainly to sort out and put back into use.

With this sort of thing where you have two expert lawyers involved, the council’s and RiverOak’s, in most cases they both already know the probable outcome, but with £2m in legal fees expected, there are bound to be lots opposing arguments.

So in a sense it can help to keep calm and try and decode what they say combined with what usually happens in the case of a major cpo.

With a site as big as Manston it is usually farmland which averages across the uk at around £10,000 so with a 600 acre site they would probably offer something in the £6m ball park.

Both threads ended with my final reply.

Next the business over the Chris Wells messages into the void, I think the emails are self-explanatory.

-----Original Message-----
From: michaelchild
To: cllr-chris.wells ; bobbreggub ; Iris.johnston
Sent: Fri, 16 Oct 2015 14:20
Subject: Customer.Services@THANET.GOV.UK, Cllr-Helen.Smith@THANET.GOV.UK, Cllr-John.Townend@THANET.GOV.UK, Cllr-Suzanne.Brimm@THANET.GOV.UK, Cllr-Hunter.Stummer-Schmertzing@THANET.GOV.UK, Cllr-Lin.Fairbrass@THANET.GOV.UK,

Hi guys and gals   

I used to work on various funfairs including Dreamland and although I wasn’t responsible for the scenic railway there, I have been for other rollercoasters all of which are controlled, i.e. the ride speed and safety, by brakes that can be seriously compromised in wet weather.   

Anyway I tried to contact the leader to make sure there wasn’t an council pressure to run it this very wet weekend if the speed of the cars can't be properly controlled.

I tried phoning Chris Wells, land line "sorry this mailbox is full it can't accept any messages" mobile, answerphone, where I have left a message.

I tried emailing the info to cllr-Chris.Wells@THANET.GOV.UK didn’t get any confirmation that the email had been received read or anything at all.

So the question is are there any councillors left who respond to emails or is the council email sever down like Chris’s phone?
Best regards Michael

From: Bob Bayford <>

I'm here!



Sent from my iPad

From: michaelchild
To: bobbreggub
Sent: Fri, 16 Oct 2015 14:56
Subject: Re: Customer.Services

Perhaps the council’s email server is down Bob, any chance you could pass the message on and confirm someone has read it and checked the brakes work in wet weather? Just one confirmation, from someone senior in the current administration that they are on the case would be enough for me. 
Best regards Michael

I will add to this as or if I get any more replies.


  1. The former Manston Airport, now Stone Hill Park, is not
    'farmland'. It is a 800 acre 'brownfield' site and hence worth considerably more
    than the £7m quoted for the airport. I would suggest it is now worth 10's of
    millions and possibly 100's of millions, especially if we are talking 'housing
    development'....precisely why RiverOak want to get their hands on it......they
    are a Real Estate company and see a huge potential profit as does Anne Gloag.
    RiverOak are not in the slightest interested in running an airport it is the
    potential value of the land they are interested in. The 'compensation payment'
    would reflect its potential value. Anyway, RiverOak has absolutely no chance of
    CPOing the land so it's a bit academic!
    Alan Poole

  2. Alan my best guess would be around £350m

  3. In my view a CPO defies logic anyway. Usually CPOs are when local authorities want to build large infrastructure and need to be able to bulldoze a building in the way. In fact the only CPO I've ever heard of which was not like that is when TDC forced the sale of the Dreamland site.

    Here the convoluted argument seems to be that a third party should be able to use the powers of a local authority to take an asset from a legal owner to prevent them (the owner) developing it in a perfectly legal way. That's like you, Michael Child, deciding that you want to convert your bookshop into a micropub and me go to TDC to try to use their powers to allow me to buy it and continue running it as a bookshop. You might not, possibly should not, get permission to change use, but what right do I have to try to take your asset off you? Madness.

    At the very least, I'd expect the owners of the asset to get full market rate for their land - which as you say would be as prime development land as per the plans of the owners - which would be impossible to fund from TDC coffers and would likely Kibosh any plans anyone else might have for getting a cheap bit of land they can bank and build on later.

    I am not a lawyer etc.

    1. I would be happy to see TDC using its compulsory purchase powers to ensure that Michael's premises remained a bookshop. The key difference between this example and the airport is that Michael's shop makes enough money to allow him to eat out frequently, as evidenced by the contents of his blog. By contrast, the airport lost over £100 million. It failed, miserably, to achieve any of the predictions made for it. The same people who made those predictions are the people who have been driving the campaign to CPO it. Why would you listen to them twice? I think the vast majority of people in Thanet think that it's time to move on.

  4. I still cant understand what the fuss is about. Someone on TDC gave the impression planning permission would be granted and from that point on Manston was doomed. Even though we have had a change of administration at TDC and are set for even more non-administration or as spellcheck wants tto call it maladministration the airport is never going to function again. I supported the airport all the time it was there but it has gone and we need to look to the future. Housing seems to be the only option and it needs to be supervised in a proper manner so as to benefit Thanet and not become a London overspill.

  5. Time to move on I think. Manston was only ever viable all the time the MoD were paying for the infrastructure maintenance. It's a dead duck. No axe to grind here, I've lived smack under the flight path for thirty years. It was there when I brought the house and I served out my RAF time on the Wessex flight. Aircraft noise worries me and mine not one bit, but I admit I don't miss it. Let's concentrate on getting the most amenity use we can out of the resulting mess.

  6. Arjun, ups and downs with the bookshop, the monopolisation of the book world by Amazon and the Kindle reader produced a rough patch and I subsidised the shop for a bit. Things seem to have swung the other way now and the bookshop is doing better, the main UK bookshop chain Waterstones had similar issues and were it not for Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, would have gone under.

    I think the real problem here is that TDC have a remit to reduce the size of Ramsgate town centre, what is actually says is something along the lines of; centralising the shops in the town to reduce the number of empty shops, what it actually is doing is destroying the town. This was last evidenced by them buying the largest shop in King Street, in a shopping parade that was fully let and will be again very soon, to convert it into social housing.

    That said I live fairly modestly and the eating out is the only way I can manage to get the positions to paint in, I am prepared to pay for this and am also trying to buy a cheap camper van for the same purpose.

    Learning to paint and draw our local townscapes from reality rather than photographs is an expensive business and from a café is really the only way I have managed so far, any ideas on this front would be welcome.

    I need a comfortable seat, a reasonable temperature, a convivial atmosphere, sufficient food, drink and a loo close at hand, which is fairly easy, finding these with a good uninterrupted view worth painting and with the sun not shining straight into my eyes is another matter altogether.


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