Unholy alliances! It seems that Thanet's two Tory MPs have now jumped into bed with our beloved council's new Labour leader to form a threesome aimed at compulsorily purchasing defunct Manston airport!
Quite how Sir Roger Wind managed to seduce lovely Laura and, er, Labour Iris into taking part in his fantasy, lord knows! Although as you can see from my montage, he was a bit of a charmer back in the day (1943). It's also beyond the wit of any ordinary person to imagine why a Thatchersaurus like Sir Rog is willing to pour oodles and squoodles of public money into what is not much more than a hole in the ground.
And as usual, poor old Windy has got his facts wrong. There is no planning permission for an airport at Manston. Never has been. Unless Iris, who was apparently on the blower to the site's owner last night, has offered to deliver one in the post.
Furthermore, as I understand it, a CPO has to be demonstrably in the public interest. There is no public interest issue at stake here. None of the higher-ups that Windy has been appealing to have shown any desire to keep Manston as an airport in the 'public interest'. Au contraire, they have tried to educate him about the commercial realities of 21st century Britain, rather than the Dambusters dream world that exists between his ears. Ann Gloag's commercial lawyers would make mincemeat of a CPO, and charge us poor council taxpayers a few Bentleys for the pleasure of doing so.
As for the failed bidders having 'every chance of succeeding', well that's just plain laughable. A consortium composed of asset-strippers, people who have failed twice before to make a go of Manston, and some chap the High Court has labelled a dodgy geezer, offering a miniscule percentage of what the place is worth as a development site, does not constitute a viable alternative.
Anyways, here's Windy's statement in full...
North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, is supporting calls for the compulsory purchase, by Thanet District Council, of Manston Airport.
Speaking following a weekend of discussions with local and national political leaders Sir Roger has said:
'Laura Sandys and I are of the view, which I have reason to understand is shared by the new Labour Leadership of Thanet District Council and by the Conservative Opposition, that with the closure of the airfield the best way to secure a new future for aviation at Manston will be for a Compulsory Purchase Order to be placed upon the site which has, at present, planning consent only as an airport. This is detailed in the very recent draft of the local plan so there should be little difficulty in establishing existing use and thus for the local authority to acquire and then perhaps lease out or sell on the site at a sensible price.
'Clearly the Council will wish to prepare its own study of options based upon legal advice but the opinion that we have been offered is that a bid to place a CPO on the airfield would succeed and that it could be readily funded. If that is so then it ought to be possible to remove the airport from the hands of those who clearly have other objectives and to restore Manston to its rightful place as part of our airport capacity in the South East.
'From the work that has already been done we have good reason to believe that those who wish to re-open the airport and have the capacity to do so have every chance of succeeding where others have seemingly chosen to fail and we hope and expect that TDC`s senior officers, acting on instructions from elected Members, will take a very robust line.
We have to dispel the impression given, arising from discussions that apparently took place with TDC officers earlier in the year, that housing is a “done deal” and that anything other than airport use is on the agenda. As Iris Johnston has made publicly clear, it is not'.