One of our supporters had a meeting with Councillor Jack Cohen of Thanet District Council today. Here is a short summary, as an insight into the arguments of those against a compulsory purchase order.
After an hour long meeting at the council offices, in which Councillor Cohen was very welcoming, here are a few thoughts that may be of interest.
Councillor Cohen told of his reasons to move to the area over 20 years ago, one being the appeal of the airport. He finds the current situation very disappointing, and wanted the airport to do well. Councillor Cohen says his main fear comes from a comment that if Riveroak could not make the airport work, then they would just hand the keys back to TDC. Councillor Cohen was concerned that If the keys were to be handed back then TDC would carry the debts, which they could not afford. This is something the team will work towards clarifying.
Councillor Cohen was also concerned that Mr. Tony Freudmann may also be involved if Riveroak are selected. As Mr. Freudmann managed the airport for Wiggins, Councillor Cohen was concerned that he may not be the right man to do so again after Wiggins were unsuccessful. We would like to point out that conditions are significantly different from when Wiggins owned the airport. and we believe the plans outlined by Riveroak (should they be selected) to be extensive and highly suitable for the current market conditions and opportunities.
Another fear mentioned is that Riveroak may do the same as the current owner. Our supporter explained that they would be under much more scrutiny than before, and that many people will be watching. Councillor Cohen agreed would probably be the case. Supporters of Manston Airport would also urge Thanet District Council to seek preventive measures, such as restrictive covenants, to prevent the current situation re-occurring.
Finally, Councillor Cohen believes that cargo-only could not sustain the airport as a lot of cargo is now carried in the belly of planes, and he believes cargo planes will soon be extinct. Plans put forward for the airport have never been cargo-only, and incorporate a variety of business activities to ensure a viable and vibrant airfield. Cargo-only airlines such as Cargolux do exist too, and serviced Manston until closure.
A copy of the letter published on this site by Gary Easton was also handed to Councillor Cohen.
Our supporter believes that Councillor Cohen did genuinely want the airport to work, but due to the concerns listed above, would not be in favour of a CPO. We are thankful for this meeting, as we are able to understand and work towards alleviating the fears of those not in favour of a CPO. We encourage you to set up a meeting with your local councillor and write to us with their views.
Thank you Vince Francis for setting up this informative meeting!