A petition of almost 8,000 signatures was presented to Thanet District Council tonight (Thursday 10 July) calling for the authority to make a compulsory purchase of Manston Airport.
In addition, the petition, organised by the Save Manston Group asked the council to ‘look into the possibility of members of the public to buy bonds into this purchase.’
Council Leader, Iris Johnston, also submitted a notice of motion at the Full Council meeting expressing the council’s considerable disappointment at the airports closure, urging all available options to be explored and calling for a detailed examination of a potential CPO to be explored.*
Councillors noted the petition and motion and referred both to the next Cabinet meeting on Thursday 31 July.
An extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet will also now be held on Thursday 17 July.
At this meeting a report will be put to members outlining the process for selecting a third party to underwrite the council in the event the authority decides to apply for a CPO. This is the process needed to ensure that the council has the appropriate funds in place to support this, should the decision for CPO go ahead.
At the meeting, Cabinet will also discuss the proposal of the public buying bonds put forward as part of the Save Manston Group petition.
A final decision on CPO however will not be made until a more detailed options paper is taken to Cabinet at a later date. This would also consider the findings of an independent report which will set out whether in the eyes of an industry expert, Compulsory Purchase of the airport is realistic for the council. The report is expected in the coming weeks.
Council Leader, Cllr Iris Johnston said: “This is a crucial step forward in the council’s considerations around compulsory purchase of the airport. Before deciding whether we should proceed, we have a duty to ensure we’ve considered all of the relevant legal and financial implications this would entail and that we understand the risks fully.
“There is strong public feeling around a quick resolution for the airport and we appreciate the frustration being expressed. I’d like to assure members of the public that work around this continues as a priority, but emphasise in the strongest terms that we need to ensure we manage the legal and financial risks appropriately before making such a big decision.”
* Full notice of motion: “Council affirms its considerable disappointment at the recent closure of Manston as a regional airport. We recognise the public support for its continuation as an airport and endorse the steps taken to date towards that objective. Council urges all available options to that end be explored, including a detailed examination of the legal and financial implications of a Compulsory Purchase Order before a final decision is reached.”