Open Letters to Paul Carter

Dear Mr Carter,

I am struggling to understand the comments you are making regarding the future of Manston Airport.

Manston, like many airfields recently, was bought to be under-invested, run down and declared uneconomic in a game played by people who play the money game, transferring debts and companies in a financial web that few of us can comprehend nor get away with.

It is surely obvious that the intention, like at Blackpool and Panshanger, was for developers to make money from closing the site and building on it. These people cannot be trusted, yet you trust them. They make promises they cannot support – but you believe them.

What appals me is your lack of support for the people of Kent who want to keep Manston as an airport. I find it unbelievable that you would put the worth of people like Ann Gloag and her cohorts ahead of the people who live in Kent, who have invested their lives in building businesses, providing jobs for Kent people, and paid their taxes without fail for years.

When I see how my husband’s family have been treated by the current owners of Manston I cannot understand how you can have any support for the owners whatsoever.

A 52 year lease left, with no compensation, after 30 years building the business from operating from a porta cabin to the club building and hanger facility that now stands there and for which the owners are making them go to court to get any reimbursement, hoping that they can make them bankrupt in the process so they do not have to compensate them.

And you want to work with and support this type of company, you seem to relish their business ethic which I just do not understand.

The Girdler family invested in these buildings for the future, for their children, for the children of Kent to have access to professional jobs, for them to be able to make their flying dreams a reality, 4 Red Arrow pilots started their careers at TG Aviation. They pay tax legitimately, are not underhand, do not have multiple mortgages on the property, are true to their word.

But they do not seem to count in your world.

I work with pilots at Heathrow who were training at Manston and others whose airline was turned away when they wanted to set up training there, helicopter pilots who thought they would be based there, KLM wanted to expand but were treated appallingly. Manston was used as a major diversion airfield for LGW and LHR last year. At the recent Honorary Association of Air Pilots (formerly GAPAN) dinner, pilots were shocked that an airfield of the magnitude of Manston could be allowed to be destroyed.

The owners were never trying to make a success of Manston that is why it was deemed uneconomical.

But yet you support these people !

Why would you put the owners of Manston’s wishes above those of the law-abiding, tax paying constituents in Kent? Please do not allow Manston to disappear, please support the CPO.

Once Manston Airport is gone it is gone forever.

Your name will go down in the history of my family, my children and grandchildren will know your name – I just hope it is for the right reasons not that you allowed this National Asset airfield to close and helped to end the family business there and destroy the last place my father-in-law’s feet touched the ground.

Your sincerely,
Toni Girdler

Dear Mr Carter,

I had acknowledgement of my email from your Secretary on Tuesday 4th November. However, as I have had no response from yourself I can only assume you too are confused and unable to explain the situation regarding Manston.

You are asking us to “now engage with the new owners to support their plans to create more than 4,000 new jobs and bring new investment to Thanet”. However, how do you expect us to do that when you can’t confirm who the new owners are?

I am concerned about the possible involvement of people who change their minds to suit their circumstances. By this I refer to the comments of Mr Barber at Discovery Park and Mrs Ann Gloag which I am sure you are aware of:

“We have companies from all over the world come to us, but it’s not an easy place to get to. They come in from places like Asia through Heathrow – the journey from Heathrow is not a pleasant one and we’ve actually lost people on route on a couple of occasions, though found them eventually!

What we are now saying to people is that you can fly to Amsterdam, and hop over to Manston and we will pick you up and five minutes later you can be having a coffee with us in Discovery Park House. You can do business from all over the world from Manston. If we are going to promote Kent as a world-wide location and don’t have an international airport, then you are at a disadvantage.”

I would urge Thanet District Council and Kent County Council to stop and look at what damage has already been done to Thanet. Beautiful seaside towns which have had the heart torn out of them by the Westwood Cross Shopping Centre. Pleasurama sat derelict due to the FAILURE OF DEVELOPERS TO FULFIL THEIR PROMISES. Failure to develope Ramsgate Harbour despite considerable investment in a new port access road. And so it goes on …… We need to step back and make the most of what we have before more damage is done. You can build houses but eventually they will cost more to build than they are worth because people live in Thanet for its natural beauty and if you destroy that they will leave and you are left with an industrial site without the infrastructure to support it.

In this weeks Thanet Extra it is reported that “More than 500 homes and over 750,000 sq ft of business, office and community space is set to be built after getting the approval of the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles”. “An unconnected planning application has been submitted for another development dubbed Manston Green, further up New Haine Road by developers Cogent Land LLP. It is thought the plans for more than 800 homes could go before a planning committee next month, altough no date has been confirmed”. Also in the paper are details of an industrial property available for rent. “This unit, which is in a cental location in Westwood Cross Industrial Estate’s Continental Approach, has plenty to offer any company.” I think this demonstrates that we do not need more houses and industial units, what we need is an airport to support these businesses and the people living in Thanet.

We will never see eye to eye because you are a developer and can see the development potential in Manston whereas I am an aviator and can see the potential for Manston to be operated as an airport. Please don’t insult me by raising the viability issue as anyone can take a business and run it into the ground then claim it is not viable. What we need is someone to take the Airport, invest in it and make it viable which those with aviation expertise know is possible.

Yours sincerely,
Sue Girdler