Tonight members of SuMA attended the Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting at Thanet District Council to witness the debate concerning the draft Economic Growth Strategy document.
For such a seminal document we would have hoped that the meeting would have been attended by more councillors than just the OSP and a handful of others.
The Chair of SuMA was permitted to give a three minute presentation on behalf of the Supporters under a new trial scheme which allows members of the public to speak.
Cllr Rosanna Taylor-Smith then made some good observations in a similar vein.
The OSP Chairman, Cllr David Saunders, then called on Cllr Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing to formally present the document.
Cllr Jonathan Curran and Cllr Bob Bayford (substituting for Cllr Sam Bambridge) both spoke powerfully in favour of Manston. The only other councillor to speak, Cllr Peter Campbell, strenuously defended the Avia report.
The common theme being argued were concerns regarding the biased tone of the report in regard to Manston Airport and Stone Hill Park’s potential roles going forward (as reported in our previous post). In the report the airport was deemed unviable, in line with the disputed Avia Report, whereas it declared Thanet’s ‘opportunity to develop advanced manufacturing with Discovery Park’ as a ‘strength’
Another bone of contention was the fact that this document preceded the Local Plan when in fact there is an argument that they should develop hand in hand without the one influencing the other.
It was abundantly clear that, with the exception of Cllr Campbell, the vast majority of Councillors are very keen to retain Manston for aviation use. The tenacity of Cllr Curran, in particular, led to a recommendation for officers to re-write that part of the document to give a more balanced view of the present interest in the airport site.
We appreciate the Councillors efforts and their continued commitment to the airport. It was important that this document did not pass unchallenged into the public domain.
We would ask all supporters and Councillors to remain vigilant for any such documents, or meetings, concerning the airport that may be of importance to the campaign.
You can watch our recording below on at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJYpGmqeyzw&feature=youtu.be
Apologies for the slight technical issue causing a very short break after 30 minutes.
You can also read the Draft Economic Growth Strategy here: http://democracy.thanet.gov.uk/documents/g4353/Public%20reports%20pack%2025th-Oct-2016%2019.00%20Overview%20Scrutiny%20Panel.pdf?T=10