Thursday, May 24, 2012

Manston Night Flights Decision

What the German Luftwaffe failed to do in 1940, Clive Hart's minority Labour administration in Thanet, is well on its way to achieving in 2012.

Tonight at the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council, the Labour Group, supported by the Independents, voted against 'Any' night flights taking place at Manston airport between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00.

Cllr Ian Driver of the Thanet Independent Group (TIG) suggested that the airport now be closed altogether and that in the near future, the aviation industry will cease to exist.

It's worth noting that the survey of local opinion only took in less than 5% of Thanet's population directly under the flight path in Ramsgate and that Labour was already committed to this decision as part of their election manifesto.

More thoughts tomorrow but until then, the video from 'Carry on Cleo,' roughly sums-up Cllr Driver's position and technical grasp of the aviation industry; in my opinion at least. While Labour's Cllr Nicholson cleverly managed to weave the Prime Minister's father-in-law into the narrative, another former Leader of the Council, Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, now sitting as an Independent and upset at barracking comments from the audience behind him when he spoke, managed to offend people in the chamber at least twice by describing both the gallery and the Labour Group as 'Rabble.'

The new mayor of Margate, Will Scobie, stood-up and confirmed once again, that at the callow age of 23, it's best to say very little and quite what Cllr Dr Jack Cohen was on about, will have to be retrieved and made sense of from the video in a week's time. Independents, Cllr's Tom King and Bob Grove actually voted rather than abstained last night but supported the Labour motion.

Technical arguments in support of allowing some latitude for commercial flexibility around the closure periods flew out of the window and Ramsgate's Cllr Elizabeth Green appeared to be under the impression that everyone shared the same time zone between here and Cairo. I could go on but plan to write a little more in the morning!

Carrying on from overnight briefly, before I start work, aside from the normal exchange of political animosity and class war between the veterans on both sides of the council chamber, what we viewed last night was a 'bad-tempered meeting' according to the BBC a polarisation of local politics, almost as if the Ramsgate councillors had declared UDI from the rest of Thanet.

Yes, of course there are valid arguments surrounding aircraft movements and sleep but from the Labour Group, we kept hearing the expression, 'Open Skies' used in an emotional context, when all the Conservatives were seeking to do was add the word 'Flexible' as amendment.

Why 'Flexible?' As I tried to explain to Council, Manston attracts mostly cargo aircraft from the Middle-east and Africa where the time difference is roughly + 4 hours and the temperatures are much higher.

Much like the road haulage business, cargo aircraft need to be carrying as much as possible to be commercially viable but unlike trucks, large aircraft are temperature limited in their performance. To summarize quickly how warm it is vs the length of a runway, determines how much load an aircraft can carry and whether it can take off. So if Manston shuts, dead on 23:00 and an aircraft is delayed at Cairo because the temperature is a little too high for its weight of fuel and cargo at the local Egyptian time of 23:00, a fully-loaded 747 might have to wait until it cools enough to depart. That can cause it to lose its original slot time with Eurocontrol into the UK and make it late in Manston.

Recognising this fact, The Conservative Group thought a complete ban on 'Night flights' would allow no flexibility for carriers running late and would send out completely the wrong message on Manston to the airline industry.

There's absolutely no suggestion of supporting constant flights throughout the night but simply doing what most other local airports do and that's allow a little 'flexibility' rather than 'intensification', less than a handful of scheduled flights that the airport may seek from time to time while recognising the sometimes uncertain scheduling of arriving aircraft, which most of us have experienced as air passengers.

In regard to the survey, there's no doubt it was a useful and valid test of public opinion but the airport is in proximity to some 150,000 people in Thanet and not just those on the approach path from Ramsgate. The great majority of the local population had no opportunity to express whether they were in favour of a total ban on night flights or whether they supported some flexibility and the airport's potential for creating jobs in an area of chronic deprivation.

While the debate only delivered a recommendation from the Council and the airport may choose to ignore it, this is, I believe, the wrong message to send to an important local business we need to be successful to create jobs. Instead, Labour has placed the airport in a commercial straight jacket and while Labour wins votes in Ramsgate, overall, the people of Thanet are the losers.


Anonymous said...

So 5% of Thanet who just happen to vote Labour get to keep the other 95% of us in an under-developed backwater without any opportunities for the young.
Unless of course, they're all going to have a go at being Mayor!

Anonymous said...

i am the driver you will now do as i say close the airport close the ferry port live in a run down slum area pity not true thanetonion go back where you came from

Anonymous said...

Good. The most responded to TDC consultation ever. Politicians have listened.

Out of touch Simon, hence out of pocket, sorry, office.

Anonymous said...

Huge setback for the whole of East Kent it is a ridiculous decision. Thanet has been given huge road investment on the premise it was to develop Manston Airport for the good of East Kent and then they turn their back.

Thanet should be removed from eligibility of the Regional Growth Fund and the planned £10 million rail investment should be used to upgrade rail links to Sandwich, Deal, Dover and Folkestone where people want jobs.

Anonymous said...

10.18 it is you that is out of touch. From the informaton I gleaned in the gallery, of those that voted in the council survey 27% were for the night flights, in the airport survey 79% were for them and it appears both based on similar numbers. What was actually needed was a proper independant survey which there was previously the opportunity to have - Labour just decided to do it on the cheap and spend the money on the TIGS car parking instead. Our council really is in a shambles now - a minority control supported by a group who don't care about anyone but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Understanding or even bothering to find out is not within the thinking of the left. Quite where people like Driver think we are going is beyond me. Seemingly in his world, there is some bottomless pit funded by the idle rich from which the rest of us can draw buckets of cash as we need it for our daily needs and periodic trip to Benidorm.

Jobs, pride, sense of purpose and individual achievement are cast aside in this socialist utopia where we all grovel to our bountiful masters who dole out the benefits. Perpetuated in office because the fear of loss of our handouts exceeds the will for change, they merrily whizz us down the same slope as the Greeks towards our ultimate fate.

One oftens hears about social deprivation in Thanet. Well hold onto your hats folks because you ain't seen nothing yet.

Afghan Dave said...

Time then to redevelop Manston. Turn it into a big industrial park.

Anonymous said...

well said 9.48pm & 08.30 am all the three of them care about is self ego trips I will because I CAN

Anonymous said...

Having lived at the end of the runway (at Cliffsend)for about 10 years when the RAF were still about,the noise was never a real problem. Like a railway line close by, you tune it out. If you choose to live anywhere near an airport, surprise, surprise....aircraft! Once again, the needs of many have been thwarted by a few! I always thought 'Labour' allegedly stood for supporting the needs of the people. (not that I have ever voted for any of them)If this is what we can look forward to in TDC thanks to the sucking up by the Labour mob to the Tigs....last one out, please turn off the light!

Anonymous said...

Afghan Dave, a smart idea except that we already have acres of unused industrial space in Thanet. Don't forget also all those big, noisy, smelly lorries and the risk to the aquifier, not to mention creating jobs might be used as an excuse to get people off benefits. Can't have that now, can we?

A balanced business plan needs more than just industrial space and a key ingredient in a good one is transportation. Looks like the protestors want to kill of the airport and sea port prospects so back to the jolly old Thanet Way. Some transport plan!

Never mind though, because we can all go on moaning about how Thanet is neglected.

James Maskell said...

Its hard to see what progress can be made at Manston as a viable airport with an administration that is at best ambivalent towards it. A good compromise might be to allow limited "shoulder" flights as has been discussed in the past.

The unfortunate thing about all this is that for all the months of deliberation and discussion, it was always going to be a no vote and could be foreseen from December.