Sunday, June 01, 2014

People Really Count

Red Arrows Fans
The weather we should have had over the Bank Holiday, arrived a week late and Thanet basked in the sunshine this weekend. I was particularly pleased to see the re-opening of the Ramsgate Tunnels and every credit to David Green, who was so firmly behind the project, back to the time when I was in Cabinet and he requested exploratory work down to test the feasibility of the project; well done indeed.

Friday's protest at Manston airport was particularly significant, not only for the number of people attending but for the media coverage too. I arrived from a flight over Kent Police at Maidstone, asking Ann Barnes to resign on the heels of the Channel 4 documentary. If you haven't yet seen it, I recommend 'Meet the Commissioner' for its entertainment value and quite unintended parallels, with the character, David Brent and the popular sitcom, 'The Office.'

I said a few words to the crowd at Manston, as did my Conservative colleague, Bob Bayford. What was noticeable was the absence of councillors from the Labour group lending even lukewarm support and no sign at all of South Thanet's Parliamentary candidate, Will Scobie. Ian Driver was as ever, larger than life and both audible and visible with a megaphone which you see I managed to borrow. He appears to have either changed his position on the airport, than that view reflected in the the council meeting in the earlier post below or he is simply opposed to housing and planes as well?

Simon Moores Addressing #SaveManston
I'm hoping that Channel 4 news will do a more in-depth analysis of what lies behind the Manston bid. It's not a subject easily explored without a small army of lawyers in support and even The Observer told me they were reluctant, post-Leveson, to dig any deeper into the very complex relationships between the different businesses, than they have already.

I understand, that Mrs Gloag has declared she will make no further decision on the airport's ultimate fate, for another two months. Meanwhile, the local council exists in a state of limbo. Personally, I would like to see the leader, Iris Johnston, call for an extraordinary general meeting of the Council to debate the matter and conceivably, a compulsory purchase as a potential solution, before matters reach a point of no return. Indecision and inaction will be viewed very poorly by many thousands of Thanet;s voters, who hold strong opinions on the future of Manston, one way or another and this is really the time to show decisive leadership and not business as usual from Cecil Square.

Finally, I see, from this morning's BBC Andrew Marr Show, that Nigel Farage is still hinting at being the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for South Thanet in twelve months time. Now that would really place a spotlight on our community and certainly one that I for one would not wish for at all, regardless of politics.


Anonymous said...

Again I will ask what will be the cost of a CPO to the tax payer and what will the benefit?
I know you think lots of people are behind Manston but not where I live as we are on the flightpath.
As for the tunnels like so many of the public buildings and spaces in Ramsgate they are looked after by the public at no cost to the tax payer so a CPO on Manston would be enough money to sort out all the public buildings and spaces in Ramsgate and Margate.
so please answer me and don't dodge the question.

Simon Moores said...

As we don't yet know the answer to that question, that's why I can't answer yours and a Council EGM is required .

Even More Bemused of Birchington said...

To digress anon 6:24. If all the public buildings are looked after by the public, how is this done if not by funds collected from the public, i.e. taxes? Perhaps you could explain while we patiently await the outcome of the CPO debate.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Nobody can answer the "how much?" question so why you keep harping on about it seems to be a waste of your time.

Personally I'm against a CPO as I believe Manston needs a proper company running it and not TDC who have failed its electorate on numerous levels wasting/losing millions of pounds in the process.

As for Farage running in Thanet South I hope we can quickly put something in place that says prospective MP's have to live in the constituency for at least 10 years.

Anonymous said...

A CPO may buy some time, and put a block on development for a while. However, the thought of TDC running anything other than litter collection and toilet cleaning fills me with horror!

Roberto said...

"Nobody can answer the "how much?" question..." so surely that has to make it a non-starter then. When did you last buy something without knowing how much it would cost !! (or what you wanted it for / would do with it)

Simon Moores said...

8:27 You are pre-judging the matter. Just because you don't know the answer it doesn't mean that one doesn't exist.

Simon Moores said...

8:27 You are pre-judging the matter. Just because you don't know the answer it doesn't mean that one doesn't exist.

Even More Bemused of Birchington said...

Radar update. Tall radar turning, small radar not. 09:26 02/06/14.

Presumably the tall radar feeds its information into a much larger network rather than just for Manston? If this were to go then radar coverage for the south east would be compromised.

William Epps said...

An interesting situation which, as Simon has said, has deep ramifications.

Seems to me that hostility from the local authority played a part in a former airfield owner finally throwing in the towel. How much more hostility from the local community is Ann Gloag having to face whilst still losing money daily and having a zero income. How long before she cuts her losses and accepts an offer to get shot of the place. After all, as the opponent or the one in particular in Ramsgate, is constantly telling us, the place is a total white elephant.

The final chapter is still to be written whilst dear old South Thanet is clearly perceived in certain quarters as the best prospect to return a UKIP MP. Nice idea about the 10 year residence qualification, but that would rule out the present excellent MP, the prospective Labour candidate, Will Scobie, who is a North Thanet lad and many others who have stood over the years. Mind you, Trevor Shonk should qualify!

Seems exciting times, albeit not necessarily the most desirable, lie ahead for the isle. Perhaps even Labour and Conservative party will form an electoral pact to do down UKIP. I will not hold my breath on that one, but an amusing idea.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you all just love the looked after by the public at no public cost economics of 6.24 PM. There is someone who should be in governance having clearly solved the problem of getting money out of thin air (or maybe chalk)to run public facilities.

Also the statement that he knows you (presumably Simon) think thousands support the airport but nobody down his road does. I suppose he must have canvassed them all for such a statement, although it ignores the fact that many signed up Save Manstoners actually live in Ramsgate.

Cllr Alasdair Bruce said...

Re the Ramsgate tunnel success, in our rush to congratulate politicians, let's not forget those people behind the scenes likePhil Spain and his dedicated team.

Anonymous said...

I'm not asking for an exact figure within a £1,000,000 will do, But I still don't think anybody will be able to answer me.
I have done some digging and without the land being deemed a brown field it would cost £30,000,000 plus costs.
But if its deemed a brown field it may cost upwards of £400,000,000 plus costs then you have running costs after maybe another £ 3,000,000 a year until it starts making a profit. (if ever it makes a profit).
The question I'm trying to ask is with all that cost what would be the benefit to Thanet and can you really see this being a worthwhile expense to the tax payer as a conservative councillor?

Even More Bemused of Birchington said...

The answer to the CPO question is that the price will be whatever the owner will accept, if she is prepared to sell. If the price is right then TDC will buy it, if not, not. That is the current answer to the CPO question anon at various times, including 6:24 pm and 10:46 am.

William Epps said...

Anon, 10:46, your digging was clearly a complete waste of time because your values are without substance. The real value is what the market will stand or, in other words, what someone is prepared to pay.

Think about it, Infratil had the airport up for sale for a considerable time and even stated they were prepared to sell for other usage. What were they finally offered, £1 plus about £350,000 in accrued running costs. Even at that bargain basement figure against your valuations, there was still no taker until Ann Gloag came along.

At this time, Savills have 43 acres of Manston Development area land up for sale, as they have had for a long time, but no takers.

This being so, what makes you think the airfield, with a lot more clean up costs before it could be used for anything else, is worth so much more?

You are just indulging in wishful thinking to make your own dreams come true. Manston is not worth the mega bucks you suggest because, were such the case, there would be a whole host of buyers trying to outbid each other.

It is actually worth what Ann Gloag will accept to cut her losses and walk away. Not you, I or anyone else knows that figure.

Even More Bemused of Birchington said...

William, to what do you attribute the lack of interest in Manston?

Anonymous said...

Infratil and gloag have a long running business relationship together and have scratched each others backs for a while. Gloag bought it with 23 million in the red but clearly it was worth far more than that.
So 30 million after her running it for a while at 10,000 a day of losses would be a figure not to far away from a true valuation.
A CPO is compulsory it means that she wont say a price its valued then she gets that plus costs. It will not be what she paid and if its valued as a brownfield site as being able to build houses TDC will have to compensate her for the money she would have made in the development of the site and that would be 100s of millions.
This is the law when it comes to a CPO so there is no getting round it and once a CPO is granted there will be no renting it to riveroak as this would make the court judgement invalid.
Again what will be the benefit to Thanet? And would the cost truly be justifiable??????

William Epps said...

That, Bemused, is the million dollar question. Obviously its greatest potential was always as an airfield, but I tend to subscribe to the theory that the first operators tried to go too grand with the London Manston idea. Subsequent operators have followed the same path when a smaller regional airport idea, along the lines of Southend or even Lydd should have been the target. Start small, lower costs, less pressure and grow as the market dictates.

All the theories the anti-airport people advance about alternative usage totally ignore the fact that Thanet has lots of industrial/commercial site land already attracting no buyers. No inward business investment, then no jobs and so where is the massive demand for housing. Clearly it is not really there, evidence by the existing unused housing stock in Thanet and the fact that Thanet property prices are still well below the South East England average.

Maybe the Riveroak bid to run it as a cargo hub might have worked, but, unless Ann Gloag has a change of heart, we will never know. All one can do is hope that she too comes to realise that the great multi million pound garden city scheme is as much of an unrealisric dream as the London Manston major passenger hub was.
Get things down to the right level and then perhaps a buyer with realistic plans might emerge from the woodwork

Derek Smith said...

I have to agree with William Epps. Having once lived on the Romney Marsh and witnessed several incarnations of Lydd Airport it would have been better to start with small aspirations and look perhaps to a freight and maintenance airport. Stanstead and Biggin have more or less tied up the exec travel market, and with Gatwick champing at the bit for a second runway there is not a lot of call for more package or short haul capacity. I don't want to see Manston come under bulldozers but what I would like to see is a little reality in just what the airport could attain from the freight, maintenance and dismantling market.

Even More Bemused of Birchington said...

Thanks for that answer William. It seems to me that there has been a lack of clear direction from TDC which would never have happened in a private company. The object of the exercise is to make Thanet successful/profitable by using all available facilities. This means offering as much help as possible to potential investors. At the moment the tail is wagging the dog, and this needs to change.

Nethercourt said...

The most interesting idea
I've found is to turn the
whole Manston area over
to a solar power station.

Might even make a few bob
for a change and loads of
work for window cleaners!