Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Since Labour took control of Thanet Council in December it has become clear that the airport, its consultative committee, and many local residents are extremely concerned regarding the long drawn out time the council has been taking over Infratil's night time flying proposals.
The former Conservative administration had commissioned an expensive independent consultants report and at further serious cost legal opinions were sought. Large amounts of council officers valuable time had been used up on the process and yet another expensive company had been engaged to carry out the consultation, but little or no real progress was visible.
Indeed, many people were rightly angry at the lack of action, mainly because at a public meeting earlier in 2011 the former Conservative council leader had suggested the consultation might even start before Christmas. This when he must have known that through the process he was following, it could not have started before late February (after the TDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee). Even then, under Conservative plans, it would have had to run for several more months before council officers could even started to produce the findings and present them to councillors for further discussion.
Swift action is needed to take back control of a process that has clearly spiraled out of control under the previous Conservative administration.
Labour council leader Cllr Clive Hart will therefore today sign a TDC decision notice which outlines the intention to carry out an in-house 28 day consultation of Thanet residents that will be weighted strongly for those directly affected. 

The decision follows legal advice which explains that at this stage, the proposals do not require a planning application.  Just as importantly, the advice goes on to state that the council’s role is one of ‘consultee’ only and as such the council will not be in a position to make a binding decision on night time flying at this stage.
Labour council leader Cllr Clive Hart said: "it is clear our Conservative predecessors were struggling with this issue. They had created a monster of a process that had got completely out of control. It would have left the council in the ridiculous position of spending a small fortune of council tax payers money on a consultation process that was only ever going to be used to form the council's 'opinion'. The council has been advised that if there is an intensification or change in operation at the airport in the future then this position may change, and a planning application may be required, but at the moment the council is simply being asked to provide a response to the proposals.

My Conservative predecessor had already spent tens of thousands of pounds on this process before we took control of the council. His plans would have seen us spend around a further £50,000 on consultants to run the process his way. He may be content to use council taxpayers hard earned cash but I am not!
Labour will do precisely what is reasonable, proportionate and appropriate under the circumstances".
The decision comes after the findings of an independent assessment commissioned by the former Conservative administration and carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd. on behalf of TDC, call into question a number of the environmental and economic claims of the airport in their submission to the council. 

Notes. From the Thanet Labour Manifesto 2011:

'Labour will support the development of Manston Airport but will always be mindful of the impact on residents and the environment'.

'Labour will seek a policy of no flights during the hours of 23:00 to 07:00, except for emergency landings and humanitarian flights'.

Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent, CT9 2RW.

1 comment:

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