Monday, 30 January 2012
RESPONSE TO LAURA SANDYS MP From Cllr Clive Hart
THANET LABOUR DECISION IS REASONABLE, PROPORTIONATE & APPROPRIATE
From Cllr Clive Hart.
Let me be absolutely clear.
My decision to change the public consultation on night flights proposals at Manston follows legal advice given to the council 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 councils 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.
My Conservative predecessor Cllr Bob Bayford had already spent several months and tens of thousands of pounds on this process before Labour took control of the council. His plans would have seen the council spend around a further £50,000 of public money on consultants to run the consultation process his way. Cllr Bayford may have been content to use ratepayers hard earned cash in this way and apparently Laura Sandys would like us do the same, but Labour will do precisely what is reasonable, proportionate and appropriate.
As for Laura Sandys' accusation that I am in some way 'watering down' the process, nothing could be further from the truth. The new TDC consultation process approach will now be focused here in Thanet with a strong weighting for the opinions of those directly affected by the proposals. I firmly believe this to be reasonable, proportionate and appropriate.
It is clear my Conservative predecessor was struggling with this issue. He 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 enormous amounts of time and effort and a small fortune of public money on a consultation process that was only ever going to be used to form the council's 'opinion'.
Thanet residents, the airport consultative committee and the airports Chief Executive all complained to me about the long drawn out process we had inherited from the previous Conservative administration that was getting us nowhere. I therefore acted swiftly and did exactly what was reasonable, proportionate and appropriate.
Last but not least, I am pleased to see that on the serious issue of the environmental impact of the proposals, Laura Sandys shares exactly the same concerns as Thanet Labour and is firmly against night flights!
Cllr Clive Hart - TDC Leader.
Ed I have put what he is responding to below
Following Clive Hart’s, Leader of Thanet District Council, announcement to change the whole consultation process surrounding night flights at Manston, Laura Sandys MP said: “The statement from Councillor Hart both waters down the public consultation on the night flight policy and also throws doubt on whether this very important policy will ever come in front of the planning committee. Both of these issues are fundamental to ensuring that the public voice is appropriately heard and that local democracy is upheld.
“The Council is watering down the consultation process that the Conservative administration put in place. The then Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford, was extremely keen to use an independent and reputablemarket research company to assess the public response to increased night flights whilst this council leader is happy to do a cheap internal job. In addition, the previous consultation was planned for 12 weeks while the new council is only giving 4 weeks for residents to have their say. FollowingLabour’s “Floral Budget”, there is either not enough money for the planned professional assessment of public opinion or no political will to listen to what the public want.
“There is also confusion at the heart of the Labour administration whether this night flight policy constitutes an intensification of use or not. Those residents who live under the flight path are convinced that this needs proper scrutiny as it will be an intensification of use. The public will be extremely surprised that there is an equivocation by the Council on whether this is a planning issue or merely a proposal.
“Labour councillors are breaking their election promise. Many Ramsgate residents supported Labour candidates because of their opposition to night flights. I have been consistently against Night Flights at Manston and recognise the impact they could have on the town.
“It is time for the council to be clear with the residents of Thanet. Does this mean that night flying can proceed without scruntiy from the Planning Committee? If this is the case it represents yet another loop hole in the original 106 agreement that Labour signed when it was last running the Council.”
LAURA SANDYS MP