Tuesday, 15 May 2012
The Truth about the Manston Airport Night Flying Consultation
The Conservative Group is deeply concerned at the level of misrepresentation of the Manston Airport Night Flying debate by the TDC minority Labour administration, and its attempt to pre-empt the upcoming council debate next Thursday.
The Labour administration is implying cross party support for its decision to oppose limited night flights, on the basis that the issue has been discussed at the Airport Working Party and Overview and Scrutiny Panel. This is not true. Conservative Group members of both Committees have consistently argued that the public consultation was inadequate and unrepresentative.
Shadow Cabinet member Cllr Martin Wise said: “We are especially aggrieved that the Cabinet recommendation to oppose limited night flights includes the misleading statement that ‘The Council's consultation shows 73% of respondents are opposed to night-time flying’. This consultation was not representative of the population of Thanet as a whole. The majority of those who responded were highly motivated to do so by the very fact of their opposition to night flights. There has been no real consideration of the views of the wider community, or the potential positive impact for economic growth and the maintenance or creation of jobs.”
The Consultation response upon which Labour based its recommendation was also subject to criticism by Conservative Group members during the process. The statements that a) noise and environmental impacts are underestimated and b) the number of jobs generated and economic benefits may be overestimated are not borne out by the specialist reports commissioned by the council. The Conservative Group disputes both of those statements.
The potential benefits to Thanet are particularly important given the area’s high long term unemployment rates, low earnings and pressure on the local economy from the withdrawal of Pfizer.
Conservative Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford stated: “The Labour Party campaigned in 2011 on an anti-night flights platform. Its sole aim since then has been to engineer the process to produce the ‘right’ answer for them. This minority Labour administration is not concerned with the future of Thanet, or for desperately needed jobs. The Labour party is only concerned with its own electoral advantage in Ramsgate.”