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Manston airport fight fund launched

By katejb  |  Posted: May 04, 2014

  • CROWD: Packed Manston meeting

  • FIGHT FUND: Rebecca Baty

  • RECYCLING: Lib Dem Russ Timpson

Comments (15)

A FIGHT fund has been set up to save Manston airport after a donation from a former Pfizer worker.

At a Save Manston Airport public meeting held at the Winter Gardens today, pharmaceutical program manager Rebecca Baty kicked the fund off with a pledge of cash.

Ms Baty had already paid for the hire of the Winter Gardens hall for the meeting and said she would double that amount to start a fight fund to promote the airport.

The IT expert, who now works for Roche in Basel, Switzerland, said she did it “because I have the money and can.” She went on to challenge members of the audience to also pledge cash.

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Many of the several hundred people packing out the hall stood to say they would contribute to the fund.

At the start of the meeting MP Sir Roger Gale revealed that he and fellow MP Laura Sandys had held meetings with a potential buyer for the airport.

He said: “We are now in a very delicate stage of discussion and negotiation which will either succeed or fail. It may become clearer in the next four or five days. Half an hour ago I held in my hand a letter from a significant potential investor, who I am satisfied has the money to make a bid. It hasn’t been made but the money is there.

“I met with Ann Gloag before Easter and I think we reached an understanding that she wants to sell the airport. The buyer must be able to pay, not necessarily the asking price but a realistic price. But it is no use coming back in three months time when someone else has failed so a buyer must also have the money to give the airport a fair wind and give it a couple of years to give it a firm footing.”

Sir Roger was due to attend a further meeting about Manston at 3pm today, another with the airport working group at the House of Commons on Monday and will also meet “an interested party” in London on Tuesday.

Other speakers on the panel were Save Manston Airport interim chairman Keith Churcher, group founder Dan Light, Thanet Ukip leader Roger Latchford, Lib Dem parliamentary hopeful Russ Timpson, Nicholas Reed from Why Not Manston and Wendy Fraser, also from Save Manston Airport.

There were also speakers from TG Aviation, the Hurricane and Spitfire Museum and David Foley, from east Kent’s chamber of commerce.

Ruth Bailey, from Save Manston Airport, handed Sir Roger a 15,211 signature petition which he promised would reach the “right place.”

Among the ideas presented for the survival of the airport was the suggestion that Manston could become an aircraft recycling facility.

Mr Timpson, who previously worked for BAA airport operator, said Manston was the only site in the country with the licence to carry out aircraft breaking.

He said: “ There are 11,000 aircraft with nowhere to go to be recycled because there is no purpose built site. Manston is the only place in the UK with the approvals to do this. A purpose built facility would be a major revenue stream.

“We could be taking planes apart, linking with East Kent College for training and apprenticeships and then, when those people are qualified, they could service operational aircraft.”

Mr Timpson also suggested specialising in aircraft painting and looking at a council owned and run airport like that in Newquay.

Suggestions from the panel, and audience, included public and council ownership of Manston, a new referendum on night flights and backing for a Parkway train station.

Speakers in the crowd included former EU Jet and Air Atlanta worker Gary Easton, who said aircraft breaking skills already exist on the isle, Minster resident Danny Day who said any future 106 agreements must include protection for the Spitfire and the Manston museums and Mr Foley who said the airport could make £1 million a year in profit if run properly.

Thanet council leader Clive Hart defended his position on Manston airport saying he had always supported it. But on the question of night flights he added: "Our manifesto was to support the airport but also to support the residents of Thanet."

He said a cabinet advisory committee was on stand-by to renegotiate the 106 agreement - which bans night flights from the airport - but added: "It would be madness to tell someone running the airport they could have as many night flights as they want, we cannot do that at any environmental cost."

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15 comments

  • mattybouy_74  |  May 04 2014, 2:26AM

    Sorry kent-resident I may not be old enough yet to use a Zimmer frame but I do not what I am talking about,I am. It arguing with you that the planes being flown during WWII were single prop planes.but you state that after the war ended only light aircraft remained on the airfield,but what about our neighbours across the pond AMERICA ??,USA used manston airport as their strategic air command base between early 1950's and early 1960's.where they USED JET PLANES B-36,B-47 stratojet,F-86 sabre, and F-84 thunderjets.There are many reasons why the airport has not succeeded yet,firstly the airport has not had the right owner,Manston needs a owner who needs to have a long term business plan in place for the airport and who has the capital behind them.the airport need to push on selling itself globally,klm did not leave by choice,they left because of the uncertainty of the future of the airport,in fact they had SO MANY EMPTY SEATS that they were going to operate 3 FLIGHTS A DAY instead of 2 A DAY.i feel that it is very sad that the anti people on here are so negative,and I think that it was terrible what you said about the people losing there jobs at the airport,you are obviously retired,so it will not effect you,but what about the poor people, have the worry about finding working in a deprived area,paying their mortgages,bills,putting food on the table for their kids.do you ever think about the people in the houses below in Gatwick or Heathrow when you are sitting in your seat in a plane ??

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  • Kent_Resident  |  May 03 2014, 6:03PM

    I'm not contradicting myself at all. The millitary planes back then were the likes of single prop Hurricanes and spitfires used on sorties across the channel during WWII. These were few and far between and everyone supported them as your lives depended upon these keeping the Country safe from the luftwaffe. After the war eventually ended only light aircraft remained on the aerodrome. Mattybouy_74; no disrespect but you were probably not even born then , but are thinking of the noisy jet aircraft like typhoons and F15's with their afterburners screeching across as in the air shows. There was a difference and no contradiction here. Don't get me wrong though, I love the new jets and if we are at war again then we would be pleased to have them at Manston day or night looking after our freedom. My main point is that, with the state of play with Manston over the past few decade since it became a commercial airport, it has not been able to encourage any real players in the market away from the other airports. Those that have tried it there have all failed to make any profit, backing off with losses from constant empty seats instead. You cannot expect any trader to keep running on empty no matter how much you want it to work, they will go bust. Thousands of pounds has been pumped into the running of it by Kent County Council in the past, not making any difference at all. With it's history of debt and losses, then also it's geographical position to the far east of Kent, making it out of the way for the majority of Kent travelers who prefer to use the main International airports, nobody wants to use it. All they can expect to attract are air-freighters that cannot get landing permission elsewhere due to the type of planes they use. These noisy, polluting freighter operators want to come and go at night which means keeping Thanet awake. I believe we deserve better than that.

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  • mattybouy_74  |  May 03 2014, 1:09AM

    Kent_resident You say that the airport only had light aircraft and military planes use the airfield before,I can assure you that military aircraft are a lot louder than freighter planes,so I think you are contradicting yourself.

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  • Kent_Resident  |  April 30 2014, 4:26PM

    If there is need for airports in the South-East then why is there no need for day flights at Manston ? Answer that ? The Anti-night flights group is not against Manston as suggested below, only landing and taking off during sleeping hours by the noisy freight airliners. It is not allowed elsewhere in the Country and shouldn't be allowed there. The 106 agreement must stand. Also, there isn't 150 jobs at stake at Manston, only 40 full time jobs exist there (There are more than that in one small supermarket) the rest are filled by part timers who have other jobs too, no great loss then! The matter about living next to an airport and bearing the noise or moving away is lame one. Manston was not a commercial airport that long ago. Only light aircraft and military planes used it. There was no indication it would ever change to commercial use so people thought nothing of moving in. Since the days it was sold it has been a commercial loss of failed passenger airliners and freighters. Not really something that would put you off coming to live here is it ? We are all being filled with horror stories, mainly by our local MP's looking to ruin the local environment here, scaremongering you into believing Manston must have night flights to succeed which is pure nonsense. They really need to think about their retirement instead. They have ignored all other calls and letters from their constituents looking for their help during the closure period consultation, instead focusing all their time on one project. This is not healthy and what they were voted in for. Too much public money has been wasted already on Manston. What about the rest of Thanet ?

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  • elirossi11  |  April 28 2014, 3:14PM

    Despite being a very small minority, the anti Manston group have been quite astute in lobbying the various councillors on the island to vote against night flights. Given that the pro Manston lobby group is indeed powerful and has much influence, we must ensure our councillors vote unanimously for a change in the 106 agreement, to allow businesses to fly in and out of the airport after hours. Many jobs are at stake here and given that the UK population is growing by 2 million every year there is a huge need for additional airports, especially in the South East.

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  • Ms_Gabriel  |  April 28 2014, 10:51AM

    What on earth is the state doing propping up a failed business with public funds. If it were coal mines they'd cheerfully close them despite job losses and to peripheral industries. TDC, KCC just like the smell of money which to them appears to be rotting any business acumen they may or may not have had!

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  • Onlyfools  |  April 27 2014, 11:17PM

    yes I did notice a rather large strip of tarmac Hawkinge in Folkestone had one to & that ended up as a housing estate.

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  • Onlyfools  |  April 27 2014, 10:32PM

    When Manston goe's 24/7 then all the other airports in the uk will want the same then Manston is back to square 1 again.

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  • MarkAdam1962  |  April 27 2014, 9:40PM

    When you moved to the area and I take it you didn't pre 1915? Then you may have noticed a rather large strip of tarmac often used by things with engines called Airplanes. They make a bit of noise when they take off don't you know? Funny its like buying a house on the seashore and then moaning about the sound of the sea! Get over it........or move. I have no sympathy. GO MANSTON 24/7

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  • Onlyfools  |  April 27 2014, 8:50PM

    Rich en it the chairman of the Manston support group lives in Rochester obviously he doesn't want Boris in his back yard so he;s doing his bit where he lives to dump the noise on us in Thanet thank you very much.

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