Campaigners are calling for the owners of Manston Airport to be forced to sell the site to the local council. They say it is the only way to safeguard its future as an airport.
A last ditch offer from an American company was turned down, and the airport closed on Thursday with the loss of 144 jobs. Now the local MP Sir Roger Gale believes Thanet District Council should buy the site, and then sell or lease it to an aviation company.
The politician spoke after a weekend of discussions with local and national political leaders.
Sir Roger Gale said:
"Laura Sandys (The South Thanet MP), and I are of the view, which I have reason to understand is shared by the new Labour Leadership of Thanet District Council and by the Conservative Opposition, that...
"... with the closure of the airfield the best way to secure a new future for aviation at Manston will be for a Compulsory Purchase Order to be placed upon the site which has, at present, planning consent only as an airport.
"This is detailed in the very recent draft of the local plan so there should be little difficulty in establishing existing use and thus for the local authority to acquire and then perhaps lease out or sell on the site at a sensible price.
"Clearly the Council will wish to prepare its own study of options based upon legal advice but the opinion that we have been offered is that a bid to place a CPO on the airfield would succeed and that it could be readily funded.
"If that is so then it ought to be possible to remove the airport from the hands of those who clearly have other objectives and to restore Manston to its rightful place as part of our airport capacity in the South East.
"From the work that has already been done we have good reason to believe that those who wish to re-open the airport and have the capacity to do so have every chance of succeeding where others have seemingly chosen to fail...
"... and we hope and expect that TDC`s senior officers, acting on instructions from elected Members, will take a very robust line.
"We have to dispel the impression given, arising from discussions that apparently took place with TDC officers earlier in the year, that housing is a “done deal” and that anything other than airport use is on the agenda. As Iris Johnston has made publicly clear, it is not”.
North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, has indicated that this afternoon a formal offer has been made for the purchase of Manston Airfield as a working airport.
Speaking from his constituency Sir Roger has said:
Following discussions with the owner of the airfield, Mrs. Gloag, has now submitted a formal offer to purchase the business as a going concern. This does not, of course, mean that the offer has been accepted. But I hope and expect that common sense and fairness will now prevail and that, as a result, an agreement will be reached that will enable Manston to remain open and operational and to realise its’ potential both in the interests of those that Laura Sandys and I represent and also in the national interest."
Two nights ago we revealed that while millions of pounds are spent combating the cultivation of cannabis the seeds needed to grow the drug are openly on sale at shops across the south-east.
As a result of our report a leading MP is calling for the sale of those seeds to be outlawed. At the moment a legal loophole means they can currently be bought and sold quite legally...on the understanding that they will not be grown.
But Sir Roger Gale, the MP for Thanet North says it's an 'outrageous' situation and is urging the Home Secretary to take action.
Manston Airport in Kent could be the answer to the south east's aviation problems. That's what North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale told the Commons today. MPs are calling on the government to freeze air passenger duty, which they claim harms tourism and trade.