Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Gale's View - KCC Leader
June 10th 2015
There is a clear and growing concern that the current Leader of Kent County Council appears to believe that it is in order to ignore the majority or, in the case of the future of Manston Airport the unanimous view of those who have voted in his Council Chamber and to take a public policy line diametrically opposed to the expressed wish of virtually every other democratically chosen person at every level of government.
One might have thought that, following the tardy publication of the 2013/2014 accounts for Wynyard Park on Teesside, a company `owned` by those who currently claim control of Manston Airport, the current Leader of KCC might have taken pause for thought. In fact, using words remarkably similar to those uttered by that company`s spokesman, the former Police Chief Mr. Mallon, he has chosen to leap to the defence not of the people of East Kent who want to see planes flying from Manston again but of those who seek to instead build houses and industrial units on the land. In doing so he is beginning to sound dangerously like an advocate for commercial developers.
That the current Leader of KCC has apparently decided that, notwithstanding the clear view of his Council, it is in order to promote and pursue, up to and including the support for the provision of taxpayer funding, the interests of those currently claiming to be in charge of the Manston site is, to say the least, curious. This position seems to be based upon the presumption that the alternative – a Compulsory Purchase Order by Thanet District Council that KCC has voted in principle to support, and the onward sale to a company that wishes to reinstate and operate Manston as an airport - is not viable because that same present Leader of KCC, who has no locus in the matter or right to any confidential, information, is not satisfied by a business case that he has not seen. Given the intimate, un-recorded and private conversations with representatives of Ms. Ann Gloag, the owner of Manston Airport, that this Leader permitted before the announcement of the proposed closure of the airport prior to Budget Day in 2014, he clearly has no right to be privy to any such information. Brutally, those who wish to preserve Manston as an operating airport in the national, and local interest – and I count myself amongst them - do not believe that they have any reason to trust Cllr. Carter or to take him into any confidence. That is a bed that, he will come to realise, is entirely of his own making.
I have nailed my own colours to the mast, have been tried and tested in a General Election and returned to Parliament to continue to represent views that the current Leader of KCC clearly does not share. We cannot both be right. The publication of the Government`s commissioned PWC inquiry results, a possible and consequential Compulsory Purchase Order issued by Thanet District Council on the basis of an indemnity agreement, an Inspector`s public inquiry in which the business cases of RiverOak, Ms. Gloag and Messrs, Cartner and Musgrave, together with their respective and intimate finances, will all be examined in fine detail, that Inspector`s report and an ultimate decision by the Secretary of State may follow. My personal reputation has been placed on the line and I stand by the actions that I have taken and the statements that I have made in the interests of those that I have been re-elected to represent. Will the current Leader of KCC place his own reputation on the line also and do the honourable thing if he is found further wanting? Or will he equivocate? County Council elections are not very far down the track and I am sure that extraneous influences will not be allowed to play any part in determining who will be chosen to lead the Conservative Party into that contest.