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A reader writes (to Bob)

I thought my email of today may be of interest and stimulate other residents to convey their views to our councillors:

August 21st 2011

Dear Councillor Bayford,

Re Manston Airport – Proposed Night Flights

As a regular listener to BBC Radio Kent, I heard your response rebuttal to Councillor Clive Hart’s interview at 08.15 on Thursday 18th August on the Manston Night Flying issue.

I was appalled by your callous disregard for Thanet Council Tax Payer’s quality of life, plus the environmental issues; with your unreserved support and endorsement for Infratil’s proposal to impose regular scheduled night flights on the local community. 

You make a seemingly generous proposal for “widespread public consultation” on this highly contentious night flying issue; on the premise that “a regional airport is of interest to everyone in the South East”. Hence your obvious “confidence” that the public (who outside Thanet, will be unaffected by Manston’s night flight issues) will vote for night flights. By this one clever act, you have assured Infratil that they will get their way and inflict sleepless nights on local council tax payers. 

As your colleague said, a poll result is entirely dependent on who you ask and how you phrase the question. In my view, the only justification for seeking the views on anyone who is not affected by Manston’s take-off, landing and low circuit noise, would be if the question was “Do you think that an International Airport at Manston is a good idea to for holiday and business flights?” The answer to this (as you very well know) is a foregone conclusion. 

This however is not the issue – the airport unfortunately already exists and the only issue is “Should we allow night flights which will totally disrupt Thanet residents quality of life?” Thus, if the vote is to be a fair one, the only people who should be consulted are those who will be affected by the noise of night flights. Unfortunately, these days, the association of the word “fair”, with “conservative” appears dubious at best.

All this of course is not new, for we have prior experience of so called “consultations” and have reasons for skepticism. A previous council undertook these and following a resounding “No!” to night flights, they completely ignored their council tax-payers wishes and allowed the airport to extend its operating hours. Even the February 2010 Manston Airport Development survey by Stephen Ladyman concluded that 62% of Ramsgate respondents opposed night flights. So how many more times must we say that we are opposed to any form of night flying from Manston? The problem is of course, rather like the peoples referendum on the EU. If the authorities want a “Yes” and they keep getting a “No” – they continue to ask the question in different ways until they can concoct a “Yes”. So I look forward to wasting my breath giving my “No Way” views on night flying at this forthcoming round of “Public Consultations” 

Let us hope at least that unlike the last round of “consultations” this time you publicise these meeting properly through the Thanet media and also drop leaflets outlining the issue, giving venues, times and dates, through every Thanet letterbox.

Finally I would just like to say that in my view, the only reason we now have a “hung Council” is the local fear of night flights being imposed on Thanet voters, together with the knowledge that the Tory Councillors would back this idea to the hilt. The point is that many Labour Councillors (and all of the Independents) owe their seats to local Council Tax payers who voted them in because they trusted Labour rather than Conservatives to do what is right for the ordinary Thanet resident, who deserves a decent night’s sleep. 

Our only hope is that Labour continue to vote for what is right for the people that elected them (and who pay all your salaries) and that at least some Conservatives will actually start listening to their constituents. 

Yours sincerely

Mr R Fawcett

(Who has voted Conservative all his adult life)


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  1. The problem is that Infratil has failed to make a coherent business case for night-flights. The fact that Bayford and his cronies are backing them, regardless, is sufficient evidence for me to conclude that they aren't fit for office. It isn't acceptable to grant permission for night-flights just because Infratil say they want it. Infratil has to demonstrate that the need is there. Furthermore, an extension of night-flying would represent a significant planning gain for the airport. If there had been no restrictions on night-flying Infratil would have had to pay a far higher price to secure ownership of the airport, possibley as much as 50million. How much is Infratil prepared to pay for permission to operate at night? I would suggest that 50million, distributed between those who live in the flight-path would be a useful gesture of goodwill.

  2. Brenda Rogers

    Not all Tory councillors would vote for night flights. Before the last election, as a Tory councillor for Nethercourt Ward, I stood up at a public meeting in support of no night flights. This ward would be one of the most affected and having lived on the ward for most of my life I fully appreciate the effects that night flights would have on the residents. Councillor Bayford always said that it would be a free vote and I hope it will be a fair one.

  3. Denis Cannon

    It's all well and good for a conservative voter ( as I was for many years ) to complain that their voice isn't being heard but the local Conservative party continue to support Roger Gale, a turncoat who was against the night flights before the election and of course for night flights following his re-election.Why o why do the party continue with this unprincipled man ?

  4. Close the airport……seems stupid to me to have one here anyway..freight airports should be centrally located to aid the subsequent distribution network. Manston might have been ideally placed for WW2 purposes……but not in an area that wants to promote itself AS A DESIRABLE PLACE TO LIVE !!Let's use the land to enhance the lives of Thanet residents and the area generally…not use it to massively detract from the quality of life here. Thanet already has major problems….don't add another one !!Of course, the people wanting to make money from this development probably live a long way from here…probably haven't even visited the place!

  5. I spoke to a Tory Councillor several years ago on the topic of night-flights. He was in favour. I pointed out to him that surveys of public opinion suggested that a majority of residents were against night-flights. I asked how many people would have to be against them before he would change his stance. He told me that it wouldn't matter if every person in Thanet voted against night-flights. He would still vote in favour because he thought it was a good idea. I've heard it said that Councillors who have expressed views opposing night-flights might be prevented from voting on the matter because it is said that have pre-determined the issue. In this week's Gazette Councillor Bayford expresses the view that some night-flights should be allowed. Presumably, Councillor Bayford will also be deemed to have pre-determined the issue?

  6. I live directly under the flight path & I'm 100% against the proposed night flights. Having read various pieces attached to this issue, I'm coming to the opinion that these so called elected councillors are putting their opinions to the fore instead of their electorate. You were put there for OUR wishes not yours.

  7. Here is the answer that I got from A local councilor when I commented on his efforts to stop noise from rowdy partyers, "I'm not going to indulge you in your efforts to draw a weak comparison between the occasional aircraft movement at Manston, lasting minutes with a sustained auditory assault from an amplifier lasting hours".Well I would sooner have one noisy party next door once a year than a 3 minute flight 3 times a night every night of every week every week of the year. On top of that noisy pop groups do not pollute the air we breathe, those smug people who say I can't hear the planes will BREATHE them. Stargazer

  8. Stargazer, the good Dr is typical of many councillors. Making decisions on night noise from Manston when has no experience of it himself. He says that 'occasional' noise from a plane is different to a party. How does he know?One party in Westgate and he calls the police. Should his council allow night flights, we won't have that luxury as he would have helped legalise the nuisance noise from Manston. Anyway, doesn't he have a conflict of interest? Doesn't he use Manston for work purposes being a pilot? Surely if the boss of Manston says it's going to close if they don't get night flights, I'd say someone who could lose work because of it should not be allowed to vote.What do you think?

  9. I have always said everybody wherever they are or wherever they live has the right to sleep at night, and no person whether elected by us or not has a right to deprive us of that right, I will fight for that right forever if I have to sit on the runway and I hope thousands would join me. Stargazer

  10. Stargazer: count me in! I quite fancy the idea of a sleepover at Manston 😉

  11. I completely agree with the comments in relation to sleep disturbance originating from a party, a rare occurence and not comparable to the constant nightly disturbance night flights would present. The airlines flying into Manston breach the current agreement as I know only too well having been woken at 5.30 am on a recent Sunday morning from the noise of a large plane that appeared to be heading directly for my bedroom, very alarming. I too am up for an overnight vigil on the runway!

  12. I have written to all the lisited counsellors and Laura Sandys to no avail, no response whatsoever from anyone other than Cllr. Cohen who stated "that my observation were carefully noted". A complete disregard for their electorate on a pivotal local issue…………..but what else does one expect from TDC!

  13. I have twice written to agree with no night flights . So where are your e-mails going? I notice you have printed comments from Conservative ex councillors.Why not go down the road of no night flights for the simple reason that they do not fill their quota of dayflights, no contest!