“Regeneration work in Thanet includes improving buildings and public spaces in our towns, development of business parks and working with community groups to help bring their ideas to fruition to improve the area. The emphasis in regeneration is on working in partnership with a wide range of organizations, so that together we can make Thanet a quality place to live, an attractive location for investment and an enjoyable area to visit.” (TDC website)
Manston is not a building or public space in a town. No community groups are pressing for expansion or night flights. A bustling cargo airport would not make Thanet an attractive place to live in, or visit. Any profits generated by the airport would be repatriated to New Zealand, to cover the tens of millions of dollars Infratil have already lost. Profits from freight transport would go to the hauliers, mostly national and international firms.
Airport expansion may be an eye-catching, high profile project, but it’s more cost than benefit, and very little of value stays in Thanet. So why is TDC, and Brian White in particular, pushing it so hard?
Job creation keeps appearing in TDC’s pro-Manston arguments. My problem with this is that Manston is a laughably inefficient means of job creation. On the edge of beautiful Herne Bay, just by the A299, a 50 bed Premier Inn motel and associated 50 table restaurant have just been built. This has created 50 jobs.
Two points here:
- this is close to the 70-90 jobs Infratil keep promising, but using a lot less land and making a lot less noise, mess and inconvenience: this has to be a better bet;
- a hotel and restaurant (by definition) encourage people to come and stay in Kent, and spend their money here: surely a more sustainable path to regeneration.
TDC’s regeneration manifesto is pointing in the right direction. Investing money, time and effort in Manston is a wasteful diversion from that purpose. Rather than putting their eggs in one rather threadbare basket, TDC should be concentrating on actively promoting a multitude of small new businesses. If only there was some handy light industrial space to use as a regeneration business park…