It’s like pulling teeth
Kent County Council has been forced to reveal details of its unsuccessful £10.8 million bid for Government money to develop services for Manston airport. Campaigners, No Night Flights, challenged KCC’s refusal to release details of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) application.
The county council had to disclose its bid, made with airport owner Infratil, but withheld some commercial details. KCC and Infratil want £7.7 million towards the cost of building a new “parkway” train station serving the airport and £2 million towards setting up faster rail services between the new station and London. The second part of the bid is for £600,000 to set up a trial route between Manston and a European “hub” airport – details of which airline and airport were removed from the information published. The bid also asks for £500,000 to help Infratil turn the first phase of its “master plan” into reality.
In return for the public money Infratil has pledged £7.6 million over 10 years including £100,000 a year to provide a bus service between the airport and new train station. KCC and Infratil justify the bid, made to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), saying it would help to boost the economy in south east Kent in the wake of Pfizer pulling out. They claim that it would help Infratil to meet its development aims and increase employment at the airport and in surrounding businesses. Campaigners say the KCC bid, titled Access to East Kent, demonstrated a poor return on investment.
On the No Night Flights website the group claims that it would equate to £415,384 per job generated by the £10.8 million, adding:
“RGF wants to help make the transition from public sector to private sector jobs. KCC’s application was looking for a level of public subsidy that would have embarrassed the British Leyland of old. In the over-crowded sweepstake that is the Grand National economy, the Government decided not to back this particular three-legged donkey.”
Campaigner Susan Kennedy, from Ramsgate, said:
“It is unbelievable that in such difficult times KCC has put in for a bid that requires subsidies of millions to create such paltry numbers of jobs.”
The bid was turned down in the first phase of applications for the RGF but KCC plans to resubmit it for the second round.