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Council throws good money at bad airport

KCC + KLM + KIA = WTF

Getting a straight answer out of KCC is hard at the best of times – even with the legal leverage of the Freedom of Information Act it can take months. But it’s usually worth the wait, and the dogged persistence is rewarded. And let’s not forget, anything that’s released under the FoI Act is stuff that they should have told you in the first place. By definition.

A man of Kent, showing the finest British bulldog determination and tenacity set about finding out if there are any hidden deals behind the recently announced KLM-Manston story. Eventually, he managed to prise these three sentences out of them:

I can confirm Kent County Council has not been asked for any contributions from KLM nor have we been asked to fund KLM.

We were however, asked by the owners of Manston airport if we would contribute to a marketing package to market both the route and the opportunities in Kent.

We have agreed a contribution of up to £100,000 subject to approval of a marketing plan and for the monies to be managed by Visit Kent.

Regular readers will remember that KCC and Infratil colluded in a bid to central Government which included a generous £600k sweetener for KLM – effectively “we’ll pay you to use this airport”. They were turned down, quite rightly.

We’ll probably never know whether KLM had put pressure on them to cross their palm with silver, or whether KCC and Infratil are simply very generous (with other people’s money), but it’s depressingly unsurprising to find that they’re at it again.

Everyone knows Infratil is selling Manston airport. More accurately, Infratil is trying to sell Manston airport – it’s been on the market since March 2012, and the asking price seems to be sinking to the same level as airport-free agricultural land. Despite this, they have the balls to ask KCC for money to market and promote the highest profile route they’ve got (even though it isn’t even running yet). KCC, unspeakable idiots that they are, agreed!

For reasons best known to KCC – but I suspect connected to EU competition regulations – they will be “laundering” the money through Visit Kent. So Kent County Council is happy to use public money to market a French/Dutch airline flying from a New Zealand-owned airport. And, yes, this is the same KCC that’s cutting funding to things that people care about.

What makes KCC think this will be money well spent? And what exactly are Visit Kent going to be doing? Good questions, which we have asked on your behalf.

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8 comments

  1. Kent Resident

    I am disgusted that Visit Kent can afford to throw away 100000 of public money in such wasteful ways. Spending any amount on Manston Airport is as good as dropping it down the nearest drain ! In these days of real hardship it beggars belief that these people have so much to waste on airports and advertising a foreign company. It will never be recouped.Whoever gave permission for this should be sacked, without any bonuses ! Another desperate air-brained idea by Paul Carter (Leader of KCC) no doubt. He must have shares in the Airport !That money should have been spent on the much needed tourist information centres , instead of closing them down !

  2. Kent Resident

    I am disgusted that Visit Kent can afford to throw away 100000 of public money in such wasteful ways. Spending any amount on Manston Airport is as good as dropping it down the nearest drain ! In these days of real hardship it beggars belief that these people have so much to waste on airports and advertising a foreign company. It will never be recouped.Whoever gave permission for this should be sacked, without any bonuses ! Another desperate air-brained idea by Paul Carter (Leader of KCC) no doubt. He must have shares in the Airport !That money should have been spent on the much needed tourist information centres , instead of closing them down !

  3. Kent Resident

    Perhaps they supported P C,s Africa trip last year

  4. Anger Management Ltd

    It is utterly disgusting. As disgusting as paying bent councillors allowances with public money, then having to pay even more for their subsequent stay at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

  5. Denis Cannon

    This is called creative marketing. It’s the same as creative accounting, ie crooked, but comes with lots of smiles and happy faces and people telling us how the council are doing this for the people of East Kent.Provided they live in New Zealand, France or Holland of course.

  6. If PC went to Africa last year, I hope it was strapped to a pallet on on of the empty planes going back after dropping off their UK job reducing, trade deficit increasing beans. Or did he fly business class at our expense?FOI on its way

  7. I wonder if old Sir Windy is behind some of the string pulling for the puppets (or is that Muppets) in Central Government for funding at Manston- I guess time will tell?

  8. This is all lies.It is all about "subject to approval"!!!!no money has changed hands for marketing!!!