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Manston airport: no further action on CPO until information…

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NO FURTHER action will be taken to proceed with a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of Manston airport until further information has been received from the Government.

Members of Thanet council’s scrutiny committee voted on Tuesday to wait until word had been received from the Transport minister rather than send the issue back to be debated by Cabinet and Full Council.

A decision to not pursue a CPO was initially made by Cabinet on December 11. But this was called-in by Councillors Peter Campbell, Ian Gregory, Ken Gregory, David Saunders and Michael Tomlinson of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee who said they had not been provided with enough details about the process and evidence leading to the decision.

Providing evidence to the committee Paul Cook, Interim Director of Corporate Resources, said the information received by officers from RiverOak Investments, the American firm interested in becoming Thanet council’s indemnity partner for a potential compulsory purchase of the site, did not satisfy their due diligence requirements.

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He said the company had insufficient funds in a UK bank account and had not given enough detail of three years of accounts.

He also said the business plan of five years was too short and the projections for the airport were optimistic. However no councillors were allowed to view the paperwork submitted to see how the decision had been reached.

RiverOak subsequently released further information which was reviewed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

The committee will hold an oral evidence session to examine the future of Manston airport on Monday February 2, as part of an inquiry into smaller airports launched in July.

A motion was put forward by Councillor Bayford that any further action to be taken on the CPO of Manston airport would be on receipt of new information from the Minister of Transport after the Commons session.

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