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Thanet council's public consultation on Manston airport's night flight proposals has attracted 700 responses. The views given will help the council form its response to plans by airport operators Infratil to host an average of eight flights a night at Manston.

The authority's consultation was scaled back from plans to engage market research experts MORI and ask for views from other districts when Thanet council took legal advice that it was only a "consultee" on the plans and had no legally binding say in the matter.

Mixed reaction to consultation

Thanet council’s public consultation on Manston airport’s night flight proposals has attracted 700 responses. The views given will help the council form its response to plans by airport operators Infratil to host an average of eight flights a night at Manston.

The authority’s consultation was scaled back from plans to engage market research experts MORI and ask for views from other districts when Thanet council took legal advice that it was only a “consultee” on the plans and had no legally binding say in the matter.

Thanet council advertised the consultation on its website and in the press, wrote directly to 500 organisations and e-mailed its own database of contacts. The response represents less than one per cent of the population of Thanet. Leader of the council, Clive Hart, who took the decision to run a smaller consultation, said:

“It’s encouraging to see that so many people have taken the time to tell us what they think. Before we draft our own response, it’s vital that we clearly understand how our residents feel about these proposals.”

Conservative group leader Bob Bayford said:

“I don’t think 700 represents a good response at all. The problem with this consultation is that the respondents are self-selected.If we had used a private market-research company we would have had a reliable random sample but with this consultation we have the No Night Flights lobby encouraging people to write in and, to my mind, that means the results will be skewed.”

[What about all those 4-page leaflets that the airport sent out, Cllr Bayford – won’t those also “skew” the result?]

The feedback received from this consultation will be used, alongside the findings of the Parson Brinkerhoff environmental and economic impact report, to draft the council’s response to Infratil. Mr Hart said:

“I think it should give us a good cross section. For people actually putting pen to paper, I think it is a good response. I don’t know what percentage of the population it is, I couldn’t comment on that, the main thing is we have a very good cross section. The decision to hold an in-house consultation is based on what is reasonable and what is practical.”

Mr Hart said respondents’ comments will be categorised based on their postcode, adding that greater consideration would given to the comments of those living under the flight path but would stop short of a formal “weighting” of responses. He said:

“It is not quantative data, it is qualitative data. You can’t weight words. I think that is more useful. The bottom line is that we get people’s opinions.”

Phil Rose from the No Night Flights campaign said:

“It is a shame the consultation has been so short. It would have been better if it had been a more informed consultation.This is where TDC missed a trick and possibly missed out. However, there has been a strong reaction against night flights, which is not surprising.”

Airport chief executive, Charles Buchanan, said the consultation was hindered by a misinterpretation of Parson Brinkerhoff report, which he feels was supportive of the airport’s own impact assessment regarding night flights. He said:

“The independent report overall recognised that what we have said is, overall, satisfactory and that message isn’t getting through. The legal position is that what we are doing at the moment does not require a planning application. The view that this might require a planning application in the future is to be debated. The key thing here is allowing the airport to compete on an equal basis with other airports so it can attract business to the area and generate economic activity so badly needed in Thanet and east Kent. It seems perverse we should be trying to stop the development of one of the biggest facilities in east Kent that could be capable of creating local jobs.”

Mr Bayford said:

“My impression is that Infratil would not be asking for a relaxation in night time flying restrictions unless they believed it was necessary for the airport to survive in the short term and thrive in the long term.”

He said the issue of night flights was a matter of balancing the needs of the many with the needs of the few, adding:

“I understand people are concerned about losing sleep at night but what about the guy who can’t get a job, how much does he sleep at night?”

The consultation will close on Friday, March 2. To view the proposals and independent assessment go to thanet.gov.uk or visit Thanet’s Gateway Plus in Margate or the council’s district office in York Street, Ramsgate. To take part, residents must submit their comments in writing to Consultation, Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Margate CT9 1XZ or by e-mail to consultation@thanet.gov.uk

Responses must include a full name and address, clearly stating a postcode.

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  1. Slipway bobs mate

    At last Bayford has shown his true colours, in that the Cons would have let this go through at any cost with their development pals and of course a wilful KCC! Also its very apparent that EAW (Infratil) is the Donkeys rear end now where did i put that pin?

  2. In answer to Mr. Bayford, the guy who hasn't got a job doesn't need to sleep at night. He can sleep all day. It's those of us who are working who need our sleep at night, and we deserve equal consideration to the unemployed. I find it bizarre that a Conservative leader is attacking hard-working people in this way.

  3. Where does Bayford live? Anyone know? I bet my bitsnbobs to a barn dance it's not near the flight path!How very dare he!!

  4. Restless in Ramsgate

    'My impression', 'unless they believed' – it's what it all boils down to isn't it? A councillor, with no facts, no evidence gains an 'impression' that will stand in for concrete proof. Infratil merely have to state that they 'believe' night flights to be necessary to their survival for our elected representatives to pull their forelocks and offer their craven acquiescence. So, Cllr Bayford – the promise of just 23 jobs, by their own admission, is enough for you to waive the solid evidence of the damage to the health, education and economic well-being of Ramsgate residents? Shocking. I wonder if Cllr Bayford read the news this week about the skills shortage in Thanet that is forcing local businesses to look outside the Isle to recruit. One local business with plenty of jobs on offer – very well paid and skilled jobs – is Cummins. Of Ramsgate. You'd think that with a beautiful town, attractive property prices and well paid jobs on offer, there would be people queuing to apply for those jobs with a view to moving here.The sad fact is that with this night flight blight hanging over the town, people are reluctant to move here at the moment. Incidentally, Cllr Bayford would do well to remember that Paul Luxmore, Executive Head of Dane Court Grammar School and King Ethelbert School has lambasted all those even contemplating allowing night flights – saying quite clearly that this would damage the educational achievement of local pupils. We should be doing all we can to boost that achievement. Surely?

  5. Don't be too hard on Bobby Bayford. He isn't so different from all of the other party politicians who run our council. They all go by gut feel and impressions and not by facts and analysis. That's why they're politicians. That's why it all goes wrong so often. They don't pay any attention to detail. A classic example was the Section 106 agreement. So desperate were they to be seen signing an agreement that they didn't pay any attention to the words written in it. We ended up with a document that was worse than nothing at all. Unfortunately, these are the same people who we have entrusted to fight night-flights on our behalf and, guess what? You've got it. They aren't paying any attention to the details, yet again. Meanwhile, consider that Infratil is a ruthless multinational business. Do we think they might be paying attention to the details?

  6. Ramsgate Resident (aged 25 3/4)

    Bob might get woken up in the night of he supports waking my kids up in the night. Same for any other councillor.

  7. What a tremendous idea! – "Ding dong"……..(cough…splatter)…"Hello?""Oh good morning councillor"."It's three o'clock in the morning, what do you want?""Well I couldn't sleep. Neither could my children. We were all asleep but then an 60 tonne cargo plane flew over. Then another, then another and another. I wouldn't mind so much if this was a one off, but it's been happening for months now and quite frankly – we are all a little peeved. No – suicidal actually. Allow me to explain councillor; I haven't been able to concentrate at work and I'm now in danger of losing my job. Not that it can get much worse as I've just had my house valued and although it was worth 230k last year, it's now worth about half of that because no-one wants to live there and as a hard working, law abiding, tax paying citizen, I now find myself with a huge mortgage in negative equity and probably unable to pay it off. Just to top it off, the school phoned and informed me that although my child had always been in the top 5 or so pupils, the Head Mistress is rather concerned because she is no longer even able to comprehend the simplest of instructions or carry out the easiest of tasks… and I'm told that she keeps falling asleep during her school day.So anyway councilor, as you live over this side of Thanet, and seem to be getting a good nights sleep, I thought we would all pop round here for some kip if that's okay? Now – I just need to use the bathroom. Where shall we put our suitcases?"….SLAM!"Okay kids….next address on the list please?"Igloo, if they are not listening – how can we make them listen? They will not be reading all these posts during their day. But it's these views thay need to hear about… before it's too late.

  8. 700 objections are an amazing amount when you consider that most of the objections represent 1 per household. Lets say an average of 3 people live in a household, that actually represents 2100 people objecting to night flights so far!My objection as well as a number of my neighbour's objections represented their household. I really hope Bob Bayford understands that.

  9. DING DONG…"Hello Councillor. Remember me? Sorry to bother you again in the middle of the night. We popped over about a fortnight ago at about 3am. Well, I've lost my job now because I fell asleep whilst operating some heavy machinery and injured two of my colleagues. My comapnies insurance solicitors will be sending you and your colleagues a letter sometime in the next few days. My wife, is a nurse. She may be in trouble because she hasn't had a good night sleep for goodness knows how long. This will make you laugh councillor – the other day she gave the wrong injection to the wrong patient. Nearly killed the poor man. Anyway all in a days work for us Thanet residents eh! Sorry Councillor I've digressed. The reason I am here is because I'm now unemployed, I have the whole day to sleep. Therefore – my nighst are my own!! Just thought I'd….SLAM!(Through the letterbox) "See you tomorrow night Councillor. I'll keep my finger on the doorbell until you answer. Not sure what time It'll be. Anytime between 11PM and 6AM I should imagine.

  10. My councillor is absolutely disgusted that you you think it is acceptable to wake him up in the middle of the night. He told me that he only became a councillor to represent the interests of local people and would view your approach as tantamount to assault. He will be exploring every avenue to ensure that you do not carry out your threat. He won't be doing anything to stop night-flights though.

  11. Although this was not a threat nor directed at any individual in particular, it was a tongue in cheek way of bringing a little smile to a rather serious and depressing situation. If the worse case scenario was to happen as a result of night flights, i.e our lives became irreversibly ruined by health, fincance, jobs and relationships etc I think I would be doing more than ringing on doorbells. So I imagine, would many other people. If you are able to grasp your councillors attention long enough to hold a conversation about himself being disturbed during the night, tell me why he said he will not be doing anything about night flights though? He obviously is not bothered about the interests of local people as he is claimed by you to have said is he?[HBM: I think Igloo's just kidding…]

  12. Ah!?! Ahem. I see it now.!! :)I'm off my soap box and will sheepishly retreat. xxx

  13. Note to self:Do not respond to blog's at 07.00 when I am still sleepy from my slumber.Enjoy this feeling while it lasts!!! HaHa.

  14. Denis Cannon

    We do need a list of councillors addresses and or phone numbers so we can indeed give them the same grief they propose to inflict on us. Are these a matter of public record?[HBM: Oh yes…]http://www2.canterbury.gov.uk/committee/mgCommitteeMailingList.aspx?ID=0http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/mgCommitteeMailingList.aspx?ID=0

  15. Isn't just incredible that a bunch of third rate, ill-educated, conceited arseholes, have been elected by this community just so that they can ruin the lives of thousands of their electorate!

  16. Of course Bayford is all in favour, just look where he lives! It is just a shame that I can't vote against him at the next council elections!

  17. In the morning we were told that many adults in the UK have the numerical abilities of primary school children. In the afternoon, I bought a copy of the Gazette. In this week's edition Gerry O'Donnell attacked Clive Hart for not being able to calculate percentages. He then proceeds to miscalculate a percentage by 100 fold. He tells us that he did this with a calculator. I wonder if Gerry has ever heard the parable about the man with a plank in his eye.

  18. I have a list of the ones who voted for the Section 106 agreement, which has caused all the problems. Would you like me to publish it?[HBM: yes please.]