We keep being told that a petition to “save” Manston airport was submitted to TDC with more than 8,000 signatures. It is also claimed that a petition of over 26,000 signatures was delivered to Downing Street. It’s really hard to get TDC to spell out the truth about the validity of the petitions that were submitted to the Council. Here’s what we know so far.
On 10th July two petitions were discussed by TDC. The Council report about them says:
2.1 An Epetition organised by Oscar Maynard (Save Manston Airport Group) has been signed by 3361 persons. The petition prayer reads:
“We the undersigned petition the council to make a compulsory purchase of Manston, Kent’s International Airport. We would also like Thanet District Council to look into the possibility of members of the public to buy bonds into this purchase.”
2.2 In addition to the 3,361 persons who have signed the Epetition, 4,330 persons have validly signed a paper petition containing the same petition prayer as the Epetition. Officers cannot check whether these two sets of signatures “duplicate” any signatories, as those who have signed the paper petition have not always given a full first name and surname, so therefore it is not possible to add them together to determine a “total” number personssigning the petition.
We asked TDC what checks were done on the petitions. TDC’s reply on 22nd July said that no check of the residential addresses of petitioners was undertaken. We have a detailed FOIA request about this and TDC’s answer.
Given that the two petitions cannot validly be added together, it looks as if there was a petition with a maximum of 4,330 signatures which have not been checked in any way. We know from reading comments on the various Save Manston sites that some people have signed more than once and that some people live elsewhere in the UK or abroad, so the petition asking TDC to CPO Manston is not a strongly local one. Interestingly, the petition does not ask TDC to find an indemnity partner to acquire the airport from TDC following a CPO – it asks the Council to CPO the airport and to investigate the possibility of a public bonds issue.
We have asked Downing Street about the 26,000 signature petition. They have no trace of it, as it has been “lost” in its travels between government departments.