Home ... NNF ... Manston ... Thanet Airport Working Party 4th April

Like pushing your own face into a bacon slicer. Slowly. It was shambolic to a degree I would once have found shocking.

Charles Buchanan had been invited to speak by Cllr Gideon (chair), at Madeline Homer's suggestion, to "clarify" a number of points relating to the AWP's draft response. This led to some confusion as to whether the current draft report would need to be returned to Parsons Brinckerhoff for rewriting in the light of whatever Mr Buchanan might be about to say. Eventually they decided to play it by ear, and if only minor adjustments were required, they could go straight to the next stage of the process (Overview & Scrutiny) without the AWP needing to meet again.

[An aside: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Thanet Airport Working Party 4th April

Like pushing your own face into a bacon slicer. Slowly. It was shambolic to a degree I would once have found shocking.

Charles Buchanan had been invited to speak by Cllr Gideon (chair), at Madeline Homer’s suggestion, to “clarify” a number of points relating to the AWP’s draft response. This led to some confusion as to whether the current draft report would need to be returned to Parsons Brinckerhoff for rewriting in the light of whatever Mr Buchanan might be about to say. Eventually they decided to play it by ear, and if only minor adjustments were required, they could go straight to the next stage of the process (Overview & Scrutiny) without the AWP needing to meet again.

[An aside: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? TDC have had their consultation, and received a report from the independent consultants. Why is Buchanan even allowed to speak at the AWP, let alone be allowed to modify the Council’s document? We’ve all seen TDC’s draft report, and there’s plenty that NoNightFlights would like to comment on, as (I guess) would the CPRE Protect Kent, and many others. If TDC want to avoid legal crucifixion for bias and failure of process, they are going to have to cut Mr Buchanan out of the loop, or include everyone.]

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Buchanan’s scope for comment was whittled down from the whole report to sections 4.7 to 4.7.3 – largely as a result of Cllr Campbell’s insistence. Mr Buchanan was accompanied a consultant from Bickerdike Allen Partners (who said nothing), and another from York Aviation who ended up doing most of the talking.

Some while into the discussions, Cllr Campbell realised that the AWP all had a new and previously unseen document, and complained that they hadn’t been given time to assimilate it. It eventually transpired that this was not a TDC document, but had come from Buchanan. He had said that he had been hoping to speak more widely than 4.7-4.7.3, and presumably had wanted to work his way through the document, point by point.

Looking at the signing-in book on the front desk, Mr Buchanan was the first in, and had presumably just left a copy of the document at each seat. Sneaky bastard. Homer simply told everyone to “pretend they hadn’t seen it” and not to include any reference to it in their discussions, although she did tell Cllr Marson that she could take her copy home (!).

People wiser than I in the ways of protocol and the conduct of meetings would know better, but I would have thought a more proper course of action would have been for Cllr Gideon to collect and destroy the documents, rebuke Mr Buchanan, and minute accordingly. Or just punch someone.

In between trying to undermine the credibility of Parsons Brinckerhoff and their report, the guy from York Aviation did reveal the identity of the six airports that appeared in Section 3.10 of the York Aviation report as the basis for employment forecasts. They are Bournemouth, Bristol, Blackpool, Leeds/Bradford, Edinburgh and East Midlands – the last of these being the “outlier” on the graph due to the high volumes of freight it handles. He also let slip that Manston expected a 50:50 mix of freight and passenger traffic – the previous story has been 90% passenger.

Charles Buchanan stated that the proposal does not claim that 1,4552 jobs and £30.4m GVA (Gross Value Added) would be created by night flights, rather that the absence of night flights would jeopardise the potential benefits of the airport by these amounts.

In my eyes, Charles Buchanan exemplified the use of data to obscure and distort issues. In striking contrast was Council officer Hannah Thorpe – easily the star of the evening – who stuck resolutely to the principle of using data to clarify, and sticking strictly within the limits of validity rather than trying to extrapolate in the hope of supporting anyone’s preconceptions.

So when Cllr Gideon asked whether free-form (as opposed to questionnaire-style) responses were harder to analyse meaningfully – Ms Thorpe: No, we do it all the time – we’re doing it for the Asset Management consultation.

Cllr Gideon: was the format of the survey a good way of getting a response? – Ms Thorpe: it was widely promoted through mail shots, press articles and adverts, and is “equally as valid” as any other form of consultation conducted by TDC.

Cllr Gideon: what percentage of Thanet’s population responded? – Ms Thorpe: that’s not a valid or correct way to assess the response.

Cllr Gideon: doesn’t the low percentage response rate invalidate the result? – Ms Thorpe: don’t go there, this is the highest response rate we’ve had for any consultation – if you disregard this result, you’ll have to disregard every consultation result we’ve ever had.

Cllr Green successfully argued for the inclusion in the report of three significant additional considerations: a summary of the health impacts of broken and disrupted sleep from the World Health Organisation; a critical assessment of the short-comings of the QC noise rating system, from the House of Commons library; and an overview of the scale and economic importance of Thanet’s tourism industry.

Cllr Campbell successfully argued that the effects of noise disruption on residents’ rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights needed to be included in the report.

Cllr Hart, when explaining his decision to go for an in-house consultation rather than spending £50k on MORI made an interesting point. Many people had been puzzling over how TDC proposed to implement the proposed weighting of responses from those under the flight path as against those living out of earshot – what multiplier, or what algorithm would be used?

Cllr Hart’s solution was disarmingly simple: it would be down to councillors to use their own judgement. Just as councillors make a judgement call when assessing the planning applications – closer proximity means a greater impact – they should use their own judgement to assess how much more weight should be attached to responses that come from those under the flight path.

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  1. BEYOND MANSTON PICKLEThe disgusting local government pantomime continues!Not only are do we have a leading "Rotten Borough" with increasing column inches in Private Eye, but enough meat for the Local Government Ombudsman to have a feast on!"Just what is it that makes today's Thanet, so different, so un-appealing?" Prizes for the best collage (aka Richard Hamilton) and essay on the why's.

  2. I was thoroughly disgusted with the lack of professionalism at the APWP meeting Monday evening.The only people who conducted themselves in an appropriate fashion was, firstly Hannah Thorpe, Peter Campbell and David Green although he again neglected to use his microphone and made it very difficult to hear all which was said.The disgraceful behaviour from Cllr Wiltshire and Cllr Marsden was unacceptable. No decorum at all and attacking other officers of TDC with such venomous abuse was unforgivable. Why are we voting these types of Councillors in? They certainly showed they were not acting for their constituents but only for themselves.I believe the meeting should have been adjourned immediately, especially when they found paper work which should not have been given out at this meeting and especially not for the eyes of Mr Buchahan. Other papers were not given to the councillors before the meeting as usually permitted. Mr Buchanan had arrived at the meeting long before anyone else, purely to distribute his own paperwork for all to see. Mr Buchanan had no right to do this as he was not there to give any information only to answer questions. This was sneaky slimey behaviour from Mr Buchanan, but did we expect anything different?NNF Committee did not have this freedom to produce comments at the meeting, Mr Buchanan should have been removed from the building. The meeting was an absolute shambles, 10 year old children could have organised better. Shame on you officers at TDC.There was one exception Hannah Thorpe, well done Hannah you excelled yourself, you acted very proessional. The public consultation you organised could not have been any better, EVERYONE in Thanet had the opportunity to vote and it didn't cost the tax payers a fortune to do so. IF we had gone along the line of instructing MORI, as many attending the meeting wished, it would have cost a fortune, but most importantly only a percentage of people in thanet would have been allowed to vote, this would not have been fair.Shame on you Thanet District Council

  3. I think we can all now agree that Clive Hart did a sensible thing when he stopped the council from spending a large amount of money on this consultation. It is now obvious that the proponents of night flights would not accept the result of any survey. In the case of the airport operators, they point out that TDC's survey only received responses from 3% of local residents. Well, MORI would have used a sample size of 1000, so they would only have gathered responses from less than 1.5%. If they can't accept 3% as being a decent enough sample size, they can hardly claim that 1000 1.5% would have been more representative.Perhaps the thing we should all bear in mind is that this isn't the first time that Thanet's residents have been asked what they think about night-flights. The Council has polled residents' opinions on two previous occasions with similar results. On one of those occasions the poll was indeed conducted by MORI. Most recently, we had an election, and the party which said that it would oppose night-flights was elected by thousands of people. There comes a point when refusal to accept the result begins to make you look as if you don't care what the people really think. In Oh Dear's case, the thing that is likely to irritate local residents is his insistence that he knows what they think, whilst presenting no evidence for it whatsoever. We've just had a consultation and everybody who wanted to respond was given an opportunity to do so. The results was quite clear; most local people don't want night-flights. It's now time to stop this pantomime. TDC needs to make it very clear to current and potential owners that they wish to see a return to the terms of the sensible legal restrictions on night-flights which were imposed when the terminal building was constructed. The Section 106 Agreement was a stupid mistake and it is time to put that right.

  4. Igloo (apart from everything else that he's an expert on) is now an expert on Ipsos MORI polls (get the name right) and once again is full of assumptions. "Most people don't want night flights???" Who are these "most people." "Most people" couldn't give a monkey's about this tin pot attempt at a survey with its skewed results. "Most people" in Thanet want the airport to succeed and if that means night flights so be it. Go ask "most people" but then of course you wont, the results would be too frightening for you

  5. To Oh DearIf as you say, most people couldn't give a monkey about the tin pot attempt at a survey with it's skewed results and that most people in Thanet want the airport to succeed and if that means night flights so be it.Why didn't all these people vote against night flights, you can't have it both ways. Out of 2,275 people who voted , 73% voted against NF, 26%% were for NF, 1% didn't make their votes clear. It was definately a win for the people who do not want NF, this can not be changed. Woe betide the Council, if they fail to act on these results…I'm afraid you were outnumbered

  6. Skewed is a very good word. Learn what it means because you will hear that word used a lot in the forthcoming days. By the way, who are you to "Woe betide" the Council?

  7. I think it's about time that someone "outed" Oh Dear. Anyone know who he or she is?

  8. It could be that fat bloke with a beard who hangs round with that other fat bloke.

  9. I notice that IoTG are starting to skew the consultations as well, lumping the mainly pro-night flights consulation undertaken by Infratil with the mainly anti ones conducted the TDC and CCC. And they've roped in their tame fortnightly columnist to lend her support as well.

  10. I don't see how you can add the two consultations together. How do you know that the people who said yes to night-flights in Infratil's consultation aren't the same people who said yes in TDC's consultation? If the IoTG were any kind of newspaper they would be looking instead at who invited Infratil to participate in the consultation process and where they got their list of people's names and addresses. I received a letter to my address and I don't remember giving Infratil permission to keep me on any database.[HBM: I think you can pay the Royal Mail/Post Office to do mailshots for you…]

  11. Trolling

  12. Petition signer

    What about adding in the no night flights petition into the mix. Surely that kills off any doubt?

  13. Express Wishes

    Why has TDC enabled the Royal Sands development, with our lovely local estate agent Tel Painter as the go between, to screw them into selling the people's seafront? How is the figure of 3 million plus arrived at? Will it pay for TDC's legal fees to defend it's actions over the airport when the judicial review takes place?And should Oh Dear have an answer. I for one would delight in outing the sweaty bollocked, humpty backed nazi.

  14. A source tells me that at this meeting the credentials and status of Paul Twyman was discussed to the utter embarrasment of the "Professionals".