Arch-betrayer Gale swims against the tide of public protest and revulsion, claiming (psychic?) knowledge of the wishes of the silent majority, and dismissing democracy as “populism”. Fool.
MP admits a U-turn over Manston night flights ban
BAY MP Roger Gale has been accused of chucking “his pre- election commitment in the bin” after changing his views on night flights over the town. The Conservative has come under fire after an apparent U-urn on comments made before he was elected for a seventh term in May. Mr Gale had opposed plans to relax a ban on night flights from Manston airport, but last week lent his support to the proposal.
He has defended the move, claiming it is for the good of people living in the town. He said:
“They are entitled to say I’ve changed my views, but I’ve done so in light of economic need and the interests of the majority of my constituents. We live in a changing game. Night flights were never an election issue. In fact, I doubt I had any more than two letters about Manston throughout my campaign. The silent majority want to see this airport succeed. I’ve always been against night flights and in an ideal world we could avoid them, but we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in a commercial reality. If the airport is to remain open there has got to be some flexibility on night flights to allow the operators the time and financial stability in which to develop further passenger services.”
Airport owners Infratil want to lengthen the flying day by 90 minutes and introduce night flights within a noise quota system from 11pm to 7am. Critics say it will result in sleepless nights, claiming up to seven flights will thunder over the town every night. But Mr Gale says the statistics are being exaggerated. He said:
[Infratil’s proposed policy repeatedly predicts an average level of 7.7 flights per night, and assumes the current mix of aircraft.]
“What campaigners have done is take the worst case scenario, using the quietest aircraft, to calculate how many flights there could possibly be. The fact is there won’t be many night flights over Herne Bay. I’m not trying to pretend there isn’t an environmental issue, but if Manston goes bust what are we going to do with it? We’ll be left with a derelict airfield which will likely become an industrial estate or housing estate – or both. Nobody in living memory has bought a house in east Kent without knowing there was an airport at Manston. I can’t allow myself to be driven by populism. I believe the line I’m taking is the right one.”
Pre-election promise broken
Night flight campaigner Ros Mclntyre says she is “astounded” by Mr Gale’s “change in direction”. She said:
“Before the general election, I wrote to Roger Gale asking him where he stood on the issue of introducing scheduled night flights at Manston. Mr Gale wrote back saying ‘I have never supported night flights from Manston and do not propose to do so’. Now he is suddenly in favour of night flights.
Not only has he gaily chucked his pre-election commitment in the bin, he has now also started to vilify the people he is meant to be representing. He said “to represent the maximum unit quota provided for in the application as ‘seven night flights per night’ is mischievous if not downright dishonest”.
In fact, the night flight proposal would allow the airport to lengthen the flying day by 90 minutes and to introduce scheduled night flights. The airport’s specialist noise report estimates 7.7 flights a night – which seems pretty close to the seven planes a night Gale is saying is a dishonest representation. He simply doesn’t understand the numbers, which is shocking in a man who is prepared to criticise others so publicly and mistakenly.
So, we have an MP who breaks clear election promises and who criticises the people he is meant to be representing. We have an MP who says it is dishonest to bring accurate numbers into the public domain. Do explain to me how sharing the airport’s own numbers with the public can be “mischievous if not downright dishonest”. Frankly, I think that is a better description of your recent behaviour on this issue.”