Saturday, 27 February 2016

Thanet Labour: Aeronautic Stunts

At the Council meeting on 24th February Thanet Labour Group Leader Iris Johnston made it clear that  Thanet’s 5 Labour councillors are still supporting the re-opening of Manston Airport. Responding on behalf of the 5 Labour councillors to comments made  by Council Leader, Chris Wells, about a market testing exercise to recruit  a new business partner to work with TDC to secure a Manston CPO, Johnston said “I do feel that you are doing the right thing by trying to find somebody (to save the airport). You can’t get much clearer than that!   according to their group Leader Thanet's 5 labour councillors agree that UKIP and the Tories “are doing the right thing” in trying to find a partner who might help to re-open Manston Airport.

But hang about a minute, I understand that the South Thanet Labour Party, which covers the Ramsgate area,  voted several weeks ago to oppose the re-opening of Manston Airport;  supporting instead its redevelopment into a mixed use residential, leisure and commercial site. Whilst I agree 100% with this sensible decision  I  wonder why Johnston was able to stand up at  last weeks Council meeting and espouse a policy which directly opposed the agreed position of her South Thanet comrades? Surely she must have known what her comrades decided a couple of months ago?

What confuses me even more is that three out of the five Thanet Labour councillors (Constantine, Fenner and Campbell) represent South Thanet wards and are all members of the South Thanet  Labour Party. Why on earth didn’t they use their majority position to overrule Johnston and prevent her from putting forward a policy which conflicts with South Thanet Labour Party? Perhaps they also disagree with South Thanet Labour Party about the airport? Perhaps they don’t see the airport as an important issue?  Perhaps they are scared of their Leader? Or perhaps they were simply asleep at the wheel like most other councillors tend to be?

Either way the failure of the 3 South Thanet Labour councillors to stop Johnston from committing them to a pro-airport policy is a disaster. The Council, which is already in a very difficult financial position will now have to spend massive amounts of public money continuing the pursuit of an expensive  CPO which everyone knows is bound to fail. Plans to re-develop the site, create desperately needed jobs and attract major investment into Thanet will be delayed yet again due to the negative messages being sent out by the Council. Surely this was a major opportunity for Labour to have stood up against the futile CPO charade and made it clear it was on the side of  regeneration and progress, rather than clinging to its discredited past.
And I’m not the only one who sees things this way.  I re-produce an extract from a facebook page about Manston Airport  which gives a taster about just how angry some Labour Party members are with Iris Johnston. I reckon her days as Party Leader are numbered and that fairly soon she will be  pushed , if she  doesn’t jump first. This reminds me of  Johnston’s predecessor,former Labour  Council Leader Clive Hart, who despite the fact that the Labour Party  in Thanet stood for election on a policy of protecting our green field sites from development, agreed in his capacity as a member of the East Kent Opportunities (EKO) management board to build 750 houses on  a farmland next the New Haine Road.  So,  yet again history repeats itself. Despite election promises to protect Thanet’s  environment successive Labour leaders have supported actions which despoil our green fields and increase atmospheric pollution. I hope that  those Labour members who are undoubtedly plotting Johnston’s political demise  act quickly and without mercy. Her utterances at last weeks Council meeting have let you down badly.  


  1. Before the last election, let us not forget that, as
    well the Government Transport coming down to talk to us at Manston, the Shadow Transport minister Mr Dugher
    came down to visit the campaign office of South Thanet Labour candidate Will Scobie.
    But what he ended with is a lulu :
    "it is really important that local residents have a big say, after all it is their area and it will be their airport."

    1. Remind us which area of Thanet you live in Beau...

    2. 2 years on only tweeds at Manston...

      And both Riveroak and SHP trying to drum up housing for £1 on the water supply - close it all down and start again

  2. Iris is history. After leading the Labour group to its biggest ever defeat, she will be replaced as leader in the next year or so. The only reason it hasn't happened yet because the Labour party would be incapable of acting swiftly if a meteorite struck the country. She doesn't have the backing of her small band of councillors in supporting the reopening of the airport. They are adopting a more progressive attitude, and are prepared to give the plans for Stone Hill Park a fair hearing. Later this year we will have several elections when the former UKIP DIG councillors are forced to resign for non-attendance. Collins and his partner already have appalling attendance records and the other ones who made the mistake of leaving with them will be forced to find other parties to join. As Labour will be backing jobs and growth, they will have to join the Tories. However, Collins and Smith's seats on the council will revert to Labour. There isn't a prayer of electing a Tory in those wards. This will leave us with a hung council and that's probably the best thing for Thanet right now. Beyond this year, UKIP ceases to have a purpose. The referendum will be held, everybody will have their say and, whichever way it goes, UKIP will just disappear. We will be back to two party politics in Thanet.

  3. Well said 08:30 although at the very least other Independent candidates may be more viable than simply re-electing the same Labour toxic sludge. Iris is finished and Ian is right that the sooner she goes the better - unfortunately the Labour councillors are elederly and useless so no real change is possible with Labour. Agree the points on UKIP although they are already finished: nothing doe at KCC and a mess made of TDC. Wells must go too.

  4. Iris is part of the history. It emerges that KCC, in spite of a public health duty, have no record of the massive contamination of Thanet water supply. Neither has public health England.

    Hence KCC was never in a properly informed position to take a stance re Manston. And Public Health England has confirmed it was never consulted.

    It is looking probable that the aviation environmental impact consultant for the Section 106 agreement a decade ago was similarly misled by having the material facts concealed from him by TDC.

    Hansard for 2000, re Foreland outfall. leaves no doubt that Roger Gale MP concealed the material facts of the water supply remediations from the Commons.