Sir Roger Gale MP refutes that the Minister’s statement yesterday was party political electioneering.
Manston Airport – Search & Rescue Can Come Home – Roger Gale
The way is clear for Search & Rescue to return to a re-opened Manston Airport. That is the real significance of the announcement made yesterday by the minister of state for Aviation, John Hayes, during his visit to Thanet yesterday, says North Thanet`s Roger Gale.
“It is a pity that the real issue was buried under a synthetic and media-generated political “row” says Gale.
“The Minister responsible for the Coastguard Service has approved a one-year contract for Bristows to operate from Lydd while discussions relating to the future of Manston continue. He has made it plain that during that time there will be no capital investment in new SAR facilities, paving the way for a swift return to the preferred operating base, Manston, as soon as the airport is once again operational. That speaks volumes. It demonstrates the faith that a significant and reputable company, Bristows, has in Manston and it states very clearly the importance that the Prime Minister and the Transport Department have placed upon Manston as a strategic national asset – because this move has the full backing of Number 10. This is part of a process that those of us who really support Manston have been engaged in for months and it has nothing to do with the General or council Elections at all. “
Commenting on the status of the RiverOak indemnity package Roger Gale has added:
“The Minister made it plain that, based upon the indications that he has received and the contents of a letter sent to him by the Chief Executive of RiverOak, Steve DeNardo, yesterday, he is confident in saying, with the full weight of Ministerial Office, that he is satisfied that there will be no risk to the Thanet Council taxpayers in proceeding to a Compulsory Purchase Order.
I have a copy of that letter in front of me and in it Mr. DeNardo says:
“We instructed our solicitors, Wragge, Lawrence Graham, to draft an indemnity agreement between Thanet District Council and RiverOak to cover all the Council`s risks. This was because we recognised that for both financial and political reasons it would be impossible for Thanet to carry any risk, however small and however remote. I can confirm that the indemnity agreement as drafted does meet those requirements.
RiverOak is a US registered company but prior to the signing of the indemnity agreement we will create a UK based and registered company, to be known as RiverOak Aviation, to go through the CPO process and take ownership of the airport if awarded. The same company will also hold all the appropriate CAA licenses.
In support of the CPO process RiverOak accept total responsibility for making the business case for the airport to the CPO inspector. In doing so we recognise that if we are unable to satisfy the Inspector as to the viability of our business plan we will lose the CPO and a significant amount of our own capital but it will have been done at no cost to Thanet.
To this end we are prepared to deposit up to £2,000,000 into a designated escrow account in the UK simultaneous upon the mutual signing of an indemnity agreement between RiverOak and Thanet District Council”
That is the basis upon which the Minister of State has felt it possible to say that there will be no risk to Thanet. I do not believe that the situation could now be clearer.
I have made it plain to the Leader of Thanet District Council that if she and her administration now proceed to instigate the CPO procedure then they will do so with the full and non-partisan backing that I have offered to date and to that end I am prepared to put my own political reputation on the line.
Further, the Leader of the Conservative Group on Thanet District Council, Bob Bayford, has indicated that on an equally non-partisan basis the Conservative Group will back the controlling Group and will share equal political responsibility for the decision. I do not think that we can offer more and I hope and expect that reservations will be set to one side and that, on the basis of the Minister of State`s assurances, the process will now be allowed to immediately commence”.
Sir Roger Gale – Conservative Candidate for Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages