CRAIG MACKINLAY: FARAGE MUST COME CLEAN OVER MANSTON

Following the launch of Craig Mackinlay’s Five-Point Plan to Save Manston Airport, and the double boost delivered by John Hayes, the Transport Minister, yesterday, it has emerged that the 2010 UKIP general election manifesto promised a new Thames Estuary Airport, which would destroy any prospect of Manston reopening as a working airport:

  • “UKIP will … oppose a sixth Heathrow Airport terminal and third runway and the expansion of Gatwick and Stansted in favour of a major new Hong Kong-style Thames Estuary airport with motorway connections and a high-speed rail service to London, the UK and the Continent” (UKIP Manifesto, Empowering the People, April 2010, pp.11-12, link).
  • In addition, Nigel Farage has still not commented on Craig Mackinlay’s plan to save Manston Airport, which was endorsed by the Conservative Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, when he visited the constituency on Wednesday.  Neither has he commented on the good news delivered by John Hayes yesterday. 

Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative candidate for South Thanet, said:

“I’ve long been passionate about securing Manston’s future as a working airport.  In 2001, I tried to launch a low-cost airline called MAMA Airlines, because one of its main routes would have been between Manston and Malaga.

“We know UKIP have tried to jump onto the bandwagon and now say they care about Manston’s future.  But as recently as the last election, Nigel Farage was pressing for a Thames Estuary Airport that would blow Manston’s viability out of the water.

“Nigel Farage needs to come clean and explain to the public why, if he supports Manston like he says he does, he campaigned for an airport that would destroy Manston completely?  Why did he not only campaign for it, but make it a central part of UKIP’s last manifesto?

“My Five-Point Plan to Save Manston Airport is sound and as we discovered last week, it has the support of the Transport Secretary, ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Prime Minister himself.  And only yesterday, John Hayes, the Transport Minister, paved the way for search and rescue services to be based at Manston and announced he was “satisfied” by the indemnities offered by RiverOak, the US firm that wants to run Manston as an airport.

“As your MP, I am in a position to save Manston because I am part of a strong Conservative team including the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers like the Transport Secretary.  UKIP, on the other hand, aren’t strong enough to deliver and can only shout from the sidelines.”

Notes to editors:

UKIP’s last general election manifesto promised a Thames Estuary Airport that would destroy Manston’s viability as a working airport:

“UKIP will … oppose a sixth Heathrow Airport terminal and third runway and the expansion of Gatwick and Stansted in favour of a major new Hong Kong-style Thames Estuary airport with motorway connections and a high-speed rail service to London, the UK and the Continent” (UKIP Manifesto, Empowering the People, April 2010, pp.11-12, link).

John Hayes delivers double boost for Manston:

John Hayes, the Conservative Transport Minister, today delivered a double boost to the campaign to save Manston Airport.  He announced: A new deal for search-and-rescue services in the South East of England: Bristow, the company that provides search-and-rescue services on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, had originally planned to base two helicopters at Manston, but the airport closed in May 2014.  John Hayes, the Transport Minister and Prime Minister’s Special Representative, has today announced that instead of agreeing a long-term contract for Bristow to base their helicopters elsewhere, he has agreed a one-year deal in which the helicopters are based only temporarily at Lydd Airport.  This paves the way for the helicopters to be based at Manston once the airport reopens. 

  • He is removing one of the key barriers to the compulsory purchase of Manston: One of the key stumbling blocks to Thanet District Council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order for Manston was the perceived lack of confidence in the financial indemnities offered by RiverOak - the US firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport.  Following work by PWC, who were commissioned by the Government to review all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston to date, the Minister has today told the Leader of Thanet District Council that on the basis of the independent PWC analysis he “is satisfied by the indemnity offered by RiverOak to protect the council against the costs of the Compulsory Purchase Order.”  

John Hayes said: “I have been paying close attention to the future of Manston Airport throughout my time in the Department for Transport.  And I believe the announcements I have made today are huge steps towards securing Manston’s future as a working airport.  It is further evidence that it really is possible for Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale to deliver their five-point plan for Manston.  Now, if local people want to see that plan implemented, they have to vote Conservative on May 7th - because while others may shout from the sidelines, the Conservatives have the strength to deliver.”

Craig Mackinlay’s Five-Point Plan to Save Manston Airport:

• Appoint PWC to report on the future of Manston: Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Transport Secretary, and John Hayes, the Conservative Transport Minister, commissioned PWC to provide an independent review of all the documents that have informed decisions in relation to Manston in March.  PWC are expected to provide an interim report soon.

• Block planning consent for the proposed development: Craig will lobby Thanet District Council to block planning consent for the development proposed by the new owners of Manston.

• Compulsorily purchase the airport: Craig is calling for Thanet District Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order, backed up with financial indemnities, for Manston Airport.

• Deliver the certification needed for the airport to re-open: A Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to re-open as a working airport as swiftly as possible.  Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has made this promise.

• Enlist commercial partners for the future: Craig will work with private sector companies to make sure Manston will re-open as a working airport and remain as such.  RiverOak - an American firm interested in buying Manston and running it as an airport - has already called on the Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order to block the proposed development.

Support for Craig’s Five-Point Plan from the Government and Thanet District Council Conservatives:

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said: “I welcome Craig’s plan to keep Manston open as a working airport, and I can announce today [Wednesday 1 April] that a future Conservative Government will make sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will grant the licence needed for Manston to operate as an airport in future.  The election in South Thanet is a two-horse race between the Conservatives and UKIP - and it is clear that if you want to save Manston Airport, you have to vote Conservative.”

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “I cannot pre-judge any quasi-judicial decisions that will need to be made by my department in future, but Craig and Roger`s plan for the future of Manston Airport is compelling.  It goes to show that the voters of South Thanet have a simple choice.  They can vote for UKIP who can shout from the sidelines but deliver nothing.  Or they can vote for Craig Mackinlay, who - because he’s part of a team consisting of government ministers and the next leader of Thanet District Council - will get things done for local people.”

Thanet District Council’s Conservative Leader Bob Bayford said: “My Conservative Council team are poised to get cracking on the Compulsory Purchase Order as we take office after May 7th. Too much time has been lost and too much uncertainty caused already. We need to get on with this.”

This is a two-horse race between the Conservatives and UKIP: The opinion polls show that this is a tight race between the Conservatives and UKIP.  Labour have given up on the constituency altogether - it isn’t on their official list of target seats, it doesn’t receive any money from Labour HQ and they have selected a 25-year-old as their candidate.