Leaders view with Bob Bayford

Two key announcements affecting Thanet were made in the past week: the result of the East Kent bid for monies from the government’s Regional Growth Fund and Manston airport’s night-time flying proposals.

It was tremendous news that our area is to receive £ 40 million, which could potentially help up to 500 businesses to create around 5,000 jobs.

It is anticipated the programme will lever in over £ 300 million of inward investment.  After so much gloomy news recently, this gives rise to cautious optimism and the hope that the impact of the recession may be greatly softened. 

The award of these funds is a clear recognition that our Conservative government is responding to intense lobbying from local MPs and district leaders and have recognised that there are places in the South East that have as much need of assistance as those boroughs in the North who have for so long been in receipt of state aid.

It has been a year since Infratil submitted their first iteration of a new night-time flying policy, which was returned to them for reconsideration.  TDC has now received the revised version, which will be the object of extensive consultation.

There will undoubtedly be debate over the potential impact of the proposals, should they be adopted, and people will have to decide whether the potential gains from a more flexible operating framework will compensate for any downsides. 

Inevitably, opinion will be polarised and there will be some residents who will be disgruntled, whatever the outcome. 

What is most important to me is that the consultation process is fair and thorough so that, when it is completed, councillors will have an accurate picture of public opinion to inform their decisions on this crucially important issue.

I believe that the future of the airport is a major factor in East Kent’s economic potential.  Any decisions we make will affect us all.  With this in mind, I would urge everyone to become engaged and make our feelings known.