Published: 10:00, 17 July 2014
County councillors have today said they will back efforts to reopen Manston airport.
At a meeting at County Hall today there was unanimous support among all parties to explore ways in which the airport could be retained.
However, the council stopped short of a commitment to help pay for some of the legal costs involved if Thanet council did eventually decide to pursue a compulsory purchase order.
Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of KCC, said it would be premature to support a CPO until Thanet council had completed its own analysis of whether the airport was viable.
"We support the direction of travel Thanet is taking," he said. "It would be premature to have that decision now."
Labour Thanet councillor Will Scobie said: "We are not asking for a blank cheque, but some concrete support from KCC"
The Labour motion had stated: "Kent County Council supports the actions taken so far by Thanet District Council to retain Manston as a regional airport. We recognise the value that a regional airport brings to East Kent and are disappointed at its closure."
"Kent County Council further recognises that Thanet District Council is unlikely to have the resources to go through with a Compulsory Purchase Order, with all of the linked legal cost, by itself..." - Labour motion
It went on: "Kent County Council further recognises that Thanet District Council is unlikely to have the resources to go through with a Compulsory Purchase Order, with all of the linked legal cost, by itself.
"Therefore, as the upper tier authority, we agree to support Thanet District Council's investigations into the viability of a Compulsory Purchase Order with financial contributions and support from our legal team."
The Labour group at County Hall has tabled a proposal that calls on KCC to fund some of the bill should Thanet council press ahead with a legal bid to force the sale of Manston.
Cllr Cowan said KCC had an obligation to support efforts to keep Manston open, as it was a key plank of its transport blueprint, "Bold Steps for Aviation".
That describes how developing Manston, which was closed by owner Ann Gloag last month, could lead to 6,000 jobs.
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