Revealed: London mayor repeatedly snubbed Kent's leaders over 'Boris Island' airport
Boris Johnson has repeatedly snubbed requests to discuss his
controversial plans for an island airport with leaders in Kent,
according to letters obtained by the KM Group.
Correspondence between Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of Kent
County Council and the Mayor of London reveal how the two have
squared up over the scheme and how Boris Johnson fobbed off a
succession of pleas to discuss it despite its potentially huge
impact for Kent.
In a series of letters, released under the Freedom
of Information Act, it also emerges that Cllr Carter urged the
Mayor not to refer to the airport plan in the run-up to the county
council election. He feared it could damage the Conservative
He urged Mr Johnson to refrain from talking about the plan until
after the June local election in Kent last year, saying: "I believe
such plans coming from a senior Conservative figure could damage
our cause locally..." This fear proved unfounded.
Frustrated by the Mayor’s apparent reluctance to agree to a
meeting, he eventually pressed the shadow transport secretary
Theresa Villiers to broker a meeting. Even that failed.
The correspondence began soon after Mr Johnson was elected as
Mayor of London in May 2008.
How Carter and Boris
clashed>>>read Paul Francis' blog here>>
Days later, Cllr Carter wrote suggesting the pair meet because
there were a "number of big issues that need to be chewed over" and
outlined his opposition to Boris Island. In it, he said: "The need
for a fourth London airport is, I’m afraid, a subject we will have
to disagree on".
Mayor responded by offering a meeting with Ian Clement, one of his
Two months later, Cllr Carter set out his opposition to the
island airport plan, sending the Mayor a dossier of papers and
reports which he said amounted "to a very strong argument against a
Thames Estuary airport."
But it appears the Mayor did not respond and in January last
year, Cllr Carter was prompted to write after Mr Johnson came to
Kent for a fact-finding boat trip to visit the site and confirmed
his support for the estuary airport.
In his letter, Cllr Carter wrote: "I am sure Sir Simon Milton
[deputy mayor] may have told you that I was not desperately
impressed by your boat trip last Friday which has seriously upset
residents from the Medway Towns to Ramsgate."
The letter went on: "I again extend an invitation to you and
your team to come and visit us at the chalk face."
The Mayor replied but again appeared unwilling to cross into
Kent, writing: "As you say, I think we are going to have to
disagree about the merits of an airport in the Thames estuary" but
adding in a hand-written note: "I am sure we are in basic
agreement…Manston could play a vital role in the eventual
Frustrated at the Mayor’s apparent reluctance to meet, Cllr
Carter finally wrote to shadow transport secretary Theresa
Villiers, saying: "I have been trying with little success to get
Boris Johnson to Manston. If we could try to arrange a joint
meeting, it would be really beneficial for all."
A month later, after the Mayor signalled in media interviews he
was prepared to visit Manston, Cllr Carter wrote again suggesting a
Eventually in April last year, the Mayor told Ms Villiers he
would meet Cllr Carter - but only after a meeting with his deputy
mayor Ian Clement had taken place.
But to date, no such visit or meeting has taken place and it
appears none are planned.
The Mayor’s office was asked to comment but did not respond.
- The Mayor has been equally reluctant to respond to similar
requests for meetings. He has also snubbed Medway council leader
Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con) after he wrote asking the Mayor to
discuss the scheme directly.
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