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Cllr Iris Johnston to ask Ann Gloag not to close Manston airport

By KentOnline reporter

Thanet's new council leader has outlined how she plans to appeal to Manston bosses to change their minds about closing the airport down.

Speaking this morning, Cllr Iris Johnston (Lab) said she is awaiting a call with Ann Gloag, founder of owners Stagecoach.

The firm turned down a last-minute offer on Thursday from US group RiverOak to purchase the site. The airport's closure has cost 144 people their jobs.

Margate Central Ward councillor Iris Johnston. Picture: Paul Amos

Cllr Johnston says she will ask Ms Gloag to either change her mind about closure or sell to RiverOak

She said: "I telephoned her home in Scotland last week. I asked if she could speak to me on the weekend, they rang me back to confirm she said 'yes'. So I'm just waiting on that call.

"It'll be my first time speaking to her. What I'm going to get out of it is was she aware of the devastating effects of her decision on this community.

"For an economic development and regeneration point of view, this airport is vital to us. The 150 jobs are needed in an area of high unemployment.

"I want to feel that she knows that this has had an awful effect on us here. I also want to point out to her that an airport site is not one that can be easily developed for housing. It's contaminated.

Air traffic control staff at Manston airport. Picture: Simon Burchett

"I'm going to appeal to her to reconsider her decision to close it down. If she doesn't want to do that I want to really encourage her to accept the offer from RiverOak.

"She has had the final offer of £7 million and that was apparently the amount that she suggested she wanted. I'm very much hoping she either reopens and gets on with it or accepts this absolutely genuine offer.

"There's a two-week grace on the licence, which is vital as that could have gone on Thursday so the licence has an extension for another two weeks so that's an important point. If the council has any chance of helping, we will."

"My thoughts are absolutely with those staff and all those companies affected. There is nothing worse than losing a job. For the airport staff particularly, someone said to me it's a way of life."

"I've used that airport on numerous occasions and we want to keep it. It's vital."

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