Public money should not be spent trying to rescue Manston Airport, says the Taxpayers Alliance.
The campaign group has intervened in the debate to say that Thanet council should steer clear of any plan that could lead to significant sums being spent trying to secure a future for Manston as an airport.
Tom Harry, a member of the lobby group, said in an article that the recent closure marked a low point in the airport’s recent turbulent history.
The last KLM passenger flight leaving Manston airport. Picture: Tony Flashman
On the proposal by Thanet council to pursue a compulsory purchase order, he writes:
“That Manston Airport has closed is disappointing, not least for those who worked there.
"But it isn’t surprising. The airport has seen a series of owners, and none succeeded in making it viable.
"It is reported that Manston Airport had been losing £10,000 a day before its closure.
"Thanet taxpayers would therefore face a bill for £3.65 million a year if it were to reopen – and that’s before factoring in its price tag and necessary investment.”
He said similar acquisitions of airports in Wales and Scotland by public bodies had gone on to “eat up millions of pounds.”
“These examples should serve as a warning to Thanet District Council – a local authority not known for its aviation expertise – to focus on essential services.”
The now-closed Manston Airport
The article went on: “If that’s not enough, then it should remember its other bad investments.
"Dreamland, a derelict theme park, was subject to a CPO in 2011. £6.8 million of taxpayers’ money has since been ploughed into the site without generating a single penny in return.
“Losing Manston Airport would be sad, but throwing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at a white elephant would be tragic" - Tom Harry
"The port at Ramsgate, meanwhile, has seen its revenue plummet under council ownership – yet still consumes millions of pounds in investment.”
“Losing Manston Airport would be sad, but throwing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at a white elephant would be tragic.”
Thanet council has recently advertised a contract inviting companies to explore whether a CPO would be possible and what scope there would be for external investment.
That is seen as the first step towards implementing a CPO although that may yet be several months away.