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Protesters march through Margate to hand petition over Manston airport closure to Thanet District Council

By Julia Collins

A 98-year-old Royal Air Force veteran was among a group protesting the closure of Manston airport at a march through Margate.

The fight to save the airport continued yesterday, as about 50 protesters wound their way through the town from The Parade on the seafront to the council offices in Cecil Street, waving banners and flags.

They handed in a petition with around 4,000 signatures, in a bid to persuade the council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the airport site.

The Save Manston group marched to the council offices in Margate to hand over a petition

Among the group, which included former airport workers and their families, was former Squadron Leader Jim Holdstock. The 98 year old flew with the RAF from Manston between the wars.

Keith Churcher, the chairman of the Save Manston Airport group, said: “Mr Holdstock said that he wanted to do this one last thing for the airport and that spurs us on even more to try harder and make the airport work.

“For a 98-year-old to feel to strongly about it and to make so much effort is very moving.

“Lots of members of the public joined us along the route of the march and were asking questions about what had happened and offering their support.

“It was all done in good spirit and I don’t think Margate had seen anything like that for a long time.

Former squadron leader 98-year old-Jim Holdstock joined the march

“I think we got the message across that anything the council can do has our full support.

“The airport is a valuable part of history as well as a modern business and it would be a shame to see it lost through greed.”

Protest group member Wendy Fraser handed the petition to Nick Ireland, who works at Thanet District Council.

Council leader Cllr Iris Johnston is due to meet airport owner Ann Gloag soon to discuss the future of the site.

The airport closed two weeks ago following a staff consultation period which ended with about 150 redundancies.

The deputy leader of the council, Cllr Richard Nicholson, has requested an officer report to set out the council’s options.

The report will consider if a CPO would be a viable consideration.

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