Published: 10:00, 11 July 2014
An 8,000 signature petition calling for a compulsory purchase of Manston Airport has been handed to Thanet Council.
The cabinet has agreed to meet next week to discuss the idea, but says councillors won't be able to make a final decision until they've had a report from independent experts.
It comes after owner Ann Gloag decided to close the airport in May.
Campaign groups want the local authority to buy it and get the runway re-opened.
Meanwhile, Kent County Council is to be urged to help meet the costs of any compulsory purchase order.
The Labour group at County Hall have 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.
The call will be debated at next week’s full council meeting at County Hall.
Labour leader Cllr Gordon 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.
“Everyone in Kent would benefit from Manston remaining as an airport. It is not just jobs for Thanet, there would be knock-on effects for the whole county,” said Mr Cowan.
The Labour motion states: “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.”
It goes 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.”
It ends: “Should Thanet District Council proceed with a Compulsory Purchase Order, we agree to support them further with financial and legal support.”
Mr Cowan said he did not intend to make an open-ended commitment to Thanet council and would want to see what the potential costs would be first.
In its transport masterplan published in 2012, KCC says: “Development of Manston as a regional airport would create employment opportunities in one of England’s most disadvantaged areas; the airport’s masterplan forecast for 2033 would see up to 6,000 additional direct and indirect jobs within the area, development for which is generally supported by the local community.”
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