Thanet council is to embark on another attempt to find a partner to force a buyout of Manston airport.
And it has emerged that council chiefs have already held one meeting with a potential new partner - but will not say who.
The Ukip-led council’s cabinet will this week approve a proposal to carry out another round of what is described as “soft market testing” to determine if there are suitable indemnity partners for the potential compulsory purchase of Manston Airport.
It follows the council’s recent rejection of a plan to team up with the American-based investment corporation Riveroak for a CPO, saying it was not satisfied about the company’s financial assurances.
While the decision to begin another search will be welcomed by some campaigners, there are said to be growing concerns that time is running out for a CPO.
The owners of Manston - now renamed Stone Hill Park - are thought to be preparing to submit more detailed planning applications for the site next year.
If these are approved, the case for a CPO may be weakened as the council would have to prove how its plans to re-open the airport would be in the public interest.
“Without the finances to pursue a CPO in its own right, the council has been clear that compulsory purchase of the airport could only be considered if there was an appropriate financial partner” - council statement
The council says it has had expressions of interest from four other potential partners but has not opened formal discussions with any.
The names of companies or individuals who approach the council as part of this process are not being revealed.
In a statement, the council said: “Without the finances to pursue a CPO in its own right, the council has been clear that compulsory purchase of the airport could only be considered if there was an appropriate financial partner.”
The statement added: “A potential indemnity partner needs to provide assurance that if a decision was made to pursue a CPO, a viable airport could come into sustainable long-term operation as quickly as reasonably possible – without any residual cost to the council.
"As such the council needed to identify a partner who could cover the costs of both purchasing the site and completing the development.”