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RiverOak takes Thanet council to task over failure to discuss Manston plans in person

The American consortium hoping to force a buyout of Manston airport has accused Thanet council of ignoring calls for face-to-face meetings.

A statement issued by RiverOak said that its attempts to arrange meetings with the Ukip-led authority next month have been met with "complete silence" and that despite having a "senior team" in the country for nearly three weeks in August, it was unable to timetable any face-to-face discussions with the council.

The statement hints at frustration about the failure to make any meaningful progress over a possible Compulsory Purchase Order of the Manston site.

RiverOak boss Stephen DeNardo
RiverOak boss Stephen DeNardo

RiverOak said it maintained its interest in Manston but that it felt face-to-face meetings would be more productive.

Its statement said: "During the entire 18 months of the CPO discussions, we have always known and sought to assure Thanet District Council (TDC) that there would be no risk to TDC under our partnership indemnity agreement.

"We have already deposited a substantial amount of money in an account to reassure TDC and we have spent considerable time and money assembling a full team of experts in the CPO field including legal, evaluation, planning and due diligence experts among others, who are lined up to proceed once there is an agreement between RiverOak and TDC.

"We have continually let it be known that we think meeting face-to-face would be far more useful, productive and conducive to making real progress than receiving indirect communication through aggressive website postings.

"We had a senior team in England for 17 days in August but were unable to secure a meeting. We were requested to provide dates for the first week of September but when we did, we were met with complete silence."

Nigel Farage and Ukip campaigners with the Save Manston poster truck.
Nigel Farage and Ukip campaigners with the Save Manston poster truck.
Manston Airport
Manston Airport

There have been divisions within Thanet council's Ukip administration in the last few days, with the leader of the council Chris Wells criticised for the lack of progress by four of the party's backbenchers.

It followed the dismissal of former cabinet member Helen Smith.

However, he has appeared to face down his critics and secured the backing of his cabinet over the CPO negotiations.

The current owners Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, who bought the site from former owner Ann Gloag, want to turn the 800-acre site into a mixed development of businesses and houses. It has made clear that it would contest any CPO.

Thanet council is yet to respond to a request for comment on the RiverOak statement.

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