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Ukip leader Nigel Farage says Thanet council needs stronger assurances over Manston CPO from RiverOak

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has backed Thanet District Council over its efforts to secure a buyout of Manston airport, saying the authority needs stronger assurances over its potential partner RiverOak.

It follows a group meeting of Ukip councillors at which there was a unanimous vote among councillors to continue to work for a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

After the meeting last night, which was attended by the party leader, Cllr Chris Wells said there had been full backing for the council's push.

The terminal at Manston airport
The terminal at Manston airport

Mr Farage said the council required "stronger assurances" from its possible indemnity partner RiverOak, echoing what the ruling administration has been saying.

"At this stage we need stronger assurances from the proposed indemnity partner and that was the feeling of the overwhelming majority of the meeting," he said.

He told the Thanet Extra: "The last thing we can afford to do is to go ahead with the backing of RiverOak, the government then refuses it and Thanet council is left with a bill for £2m. I have been a businessman and know you have to make sure that the 'i's and 't's are dotted. I am totally convinced we are taking the right approach. It is about finding the right partner and that may or may not be RiverOak."

He avoided criticising the four backbench Ukip councillors, saying that there was a lot of pressure coming from campaign groups.

"There are one or two who are saying 'to hell with it' let's go ahead."

Cllr Wells said: "The Ukip group unanimously voted to continue to support a CPO for Manston with an approved indemnity partner.

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

RiverOak issued a statement today saying that it was being frustrated in its efforts to hold face-to-face meetings with the council and criticised their apparent reluctance to arrange such meetings.

It said that personal meetings would achieve more progress than what it described as "indirect communication through aggressive website postings".

The Ukip-led council has been placed in the spotlight after leader Mr Wells effectively sacked his cabinet member Helen Smith and was then faced with complaints from four backbenchers who said they had lost faith in him as leader because of the lack of progress.

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