John's Jottings for October/November 2002

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.

More on the Cliffe Airport Threat

Lots has happened on this huge issue during the past couple of months, and this is a good point at which to take stock.
After a comprehensive campaign by local people, either individually or as part of a group —all well covered in the local media—we now approach the end of the consultation period.
At a special meeting of the full Council on wednesday 6th November 2002, Councillors voted unanimously to take forward the Council's draft response on behalf of the people of Medway, incorporating the latest submissions by residents and finalising the submission document.
One particularly interesting ingredient in Medway Council's submission is the revelation that the scoring method that put Cliffe among the top choices—it should have been scored joint 140th out of nearly 400 possibilities. This "error" was carried forward to the second stage, ensuring that the Cliffe proposal was kept alive and indeed favoured by the Minister, Alistair Darling. Interesting, eh?
The next stage in the proceedings will be the judicial review hearing, taking place on the 13th November.
Between the various actions, and with the compelling and well-reasoned arguments we are able to put forward, there is more than enough going on to force the Government to remove the peninsula option from consideration. They might try to press on with this option regardless, but it must be clear to them that it would be political suicide to do so. We now know that the deck was stacked in several ways, this must have been deliberate (especially with the elimination of Gatwick from the options being a "Ministerial decision") and the only way the Government can save face is to claim it was all just an error and remove Cliffe from the list of options.
The pressure must be kept up anyway, and we must have plans laid just in case, but my gut feeling (backed up by my experiences working in cemtral government and during the Save Rochester Airport campaign) is that—at the end of the day—we will have No Airport @ Cliffe.

Next time: Airports: the consultation ends—or does it?