John's Jottings for March 2003

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.

Cliffe Airport: the re-consultation begins

At long last the new consultation document on the future of air transport in the south-east of England has been published.

Nearly all of us, I am sure, hoped that the government had learned some lessons from its experience at the High Court, and would no longer try to proceed on a false basis.

It has been clearly demonstrated that the Cliffe option was so severely mis-evaluated when the original short-list of options was drawn up—and this happened not just once but twice—that it should never have been included in that list. To include the Cliffe option in the new consultation document shows the level of determination that the government has to try to push this through as the (previously stated) preferred option of the Minister, Alistair Darling.

Interestingly, the government is so determined that there will be a new airport in the south-east of England that it has set up an all-party group of MPs to look into the possible ways to achieve this. Usefully, its chairman is a Conservative, Francis Maude, so lobbying him directly at the House of Commons would be a very good way to make an input to this. Okay, their terms of reference have been set by the government, so they appear to be stuck with finding some way to create a new airport in the region, but if it really cannot be avoided (which is not yet certain) at least it does not have to be on our peninsula.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for the march in London on 5th April. Wouldn't it be great if virtually the entire population of Medway turned out for this? It's worth it for all of us, as it would send a very strong message to central government that Medway and its needs and aspirations is an area they ignore at their peril. We do count for something, and the sheer contempt that the Blair government has shown for Medway in so many respects (settlements including most notably that for education, housing quotas and density rises, the cement works, Rochester Airport—the list goes on) affects every single person living or working in Medway.

Use this opportunity to make our voice heard for all our sakes.

Next time: Crunch time for Medway