War of words over former cargo hub Manston Airport

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Manston Airport before it was closed in 2014


Thanet District Council (TDC) is to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on 29 October to discuss the future of Manston Airport after a war of words broke out between the council leader and indemnity partner.

The UK council is trying to carry out a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on the airport, which closed in May 2014, funded by RiverOak Investments. TDC leader, Chris Wells, has been supporting the CPO but RiverOak Aviation Associates partner, George Yerrall, has released emails between the two because of disagreements between the two parties.

In reply to the email by Wells, Yerrall says: “I am disappointed and distressed because your response leaves me with the clear message that you have no interest in doing a CPO with RiverOak in your role as leader of TDC.” Wells had sent Yerrall an email on 7 October setting out what he saw as risks of RiverOak’s proposals. In the email he raised concerns about acquiring the land, blight notices on the airport and who was funding the CPO.

Yerrall responded accusing a number of Wells’ points as being “nonsense”. He says: “I find your list of eight issues to be completely without merit and nothing more than another attempt to inexplicably throw one road block after another in front of us in order for you to carry out whatever your real agenda might be.”

In Yerrall’s response, he says: “I am no longer willing to jump through hoops based on ‘advice’ from officers who are clearly inexperienced in CPO practice.”

He also added: “Everything we have received from TDC since you decided not to use KCC [Kent County Council] Legal as your consul attempts to obscure and confuse that fact. And that is why I am convinced that you have no interest in partnering with RiverOak as an indemnity partner on a CPO.”