Vigilance now key to future of our airport
MORE THAN 100 people packed the public gallery for Monday's council meeting to discuss the future of our airport. Tudor Evans put forward a proposal calling for (among other things) the intervention of the Prime Minister. It all sounded very grand, until another councillor pointed out that state ownership has no place in any political party's agenda.
Another councillor reminded the meeting that there is a clause protecting the airport land until 2021, and he found Tudor Evans' current stance in favour of the airport rather hollow, given that not many weeks ago he stated in The Herald, that a decision had to be taken on the airport land by next summer, if a suitable and viable proposition was not forthcoming by then.
There were cries from the gallery accusing Mr Evans of being two- faced. This charge produced an enthusiastic round of applause from the rest of the gallery, at which point I noted Mr Evans left the Chamber.
I must say I got the impression that certain council members are running with the fox and the hounds.
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There were some valuable contributions from councillors, with one councillor who had actually worked for a number of years at the airport, citing some pretty impressive client figures over the years.
The only year there was a significant drop in trade, was when flights had to be cancelled because of the dust from the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Overall, there was a lot of cross party enthusiasm for reopening the airport and I left the meeting somewhat more optimistic than I was when I entered the public gallery.
Clearly those in favour have to be alert and watch events closely to ensure that nothing happens to that valuable planning clause that protects the airport land, for use as an airport, until 2021.
That surely will give us all ample time in which to make an informed and valid decision. Once that land is covered in housing, the valuable asset that is the airport will be lost to us forever, and economically that could spell the death knell for Plymouth's economy.
There was wholehearted cross party support for Mr Evans' proposal. It will be interesting to see what happens from here and how hard Mr Evans will fight for his own proposal.
Vigilance is the price for keeping our options open. Don't relax and don't trust everyone involved in these considerations! Just watch what happens to that 2021 protective clause. That is key!
JOHN J JONES