Fro Clive Hart. Leader of Thanet Labour Group
NIGHT TIME FLYING
Thanet District Council meeting - Thursday 14th July 2011.
(MOTION - INTRODUCTION - LEGAL ADVICE - OUTRAGE)
1) THE MOTION:
The following written motion to council was submitted by Cllr Clive Hart and seconded by Cllr Alan Poole (Thanet Labour Leader & Deputy Leader at TDC).
'The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00. That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only. That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods. No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours and a schedule of exceptions to the above be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights for medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc'.
2) THE INTRODUCTION:
Introducing the motion at Thursday evenings meeting, Labour Leader of the Opposition Cllr Clive Hart said,
"Firstly, and I want to make this absolutely clear, we are not against the airport. We in the Labour Group most sincerely want to see a thriving airport creating good jobs for the people of Thanet.
However, we hear constantly of Thanet being termed as a ‘dumping ground’ in relation to social and economic issues and sadly, statistics show overwhelmingly that poor health standards here in Thanet are far worse than the average for the South East and even the whole country.
On a personal note, I have witnessed at first hand the effect that sleep deprivation can have on an individual. One of our wonderful grandsons has decided that for him, daytime starts anywhere between 3am and 5am and the cumulative effect of this over several months has had a devastating effect on his equally wonderful mother’s health and wellbeing.
Hopefully, that situation is a temporary one. The prospects for many Thanet residents if we are not clear as to what is and what is not reasonable could be permanent misery.
At this evening’s meeting we have heard what happens when there is a lack of ongoing monitoring in relation to grants and again in relation to a lease negotiated in good faith many years ago by this council.
The current section 106 agreement was put in place over a decade ago and has served Thanet very well indeed, but sadly the last two Conservative administrations at TDC have failed to review the agreement every three years as was originally planned, and it is clear from recent reports sponsored by the airport that they now see the 106 as an outdated agreement and will soon be pressing to extend their operations at night.
Chairman, America and Europe are currently experiencing very tough times due to the actions of a few bankers who saw loopholes in regulations and exploited them at all our cost.
We in Thanet suffer disproportionately from almost every social and economic ill. We do not need to add poorly regulated night time flying across our island as a further environmental problem.
The Labour Group therefore believes the council needs to give a clear steer as to what is and what is not environmentally acceptable here in Thanet. We support the airport but not at any environmental cost to the people of Thanet.
Chairman, I move the motion printed at item 8a in the agenda and option 2.2 to debate the motion".
3) THE LEAGAL ADVICE:
However, the TDC Legal Monitoring Officer advised the Chairman that the motion could not be allowed for complex legal reasons and pointed to a letter of advice from Bevan Brittan LLP (dated 14th July - the very day of the meeting) that had been left on councillors seats just minutes before the start of the meeting.
4) THE OUTRAGE
An intense debate on the extremely late legal advice followed in which Labour councillors explained that the motion had been handed in person by Cllr Hart to the Legal Monitoring Officer more than five weeks before the meeting on the 7th June and that the Monitoring Officer had read it and accepted it as a valid motion. A month later the motion had also been accepted onto and clearly printed in the council agenda as item 8a.
During the debate it also became clear that on the evening before Thursday's council meeting (13th July) Cllr Bayford, the Conservative Council Leader, had raised objections to the motion and that as a direct consequence further legal advice had been requested on the very day of the council meeting.
After the meeting Cllr Clive Hart said "TDC had my written motion to council for more than five weeks and the only thing I was aware of during the whole of that period was that it had been accepted onto and printed in the council agenda. The motion was submitted to support the councils own TDC Airport Working Party recommendations that had been 'left off' of the agenda of an Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting in error and the actual wording of the motion simply confirmed the basis of the existing 106 agreement that the Conservative administration had failed to review for the past eight years".
The night flying motion to council was also directly in line with the 2011 Thanet Labour Manifesto that proved so successful with the public that it helped Thanet Labour to increase its number to twenty six councillors at TDC, just one short of the Conservatives.
With three Independent councillors, May's elections left TDC with no party in overall control.
Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent, CT9 2RW.