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Lying by Omission?

Lying by Omission?

How honest is Medway Council?

 

In this article we reveal facts uncovered by the “Say NO to Rochester Airport Masterplan” (SNoRAM) team which will make you question the honesty integrity and intent of Medway Council.

The “Say No to Rochester Airport Masterplan” team believe based on findings and actions by Medway Council Officers that there is a deliberate and systematic attempt to undermine the democratic process on the Rochester Airport lease and Rochester Airport Masterplan by not providing known information to the public at the correct time. Information appears to have been withheld to mislead and avoid public outrage and opposition.

At the end of the article we would like you to ask yourself whether the facts establish “Lying by omission” or “Deceit by omission” by Medway Council, or perhaps both but whatever you decide we are sure you will agree there is wrongdoing.

Many signatories of the “Say No to Rochester Airport Masterplan” are appalled at Medway Councillors double standards with respect to opposing the Estuary Airport, yet behind the scenes working to expand and commercialise Rochester Airport with up to 50,000 aircraft movements per year.

We would welcome comments from the Hoo Peninsular ward councillors on their apparent double standards. Perhaps Boris Johnson would like an opportunity to comment. He may not be as polite as us.

A study by consultants, W S Atkins commissioned to explore options for the future use of Rochester airfield dated Dec 2000 clearly states that the refusal of Rochester Airfield plc (now known as Rochester Airport Ltd) severely constrained their report. Based on a clinical and methodical approach the consultants summary recommended the Council consider the broad land use scenarios set out by them.

The W S Atkins airfield land use options seem to have been conveniently overlooked by Medway Council thirteen years later and we have been notified by one Ward councillor that Medway Council is not willing to look at any other options for the site, but then he is on the Rochester Airport Consultative Committee.

It is interesting to note Rochester Airport Ltd are now actively co-operating with Tibbalds consultants on the Rochester Airport Masterplan. Perhaps the £4 million cash contribution from the ratepayers helps stimulate interest?

At the end of the article you may ask yourself,

“Why are Medway Council and Councillors misleading the public, uncaring about safety, and reckless with ratepayers money during these times of austerity?”

“Who are the perpetrators of this serious attempt to undermine the democratic process?”

Who is orchestrating this campaign by approving propaganda which attempts to mislead and deceive the public by omission?”

Finally you may wonder,

“Are Council Officers misleading Councillors or Councillors guiding Officers to make specific recommendations and statements?”

When you have made your mind up you too may conclude we might have to demand a Council Officer be sacked or Councillor asked to resign.

We hope the following straightforward timeline and overview of events starting at May 2009 working forward to the present day will help you determine an informed view.

As we move through the timeline we will make comment in blue text which should help you build a final conclusion.

May 2009

 

Kent and Medway Structure Plan superseded. Earlier safeguarding statement for Rochester Airport abandoned.

Our Comments and Observations:

 

Whatever Medway Council or Councillors infer there are no safeguards in subsequent plans or draft Core Strategy which prevents the closure of Rochester Airport on the 14th January 2014 (end of present 5 year lease).

The insertion of a statement on the need for investment in the airfield infrastructure in the draft Core strategy Jan 2012 does not protect the airfield.

There is presently no legal protection for Rochester Airport’s continued use as a flying club or airfield (since 2009). At this time the actual continuation of the airfield is only maintained by public toleration and support (both goodwill and financial).

This means that any suggestion by Medway Council that legal protection or rights exist which override the wishes of local residents on the commercialisation and change of character of the airfield are untrue.

The airfield therefore does not have to exist but does so at the tolerance of the public.

Aug 2012

 

Medway Council and BAE Systems took possession of a study by TPS Consultants which provided two costed configuration options for a commercially viable Rochester Airport. Option 2. was favoured due to safeguard restrictions that were identified in option 1.

Our Comments and Observations:

Medway Council at August 2012 were in receipt of costed configurations for closure of cross runway (16/34), paved runway (02/20), buildings and infrastructure.

The full cost was estimated at just under £12 million.

The full document can be found at http://www.rochesterairportmasterplan.com/download-site-content/

Here is one of the option schematics.

Lying by Omission picture 1

Medway Council know from the August 2012 TPS report that:

A paved runway at least 23 metres wide (75ft)

The paved runway would need to be extended to over 900 metres with turning areas.

There would be a terminal paved area capable of standing six 18 metre wing span aircraft.

The maximum wingspan of twin turbo propeller aircraft 18 metres (59ft).

Option 2 shown above requires realignment of paved runway by 3 degrees because of safeguard zone issues with option 1.

The Countryside Homes prestigious Horsted development will be within 100 metres of the north end of the runway turning point. Possibly not a good place to buy a house?

Dec 2012

Medway Council cabinet brief outlines the notion of a 25 year Airport lease and the Rochester Airport Masterplan.

Our Comments and Observations:

No consideration for community impact and safety.

Cursory risk analysis by the Council attempts to deflect public outrage by the promise of approval through the official planning process.

The Cabinet brief is biased towards the success of Airport Operators business success at the expense of public safety.

Recommends Council contribution towards airport infrastructure without any consideration whatsoever for any return on the investment.

The Cabinet brief gives no evidence of financial, environmental or other benefits to the Medway community of Rochester Airfield.

The brief contains exaggerated and unsubstantiated statements of the importance of Rochester Airport – “They can however contribute towards an area’s economic regeneration and vitality.”

This brief recommends Medway Council’s preferred strategy to separate the granting of a 25 year lease from the Rochester Airport Masterplan.

This means that Medway Council could seal the future of Rochester Airport for the next quarter of a century and prevent any possibility of the public stopping the commercialisation of the airport.

In short gagging the public and undermine the democratic process.

The proposed 25 year Airport lease will NOT have a public consultation period.

The Rochester Airport Masterplan WILL have a public consultation period (plan will be provided at a future date).

Dec/Jan 2013

Medway Council’s media announcement of the creation of 1000+ jobs at the Rochester Airport site in the Kent Messenger newspaper, local radio and TV news.

Our Comments and Observations:

We an find no quantifiable research by Medway Council to substantiate their claim of 1000 jobs on the development land.

No timeframe or schedule from Medway Council when the jobs may become a reality.

From what can be determined the Jobs creation at the airport site appears to be secondary to the airports commercial success.

Jan/Feb 2013

Medway Council issue “To Let Rochester Airport Kent by informal tender.” A document to prospective bidders.

Our Comments and Observations:

Tender document states airfield will be protected by Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in short term. (Don’t Medway Council know Government guidelines in National Planning Policy do not recommend the use of SPDs).

Tender document states long term safeguard of airfield by draft Core Strategy until 2028. To date the Core Strategy has not been approved.

A seemingly innocent statement in the tender document (item 11) towards the retention of existing sub occupiers and current operator (Rochester Airport Ltd). By design or not, the last sentence in the paragraph is technically incorrect. This potentially undermines best offer for lease by other bidders. A clear infringement of section 123 of Government Act 1972.

The tender document offers a contribution of up to £4 million of ratepayers money to the future operator towards the cost of the paved runway and buildings payable after completion of work and return/release of development land.

The £4 million ratepayers contribution to the paved runway closely matches the £4.09 million estimate of cost for the paved runway in the Aug 2012 TPS Consultant study.

The tender document also outlines Medway Council’s willingness to consider realignment of 02/20 runway providing the value of development land is not reduced. This statement aligns with option 2 recommendation in the Aug 2102 TPS study.

Tender document states development land to be released and handed back 2016. No jobs will probably appear until 2019/20….Not quite what people expect.

The Rochester Airport tender document mirrors the Rochester Airport Masterplan but Medway Council are handling them as separate projects? They are actually part of the same outcome.

The Rochester Airport tender document commits the public to spending up to £4 million of ratepayer money and locks the airfield land for the next 25 years to avoid it being considered for any other use.

It follows therefore that Medway Council’s apparent intention to sign the Rochester Airport Lease before the Rochester Airport Masterplan public consultation and final proposition undermines the entire democratic process.

If the Airport lease is signed there is NO point in having a debate on Rochester Airport Masterplan or any other ideas for the site.

Council officers and Councillors will have appeared to consult with the public but behind the scenes colluded to derive an outcome far from democratic.

The integrity and validity of the tender process based on above bullet points is flawed and questionably biased. We believe there is a case for wrongdoing by Medway Council in the tender process alone.

A new Rochester Airfield tender process should be undertaken after a full public hearing and in full accordance with the “Say NO to Rochester Airport Masterplan” petition.

Mar/April 2013

Medway Council “Rochester Airport the future” leaflet distributed only to Rochester Airport local area. Indicative airport layout in leaflet:

Lying by Omission picture 2Our Comments and Observations:

No mention of up to £4 million of ratepayers money for the reconfiguration in the leaflet?… Perhaps it was a marketing oversight!

The leaflet gives the impression that a lot of green space will be left after the development. The Aug 2012 TPS report certainly doesn’t give the impression there will be much grass left after commercialisation of the airport?

The leaflet shows a nice unobtrusive paved runway. Nothing like that shown in the August 2012 TPS report.

No mention that paved runway will be 23 metres (75ft) wide with a full turning point at the north east side for multiple aircraft.

The leaflet highlights “Protected area” for wildlife but it appears to be under a concrete standing area in the Aug 2012 TPS document.

The leaflet boundaries of the redevelopment area certainly do not look like the Aug 2012 TPS building reconfiguration.

Jobs creation yes, but no mention of a possible dates when they will be created based on known timeframes for 2016 land release.

No mention in the leaflet that Councillor Clarke is on the Rochester Airport Consultative Committee. Perhaps he would prefer his declared interest not to be mentioned when trying to influence the public on the merits of the proposal?

No mention that the potential overall project cost will be near £12 million as stated in the TPS report. Perhaps people will wonder how much concrete is going to be purchased?

The leaflet offers unsubstantiated claims by the Horsted and South Medway ward councillors that Rochester Airport is an “invaluable” asset. Perhaps they would like to quantify their statements in terms of benefit to their ward residents and Medway Community NOT general aviation societies and private pilots across the country! Did we really elect these people?

The Rochester Airport tender document and Aug 2012 TPS study dovetail together well. However, when it comes to public literature or what could be consider propaganda there seems to be a BIG difference. Perhaps the council is trying to mislead us?

Of course the leaflet picture above is only “indicative” but the difference to what was known by Medway Council at this time and what was conveyed by the leaflet seem to be very different. Could this be described as “lying by omission?” What do you think?

May 2013

13-14 May Public exhibition on Airport Futures.

Overall a nice display of nostalgic pictures of aircraft and drawings completely different from that in the August 2012 TPS study.

This is the first opportunity for the public to provide comment based on the following suggestive/biased questions:

What three things do you like about the masterplan?

What three things could we do to improvements the masterplan?

Do you have any other comments you would like to make?

Our Comments and Observations:

No alternative use options for the airfield displayed or mentioned.

The TPS Consultant study (Aug 2012) was mentioned in the literature to possibly calm fears on safety but when we asked for a copy a council officer refused to release it on commercial confidentiality grounds. After a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request which Medway Council took 20 working days to supply. We now suspect why Medway Council did not want the public to see the document. It tells you what they knew in August 2012 and which they omitted from the leaflet (March) to the public and this Innovation Centre exhibition (May 2013)

Still no mention of the £4 million of ratepayers contribution to the airport infrastructure.

Still no mention about the date when the development land will be released for jobs.

No information on the amount of flights and airport usage.

No list or specification of type and size of aircraft to be allowed

No scale drawings or specifications on possible paved runway (When asked the Council officer told us it will be all subject to planning permission). These are the exact words used in the risk analysis to mitigate outrage used in the cabinet brief 18th Dec 2012.

No facts on hours of operation.

No community impact study

It is clear that the Rochester Airport Masterplan has been conceived and agreed by parties with financial and business interests. Sadly Medway Council seem to have forgotten about the safety, health and wellbeing of the community promoted in the Government National Planning Policy and its own draft Core Strategy.

In summary the public exhibition was no better than a display of misleading pictures and certainly no substitute for a public hearing with the correct facts.

It is perhaps worth asking yourself at this juncture.

Why do you think Medway Council did not show at the public exhibition the layout of a commercial Rochester Airport provided in the TPS consultants report Aug 2012?

 

June 2013

Medway Matters June/July issue 46. Circulation 115,000

Article “Rochester Airport set to fly”

Our Comments and Observations.

No mention of possible £4 million of ratepayers money to be invested.

No mention of when jobs might be created.

Other nearby articles mention investment amounts. Why not this article?

There appears to be a deliberate withholding of information by Medway Council to influence public opinion in favour of the project. Anything which is contentious or likely to create public outrage has been removed and hidden from view. More wrongdoing or dishonesty?

It appears to us that this is a well orchestrated propaganda campaign to distract people from the real facts on the airport commercialisation before it is too late to stop it.

June 10, 2013

9th July Cabinet meeting two new items just within the permitted timeframe for inclusion.

Rochester Airport

Rochester Airport Masterplan.

Both seek to move approval to Full Council 25th July 2013.

Our Comments and Observations:

No public hearing.

No alternative options presented or discussed.

No residents safety or impact study completed

No financial figures to support the expenditure or investment

We could list many more issues but for brevity we leave it to you to review the salient points in the document above.

Because of the inclusion of the “Rochester Airport” 25 year lease and land disposal item in the Cabinet Agenda July 9, we conclude that the intent of Medway Council is to quickly move this item to Full Council approval in the hope that the Airport Lease can be signed while the public is distracted during the Airport Masterplan consultation period.

So what is going on here you might ask?

From our perspective someone in the council or elsewhere clearly has an interest in finalising and signing the airport contract quickly to undermine the democratic process and secure tax payer funding for the airports future. What do you think?

17 June 2013

Formal Complaint submitted to Medway Council on behalf of “Say NO to Rochester Airport Masterplan” signatories about the Council withholding known information from the public on the project. Specifically £4 million of ratepayers money

Service Request ID: 2200837 issued by Medway Council.

Our Comments and Observations:

The withholding of known information on potential cost of the project appears to be a deliberate attempt to control public outrage. Speculatively the information will probably be released in the media just prior to a meeting or Council determination so that Medway Council will mitigate the complaint. The timing of the release of the information will probably be designed to leave little time for complaint.

25 June 2013

Say No to Rochester Airport Masterplan team notified Medway Council Officer Noel Filmer (copy to Head of Democratic Services) to include in the “Rochester Airport” Cabinet brief public outrage and inclusion of the petition statement because there are no public questions allowed at the Cabinet meeting.

Our Comments and Observations:

Request was received by Medway Council officer more than 10 days before the Cabinet meeting.

Submission was to ensure public outrage and petition demands appear in the public domain and councillors notified.

Our request can be downloaded at: http://www.rochesterairportmasterplan.com/download-site-content/

27 June 2013

Say No to Rochester Airport Masterplan team notified Medway Council Officer Richard Kidd (copy to Head of Democratic Services) to include in the “Rochester Airport Masterplan” Cabinet brief public outrage and inclusion of the petition statement because there are no public questions allowed at the Cabinet meeting.

 

Our Comments and Observations:

 

Request was received by Medway Council officer more than 10 days before the Cabinet meeting.

Submission was to ensure public outrage and petition demands appear in the public domain and councillors notified.

Our request can be downloaded at: http://www.rochesterairportmasterplan.com/download-site-content/

July 2013

“Rochester Airport” and “Rochester Airport – Draft Masterplan” briefs issued to Cabinet in advance of 9th July Cabinet meeting.

Our Comments and Observations:

Additional cost of £0.4 million requested in the Rochester Airport brief for consultants fees and demolition work. That brings the total spend of ratepayers money to £4.4 million and the work hasn’t even begun!

The Rochester Airport brief now states that the council will make phased payments of the £4 million contribution to the Airport operator for improvements. This new benefit to the Airport operator is in conflict with the tender document which clearly states the payment will ONLY be made after the operator completes agreed improvements.

Neither of our requests inserted on either brief about the 330 signatories of the “Say NO to Rochester Airport Masterplan” petition.

No comment or statement inserted on the petition demands.

Signatories of the “Say NO to Rochester Masterplan” petition completely ignored.

A Cabinet Supplementary Agenda No1. has been produced for the July 9 meeting. Comments as follows:

It states the proposed paved runway will be 2 meters wider than the TPS Aug 2012…….It will be 25 metres wide. More grass gone!

The runway will not be significantly longer (according to Tibbalds Consultants but no figures). However, with the concrete turning points the slab of paved area will be over 900 metres in length.

We don’t know how Tibbalds Consultants came up with only 23 incidents since 1988 but the AAIB site shows 36 (Refer Appendices 1. below). Contrary to the consultants statement we remain steadfast that the incident record is NOT good

We note Tibbalds comments on the existing grass runway “It is currently in a good state.” Perhaps they don’t need to pave the runway after all?

Airport is going to operate between 7:30 am and 7:30 pm

Movements will be capped at 50,000 per annum. That is a potential 42% increase in air traffic but it is all on one paved runway.

Still no quantifiable financial information to support the £4.4 million spend.

Still no guarantees on safety for residents.

The information in the Tibbalds consultant report seems to simplify complex matters. We wonder why most of these straightforward bits of information were not released earlier?

From the above timeline it can possibly be concluded that there have been omission of known facts and misleading information by Medway Council at critical points during public exhibitions and media announcements. The financial benefits of this investment for the Medway Community remain unclear beyond general statements by those interested in the success of the proposals.

The attempt by Medway Council to push quickly ahead with the Airport Lease approval and effectively seal the project is very suspicious. We are sure you will agree there are too many actions by Medway Council which connect and lead to a possible conclusion that manipulation of public information and purse may be at work.

So the final question:

Do you think there has been wrong doing by Medway Councillors and Officers?

Do you think the Medway Council are lying by omission?

Appendices 1.

Air incidents and accidents – Rochester Airport (AAIB).
Item Report Title Category Date of incident/report
1 Cessna 152, G-BNIV General Aviation – Fixed Wing 19-Mar-12
2 Thruster T600N 450, G-KDCD Sport Aviation/Balloons 05-Jul-11
3 Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II, G-EMSL General Aviation – Fixed Wing 21-Feb-09
4 Piper PA-28-181 Cherokee Archer III, G-MPAA General Aviation – Fixed Wing 02-Mar-08
5 Piper PA-28-181 Cherokee Archer II, G-BVOA General Aviation – Fixed Wing 31-Jul-07
6 Europa (monowheel) homebuilt, G-SHSH General Aviation – Fixed Wing 16-Apr-07
7 Jabiru UL-D, G-JAAB General Aviation – Fixed Wing 15-Aug-06
8 Pierre Robin DR400/180, G-BSLA General Aviation – Fixed Wing 04-Nov-05
9 DA40D, G-CCLB General Aviation – Fixed Wing 20-Oct-05
10 AAR 2/2005 – Pegasus Quik, G-STYX Sport Aviation/Balloons 21-Aug-04
11 Piper PA-28R-201T Turbo Cherokee Arrow III, G-DIZY General Aviation – Fixed Wing 05-Jan-04
12 Piper PA-28R-201T, G-DIZY – Addendum General Aviation – Fixed Wing 05-Jan-04
13 Reims Cessna F172M Skyhawk, G-BIIB General Aviation – Fixed Wing 31-Oct-03
14 Casa 1-131E Series 2000 Jungermann, G-BECW General Aviation – Fixed Wing 22-Feb-03
15 Pierre Robin DR400/140B, G-KIMY General Aviation – Fixed Wing 03-Apr-02
16 Extra 300, G-XCCC General Aviation – Fixed Wing 21-Sep-01
17 Cessna F150L, G-BGBI General Aviation – Fixed Wing 06-Jul-01
18 Piper PA-28-161, G-BRRM General Aviation – Fixed Wing 16-Jan-01
19 Piper PA-28-140, G-BBDC General Aviation – Fixed Wing 16-Aug-99
20 Gulfstream AA-5B, G-BGPH General Aviation – Fixed Wing 14-Mar-99
21 Aerospatiale AS355 F1 Ecureuil II, G-MASK Commercial Air Transport – Rotorcraft 26-Jul-98
22 Luton Minor III Duet, G-AYTT General Aviation – Fixed Wing 01-Sep-96
23 Taylor Monoplane, G-APRT, 9 April 1996 General Aviation – Fixed Wing 09-Apr-96
24 Spitfire IX, G-HVDM Commercial Air Transport – Fixed Wing 26-Aug-95
25 CEA DR400/160 Chevalier, G-TUKE General Aviation – Fixed Wing 30-Jul-95
26 Cessna 335, G-RIND General Aviation – Fixed Wing 15-Dec-94
27 Beagle B121 Series 2 Pup, G-AXOJ General Aviation – Fixed Wing 09-Aug-94
28 Avions Pierre Robin DR400/2+2, G-RBIN General Aviation – Fixed Wing 21-May-93
29 Mooney M20, G-ODJH General Aviation – Fixed Wing 27-Apr-93
30 Denney Kitfox MK3, G-BUIT General Aviation – Fixed Wing 18-Jan-93
31 Hughes 269B, G-BRZN General Aviation – Rotorcraft 21-May-90
32 Pierre Robin DR400/180, G-BPOC General Aviation – Fixed Wing 11-May-90
33 Piper PA-28-160, G-ARVU General Aviation – Fixed Wing 15-Apr-90
34 Clutton Fred Series 2, G-BKAF General Aviation – Fixed Wing 22-Feb-90
35 Robin DR 400/160, G-BBDP General Aviation – Fixed Wing 19-Dec-89
36 Rollason Turbulent, G-ARGZ General Aviation – Fixed Wing 10-Apr-88
 
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2 Comments  comments 

2 Responses

  1. Sarah C

    It seems that Medway council just enjoy lying as most of what they do is to lie.

    They should nt be allowed to get away with deceiving people – But seems no matter what processes go through – They get overturned to aid filling the pockets of those with millions already filling said pockets! At the detriment of the normal people!

  2. Ross Leader

    With the seemingly errant way the consultation process is being handled by the council, a planning approval might qualify for a public inquiry or even judicial review…

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