Liberal Democrat-controlled Cornwall County Council is to blame for the botched up handover and three-week closure of Newquay International Airport at St Mawgan. A series of questions from representatives of the aviation industry were fobbed off by County Hall who has taken on the running of the airport from the Ministry of Defence.
The problem seems to be that the county had no proper plan to deal with the handover and I am using the Freedom of Information Act to get to the bottom of what was widely seen as a blow for the Duchy as it deterred visitors over Christmas who didn’t want to risk travelling to Cornwall by road.
I have asked to see the training schedule of the air traffic controllers to see what quality of instruction was in place for the handover. I also want to know what the closure cost taxpayers in terms of compensation claims from up to 7,000 affected passengers and replacement bus services.
Airline and flight personnel have talked to me and there is unified criticism of the Lib Dem controlled county council, not just over the closure, but also their frustrating dealings with them in the last few years. One aviation representative who did not want to be named said his dealings with the council had been characterised by "defensive rebuffs from idiots at all levels, whose total ignorance of aviation was combined with a determination to run things while refusing to recognise that ignorance."
I find it extraordinary that the portfolio holder Andrew Mitchell
should have told the media that he sees no reason to resign, nor could
he give any guarantees that the airport would be fit for purpose and
open after the three-week closure. This is what comes of appointing a
councillor from St Ives to be responsible for the airport instead of
No wonder that some Lib Dems have called for an independent company to
be brought in because they feel their colleagues at County Hall are not
up to the task. The situation beggars belief. It is clear that the Lib
Dems are incapable of running Newquay Airport, or a business. If there
is to be an enquiry it should focus on County Hall’s incompetence, not
Constituents are saying to me if Cornwall’s biggest party can’t manage
this, what sort of shambles they will make of implementing the Unitary
Council. If they carry on like this it’s clear that they will not be
voted back to run it.