Thursday March 23 2017
Selling airport could fund light railway system
THANK you to Councillor Graham Bocking for highlighting the airport’s troubled ﬁnances.
He is right — it would be kinder to relocate the airport, or any parts that could be economic if merged elsewhere.
We should stop punishing ourselves with an uneconomic airport that the councils underwrite, and that benefits so few of us.
A garden village on this land is far preferable to the massed housing planned elsewhere around Churchdown which would choke the north of Gloucester and Severn Vale with traffic.
It’s good news that the airport site would yield £300million or more for Gloucester and for Cheltenham councils.
I’ve heard that part of this income could fund a light rail service between Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Can everyone report more on this please?
We need modern public transport to ease our chronic trafﬁc problems.
Churchdown station is still there to re- open, and both Gloucester and Cheltenham would get many benefits from a light rail system.
The current JCS plan is all about traffic-clogged routes between outdated concepts of suburbia.
It is a backwards-looking plan that will drag the area down.
A garden village and a light rail is exactly the bold planning we need — for our quality of life, our transport, and our councils’ sound economic future.
Concerned Local Resident
Tuesday March 21 2017
Time for a serious look at the future viability of the airport
THE airport is here to stay, say the airport directors. If they genuinely think that, they haven’t read their own accounts.
The accounts show an aviation business which is grossly unprofitable every year and beset with problems like a pensions liability and a declining asset.
The airport limps on because the councils let it have rental income from the next-door trading estates, sometimes over a million pounds a year’s worth.
The airport directors cannot bring themselves to call this a subsidy, but to the Council Tax payers that’s exactly what it is — money due to the councils being siphoned off at source by the airport.
By being kept aﬂoat like this the airport can allow cheap landing fees, so it seems to be busy — but this is all artificial, subsidised by us local people. We suffer the noise, and incredibly, we have to pay for it. Any responsible council leaders would rectify this rather than duck the problem.
No wonder the airport directors are scared of a local councillor’s proposal for better use of the land. The councillor suggests a sustain- able settlement with core green land and modern public transport. This would solve all the failings of the current Joint Core Strategy plan, and bring the councils money they desperately need.
It is an insult to call the airport land green belt, especially when the airport wants to build huge hangars on it anyway. Meanwhile the coun- cils propose that real green belt in the Severn Vale such as Twigworth should be sacrificed for the housing targets. A millstone like the airport needs a fundamental rethink — Councillor Booking is right, now’s the chance.
The ultimate. lesson here is simple — look at the airport’s accounts, not the endless ‘jam tomorrow’ quotes coming from the airport. It’s time for our council leaders to do just that.
Monday 20 March 2017
Airport site would be ideal for new houses
YOUR headline on, the airfield new settlement proposal states it is “closing the gap” between Gloucester and Cheltenham.
No — your reporter seems to have invented this, because as I read the proposals, they do not involve closing a gap.
It’s been explained that the garden village proposal would be located on the land presently used by the airport.
The open landscape between Gloucester and Cheltenham immediately south isn’t proposed for development.
Even on the new settlement where the airport currently is, there would be a large green space park in the centre.
Plenty of new housing is planned in this general area anyway, so to reallocate some of it makes sense, especially if it would beneﬁt the councils so much.
Gloucester and Cheltenham would both receive the land sale value, and Tewkesbury would get the rateable values. They would save on the loss-making airport.
So, yes I welcome a green new settlement with parkland convenient to me and other local people. A rethink on the airport is long overdue.
This land is too valuable in many ways, to remain in the hands of subsidy-sapping exercise that the councils have turned a blind eye to.
Councillor, Twigworth PC.
Saturday 18 March 2017
No special cases Our village is just as precious
I AM absolutely appalled by the comments recently made by Councillor Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council.
He said and I quote: “The airport is in green belt and the intention of green belt is to prevent Cheltenham and Gloucester merging in to each other.
“The Joint Core Strategy takes the approach of supporting the overall concept of green belt.”
Please tell us why is the airport site is more important green belt land than that at Twigworth and Innsworth, which is prime agricultural land and is at risk of pluvial ﬂooding year on year and also acts as a barrier for urban sprawl from Gloucester?
Each year it is farmed and crops grow in abundance which is something we may need when we as a country are more reliant on what we can grow than what we can import.
Please tell us why our green belt is less important when it houses wildlife, fauna and ﬂora abundantly and why our green belt should be sacrificed?
Who makes these decisions? Why can’t we make a decision and say ‘no, keep off our green belt’ like you are able to?
Please explain to us all in Twigworth how Councillor Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council (C, Longlevens) has previously said he wouldn’t want to see the two areas merge physically?
It seems that everyone within Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucester City Council and a small majority within Tewkesbury Borough Council are very happy to see our beautiful village of Twigworth, not only submerge under water but also lose its whole identity by being merged into Gloucester by the proposed modiﬁcations suggested by Inspector Ord for the Joint Core Strategy.
As everyone must be aware, the Joint Core Strategy, at present, is not set in stone and is going through a consultation process.
It is a long way from being sound so why shouldn’t Councillor Bocking suggest the airport?
As it is, Tewkesbury Borough Council were told last year to find alternative sites to develop which have not come to fruition, so surely this is a very reasonable alternative to the precious green belt surrounding Twigworth and Innsworth.
Please someone explain to us in Twigworth exactly how we beneﬁt from this airport and why we should sacrifice our green belt when there is an area close by that doesn’t ﬂood, is in deficit every year and has fantastic access to the A40?
A perfectly reasonable alternative, well done Graham Bocking, I applaud you.
Chairman, Twigworth Parish Council
Friday 17 March 2017
Virtual airline business model ﬁnancially fragile
YOUR article on March 13 about the demise of Citywing, which ﬂew out of Gloucestershire Airport and other places in the UK, missed something of an opportunity.
Instead of making it a typical piece about the airport with familiar hackneyed quotes from its spokesman Darren Lewington, it could have been an interesting item about virtual airlines.
For that is What Citywing was.
It did no ﬂying itself and used chartered aircraft, pilots and cabin crew from an actual airline, Van Air Europe AS (a Czech registered company).
The UK Civil Aviation Authority did not regulate Citywing, which was no more than a Isle of Man-based ticket seller.
Citywing had no Air Operator’s Licence, no appointed Aviation Safety Officer and no Safety Department.
Citywing was formed in November 2012 following a management buyout of Manx 2, its predecessor on the Gloucester to Isle of Man route, and made’ its first ﬂight on January 2 2013.
It is worth noting that Manx 2 was itself a virtual airline which started ﬂying in 2006 and that business’s ultimate demise was perhaps precipitated by a crash in February 2011 when six people were killed. The collapse of Citywing in such a rapid fashion, after the UK Civil Aviation Authority suspended Van Air’s permission to ﬂy in the UK following an incident on February 23, indicates the financial fragility of the virtual airline business model.
And it seems to have prompted calls from some aviation sources to end the concept of virtual airlines.
Friday March 17 2017
Garden Village would be great
THE Cheltenham Borough Council leader Steve Jordan claims a Garden Village cannot “happen on the land occupied by Staverton Airport because it is green belt.
I presume then, that he thinks all the airport's proposed developments on that land should be refused planning permission?
The-airport’s proposed developments, for which they seek public and government funds, are more airport sheds, roads and hangars.
In the Joint Core Strategy the airport has requested special planning permissions for these 'developments' on green belt land.
The airport claims to have a wider worth to the local economy but this is special pleading and doesn’t consider the inevitable blight of an airport, which should be costed.
A mix of housing and employment on the land occupied by the airport would have far more economic value to the area, and the central park proposal is inspiring — a way of retaining green space in this area that everyone could access and enjoy.
So should we want a subsidised airport?
Or do we want a Garden Village, with green space, public parks, and a light rail connecting Cheltenham and Gloucester.
We could have all this as well as raising millions of pounds for Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucester City Council, and Tewkesbury Borough Council.
Good for Councillor Graham Bocking who is promoting this.
He is clearly a man of vision — something sadly lacking in the Joint Core Strategy till now.