KCC + KLM + KIA = WTF
Getting a straight answer out of KCC is hard at the best of times - even with the legal leverage of the Freedom of Information Act it can take months. But it's usually worth the wait, and the dogged persistence is rewarded. And let's not forget, anything that's released under the FoI Act is stuff that they should have told you in the first place. By definition.
A man of Kent, showing the finest British bulldog determination and tenacity set about finding out if there are any hidden deals behind the recently announced KLM-Manston story. Eventually, he managed to prise these three sentences out of them:
I can confirm Kent County Council has not been asked for any contributions from KLM nor have we been asked to fund KLM.
We were however, asked by the owners of Manston airport if we would contribute to a marketing package to market both the route and the opportunities in Kent.
We have agreed a contribution of up to £100,000 subject to approval of a marketing plan and for the monies to be managed by Visit Kent.
Regular readers will remember that KCC and Infratil colluded in a bid to central Government which included a generous £600k sweetener for KLM - effectively "we'll pay you to use this airport". They were turned down, quite rightly.
We'll probably never know whether KLM had put pressure on them to cross their palm with silver, or whether KCC and Infratil are simply very generous (with other people's money), but it's depressingly unsurprising to find that they're at it again.
Everyone knows Infratil is selling Manston airport. More accurately, Infratil is trying to sell Manston airport - it's been on the market since March 2012, and the asking price seems to be sinking to the same level as airport-free agricultural land. Despite this, they have the balls to ask KCC for money to market and promote the highest profile route they've got (even though it isn't even running yet). KCC, unspeakable idiots that they are, agreed!
For reasons best known to KCC - but I suspect connected to EU competition regulations - they will be "laundering" the money through Visit Kent. So Kent County Council is happy to use public money to market a French/Dutch airline flying from a New Zealand-owned airport. And, yes, this is the same KCC that's cutting funding to things that people care about.
What makes KCC think this will be money well spent? And what exactly are Visit Kent going to be doing? Good questions, which we have asked on your behalf.
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