La Treizième Étoile: 09/10/11 - 16/10/11 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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Future remains unclear at Newquay Airport despite closure declared not an option 'no matter what'

Saturday, 15 October 2011
An Air South West plane at Newquay Cornwall Airport (Photo: after midday on 30th September, an Air South West plane taxied away from the terminal building and took off from the runway at Newquay Cornwall Airport. Bound for Dublin, this departure was unusually significant: it was to be the airline’s final flight, and its last from Cornwall’s principle airport. Two weeks on and the future of the airport remains uncertain despite Cornwall Council announcing it is launching a new review and that closing is not an option, “no matter what”.

In a statement published yesterday, Cornwall Council explained that there are three main options on the table – the sale of the airport, part acquisition of the site and entering into a management service agreement to operate the airport – and that “discussions with representatives of the aviation industry to assess potential interest” were underway.

The review, due to last two-months, would include market research into the airport's use and proposals from interested airlines, and the results will be presented in the New Year.

"This is certainly not a threat to the future of Newquay Cornwall Airport – in fact it is just the opposite,” Chris Ridgers, the Council’s portfolio holder for economy and regeneration , is quoted as saying. “We are very aware of the importance of a thriving and successful airport to the economy of Cornwall which provides links to key cities in both the UK and Europe. The management team at Cornwall Airport Limited have done an excellent job of operating the airport in these challenging economic times with falling passenger numbers”.

The site, formerly known as RAF St Mawgan which only opened to commercial flights in December 2008, received almost £25 million in EU funds in 2009 and is expected to receive more in the next 12 months.

The airport has seen passenger numbers decline by over a hundred thousand in the last two years; low-cost airline Ryanair ceased its routes from the airport earlier in the year, and now the withdrawal of routes said to be not 'viable' comes as another thunderous blow.

In addition, the company’s last flight from Plymouth City Airport, whose own future now looks bleak, has piled on the misery for those needing to travel to and from Cornwall with now only an A-road and a five-hour mainline train to London (itself under threat) the alternatives.

Shortly after the Air South West’s decision in July, Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson travelled to the airport to meet its Chief Executive Al Tiverington and discuss the challenges facing the site.

Newquay Airport plays a vital role in the County to attract and service businesses,he commended afterwards. “Certainly the recent announcement by Air South West is not encouraging for the future and I say to the people of Cornwall that the phrase 'use it or lose it' could not be better applied here.

I was impressed however with Mr Tiverington's plans for the future and I hope that once the economy enters a more positive state, passenger numbers will begin to rise once more.

A small number of flights still operate from the airport including the Isles of Scilly Skybus, and seasonal flights by Lufthansa to Düsseldorf, which Flybe services to Edinburgh, London-Gatwick, and Manchester commencing the 30th October.


Controversial UK MEP Roger Helmer announces he is resigning his seat

Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Roger Helmer MEP (L) and his replacement Rupert Matthews (C) jousting. Photo: Roger Helmer,the controversial and frequently disillusioned Conservative MEP for the EastMidlands, has announced he is stepping down from his seat at the EuropeanParliament effective 1st January 2012.

Mr Helmer (pictured far left in the photo) has certainly been no stranger to controversyduring his time in Brussels thanks to his “interesting” viewpoints, and personallyI thought he would more likely join the UKIP party than resign, but in astatement published on ConservativeHome this morning announced his resignation.

Citing “disillusionment” with the policies of theConservative-led UK Coalition government, Mr Helmer said: “I am finding it evermore difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my keyissues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other mattersbesides […] I think that twelve-and-a-half years banging my head againstthe same brick wall in Brussels is perhaps long enough.  And I shouldcertainly like to see more of my three fine grandsons.

To mark the occasion, Political Scrapbook have compiled alist of his “Greatest Hits” – a collection of his incredible “so right wing that we thought he was joking” moments,including, of course, his belief that women shared the blame for getting raped. (Seriously.)

Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, SirGraham Watsontweeted: “Libs must be doing a good job reigning in the Tories if dinosaurs like RogerHelmer MEP are resigning through disaffection to the coalition!”.

Meanwhile, Glennis Wilmott, a Labour MEP from the EastMidlands who contested the last elections with Mr Helmer, issued a statement saying:“In some ways I think members on all sides of the European Parliament will missRoger Helmer.

“Roger's time as a Conservative MEP has given us an insightinto the thinking in some of the darker corners of the Conservative Party,corners in which David Cameron would rather people didn't see. I am sure thatRoger will continue to campaign on his pet issues and that we will continue todisagree on almost everything, but I wish him the best of luck as he continuesto make a nuisance of himself with the government.”

Reactions from his fellow MEPs on Twitter were surprisingsubdued; but perhaps that is because they already know how equally “barking mad” his replacement Rupert Matthews is (pictured in the centre of photo above.While they may not be as influential in the Parliament as they used to be, youhave to admit the Conservative MEPs and their ECR Group certainly make up forit in bizarreness.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.