Councillors call to sell Newquay Airport
TWO councillors have sparked a damning response from officials after calling for Newquay Airport to be sold and all monies to be ploughed into adult social care in Cornwall.
Cornwall County Councillors John Payne and Roy Mann, who represent wards in Penzance, issued the motion which is set to be heard at Monday’s full council meeting at County Hall.
The duo claim the authority’s money would be better spent on social care rather than furthering the expansion of the airport.
Cllr Mann said: “We both want to see more money put into social care in Cornwall.
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“There needs to be a change in the system with the levels of care for those on basic and other needs and more funding needs to be channelled into this.
“It is a case of prevention rather than cure.”
It is believed Cornwall County Council currently spends around £4 million a year on Newquay Airport through various subsidies.
The airport has also received £12 million in Objective One funding, £8 million from the South West Regional Development Agency and has agreed to borrow £10 million against future income from airport development fees.
It is also seeking around £40 million over the next five years from Convergence Funding.
However, Cllr Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council’s portfolio holder for the economy, described the motion to sell off the airport as “unhelpful, meaningless and ridiculous”.
“How can we sell something that, technically, we don’t own,” he said.
“I don’t know how two members of Cornwall County Council can come forward with something that is so ill-informed.
“I understand the sentiments of their motion but they have missed by a mile on this one.”
Cllr Mitchell said there was some scope in the future that the airport may be sold.
“It is the position of this council that maybe one day in the future; that could be 10 or 20 years down the line, when the airport starts to make a surplus then we would consider selling either part of it or all of it.
“But until that is the case then this motion simply has no place.”
Cornwall County Council is set to officially take over the running of the airport on December 1 from the Ministry of Defence at RAF St Mawgan.
Cllr Mitchell said such a motion could damage relations and possibly hinder any future investment in the airport.
“To go forward with such a motion could actually be quite dangerous and could effect many contracts we are involved in.
“If this was passed, we may have to back out of contracts we bound by, meaning we would owe companies millions. There would certainly be no money left to go into adult social care.”