Letters - September 19, 2017
The airport's days have now passed
It is good to see Blackpool Airport back in public hands on terms which seem highly beneficial and very likely to give an annual return to the council’s coffers from rental income, even after capital repayments costs are allowed for.
Flights from Blackpool again? I can’t see it ever happening.
I spent over 10 years as chairman of the Airport Board when the council last owned it. It was a bed of nails as we struggled to make Blackpool Airport commercially viable. We identified land which was superfluous for our use and with the proceeds of the sale to Morrisons the old terminal (once the grandstand when the terrain had been a racecourse) was demolished and a modern replacement created.
After a great deal of lobbying of the tourism industry and any number of airlines - including, I recall, attendance at the ABTA Conference one year in Majorca - we managed to persuade Ryanair to come on board.
They demanded a heavy price. They would have introduced any number of flights had we been prepared to subsidise them as, one suspects, so many destinations in Europe have been by local and regional governments at huge cost.
After we had acquired an interest on Broadway for runway expansion and safety, they conceded that the main runway, even as it was, would accommodate transatlantic flights. But after our money ran out they up sticks and left - even though the viability of their routes from Blackpool had been proved. Blackpool Council’s commitment to the airport was shown over the years by the level of investment in capital infrastructure particularly.
As concerns over security became ever more pressing, the Civil Aviation Authority brought in added requirements, seemingly another blow every year, which the large airports could manage but for others like Blackpool the costs were ever more problematic. The perimeter fencing - just think how extensive are the boundaries - was just the start. Coloured x-ray cameras for baggage handling, up-to-the-mark fire tenders and their crews, attracting air traffic controllers from their sellers’ market, staff training, at every level of expenditure we faced an ever-increasing burden which we couldn’t match from revenue.
Our only source of added income was the council. If we kept that annual support at half-a-million we thought we were doing well in maintaining the airport as an important feature in the town’s holiday offer, but it was tough on us as operators, it was even tougher on the council while its members and key officers strove to hold down their own budget. We were having to contend with an annual near million pound subsidy from the council tax; and the battle to support the airport became unsustainable. In the end we were relieved when outsiders came in.
They, too, have given Blackpool Airport their best shot but ultimately concluded that in the shadow of both Manchester and Liverpool mass tourism travel from Blackpool was is simply uneconomic and unsustainable. There is still the limited value for helicopter and small-scale operations, but I cannot see any prospect whatsoever of significant tourism from Squires Gate. Its days have passed.
Coun David Owen
Dangerous addiction for young
Social media has become an addiction, particularly among the young. It is now prevalent from the age of seven. Recently, a leading neurosurgeon has described this addiction as a plague.
For many, including parents, it is regarded as a bit of fun. Everyone is doing it so it can’t do any harm, is a common saying. Unfortunately, it can and there is research evidence that it is doing great harm.
The fun element is the tip of the social media iceberg that is visible. The hidden part is in the hands of the irresponsible and downright nasty members of society causing great distress and mental problems of a very serious nature.
The social media is being used on a regular basis by young people to bully and inflict vile accusations on other youngsters. Teachers are all too well aware of what is going on, often during lessons. Sadly, girls are the worst offenders.
Misuse of this form of communication has spread to certain sectors of the adult population. Social media bullies are using bile and hate against anyone whose views conflict with theirs. These ‘traitors’ are being subjected to very nasty personal attacks. Many MPs, particularly women, and female journalists are being subjected to violent and obscene tirades via Twitter and Facebook that could not be reported here. The recent attacks on the Labour MP by members of her own party is one such example.
These cowards, hiding behind pseudonyms, have in effect been given permission to vent their anger, envy and frustrations on others because social media companies are failing to tackle online abuse.
Unless steps are taken by parents and teachers to instil in young people that the social media has to be used responsibly, we will by default be nurturing the next generation of vile online bullies.
Dr Barry clayton
Do not support this subterfuge
Twelve years ago this month, two SAS officers, disguised as Arabs, were caught driving a booby-trapped car towards the centre of Basra.
In attempting to evade arrest one Iraqi police officer was killed and another was wounded. A remote control detonator was later found in the car. Does this sound like we were in Iraq to “free the Iraqi people”?
Similarly, the US invaded and occupied Afghanistan for the stated purpose of dismantling the terrorist networks. In the first two months alone, over 10,000 bombs or missiles were dropped or fired into Afghanistan. Does this sound like the US is thwarting terrorism or committing terrorism? Logic and reality have been turned on their heads. The solution is not to support this subterfuge. Journalists should refuse to print government propaganda. Civilians should refuse to join what are in reality terrorist state armies. Politicians should serve the voters who elected them and not the corporations who suborn them. Teachers should explain the deception to their students. Parents should warn their children about it.
Just turning out uniform products
Every year at this time papers run stories of children being sent home because of changes in school uniform. The key word being uniform.
Headteachers justify their actions because of the need to maintain discipline in their school. In fact of course this is the very opposite of real discipline, which is the students’ development and enjoyment of knowledge. All they are interested is turning out uniform products which enable their schools to appear good on the league table. The development of curious and outward-looking children is completely secondary to this.