The Echo reports that a new task force to work on the future of Southend Airport has been set up between Southend Council and Rochford District Council to work together on a new joint policy for its development.
Some quotes from the Southend Councillor responsible for development
"I think it is important the two authorities will now be working together on plans for improving the airport and expanding its services"
"It is all about jobs and prosperity and this has been a long time coming"
"There will be disagreements between us but I welcome this as a positive step forward for Southend"
For the first time we are working together with Rochford to achieve a joint strategy on the airport"
Have we heard all this before, is the current strategy of the airport operators now out of the window and are we back to another period of indecision whilst the committee ponders once every month or quarter.
Would not expect any reports in the near future, bearing in mind Southend Council's track record. The pier is in worse condition now than when it burned down 30 years ago, the Seafront has still not been restored following the landslides of some years ago, Priory Park road widening has died a death, the High Steet and new bus station are disasters.... the list goes on.
Actually this could be quite a useful move despite (and I should know) the shambolic way that Southend Council ran the airport for so many years. RAL have issued a Press Release on the SEN website welcoming the move and specifically pointing out that it will help in the realisation of the rail interchange. It has been Rochford District Council's objection to the car park being built on Green Belt land that has delayed this aspect of the airport's development, so perhaps agreement between the parties will now be forthcoming.
A seperate Press Release welcomes the arrival of Alastair Welch as SEN's new Managing Director. He is, apparently, ex BAA Stansted and at 39 years of age perhaps has the drive to push the agenda forward. Let's hope so.
Last edited by Expressflight; 9th Feb 2007 at 18:37.
Here`s some local news from tonights local paper, the "Evening Echo"
Airport rapped for failure to take off Southend Airport has been criticised for not actively attracting enough passenger flights. Southend councillor Graham Longley claimed the airport was being run like an "MoT garage" as it is used as an aircraft servicing base. Mr Longley (Lib Dem, Blenheim Park) tore into the airport's operators when its progress came up for discussion during a meeting of the council's environmental and economic scrutiny committee. advertisement Southend Council and Rochford District Council are now looking to work more closely together to help promote the airport, which straddles both areas. Mr Longley said the airport could have done more to attract passenger flights which would have boosted the local economy. He said: "They operate the airport as an MoT garage. I don't believe they ever had a real interest in attracting passenger flights to the airport. "I would like to see it take off. I think the operators live in cloud cuckoo land." Town clerk Rob Tinlin said although it might seem not much was happening at the moment, there was a lot of activity going on behind the scenes. He said: "It's a bit like a duck on the water. It might look like there is nothing happening, but there is a hell of a lot of paddling going on underneath." Melvyn Day (Con, St Luke's) said: "I also feel some frustration about the lack of action at the airport. It has stagnated for many years. I haven't seen much movement. I would like to see this duck paddling its feet quicker and taking off." Mark Flewitt (Con, St Laurence) said the council and the public should support the airport. He said: "It should be an economic frontrunner for this town. Don't knock it when it tries to grow." Council leader Murray Foster added: "It's one of the key employment areas for this town. I remain optimistic. I am aware the airport has received approaches from companies. They take time to evolve. They are commercially sensitive. "I hope by 2010 we will see something in terms of increased activity." Alistair Welch, managing director of Southend Airport, said: "We work very closely with the council in marketing the airport to new airlines. "We would like to see a great offer of passenger flights. We are working very hard to achieve this. "We are already working with a number of airlines who say they are interested in passenger flights from the airport." Mr Welch said people shouldn't dismiss the importance of companies using the airport for maintenance. He said: "Maintenance is a huge industry. We are one of the biggest employers in the area based on that alone."
New boss pledges a bright futureSouthend Airport has a new boss at the controls. Alastair Welch joined the airport as managing director this month following the departure of Bruce Campbell, who has left to pursue other opportunities. He comes from Stansted Airport, where he played a key role in its development. Mr Welch's his first job will be to ensure the airport is on track to maximise opportunities from the 2012 London Olympics. He said: "It's a great time to be joining Southend, as we enter a critical stage in our development. "I have two challenges. The first is operating the current airport effectively and making it as good an experience as it can be for those who use the place. "Most people don't realise how busy the airport is. It is one of the biggest maintenance centres in the country and supports a significant number of organisations. "The second is, frankly, to see what we can do to develop the airport and the services it can offer over the months and years to give the local community the chance to fly to other places." Mr Welch, 39, was trained initially as an engineer, but later turned his hand to accountancy. His career started with small and medium-sized businesses, and he later moved into the field of aviation. For the past 11 years, he has worked for BAA at Heathrow and Stansted, in the fields of terminal management and development. His last job there was general terminal manager. The airport is seen by local authorities as a key element in encouraging people to invest in the area. One of the airport's most immediate wishes is for a railway station with six services an hour to Liverpool Street. Permission has been granted by Rochford District Council, but the development is currently stalled because of wrangles over the proposed car park, which is on green belt land.
Surely looking at the bigger picture, this is good for SEN. Everybody wants the same thing. At last people in the now joint council wants to push SEN forward and realise this asset. The comments by some councillors may be ill educated as far as the aerodrome authority are concerned, but a good kick from all quarters maybe just the ticket. Lets hope green belt and planning issues will be resolved more quickly in the future now that the council are being agressive towards airport development.
Apart from Councillor Longley (whose comments will surely be seen as ridiculous) all the other Councillors quoted were supportive of the airport and this, together with the establishment of the joint Southend/Rochford committee should mean that everyone is kicking towards the same goal. Presure is likely to fall upon Rochford to reach agreement on the use of the Green Belt land (which RAL already own) for the railway station Parkway.
Unfortunately with Southend there is an ever ending struggle. People on the one hand are complaining that there are no flights operated from the airport even when the airport operated the Jersey flight. But having worked at the airport I know first hand the second something anything bigger than a PA28 lands the poor staff on the end of the phone are barraged by phone calls virtually the entire OAP population of Rochford, Southend and goodness knows where else demanding that the flights into the airport be stopped because its waking up their cat from its midday nap. Then theres always been the sore point of the church which restricts the declared distances on the airfield. Its a shame because the airport has a great deal of potential and I agree with previous posts the establishment of an airline operating there would help no end. Maybe then they could update the solitary two checkin desks that they have there... Just my 2p's worth anyway
They have updated the check-in area and have put new flooring in. I to agree with you dispite the eternal optimists. It will be interesting to see how the new airport GM (ex BAA STN) gets on as I cannot see who can possibly be prepared to fly from there until major changes are made to the terminal (as you state) and there is a proper commitment to a new terminal (not the fairy storys). As a S-o-S resident the council have little or no interest in the airport despite aimless press releases like that previously reported. Sadly even the flying clubs are no way near as active as they were a couple of years ago and I assume this down to costs and lately althouth there have been a number of cosmetic improvements the place looks deolate for the vast majority of the time. I hope I am proved wrong.
For once I agree with HZ123 and the dithering over the terminal situation has to stop. With the delays which the station parkway has encountered coutesy of Rochford Council, they should have gone ahead this winter with the extension/refurbishment of the existing terminal so that they were in a position now to welcome any incoming airline with an acceptable facility. That would give them a breathing space to decide whether or not pax traffic was likely to justify the construction costs of the new terminal/station. I believe that Alastair Welch was terminal manager at STN so I assume he has definite ideas on the subject. One would assume that he was given certain assurances by RAL with regard to investment etc. so perhaps we shall now see some progress. Mind you, for how long have we been saying that?
Well looking at the airport again today I can see numerous diversions from LCY, the kind of days when the staff at the airport shine time after time, its just makes you wonder is SEN for the short time destined to be a good alternate when LCY STN and LTN are fogged out and little more?