Monday, July 28, 2014

Labour Leadership deputy does best to bury Manston IMHO

I don't know the full details of what RiverOak investment company have to offer in relation to possibly saving Manston Airport but from a cursory glance at the letter sent to Iris Johnson, it seems that they are genuine and more importantly appear to be offering to underwrite Thanet council should they wish to apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Something you'd think any politician including Cllr Richard Nicholson might consider in a positive manner, and before I go further lets remind ourselves that he and other members of the council, get a fairly generous allowance, somewhere around in the case of  Mr Nicholson, of £15,300 assuming he doesn't get sacked.

Now I appreciate that Labour politicians are more familiar representing those with their hands out, than those with the wit, enterprise and energy to create wealth, so it's possible that it may be difficult to understand that financial investors like to move quickly.  I can ever appreciate that Thanet council don't want to make mistakes.

Just by chance I glanced KentOnline and found a report from Paul Francis who had spoken to Cllr Richard Nicholson who had this to say about the offer "We had no idea it was coming and personally" what really, adding he wasn't happy, who is but what's that got to do with anything?

He continued  "We are not going to do business with people like this. We are looking at a CPO and getting legal advice and will make a decision in time." This begs the question who's we, the hard pressed local resident who's handing him fifteen grand a year to represent us or is we out of touch dinosaur Labour councillors harking back to the 1950's

Such is Nicholson's grasp of business practice and the commercial world he apparently ended his discussion "This is a very strange way to go about things."

Crikey I don't want to bury Thanet more that it seems old style Labour would, and I'm sure that many Labour councillors are a bit more pragmatic and familiar with the 21st Century.

I tried to speak with Nicholson but he apparently was busy, I tried to speak to Will Scobie but he was unavailable and since despite standing for Parliament he's not had job outside politics as I understand what would he know. I did speak with one Labour councillor who did seem a bit upset at the closed minded attitude.

 We don't live in an Ideal world, it's real one, and I for one have a higher regard for RiverOak than the alternative asset strippers, it seems like they (RiverOak) offer the best and frankly realistic choice.

55 comments:

  1. First of all TDC must ensure that a CPO is in the public interest and to safeguard all of the councillors and the Thanet tax payers they must take their own legal advice. If it takes more than 21 days so be it, an airport is for life just not for August so TDC must take as long as it takes to establish the position. Once they have independent advice then they cannot be accused of malpractice and be personable liable for cash not spent in the public interest. The legal advice given to RO counts for nothing: they can say what they like at this stage. CPO's are only granted if they are in the public interset and for all we know the current owner my have schemes of thie own that will offer employment and other opportunities to people in Thanet.
    Second, if a CPO is recommended to the council then at that point TDC have to ensure that all avenues have been explored regarding the purchase of the land, a court will ask this. Next TDC can look at any offers on the table and apply due diligence. TDC have been burnt before with the offshore Pleasurama fiasco. That have to ensure that the company has legitimate funds and have a track record in starting up an airport from scratch, the necessary management to run it and to see the fall back position if the cargo and passenger business fail to materialise.
    So the council is right in taking all the time it needs and in the meantime there is nothing to stop RO buying Manston's assets that are put up for sale.


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  2. Yoi wouldn't buy a house if the sellers solicitor was doing the searches. It's right TDC do this the right way and not self-interested SMA's way

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    1. You can buy a house and the buyer must meet the sellers costs!
      All Riveroak want is TDC power to lodge the cpo. They then take all the risks and that includes the risk of loosing.If that happens TDC can shrug and say that's what you get for rushing !

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  3. Nicholson's attitude is shocking, this is an opportunity which is clearly time sensitive, ought to be treated in a positive manner, I suggest that councillors and officers put some effort and reach a conclusion in short order.

    Clearly it doesn't matter to Officers who will continue to draw fat salaries and accrue pensions that money cannot buy or bother Cllr's topping up pensions or benefits as the council will continue to bleed the community come what may.

    And at the end ot the Day if RiverOak fail they appear to be offering guarantees so what is to loose. And if they fail dead beat officers and councillors will still get the bloody awful housing estates which appear to be inevitable.

    Please councillors and officers bury the attitude and self importance and work toward a positive outcome, wittering on about safeguarding and public interest . It clearly is in the public interest to save the airport and if RiverOak can safeguard the CPO process just what is you beef.

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    1. As you say RO appear to be offering guarantees but at this stage nobody know the value of Manston as a profitable airport. A CPO will assume this and not the £1 reported to be the purchase price or the £7 millions asking price. Previously Manston was on the market for £22 millions, a lot more than the reported offer by RO.
      TDC have a history of partnerships with companies that don't come up to the mark and they cant get this one wrong, TDC are not a commercial enterprise that can take risks with their shareholders or own money, its tax payers money and you will be the first to complain if it all goes wrong. Read the interim feasibility report release as part of the Manston 31st July meeting agenda just posted on the TDC website and you will see the hoops TDC will have to go through before they can consider anybody as a partner.
      So what is to loose?
      RO will put in place clauses to protect themselves such as the valuation price being higher than they wish to pay still leaving TDC with large bills. Expensive litigation could follow.
      RO may just be wanting to get their hands on the land and make no real effort to run the airport.
      The current owners come to the CPO court with their owns plans that are far more beneficial to Thanet than an airport will ever be and the CPO fails.
      The CPO drags on for years and Thanet gets no economic benefit from Manston.

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  4. Surely this demands the council at least bind together before making such comments. Thanet district council need to be seen as a whole rather than being seen as happy to chat to the press. Its too important for the future of Thanet and Kent.

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  5. Why is it "clearly in the public interest" to save an airport which has cost ratepayers hundreds of thousands of pounds in KCC grants alone, which has a history of failed passenger enterprises, provides fewer jobs than a medium-sized supermarket and causes nuisance to Ramsgate residents? Could the reason for certain politicians' love affair with RiverOak be due to injured pride after Ann Gloag didn't show much interest in talking to them?

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    1. Manston has huge potential to employ well over a 1000 people and pump at least £10m in to the Thanet economy in salaries alone. There have been some half hearted, poor efforts by airlines before. I think if the focus is on 80-90% freight services and logistics, and up to say 10% commercial (passenger . business / charter) flights then it could be a real success. I have been disgusted with the clear asset stripping Ann Gloag has initiated. 150 local families lost an income and many haven't found work, there are few decent opportunities in the area at present. We don't need another supermarket, we don't need more housing, of which Gloag and developers could earn 10's of millions of profit on...The woman has enough money already, this is pure filthy greed, nothing else. Riveroak are going to financially back the entire purchase and development, so tax payer contribution should be nil / negligible, but if that secures jobs and develops hundreds more, then I will back this 100 times out of 100...

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  6. The Council's viability report on Manston can be found on the TDC website now. Well worth a read. Coming before Cabinet this week.

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  7. Really Thanet council hasn't the money to purchase Manston, however if they can satisfy themselves that RiverOak can underwrite the CPO it's a no brainer, either it succeeds or fails and if it fails, it ends up as the hideous housing estate that is so popular with bugling officers and councillers.

    If the money is on the table take it

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    1. Well said. You only have to look at the monstrosity that they built in Minster having bought up farm land. Private developers, greedy, too many houses built, it's a right mess and the village cant cope with the traffic, too many people trying to get a Dr's appointment etc...

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    2. If current owners have 'far more plans that are beneficial to Thanet' then why doesn't she declare them?? We don't want a 'garden city' thankyou. The ones being built at WWX havn't all been sold. We do not have adequate water supply for even existing properties. The roads are abysmal. RO have declared interest and will meet all costs. AG bought Manston as a going concern with a two year business plan & she shut it within months. She has obviously had a considerably better deal for it, which I believe is housing. This would involve huge sums of money from central goverment. AG continues to asset strip the site. Why is she being so secretive?? RO
      are the only alternative to AG. They have been open & honest, and given real hope for badly needed jobs for people in
      Thanet.

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  8. "If the money is on the table, take it" you say Mr Flaig. What a foolish and naive attitude. No wonder you and your UKIP cronies are seen as the loony right by so many informed commentators. Of course if it went horribly wrong you'd be first in the queue to condemn Labour with another of your boorish anti-Labour rants. You really should find a way to tackle your obsession.

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    1. As a labour supporter you'd know boorish, I have no UKIP cronies

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    2. You used your blog to urge folk to vote UKIP. You have expressed firm support for UKIP. Your (right-wing) views align with UKIP. I find it hard to believe you haven't gained any UKIP cronies yet.

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    3. Look Labour bloke, 13:19 my views are held by working people something you'd probably be unfamiliar, my view of UKIP is simple, they have a role to play in disentangling us from the excess of Eurocrats, what was originally collaboration with european partners has now developed into something more sinister.

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    4. Your unhealthy obsession runs to labelling everyone who challenges you a Labour supporter. Pointing out your worrying tendency to try to convert every issue imaginable into one of your anti-Labour rants does not mean that I, or any other challenger, necessarily supports Labour's position. The point of the challenge is your lack of logic, common sense and any grip on reality.

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  9. You constantly rubbish the public sector but laud the private sector. That's your privilege, of course. But it is the private sector that has failed to make a go of Manston and has walked away. Does that not say something to you?

    Gale - whose motive in supporting Manston is purely political opportunism - says the airport is a national asset, and of national imortance. Why then, has Government not stepped in to take it over or at least to protect it? Why has even Kent County Council backed away from promising financial help for it?

    If it has such potential, why is it no-one with the means sees that?

    In the Gloag vs Riveroak contest, Gloag has become the local hate figure for bailing out on the airport. But perhaps she simply objects to Riveroak being able - if it fails (again) - to reap the financial benefits (from alternative use) that she hopes to achieve. I am not supporting her approach, just speculating on it.

    Manstonphiles say it has only failed because of night flight restrictions. Other airports succeed with no flights overnight - think Heathrow - so is it really the sole obsctale for Manston. And if extensive night operations are the key to survival, is that really fair on the residents of East Kent?

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    1. The private sector has failed to make a go, that says to me little other than bad management is not exclusive to Public sector although they are more adept at it.

      Gale has little to prove, KCC along with TDC has wasted a small fortune with EKO, both could benefit from many new residents paying community charge, check out the ongoing scandal.

      Potential squandered certainly in the case of Eurojet who in the first weeks of operation leased five jets and operated too many routes, perhaps if they'd grown a customer base they might still be in existance.

      Gloag bailed out an airport, as I understand her company paid a pound and closed it up in short order having I don't doubt taken stock of the assets.

      Night operations are a red herring, anyway labour bloke, keep up your interesting but poorly researched comments.

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    2. So now we come down to the wire. TDC having taken advice from an aviation consultancy group can now only go ahead with CPO if they can find a partner willing to put in £100 millions after purchase and one with a 20 year plan. Even then we still don't know what the owner plans and how they will challenge a CPO. TDC could have asked local bloggers for their expertise on how to run Manston but they covered their backs by going to a market leader. Its no good saying what EU jet should have done a decade ago or that Infratil were poor managers because Infratil are a very successful company including the running of airports.

      So the ball is back in RiverOaks court and they can show how committed they are to wanting to run the airport rather than being just another chancer.

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    3. Well Labour bloke your nothing if not easily programmable, the BBC have been reporting endlessly this report from yet another bunch of consultants whof ew have heard, writing a report loaded by politicised council officers who set up the parameters, why did the author not speak to those with some background such Sir Roger Gale who's been following the fortunes of Manston for thirty years or even the staff who ran the airport. Astonishing that they completely ignored RiverOak. Interestingly the BBC for some reason have marginalised RiverOak

      Thanet Council staff have built a reputation for, well lets not go there but anyway it would help if officers had asked these consultants to give a quick appraisal of RiverOak.

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  10. You must spend all of your down-time - when you're not functioning as the only hard working person in the UK of course - searching under beds and in wardrobes, Mr Flaig. Your obvious fixation on the Labour Party, the BBC and unemployed immigrants must have you peering into every little dark corner around you to check for infidels.

    You condemn my 13.15 post as being "poorly researched" then go on to confirm that the private sector has failed to make a success of Manston - which was my main point. What evidence do you have that these companies were poorly managed, rather than that the potential is not really there? If Gale has been pounding away over Manston for 30 years - just another opportunistic bandwagon for him; don't be fooled - does it not say something fundamental about him, and the airport, that the latter has never amounted to anything in all that time?

    In condemning my comments, are you saying that either the Government and/or KCC are about to provide serious practical support for the airport? Where is your evidence for that?

    I am glad that you believe night fliying is a "red herring". At least you won't be able to throw that one around as another anti-Labour rant if the airport is not saved.

    I would like to see a thriving airport in Thanet. I am not one of those who is against it in principle. But, unlike you, I do not believe it is a realistic aspiration.

    And by the way, I did not author the 15.04 post, so you have two "Labour blokes" to look over your shoulder for. Can you cope with such pressure?

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  11. How will the aquifer under the Manston runway be protected by Tdc or Southern Water?

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  12. Southern Water or TDC can hardly be trusted

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  13. Why have TDC or the Environment Agency not raised the issue of the aquifer water quality with Infratil etc?

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  14. The airport is not viable and hasnt been for years.
    Even RiverOak dont have the money to make it into a success.
    The recent report said it would require hundreds of millions and 50 years to have any chance of showing a profit.
    It would also require it to be part of a national plan - which it isnt.
    RiverOak - you may have noticed are a real estate company not an aviation company. Which seems odd.
    Ramsgate is flourishing without the airport lets just get on with Manston's inevitable demise.

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  15. Completely agree 16:44 Manston has been a disaster for Thanet and held the area back for years. Unfortunately our council still pays lip service to it even when its closed again showing how little they know and have done or will do. Pointless geriatric idiots.

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  16. No more Manston = No more Labour, and Iris, Will, Hart & co know that.

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  17. Certainly low paid unskilled jobs at manston would benefit Labour hence they're dancing around its closure and the pollution. But then so are the Tories

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  18. £100k for all the Manston junk is not bad for £1

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  19. Following the conclusions of an expert independent report regarding Manston Airport at tonight’s Cabinet Meeting (Thursday 31 July) Cabinet have agreed the following:

    The commissioned viability report will be shared with the airports owners.
    Cabinet will instruct officers to proceed to Stage 2 of the viability assessment to develop a high level Business Plan – which would be necessary to support the Local Plan process and any potential future procurement for an appropriate investor/partner.
    Cabinet will also instruct officers to undertake a market testing exercise to establish the level of interest, in line with the conclusions in the independent report – before starting a full procurement process.
    The preliminary findings of an independent report (Stage 1) which consider the viability of Manston Airport were discussed by Cabinet members at this meeting.

    The report, commissioned by Thanet District Council and undertaken by aviation industry experts Falcon Consultancy Limited, looks at the past operation of the airport and explores the potential activity needed for it to successfully operate in the future.

    A decision regarding compulsory purchase of the airport will not be made until an Indemnity Partner is identified following the procurement process.

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    1. This is barking mad. The council's officers are not qualified to prepare a high level business plan. What on earth is the council doing trying to assess the viability of an airport. This is not the council's job. It is for River Oak or any other company which wishes to run the airport, to produce the business plan which should then be presented to the council. In my view, it is for River Oak to deal directly with Ann Gloag. The council's only involvement should be to use the planning system, either to control the airport's impact, or to determine what types of alternative development would be permissible.

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  20. The airport is no longer an airport. A CPO will never work because the viability report has proved it is not in the public interest. Anne Gloegs lawyers will be all over it. To succeed the airport has to be part of a national plan which it isn't. The legal fight is already lost. Don't waste our money on a CPO.

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  21. It won't be "our" money, it will be RiverOak's. Do pay attention before commenting. As for TDC's "viability" report, they've now agreed that it is flawed and are commisioning other people to do another one.

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    1. Cant find anywhere where the TDC cabinet say that the viability report is flawed or where they say RiverOak will be the preferred partner. All TDC are doing is spending another £40,000 on a more detailed report and identfying whether any company can come up with a 20 year development plan which includes investment after the purchase of at least £100 millions. That's what it cost Southend airport to become viable and they even built their own railway station.

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    2. A CPO has to go the High Court - proving that it is in the public interest. The report states that as part of a national plan £100's of millions might make Manston Profitable in 50 years. The airport is finished. The council are just carrying it on because they are worried about votes from misinformed locals. It's all over.

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  22. More here:

    https://www.facebook.com/cookeco/posts/951812411511788

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  23. Yes the councillors like Gale are giving thr appearance of doing something to keep the baggage handlers vote and do nothing on the contamination

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  24. You anti-Manston lot are insisting that the airport is finished yet you're campaigning against it and going on about pollution.

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  25. The Thanet economic plan to 2030 predicts growth based predominantly on construction.

    A CPO would be legally complex and more so riding on a back to back agreement.

    I think such a CPO would prevent any future amended planning consents benefiting Riveroak, If such beneficial planning consents were to be granted then Ms Gloag would be back for another tranche of damages.

    The pollution issues in Thanet, actually proven by Environment Agency responses to FOIs from Richard Card, relate to Sericol and Thor and not to Manston. There has been a blog campaign mentioning Manston and the aquifer at every opportunity. If the author of the voluminous posts were to make FOIs and publish then his comments might be viewed as more substantive.

    It is almost certain that Ms Gloag has commissioned her own expert viability study which would have been informed by the operating accounts of the previous years. TDC has to assess for itself what strength her case would have in the CPO process.

    Imagine Ms Gloag's barrister asking a hearing if they know the definition of madness. To repeat previous mistakes in the expectation of success.

    It is for TDC to define the public interest to themselves. Not to accept, at first PR campaign bite, that miracle of miracles public interest and Riveroak investment interests are synonomous.

    Govt defined public interest is for housing. Thanet economic plan growth prediction public interest is based on construction.

    The pro airport group could equally be labelled "Anti-Manston".



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    1. Growth based on more national debt is defined as a ponzi scheme.

      It must come to an end some time.

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    2. What's poncy about it?

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    3. Thor is polluted but Manston isn't? How polluted is Thor and what's being done about it?

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    4. We're poncing off of the Chinese, 19:34, and one of these days they'll want their pound of flesh; probably by building slave labour complexes, like a Foxconn iPod factory for example, to house your grandchildren.

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  26. Get rid of Thor and build a 2nd airport!

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    1. Get rid of Thor and Manston! Although to be fair they're both closed just contaminated

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  27. Nicholson is absolutely right to be cautious about River Oak's attempts to involve themselves in the CPO process. It is worth reminding the idiots who want to plough ahead quickly that this is exactly why we now have a derelict seafront; irresponsible councillors failed in their duty to probe into the background and finances of the company involved. Before anything is signed with anybody, the council has be absolutely certain that the company has the money and is able to commit the money to the project. I'm afraid a letter of intent is totally insufficient and, in terms of underwriting the CPO, I can see no way in which a foreign-owned company's assurances could be sufficient. Hard cash will need to be deposited in the form of a non-returnable bond.

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  28. Dont forget... coming to a council near you from the 6th august.... permission to film any council meeting and they cant stop you.

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    1. Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014
      section 40:
      (1)The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for and in connection with allowing persons—
      (a)to film, photograph or make sound recordings of proceedings at a meeting of a body to which this section applies, or of a committee or sub-committee of such a body;
      (b)to use other means for enabling persons not present at such a meeting to see or hear proceedings at the meeting, as it takes place or later;
      (c)to report or provide commentary on the proceedings at such a meeting, orally or in writing, so that the report or commentary is available, as the meeting takes place or later, to persons not present at the meeting.
      (2)Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular, make provision—
      (a)for allowing persons to make available to the public or a section of the public using any medium (including the internet) things produced as a result of activities within that subsection;
      (b)about the facilities to be made available by bodies to which the regulations apply to enable persons to carry on such activities;
      (c)about the steps to be taken by persons before carrying on such activities;
      (d)about the circumstances in which persons may not carry on such activities, including for enabling a person specified in the regulations to prevent them from doing so in the circumstances specified in the regulations.
      (3)The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision—
      (a)for requiring written records to be kept of decisions that are of a kind specified in the regulations and are taken by an officer of a body to which this section applies,
      (b)with respect to the information that is to be included in those written records (including information as to the reasons for any decision);
      (c)for requiring any such written records, or any documents connected with the decisions to which they relate, to be supplied or made available to members of the body, to the public or to other persons;
      (d)for the creation of offences in respect of any rights or requirements conferred or imposed by the regulations.

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    2. The Duffers have delayed scrutiny as long as they can...what will they try next? Usually its just lies

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  29. As this law came into force in England today the only chance the council have got is to declare Thanet as part of Wales!
    But now the boot is on the other foot can the public call the police if filming is prevented? At least it looks like officers can be fined £200 (soon to be £800) under this new law and the farce where meetings such as the TransEuropa credit ones can no longer go unrecorded without fines being imposed.

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