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Stobart and council edge towards city airport deal

Crisis talks aimed at keeping haulage giant Eddie Stobart in Cumbria have been described as a "big step forward" by both parties involved.

Andrew Tinkler photo 2
Andrew Tinkler

Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler said the summit, with Carlisle council leader Mike Mitchelson and other council representatives, had been "really worthwhile."

The parties will meet again on Thursday when it is hoped a final resolution can be reached.

Speaking minutes after leaving the meeting at his WA Developments base at Kingstown, Mr Tinkler said the plan to develop Carlisle airport and move his business empire there now rested on hammering out 10 issues where agreement has not yet been reached.

Mr Mitchelson confirmed that the talks had been positive. He said: "Discussions went well and representatives from both sides will now spend the next two days trying to resolve the 10 points at issue. Some of the points are relatively minor and I hope on Thursday a final decision can be made. We want this to happen."

The talks were hastily scheduled after Mr Tinkler threatened to abandon a plan to develop the airport and instead switch his businesses to Widnes because of 63 conditions attached to consent for the plan by the council last Friday.

“There wasn’t anything decided at today’s meeting,” said Mr Tinkler.

“We went through the conditions we received last Friday, which is the first time we had seen them. We are probably down to 10 issues that need hammering out.”

Mr Tinkler refused to say what the issues are.

He added: “We put our points of view across and our understanding of their points of view.

“We stressed that to make Carlisle Airport viable and viable for Stobart Group, we need some of the conditions relaxing, so that there is investment in the site and it works.

“We are willing to go away and see what they [the council] come up with.

“We have arranged another meeting on Thursday and see if we can get from 10 [outstanding issues] to nothing.”

Mr Tinkler flew a specialist aviation lawyer from London to help press his case.

He added: “[The talks] were really worthwhile, I have been asking for a long time for something like this. I’m disappointed it had to get this far and that we couldn’t have sat down before together. It’s a big step forward.

“It might have to go back to members, hopefully by Thursday we will know a timetable for that.

“We have adjusted our conditions. We now have to see how much they can adjust on those 10 points.”

Mr Mitchelson said: “We covered a lot of ground. We have had to debate around the 63 conditions and really decisions only have to be agreed on 10 of them.

“Some of it is just fine tuning of the wording for clarification and there are one or two other issues.

“For the next two days, council planning officers and Andrew Tinkler’s consultants will sit round and thrash out some of the issues.

“There is another meeting on Thursday where we will look at the current position and decide the way forward.

“There was a positive feel to the meeting. Both sides are keen that we work something out to make everybody happy.”

Mr Mitchelson added the conditions would need to go back in front of the city council’s development control committee if any “material changes” were made.

The meeting was also attended by Carlisle MP Eric Martlew who said earlier today that he felt that some of the planning conditions were far too restrictive.

Have your say

i think it is a very sad day for cumbria that stobarts should be moving a big part of cumbria will be lost without the firm had the development gone ahead as it should it would have been very good for cumbria as a whole

Posted by ian on 5 January 2011 at 18:54

Thank You finaly the council have listened to the sense. Well done Mr Tinkler for sticking to your guns if more business people did this then Carlisle would soon become somewhere for people to move there business intrests to and not away from.
In the economic climate as it is any growth in carlisle is a blessing and a good sign to outsiders that we are doing something right.

Posted by Anon on 29 December 2010 at 10:19

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