I refer to the Leader of the Council’s replies as given in today’s Star (July 2). I specifically refer to her glib answers in connection with our Airport. I agree, the Council Leader certainly didn’t sell the Airport for a £1.00, but Sheffield City Council certainly did and, incidentally, it has never received payment!
She is correct in that the sole grounds for early closure were financial non-viability and as landlords, the Council, had a duty to ensure that a claim of unviability was proven. This they failed to do – as was pointed out in the strongest terms by the Audit Commission – the Council having merely accepted the figures as supplied by the tenant. The airport was conceived, not by a private sector enterprise, as she states, but rather, by the then Government backed Sheffield Development Corporation whose board of directors included Labour members of the Council. Upon the ending of the Development Corporation’s role the airport was transferred to Sheffield Council, who became landlords. Forty two acres of prime development land having been transferred to the airport operators/developers as part of the agreement for building the facility. From the profits of the proposed building of a business park on this land an operating subsidy of £850,000 was to be maintained. That it wasn’t begs the question of… “Why”?
It is a matter of public record that the Council backed the proposals to close the airport and redevelop the land. It might be said the Council’s officers almost broke their backs in providing help and assistance to this end.
To write off a potentially important asset says little about the Council’s commitment to developing a business friendly and vibrant “European” City – which was, not so long ago, a stated aim of this City .
D S Dalton
Westland Gardens, S20 8ES