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MP seeks assurance over airport link fund

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 25, 2013

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NEWQUAY and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert is calling on the Government to guarantee funding to protect the Newquay to Gatwick air link.

The MP for St Austell and Newquay sought assurances from the Department of Transport over the funding arrangements for the Public Service Obligation (PSO) currently being negotiated to continue the Newquay to Gatwick route.

PSO status would ensure financial assistance from the Government to keep the route between the duchy and the capital running.

Mr Gilbert said if PSO status is awarded, it is likely to be under a four-year agreement but the Department for Transport and the Treasury have yet to come to an agreement over funding for the scheme beyond the funds earmarked for the next two years.

Questioning the Transport Minister on Thursday, Mr Gilbert said: "The proposed public service obligation on the economically vital Newquay to London Gatwick route will run for four years, but funding might be in place for only two years. What assurance can the Minister give that funding will be in place for the duration of the public service obligation on that route?"

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Robert Goodwill, MP, said the route is a potential applicant for the scheme.

"I suspect that the honorable gentleman should have directed that question to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who made an announcement on that matter recently," he said.

"As Newquay is more than three hours from London and has a current operator, it is a potential applicant that would almost certainly be seen in a positive light."

Afterwards Mr Gilbert added: "If Cornwall Council, Newquay airport, and the Government are going to come to an agreement then we need to be sure funding is in place to make it happen.

"I'm pleased the Minister feels that the Newquay to Gatwick PSO scheme has a real chance of taking off.

"Now that the Department for Transport has said it doesn't object, I'll be pressing Treasury Ministers in the new year to get the funding in place.

"I also welcome Vince Cable's view today that more needs to be done to expand and develop regional airports to rebalance our economy. I would urge the Business Secretary to do all he can to help airports like Newquay."

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