Airfield petition removed despite support

Wellesbourne Airfield

An online petition calling on the council to ensure all tenants of Wellesbourne Airfield are offered fixed term tenancies, has been removed by the authority, despite nearly 400 people signing it.

The petition on the council website urged the council to take ‘immediate and decisive action to ensure all existing tenants, are offered protected fixed-term tenancies.’

It was started by Take Flight Aviation, the only business at the airfield not to have recently been offered a 12-month lease extension, by the landowners Littler Investments.

However it appears that the petition was allowed to go live by mistake, with the district council soon deciding that it could not continue as it related to ‘ongoing legal proceedings or matters involving confidential legal or commercial advice’.

Had the petition gained 1,000 from those residing in the district, the issue would have been formally discussed in a meeting by councillors.

The petition also urged the council to formally start compulsory purchase proceedings to buy the airfield without delay.

Mike Roberts, who runs Take Flight Aviation, said: “We are disappointed that the council removed our petition after initially appearing to approve it, however we are committed to working with the local authority to secure the long-term future of the site as an airfield and do not want to do anything that may jeopardise the CPO process. The fact that the petition received around 400 signatures in just a few hours shows the level of support for Wellesbourne Airfield and our business on the site.

“We are however making strong representation to the local authority that the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MofU) entered into by them does not accord with Stratford District Council’s Core Strategy 2011-2031 which states its commitment to “retain and support the enhancement of the established flying functions and aviation related facilities at Wellesbourne Airfield.” or the Wellesbourne neighbourhood plan which says “The role of the airfield must take into account of, and safeguard the needs of the associated business, leisure and training activities and enable them to grow”.”

Mr Roberts has previously been critical of the leases offered to the other airfield tenants, drawing attention to a clause allowing the landowners to terminate them with 28-days notice.

A statement from the landowners’ solicitors last month explained that Take Flight not been offered a new lease because the relationship between the two parties had irrevocably broken down.

It says the council was unable to intervene in a business matter between two businesses and that the decision not to offer Take Flight a new lease did not undermine their commitment to the council to agree a viable long-term future for the airfield.

Stratford District Council has entered into compulsory purchase proceedings to acquire Wellesbourne Airfield and safeguard its Core Strategy, after the landowners’ efforts to promote the site for housing.

However the two parties have recently agreed a memorandum of understanding to ensure that flying functions at the airfield will continue for the foreseeable future.