MP Nick Fletcher’s ‘frustration’ as top Doncaster Sheffield Airport boss failed to show up to 80 minute meeting with politicians

MP Nick Fletcher has spoken of his ‘frustration’ and said the top boss in charge of Doncaster Sheffield Airport did not attend a meeting with regional politicians over its future.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 12:28 pm

Doncaster MPs, Mayor Ros Jones and South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard were said to have discussed the site’s future on Zoom which lasted just 80 minutes.

Labour mayor Coppard said that he was ‘disappointed’ over Peel’s ‘unwillingness’ to make substantive changes to their position, and to accept the need for an extension to their review despite huge political pressure.

Fletcher went further and questioned why John Whittaker, the chairman of Peel Holdings, was not present at the meeting.

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Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

The Don Valley MP, whose constituency includes DSA, said he felt more frustrated after he left the meeting.

DSA bosses Peel announced that they could close the airport due to its lack of financial viability.

The same group also wanted to close Teesside International airport near Darlington but Tory mayor Ben Houchan stepped in with a package deal to bring it back into public hands.

South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard has not ruled this option out completely but said previously that another private operator would be a better choice. He also pointed out that Teesside International had posted losses of more than £10 million in recent financial years.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also said bringing the airport back into public hands is an option available to the mayor.

Fletcher also called for Mayor Coppard and Peel to do more by setting up further meetings.

“I came out of the online meeting this afternoon between Peel Holdings and Oliver Coppard, the Mayor of South Yorkshire even more frustrated than when I went in,” Fletcher said.

“I have made the point until now as forcefully as I can that we have to have proper meetings. We need meetings to be face to face.

“Why was the chairman of Peel Holdings, John Whittaker, not present in the meeting?

“This decision by Peel to close the airport is unlikely to have been made without his approval. He was at my online meeting with Peel on Monday.

“We all have the right to expect decision makers to attend meetings where decisions have to be made. If Peel are serious then they need to show that.

“The meeting lasted 80 minutes. That was all. Not even two hours. Just 80 minutes. It’s not good enough. 80 minutes for 800 jobs. I saw some of the staff at the airport today before the meeting.

“They deserve better than this and I intend to do my best to ensure they get treated fairly and properly.

“Let’s start again. Let’s treat today for what it was and draw a line. Let’s start again and do it properly now.”