Chamber open letter to Cornwall Council

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Cornwall Chamber of Commerce has written an open letter to the Council, expressing  concerns regarding its selection of a Preferred Partner to run Cornwall Airport Newquay.

While the identity of the Preferred Partner has not been made public by the Council, it is widely understood to be Westcore, an American property investment business with a European wing.

The airport served 440,000 passengers over the past year and contributes about £72 million to the local economy, but it has continually run at loss with the Council’s 2024/25 subsidy likely to be more than £4 million.

The Council has consequently been looking for a partner to develop the 650-acre site and take the financial burden of running an airport.

While Cornwall Council has insisted the future of the airport is not in doubt, the Cornish business community says it is unhappy that it has not been consulted about its plans.

In an open letter to Cornwall Council, newly-appointed Cornwall Chamber CEO, John Brown writes:

Dear Cornwall Council

I am writing to express the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce’s profound disappointment regarding the recent decision to select Westcore as the preferred partner to manage Newquay Airport. This decision, made without consulting the business community and behind closed doors, is both unacceptable and opaque. It disregards the vital role that the private sector plays in our regional economy.

It is particularly troubling that Westcore, the chosen partner, appears to have limited experience in managing airports. Proficiency in airport management should be the foremost criterion in selecting a partner for an asset as critical as Newquay Airport, with property development being a secondary consideration.

The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce stands ready to gather insights and opinions from leaders across business, higher education, and charitable sectors to advise the Council on what we believe to be essential in selecting an appropriate partner.

Our key requests are as follows:

  • Immediate Suspension of Current Decision: Halt any further progress with Westcore until a thorough review and consultation process has been conducted.
  • Transparent Consultation Process: Engage in a transparent and inclusive consultation with the business community and other key stakeholders before finalising any decisions.
  • Criteria for Partner Selection: Ensure that the primary criterion for selecting a partner is demonstrated expertise in airport management.
  • Stakeholder Advisory Panel: Establish a panel comprising representatives from across the spectrum of Cornish industry to provide ongoing advice and insights on the selection process.
  • Public Accountability: Commit to regular updates and open communication with the public and business community regarding the progress and decisions related to Newquay Airport.

Reliable and affordable transport infrastructure is the lifeblood of a thriving local economy. Decisions about the future of Newquay Airport, which involves significant taxpayer investment, must be made through deep, meaningful, and transparent consultation with all stakeholders who rely on its success.

Yours sincerely,

John Brown
CEO, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce

A final report about all aspects of the deal is expected to be presented to the Council Cabinet in the autumn. It’s not clear whether that report will be made public.

Cornwall Chamber CEO, John Brown