A business leader has called for Cornwall Council to suspend a decision to select its preferred partner to manage Newquay airport and its 65-acre estate.

John Brown, the new CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, has written an open letter criticising the council for failing to consult the business community on its plan to go into partnership with Westcore.

He added that it is “particularly troubling” that the American company has limited experience in managing airports.

Cornwall Council is deep in the process of finding a financial partner to develop the land and also take the financial pressure off the unitary authority when it comes to running the airport, which is subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of around £4.8m each year.

The wider Cornwall Airport Newquay estate includes Aerohub Business Park, the Spaceport, Kernow Solar Park as well as the land, which is likely to be developed by the new partner for housing and commercial property.

Mr Brown stated in the open letter “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.”