David Parkin on flying in the face of common sense

IT’s official, Doncaster Sheffield Airport has been crowned as the best in the UK.

Yes, for the fourth year in a row the airport has been named the UK’s most popular by consumer champion Which?

That’s right, the South Yorkshire airport which is soon to be shut down by its owner Peel Group.

It begs the question should Which? be renamed What’s the Point?

Apparently Doncaster Sheffield triumphed ahead of similar sized airports Exeter and Liverpool John Lennon when more than 7,500 members of Which? were asked for their experiences of flying from UK airports over the last two years.

DSA got a customer satisfaction score of 85 per cent, with travellers praising the airport’s ‘fantastic, helpful staff’ and ‘faultless service’ and awarding its employees five stars.

The airport also scooped five star ratings for queues through security and at baggage reclaim, as well as for seating and toilet facilities, with one respondent saying their experience was ‘how air travel should be’.

It was given four stars for queues at check-in and bag drop, three stars for price of goods and two stars for the range of shops.

Wonderful stuff.

Just one problem.

The airport closes on Monday.

Owner Peel Group has been winding down operations for several months after claiming the site is no longer viable as a regional airport.

Doncaster Sheffield has never got anywhere near full capacity in terms of flights or passengers and the range of destinations it offers has always been pretty limited.

Which means it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes, Bergerac and Miss Marple to work out why it scored so highly in the Which? Survey with travellers when it came to queues, seating, check-in, and bag drop.

And of course, it was highly rated for its nice clean toilets.

That’s because no one is using them!

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones – whose campaigning rhetoric belies her resemblance to a school dinner lady – has been attempting to reverse Peel Group’s decision to close the airport while almost 1,000 people attended a recent protest march to call for it to be saved.

I bet staff at the airport panicked when they saw that many people, they can’t be used to crowds.

Of course the closure of the airport is bad news for the hundreds of people who will lose their jobs as a result, including airport staff, airline employees and those working for third-party companies providing aviation services at the site.

Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel said: “This year we’ve witnessed unprecedented chaos at many of the UK’s largest airports. Travellers reported extensive queues and unhelpful staff, with resources pushed to breaking point.

“Just a few years ago, travellers may have paid little attention to their choice of airport – but now it may just make or break your trip.

“Wherever possible, we’d recommend opting for smaller airports, which have generally offered a smoother and less stressful experience for their passengers over the last two years.”

For most people in Yorkshire, the main airports used are Leeds Bradford and Manchester.

If you are interested, of the 29 airports rated in the UK, Leeds Bradford Airport ranked 21st, with a 52 per cent satisfaction rate.

All three terminals at Manchester Airport were in the bottom three.

There is the option of travelling from Teesside, Newcastle Liverpool or East Midlands airports but all means significant travel time, unless you live on the fringes of the region.

Given the widely publicised news about Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s closure, I’m surprised Which? chose to include the quote from one respondent who said their experience was “how air travel should be”.

Well, sadly, it seems like it was a luxury that was unsustainable as an airport, according to its owner.

For those of us who do want to travel by air and don’t want to have to do it from an airport in London, we’re going to have to put up with queues, delays and mucky toilets for the foreseeable future.


NO sooner had I mentioned Michael Gove’s new career as a public speaker last week and he’s back in Rishi Sunak’s new Cabinet.

The former Secretary for Education, Justice and the Environment was this week brought back into government by the new Prime Minister as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the role he held before Boris Johnson sacked him in the summer.

It isn’t quite as speedy as Suella Braverman’s Cabinet comeback, but pretty rapid all the same.

One comment made on my blog last week by a reader pointed out that it was all very well for Michael Gove to drop bon mots about Liz Truss and his experiences in government, but couldn’t he offer some suggestions about how we navigate our way through the many current challenges we face as a country?

I’m sure he can, but I suspect you may have to book him as a speaker, at an estimated fee of between 10 and 25 grand a pop, to hear those words of wisdom.

Although the window to do that was open briefly and is now temporarily closed as he is back in Government and so probably no longer on the speaker circuit, for now.

And the longer he isn’t making lucrative speeches the better.

Not because he isn’t a great speaker.

But probably like you, I yearn for just a little bit of stability in politics after the dramas which swirled around the premierships of Boris and Liz.


IT was sad to read the news about historic Yorkshire pork pie manufacturer Vale of Mowbray entering administration with more than 170 jobs lost.

At the end of last month the family-owned business, which is based in Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire, saw joint administrators from specialist business advisory firm FRP appointed.

Vale of Mowbray can trace its roots to the Vale of Mowbray Brewery, which was opened in 1795 and the business began making pork pies in 1928.

Apparently the company has experienced significant financial challenges in recent years due to rising raw material input prices, increasing energy costs and sector-wide recruitment challenges.

The directors of the company had tried a fruitless attempt to attract new investment but without any viable offers and without the resources to continue trading, the directors were forced to appoint administrators and shut the business.

That move saw 171 of the 219 staff made redundant with the remaining employees retained in the short term as part of the process of winding up the operations of the business and an asset sale of its two freehold manufacturing sites in Leeming Bar, plant and machinery, as well as intellectual property.

Martyn Pullin, partner at FRP and joint administrator of Vale of Mowbray, said: “The Vale of Mowbray was a proud family business with a loved brand that has been synonymous with pork pies for generations.

“But the increasingly difficult trading conditions being experienced by many energy and labour intensive manufacturing businesses have ultimately led to the business’ closure.”

It is a terribly sad demise for a great Yorkshire family business.

I have to admit that I wasn’t aware of this company until six years ago.

Watching the fantastic parade through Leeds of Yorkshire’s medal winners from the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics, I noticed that a sponsor was Vale of Mowbray Pork Pies.

I commented here at the time that it sounds like a business that hails from the UK’s pork pie capital of Melton Mowbray.

That elicited a response from the company which began: “We’ve been sent your blog by our solicitors”.

Deep intake of breath.

Having avoided the threat of litigation from Ken Bates when he was chairman of Leeds United, I didn’t really want to have to start answering to m’learned friends.

Fortunately the statement was followed with “Nothing legal, they’d just spotted our name.”

The email was from Richard Brown at Vale of Mowbray Pork Pies, who with humour and skill pointed out that Vale of Mowbray pies don’t come from Leicestershire, but have been “Baked in Yorkshire since 1928”.

Thanks to Richard I learned a great deal about the Vale of Mowbray and its pork pies.

You could say I became something of a pork pie pundit.

With the aplomb of a skilled marketeer, Richard explained: “We have indeed been baking delicious Pork Pies here in Leeming Bar for the last 80 odd years, in fact the site we are on started out as the Vale of Mowbray brewery back in 1795.

“We’ve now stopped brewing beer to focus on baking the best Pork Pies in Yorkshire, but we are very proud to be associated with two quintessentially English products – a pie and a pint,” he told me.

“Although we do share part of our name with that lot from Leicestershire, the Vale of Mowbray is an actual place, it’s the historic name for the area of lowland between the Yorkshire Dales to the West and the North Yorkshire Moors to the East.”

Richard even enclosed a map of the said Vale of Mowbray and I can confirm it stretches from Middleton Tyas in the north to Dalton and Kilburn in the south and across from Bedale in the west to Osmotherley in the east, taking in the large market towns of Thirsk and Northallerton.

There is a photo of part of the Vale of Mowbray at the top of this blog.

I figured you would rather see that than a photo of either Doncaster Sheffield Airport or Michael Gove.

When I spoke to Richard back in 2016 the business had then just finished a new £10m extension to its main bakery and had clearly invested a great deal.

Which makes it even sadder that principally external forces have closed the last chapter of its 80-year story.


IT is Halloween on Monday.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it scary, I find it sad.

It is a retail marketing opportunity imported from America, nothing more, nothing less.

Please don’t wish me a “Happy Halloween” because I’ll ignore you.

If you have kids I’m sure it is well nigh impossible to avoid the fancy dress outfits, pumpkins and trick or treating.

If you are having a Halloween fancy dress party please don’t invite me.

Otherwise I’ll come back and haunt you.

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top