Cllr Ravi Govindia, is the Leader of Wandsworth Council. Cllr Lord True is the Leader of Richmond upon Thames Council. Cllr Ray Puddifoot is the Leader of Hillingdon.
In his piece last week, Mark Menzies MP makes a passionate plea to expand Heathrow. He has a “growing sense of frustration”. He states that “Heathrow is the plan that delivers for all” and that the “final barriers to airport expansion have gone”.
We don’t suppose these are exceptional views 250 miles north of west London. Why would they be? It’s easy to see a consensus if your electors are not amongst the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are already blighted by the noise, air pollution, traffic and environmental degradation that is Heathrow. And that’s before expansion. But we do represent those electors.
Is he aware that a third runway will result in an extra 320,000 people subject to noise impact, new flight paths affecting our communities for the first time, 750 homes destroyed, and all in an area that already exceeds air quality legal limits? It would rightly cause significant alarm to our constituents if they thought this represented ‘no barriers’.
Our residents know more about the realities of Heathrow than the MP for Fylde. And they know more about the Prime Minister’s position than the claim that he “was elected on a manifesto that committed to strong leadership”. Many of them voted Conservative as a direct consequence of his firm promise in 2009 - “no ifs, no buts, no third runway at Heathrow”.
However, we concede Mark Menzies makes an important point in seeking to reach a balance between the national interest and local concerns. Let’s take a closer look at his track record on these sometimes difficult matters. We do not know how many readers of Conservative Home read the Lytham and St. Anne’s Express. Perhaps not many. On 28th January 2015 it carried the story – “Fylde’s Tory MP has sensationally called for fracking to be halted”. Pictured above the story was “Mark Menzies MP, with residents and protestors showing their feelings in Little Plumpton ahead of County Hall’s decision on fracking plans”.
For our part, we will not mount a campaign to advance the interests of fracking in Little Plumpton. Although we are not aware that the Prime Minister has said “no ifs, no buts, no fracking in Fylde”. Mr Menzies is well known for making a very strong case for localism – giving local councils the power to act in the best interests of their residents – not having something imposed on them. He will therefore understand our views.
If anyone thinks Conservatives in west London are prepared to accept Heathrow as the best answer to providing much needed expansion in the south east, then we have a message for them on behalf of our constituents.
You’re fracking joking.