Taking the fight against Heathrow Expansion to the seaside

Today saw the TUC bring their conference to Brighton where senior Trade Union officials and their members meet to discuss policy matters and campaigns ahead.

With the Trade Unions split on whether to oppose or support a Third Runway at Heathrow, my friends at Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) decided to run a coach full of campaigners from Harmondsworth to the seaside to put their side of the story and convince the Unions that opposition is the best course of action.

Leaving the Village at 9.30am, we arrived in a wet and windswept Brighton just before 11 and formed up outside the conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were joined shortly for a briefing on the latest developments by Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell, who posed with the team from SHE for photos afterwards (Below)

 

With the wind whipping up, the two of us holding the long banner were struggling to hang on to it – after John McDonnell commented on the weather, I joked that we were about to get some impromptu kite surfing in at this rate. His response was to quip, ‘ what’s that, the UKIP air force?’ – he obviously hasn’t heard the news! Whilst it was strange to be joking with a man who I have locked horns with politically for many years (Some of it quite unpleasant), it shows the strength of feeling against the runway that such diametrically opposed characters can come together and work alongside people of all backgrounds and political views on a subject that transcends politics and affects so many.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Residents turn out in force to protect the Green Belt

As previously reported on this site, the Green Belt at Hayes Park (Home Farm) has been put up for sale on the Rightmove website, with such phrases as ‘Prime development land’ being used in the advertisement.

CD Green beltAfter an initial public meeting organised by John McDonnell MP that was very well attended and interest from the local Gazette newspaper, residents organised a photo shoot with the newspaper where all were urged to attend and show the strength of feeling against the move.

A number of public spirited locals have distributed window signs and spread the word about the event across the Charville ward and the result was seen this afternoon where a large crowd attended and were backed up by riders from the local stables who use the area to exercise their horses.

DSC_0436

Local residents form up just before the Gazette photoshoot

DSC_0437The view from Hayes End Road

DSC_0438Children with their ponies arrive to join the protest

DSC_0439

One of the home made banners that was on display

DSC_0440

A view across the park

DSC_0441

One of the banners made by the children

DSC_0442

The crowd starts to disperse after pictures were taken

Any attempts to build on the site will be met with strong protest, as today has shown.

The area surrounding already suffers from flooding during wet spells, which will get worse should the fields be concreted over. Added to the loss of wildlife, increased traffic and degradation of air quality that losing our ‘green lung’ would bring, there are far better places for developers in the area to be looking at in Hayes which has a number of brown field sites available.

If you would like to get involved in the fight to save our Green Belt, regular updates are  posted on a local residents Facebook site http://www.facebook.com/friendsofhayesend

A committee is also being formed to organise resistance, if you would like to be involved then you can contact the office of the Hayes MP via email mcdonnellj@parliament.uk

Four years ago, working together as a community, we managed to stop a proposed development on the site. Working together , we can stop it again

Welfare Reform bill – My reply to John McDonnell MP

Dear John

I saw your eye catching response to the Welfare Reform Bill in Parliament on line (Below)

You raise some very valid points but as usual fail to identify the root causes of the issues in our area.

As UKIP’s Hayes & Harlington spokesman and effectively the opposition party in the constituency, here is my reply to your speech.

Continue reading

Tunisia and beyond – Why our Government keep failing in the face of terror

Like most of you, I was horrified by the events of last Friday – The massacre of tourists in Tunisia, the bombing of the Shia Mosque in Kuwait and the beheading of a worker at a chemical plant in France. It would appear that the Islamic State promise to paint the Holy month of Ramadan with blood was no idle boast as countries around the world were hit by grim acts of terror.

David Cameron 2Yesterday morning, David Cameron gave a press conference where he once again sent out a defiant message that the free countries of the world will not give in to these acts of barbarism and that the terrorists will never win. Unfortunately, whilst our Prime Minister thinks he talks a good game, both his actions and part of his speech show just why this growing threat shows no signs of going away in the near future.

 

Tough on the causes of extremism?

Both David Cameron and Home Secretary Teresa May have said that they will crack down hard on the preachers of hate. However, what they say and what they do are two entirely different things.

Al Quds 2014 - Ladies with HB flags

Continue reading

A fair EU Referendum?

I sent the following yesterday to local media outlets and my MP

Kensington and Chelsea-20120313-00054

On Friday 5th June it will be 40 years since the British people had a vote on our membership of the European Union. Now we are promised another referendum by David Cameron. But will it be fair?

Already there is talk that the EU Referendum Bill may be amended to allow about 1.5 million non-British citizens a vote on the future of our nation on the grounds that they are EU citizens who live here. Of course, if EU nationals who have come to the UK have taken the trouble to gain British citizenship then they deserve to have a vote. If they have lived in the UK for donkey’s years but kept their Italian or Spanish citizenship then they do not.

There is also the suggestion that the vote would exclude military personnel and many other British people temporarily overseas.

It is also a concern that the Bill makes no provision for a “purdah” period to stop the government unfairly interfering in the Referendum campaign.

None of these things would be fair. Worse, they would be dangerous. It these ideas are adopted they will call into question the legitimacy of the referendum.

If David Cameron, his ministers, or the Lords take us down the road of giving EU nationals a vote in the EU referendum it tells us the vote will be a sham and they have no confidence they can win it – without gerrymandering the result.

An open letter to John McDonnell MP

Dear John

I recently received your letter to residents announcing your intention to stand again for the Hayes & Harlington constituency in the General Election.

In your letter, you raise the issues of the NHS and the local housing crisis – Both are extremely important issues and you are quite right to highlight them.

Having read the letter, I would like to raise the following points.

1 – The NHS

imagesCACG9UV0

You state that you fear a Conservative win at the next General Election will lead to the NHS being privatised and sold off. Whilst I share that fear, you appear to overlook the fact that your party (Labour) in government started the privatisation of the NHS and indeed introduced more privatisation to the service than the Coalition have done since taking power in 2010.

Continue reading

Communities unite to fight the Third Runway

hacanrallyLast night saw a coming together of politicians of all parties, Trade unionists and environmental campaigners at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster for the Rally against the Runway, organised by independent campaign group HACAN Clearskies. (As previously reported on our site by Heathrow Villages ward representative, Bryan Tomlinson)

Chaired by HACAN’s John Stewart, this was a community reply to the significant financial muscle of Heathrow Airport Ltd and their ‘astroturfing’* propaganda arm, Back Heathrow, who have spent millions plastering adverts over newspapers, the internet and just about any billboard in London they can find. Go on any tube train currently and you will see those ad’s, usually with a modified Union flag, telling you how the country needs this expansion – Ironic when none of the investors in the airport are actually British!

 

It was a rare showing of political unity but totally justified when out of 27 surrounding boroughs, only 2 actually support expansion (Hang your heads in shame Spelthorne and Slough!)

Many valid points were raised by the speakers – Destruction of housing, pollution, noise, the lack of infrastructure to support additional traffic around the airport, the flawed business case and the madness of allowing an increase in numbers of aircraft flying across the densely populated urban sprawl of London to name just a few.

3rd runway John RandallThere were veterans of the previous campaign – Outgoing Uxbridge Conservative MP John Randall (Left) was third up to the podium, with the final speaker being Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell – He repeated his call from the recent public meeting that ‘you can’t trust any of the politicians from any of the party’s on this ‘, no doubt mindful that despite his own stated aim to stop the Runway that neither his own Labour party or The Conservatives will say where they stand on expansion before the election, preferring to wait on the recommendations of The Davies Commission that has been postponed until after May 7th.

 

Former Conservative transport minister, Steven Norris (Below),  spoke of the calls in the seventies to make urban freeways on flyovers through London, and that at the time the prevailing wisdom that we needed to be ‘more like Detroit’ in order to get cars around London is similar to the flawed case being put forward that we need more aircraft capacity at Heathrow to deal with increased ‘hub’ traffic.

3rd runway Steven Norris

Headline speaker Vince Cable MP (below left), the current secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, spoke of the flawed projections of ‘hub’ passenger numbers that are being put forward, arguing that the biggest hub of the future will be in Dubai and that Heathrow’s best option for growth is to embrace the switch to more short haul traffic and direct flights to long haul destinations.

3rd runway Vince Cable3rd runway Adam Afriyie

MP’s Zac Goldsmith and Adam Afriyie spoke of their determination to beat the runway, with Mr Afriyie (Right) speaking of his childhood in South London teaching him how to fight and if the airport wanted a fight he would give it to them.

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace’s John Sauven gave the environmental viewpoint, talking of pollution and the effects on climate, whilst Chris Baugh of the PCS Union  dispelled the notion that the Trade Union movement are solidly behind expansion despite what the airport would have you believe (Manuel Cortes of the TSSA was also scheduled to speak, but was called away on urgent business before he could do so)

Further speeches were also heard from Lib-Dem GLA leader Caroline Pidgeon, Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia and MP’s Mary Macleod and Andy Slaughter.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also spoke after waiting patiently just before John McDonnell’s closing speech and seemed to be getting over the cold that had hampered her TV performances in the previous week (Below)

3rd Runway Natalie Bennett

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour MEP was due to attend the event, but due to unforeseen circumstances was unable to show up on the night – With trepidation, I stepped in to represent UKIP and my speech can be viewed below –

 

Cliff Dixon speech to Rally against the Runway

I’m sorry that Jill Seymour MEP, UKIP’s National Transport spokesperson, is unable to be here tonight but as UKIP’s candidate in the constituency that includes the airport and a Hillingdon borough resident I hope I can speak from the heart and tell you why UKIP is firmly against another runway at Heathrow.

With a life long interest in aircraft, I can see the idea of a third runway for what it is – Not an essential requirement for the UK economy, but a cash cow for the investors in Heathrow Airport to swell the coffers of their bank accounts.

cliffdixonrostrumThey care not for our local communities affected by noise and pollution on the flightpaths in to the airport – Indeed, Akbar Al-Baker of Qatar Holdings, a major stakeholder in the airport, has been quoted in the national press as saying that locals enjoyed ‘excessive freedom’ and ‘made too much fuss’ about noise, which they would ‘soon get used to’.

It may be fun to visit an airshow for a day, but it’s not much fun for Heathrow Villagers who see aircraft flying over their houses every couple of minutes – Some of whom have been in those houses for generations before the expansion of Heathrow in to the airport that is has become today. People I have been fortunate to meet and class as friends who stand to lose those homes if expansion goes ahead and will see a community they have been a part of torn asunder.

This is to say nothing of the pollution that increased aircraft activity will bring. My mother was a Hillingdon resident who suffered with breathing problems which have now mysteriously disappeared since moving out of the area . How many of our children in Cranford, Sipson, Harlington and Harmondsworth are suffering similarly today?

We hear from Heathrow Airport Ltd that newer aircraft are less noisy and less polluting. That might be so, but if there are more of them then those benefits will be negated by sheer numbers.

I have stood close to an Airbus A380 at Farnborough Airshow and it is indeed an improvement noise wise on take off, but that same almost empty plane sounds somewhat different with a full load taking off from a runway at Heathrow – Those here from Harlington will know what I mean.

They also neglect to mention that their proposed steeper glide paths to offset noise in the outer boroughs will require faster deceleration on final approach, meaning more ‘reverse thrust’ and increased airframe sound – You can only do so much because of the sheer physics of aircraft design and those closest to the airport, our community in Hillingdon, are likely to see increased disruption from these measures.

3rd runway audience

So, what can be done?

Heathrow is a major employer in the area and has been here for many years. It has become a part of our daily lives.

However, it can be a better neighbour to us all by engaging with the local community over improved noise mitigation.

Heathrow can improve operations by looking at the flights that operate out of it – For a ‘hub’ airport, there are a disproportionate amount of short haul point to point flights versus long haul.

There also needs to be a radical rethink of the ‘grandfather rights’ that allow airlines that have traditionally had landing and take off slots to use under occupied or empty flights to block out new routes from coming to the airport and making better use of the existing runways. By doing this, it will preserve and create jobs that Back Heathrow have been scaremongering will be lost whilst improving relations with those of us who live daily in its shadow.

Whatever people’s view on whether we actually need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England, there is no convincing argument for building a third, and possibly fourth, runway at  Heathrow particularly when weighed up against all the arguments against it.

lies

If we do indeed need to increase aviation capacity in the South East of England then we need to be smarter in our use of the existing airports in concert with Heathrow. In London, we have 7 runways spread around 6 airports. We also have an unused large runway at Manston in Kent that can be re-opened if necessary and would not require the decimation of housing nor bring the noise and pollution issues we would see at Heathrow.

Finally, improving our communications networks should be a priority and would do away with the need for some of the business flights.

I stand here tonight alongside our community and members of all political parties and none who oppose a Third Runway at Heathrow.

Whilst this is a non-politically aligned event, it will ultimately be politicians who make the final decision on whether the runway gets built.

I can relay a message from Jill Seymour MEP, that UKIP stand with you in opposing the Third Runway at both a national and local level.

Make sure that those who seek your mandate at the General Election can say the same with their national party’s support and hold them to account at the ballot box.

The future of our local communities depend on it.

Thank you very much

Last night’s event showed that local communities and those who represent them will not be bullied in to an expansion plan that benefits the corporate interest of the Airport at the expense of  our area. The Third Runway has been beaten before – Through unity, it will be beaten again.

* ‘Astroturfing’ is a term for a fake grass roots campaign propped up by vested interests