While other councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham are strongly and publicly opposed to a third runway, Ealing’s Labour council has always been equivocal. Council leader Julian Bell has said, when pushed, that Ealing does not support a third runway.
But there has been no clear public opposition.
Motion to Oppose
Because Ealing seemed to be sitting on the fence, the Conservative group tabled a motion at the full council meeting on 18th Dec:
“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport. This Council therefore pledges to support those organisations and local authorities who are taking legal action against the plans to expand Heathrow Airport.”
The motion was supported by the LibDems.
Prior to the debate on this motion, a member of Ealing Green Party was allowed to ask a ‘public question’. He asked the question on Heathrow expansion and climate change, referring to the extra £2.9m tonnes of CO2 pa that would be emitted. This was referred to by the Conservatives and LibDems.
The Labour response was, broadly:
* This is a national government decision and therefore there is little that Ealing can do.
* With severe cash constraints the council cannot justify spending money opposing it.
* Ealing seeks to get the maximum compensation/mitigation
There were a couple of speeches from Southall Labour cllrs supporting expansion. This included one from Cllr Rajinder Mann which, as pointed out from the public gallery by said Green Party member, sounded like a script provided by Heathrow.
We know it was because it quoted economic benefits from Heathrow’s propaganda, which is completely at variance with the official government estimates.
The Art of the Compromise
When it looked as if the motion would be voted down, the Conservatives adroitly amended the motion to the first part only:
“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.”
It was then passed unanimously.
Written by Nic Ferriday