Back Heathrow fun day blocked
Council vetoes event being held at school
A FAMILY fun day has been caught up in a political row and cancelled, prompting an angry response from people who hoped to attend.
Back Heathrow, the lobby group committed to a third runway at the airport, had booked Minet Junior School in Avondale Drive, Hayes, for the event on Saturday next week.
But when Hillingdon Council, which owns the school, learned of the plans it intervened and refused permission.
The leader of the council, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, said: “The council’s position is very clear – we are not in support of a third runway at Heathrow, therefore it would be inappropriate to host an event that actively promotes the delivery of a third runway at one of our schools.”
Dan Kennedy, the council’s interim head of performance and improvement, wrote to Minet’s chairman of governors, Roy Hill, last week: “I trust that the school will co-operate fully with the council’s direction and that immediate steps will be taken to inform the organiser of the event that it will not be going ahead.
“Finally, I require your confirmation in writing that you have fully complied with this direction.”
Mike Appleton, of Back Heathrow was disappointed by the council’s stance saying that, although the fun day had a political message, it was not intended to be a political rally.
“If this was a placard-waving, screaming and shouting event we would understand it,” he added.
Mr Hill said: “Within our community we will have people who support the Back Heathrow campaign, but many will not support it.
“We would be very amenable to community groups using our premises, but we would not be amenable to a political campaign.
“The school’s premises are owned by the council and we have to abide by council policy but in any case the school would not want to be involved in backing an event that was a political campaign.”
He said the situation was ‘regrettable’, but he was not opposed to the council’s policy. “It’s difficult, but we are where we are,” he added.
As word got out, the Gazette received a number of emails.
“I am writing to express my disgust at the undemocratic decision taken by Hillingdon Council to ban the Back Heathrow family fun day from using council owned facilities,” wrote Richard Wilson.
“The decision made is undefendable in my view and smacks of oppression.”
David Hicks said: “I would just like to voice my total disgust at the way Hillingdon Council has stopped Back Heathrow from holding an event on primary school premises, a premises that would have been paid for, thus giving money to the funds of a school.”
And Nikki Drewett wrote: “I do not understand how a local council has the legal right to do this, especially as this was not a political event, but merely an opportunity for families to have a fun out day.
“I hope the council are proud of their behaviour.”
Only Dave Robins approved, saying: “I’m pleased to report that Back Heathrow’s Family Fun Day has been cancelled.
“Trust them to come up with an event to ‘celebrate’ the misery a third runway would bring to thousands of families who might end up under its flightpath.
“How many children would have their education spoilt by planes constantly flying over their schools?” he asked.