Back Heathrow fun day blocked

Coun­cil ve­toes event be­ing held at school

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alan Hayes alan.hayes@trin­i­tymir­

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.

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