Anger at Heathrow vote

Leaked doc­u­ment shows free vote be­ing con­sid­ered

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Amita Joshi amita.joshi@trin­i­tymir­

A LEAKED doc­u­ment which re­vealed the Heathrow Air­port third run­way de­ci­sion could be de­cided in a free vote in Par­lia­ment has caused out­rage with cam­paign­ers.

A Chan­nel 4 News ex­posé showed a cabi­net of­fice memo seen on the Tube which stated the govern­ment is con­sid­er­ing a free vote in Par­lia­ment fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment on the run­way de­ci­sion.

The is­sue has raised con­cerns from cam­paign­ers on ei­ther side of the de­bate, with those fight­ing for the run­way ar­gu­ing min­is­ters like Boris John­son and Jus­tine Green­ing would be al­lowed to vote against.

Although the doc­u­ment, from se­nior cabi­net of­fice di­rec­tor Sharon Carter to di­rec­tor Sue Gray, did not con­firm any de­tails, it sug­gested the option was be­ing dis­cussed as a pos­si­bil­ity.

Chair of HACAN cam­paign group, which gives a voice to residents un­der the flight paths, John Ste­wart, said: “It is un­prece­dented for a free vote to be granted on any­thing other than a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue or a mat­ter of con­science.

“The fact that the govern­ment is con­sid­er­ing one on a third run­way re­veals once again the strength of the op­po­si­tion within the Cabi­net.”

The news comes as sup­port­ers of the third run­way vis­ited Down­ing Street in a plea to the new Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May to make a de­ci­sion on the is­sue. Back Heathrow cam­paign­ers, some 30,000 peo­ple, sent a mes­sage to May, with some gath­er­ing at Par­lia­ment Square on Tues­day Septem­ber 1).

MP Steve Pound from Eal­ing North, who re­cently an­nounced his sup­port of Heathrow ex­pan­sion be­cause of the thou­sands of new jobs that will be cre­ated in the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, joined the group who as­sem­bled at West­min­ster.

Mr Pound said: “There sim­ply has to be a de­ci­sion – we can’t go on like this. Heathrow is by far the big­gest em­ployer of my con­stituents and with the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ments that have been made I know that an ex­panded Heathrow will be of a real ben­e­fit to Eal­ing North and I urge the govern­ment to make a de­ci­sion now – for the sake of the coun­try, not just for Eal­ing North.”

The surge for Heathrow ex­pan­sion is matched by op­posers of the third run­way, how­ever.

Mid-Au­gust saw west Lon­don coun­cils club to­gether and write to Mrs May out­lin­ing the rea­sons why Gatwick Air­port ex­pan­sion should be cho­sen.

A cabi­net com­mit­tee chaired by the Prime Min­is­ter is ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion in Oc­to­ber.

Big busi­nesses, residents and MPs are push­ing for the de­ci­sion to be made after David Cameron pushed it back sev­eral times, de­spite claim­ing it won’t go ahead at Heathrow, with a mem­o­rable “no ifs, no buts” line.

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