“Is this proposal a little retirement game for you?” Residents hit out at airport plans but save the worst for ‘sleepwalking’ councillors.
Rival proponents of a Colnbrook runway weren’t given an easy ride at Colnbrook’s first public meeting to discuss Heathrow expansion last Monday, but residents have criticised the lack of notice, poor organisation and stay-at-home elected representatives.
Even with numbers swelled from neighbouring villages, barely 50 attended what should have been a milestone event, waking sleepy Colnbrook to the two-pronged threat looming. The hastily organised meeting was put together by organisers the CCA to meet Heathrow’s preferred date. That gave barely a week to get the word out and little time to publicise.
While its acoustics were no match for the Village Hall, the meeting was gratefully accommodated in St Thomas’ Church. Some residents complained – ironically – that they couldn’t hear. Visitor Robert Barnstone, a HACAN member, tweeted during the meeting:
With the exception of double-hatter Cllr Burke who is also CCA Secretary, parish councillors stayed away. So did our SBC ward councillors Dexter Smith and Avtar Cheema. Local MP Adam Afriyie, of course, only finds his way to Colnbrook on election day.
Some residents said they were seeing plans for the first time, despite two exhibitions from Heathrow earlier this year. Others expressed frustration that there was no new information on offer from either Heathrow or Hub, particularly with regard to the street by street impact of the proposed plans. Hub representatives in particular still think a rolled up map with a bit of mark-up is sufficient and refuses to share information about which homes it intends to destroy!
With Hub plans set to be sold to Heathrow to implement Rob Barnstone went on to rebuke its representatives present, demanding to know “is this proposal a little retirement game for you?”.
Our homes and futures are in the balance here. Can we still be silent?
But for some this first opportunity to challenge plans publicly was a wake-up call. If the persistent questioning from Harmondsworth residents irritated some, it demonstrated to others how far behind Colnbrook is and the catch-up needed in the ten month delay in holding a first public meeting.
|Residents …||And what they said|
|Angela, a resident of Meadowbrook Close||
“… Colnbrook residents and councillors have been sleepwalking for a long time regarding Heathrow expansion. If decisions are being made by our councillors (both borough and parish) on our behalf we as residents should be consulted at all levels and given more info about what has been said at these council meetings.
Our homes and futures are in the balance here. Can we still be silent?”
|NAG chair Raymond Jackson||
” … very surprised to find there were no specific maps of Colnbrook showing how the two proposals would impact on the village.
“… Having had the opportunity to see and listen to the proposals, for the first time, I intend to take a keen interest in developments from now on. As Angela succintly says, ‘Can we still be silent?’ I say NO.“
“… At the 2011 census the whole civil parish had a population of 6,157 living in 2,533 homes..my guess is there were 50 (at a push) in attendance on the 20th of October. I was also amazed by the lack of Councillors, (our Colnbrook representatives) present last night who could have given some moral support to the attendees… Where were they?
“… as the Premier Colnbrook Group [the Parish Council], should you not be ‘Leading the way’ in bringing everyone together??“… Not enough is being done to inform the local community.”
“… information was not available … the evening was very badly organised and basically a shambles.
“… there needs to be more publicity and there should have been more Councillors there to control some of the people who attended.
“… it was good that we had the backing and suppport of the people of Harmondsworth as they have been through this for many years.”
|Former parish clerk Roland Hewson||
“… The key for the area is not the parish council but the Borough Council who steadfastly remain silent on the issue when clearly they have a responsibility to the ratepayers of the parish as well as the rest of Slough.
“… The Parish Council members are not partisan at meetings and do try to support the residents … The local difficulties last winter with flooding the illegal activities of certain individuals such as the Johal fiasco all seems to be directed at the parish council for not doing anything, when this is not the case.
” … the community cannot merely leave it to the parish council. Democracy starts at this level, and it takes two to tango as they say, the parish councillors do try hard to arouse community involvement.
“… arguing amongst the various groups on who should do what achieves nothing.”
Former parish clerk Roland Hewson joined in the debate but insisted parish councillors had done their best to support the community. Residents, he said, should stop blaming councillors and organise a ‘Runway? No Way’ group.
But even those prepared to take action personally have insisted that support from local representatives needs to be forthcoming. Steve posted on Friday:
“Before I decide whether to embark on this task personally, I need to know what support there will be from our local parish councillors, or will it be willing residents prepared to go it alone?”.
It remains to be seen whether Colnbrook’s representatives – elected, co-opted, or appointed – will now heed the call, and whether residents’ anger can be channelled into effective opposition.
The Parish Council was due to discuss Heathrow Hub’s proposals again on Tuesday.