Parish Council could lobby for better deal for residents in u-turn on Heathrow compensation
Members of the Parish Council see themselves as responsible for getting a better deal from Heathrow for residents should a Third Runway go ahead, in what amounts to a welcome change of heart.
Welcome signs are emerging that parish councillors are preparing to invest more time on considering the impact a Third Runway will have on the parish and its residents.
Cllr Smith told the last full meeting of the Parish Council on 1st November that the parish council is responsible for gettting “a good compensation package for its residents and seek a better offer that than proposed market value plus 25%”.
And while it may have been reluctant to allow discussion of the impact of a Third Runway before, now it has been endorsed by the Government, the Parish Council is set to add it as a standing item on parish council meetings in 2017. It will also summon respresentatives of village groups to a quarterly meeting.
Chair Cllr Scott Bryant opened the issue of a Third Runway up for discussion at the meeting, breaking from usual strictures to include the single member of the public present.
- Cllr Hood said that Heathrow was now willing to talk to groups and he suggested a session in Colnbrook early next year.
- Cllr Smith advised that Heathrow had now confirmed they would finance the relocation of the Grundon incinerator at Lakeside.
- Cllr Jackson said that it was a major criticism that Heathrow could not show accurately where the impact on the parish would be. They need to come up with drawings to show where the runway will lie and what impact it will have on homes and roads. Cllr Smith said the third runway will intercept the A4 but not clear on exactly where nor the impact on the houses in the parish. Resident Mike Nye told the meeting that Heathrow would have to go through the Development Consent Order process first with an environmental impact assessment and full consultation. Any drawings would be changed many times
Two motions were proposed by Cllr Bryant and seconded by Cllr Laxman: that ‘Heathrow Third Runway’ be introduced as a standing item on the monthly agenda, and that a new working group consisting of the Chair and Vice-Chair of all local associations/groups meet every quarter in relation to the ‘Heathrow Third Runway’.
The hope this time around will be that a more inclusive approach will be adopted.
The so-called Heads of Groups forum was previously convened last Summer after ‘the Colnbrook Six’ exercised powers in the 1972 Local Government Act to call a Parish Meeting.
At the meeting parish councillors suspended their own meeting to oppose calls for a local referendum on Heathrow expansion. They also, reluctantly, promised to consider compensation and mitigation issues in a village-wide forum and report back to residents in a future public meeting.
But on 4th August 2015 a meeting of the ‘Heads of Groups’, that included four serving parish councillors, concluded that “everybody was happy” with draft ‘heads of compensation claims‘ to be addressed to Heathrow. That accepted the 25% above market value compensation for residents, and called for additional compensation for property searches, emotional upset, decorating new homes and travelling expenses for homeowners who opted to sell up. It also called for a top-up to the 25% figure to make allowance for an increase in local property prices caused by the “mass migration of thousands of people from the Parish seeking new homes all at the same time”.
The impact on tenants and small businesses was largely ignored – although demands were made for air conditioning and a “full rates rebate” for all homes.
The Colnbrook Community Association, which did not participate, hit out at the process, and particularly what it referred to as discussions with Heathrow that “had no mandate from the community“. It threatened to call a further village-wide meeting but did not pursue the matter.
For Cllr Smith, who was part of the Heads of Groups forum in 2015, to suggest that Heathrow needs to do better than the 25% mark-up offer is likely to be well received.
Heathrow’s compensation offer has been roundly condemned for not taking into account the disparity of property values and rental costs further out from the airport, or the impact on the 49% of residents who rent.
The airport shifted its focus towards home owners in a consultation dismissed as shambolic by HACAN in 2014. Slough Borough Council has praised the proposed compensation scheme as “generous”.
Colnbrook Views’ article on the £1 billion shortfall in Heathrow’s compensation pot was one of the most widely shared articles this year.
The next meeting that will consider Heathrow will be in January as the Parish Council goes into recess for the enitre month of December.