Heathrow Public Meeting – Update

Dear  Residents,

Invitation to a Public Meeting on the Airport Commission Consultation on Heathrow Thursday 29th January at 7.30pmHeathrow Primary School, Harmondsworth Lane, UB7 0JQ.

As you know, the Airport Commission has announced its final consultation on the proposals for expansion of Heathrow Airport. The commission has a shortlist of three proposals to consider: a second runway at Gatwick; a third runway at Heathrow and a new runway built by doubling the length of the current northern runway at Heathrow.

The consultation ends on 3rd February
and the final recommendation from the Commission to the Government on its preferred option is due in the summer. Various local meetings have already taken place but before the deadline for responses.

I am inviting you to a meeting to have a last chance to discuss the published options and how to respond if you have not already done so. At this meeting we will also discuss our strategy over this coming period to protect our local community.  

The proposals and information on how to respond can be viewed at www.gov.uk/airports-commissionIf you wish to respond you can email to airportsconsultation@systra.comor you can write toAirports Commission ConsultationFreepost RTKX-USUC-CXASPO Box 1492WokingGU22 2QR The meeting will be held at Heathrow Primary School on 29th January at 7.30pm. 

Please note that parking will be limited.

I hope that you will be able to join me at the meeting and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Yours sincerely
John McDonnell MP
Member of Parliament for Hayes & Harlington

Council’s Polling Station Review Will Lead to Low Turnout

The Labour Group is always open to any review of the Borough’s
Polling Districts that may be necessary to improve our local democracy.
However, the latest reshuffle of polling stations conducted by the Hillingdon
administration appears to be nothing more than an attempted cost-saving
exercise that will inconvenience many a voter, and thus risks reducing voter
turnout.

Across the Borough the review proposes to remove a total of
8 polling districts, and despite the large number of new homes built there are
no proposals to increase the number of polling districts within any single
ward.

Amongst several districts losing polling stations there are
two in particular that I have concerns about. The first is located in Botwell
Ward just below the railway line. If the proposals go ahead voters would be
forced to make their way across the railway line and through the town centre to
get to the polling station at Botwell House RC School. There are a large number
of elderly people living in this area. The journey would be extremely
inconvenient and troublesome. Too far to walk for many, it would result in
increased traffic on small residential streets or the need for people to travel
by bus just to vote. In fact it could be argued that increasing polling
districts would be more appropriate for this location given that there will be
a large increase in electors in this area due to plans to build 1,137 new
residential units.

The second district of particular concern is located in Heathrow
Villages Ward with its polling station at Sipson Lane. This is a small
district, however its geography makes it rather separate from its neighbouring
polling districts. If its polling station were removed, electors on the extreme
southern edge would be 2.5 miles from their nearest polling station and would
only be able to access it by car or public transport. The public transport
route could take around 40 minutes each way. Such a proposal is completely
unreasonable.

Again, we believe an increase, re-instating the Cranford
Cross district, would be more appropriate in this ward. In the May elections
many voters in this area found it hard to reach their polling station. They had
to travel by bus or take the car, with the additional difficulty of parking.

Accessibility of polling stations strongly influences voter
turnout so any review of Polling Districts should look at ways to make voting
easier and more convenient, not more difficult and costly for the individual. Moreover,
we do not believe that the proposed arrangements will actually lead to any
meaningful savings at all, each polling station requiring only 3 staff members
to run.

Of course the reduction in polling districts certainly
affects some Conservative Wards as well as our own Labour Wards. Whilst I don’t
consider it my place to comment on polling arrangements in Conservative
constituencies the Labour Group are certainly ready to offer support, if
requested, to any effort to protect those polling districts in other
constituencies where their abolition would severely inconvenience voters.
Similarly, we hope to receive the same support from all elected representatives
within the Hayes and Harlington Constituency, irrespective of party-political
lines. This issue is not about party politics, it is about nothing less than
the health of local democracy.

Leader of the Labour Party