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Tory Council Leader does a U-Turn and now supports Heathrow Expansion

February 23, 2008 3:38 PM

Heathrow campaignSpelthorne's Tory Leader, Cllr John Packman, has done a complete U-Turn on his position on Heathrow. In 2004 he was strongly AGAINST Heathrow expansion and now he is in favour (subject to a few weak environmental conditions). LibDem Councillor Ian Beardsmore exposed this at the Council meeting on 22nd February and described it as "a shocking about-face".

Councillor Beadsmore went on to say "I have never seen such a complete turnaround in policy. This is incredible and shows just how intellectually bankrupt the Spelthorne Tories are".

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Below is a full transcript of a speech made by Cllr Packman to the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) at a pleneary session in Woking on 3rd March 2004 (item 7 transcript and minutes page 58)

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Cllr John Packman - Spelthorne Borough Council

Chairman I find myself in a similar situation to the previous speaker and agree with Lawrence. So I am sure the Assembly will not be totally surprised when I say that we are also totally opposed to any further expansion at Heathrow. Enough is enough, as previous speakers have outlined, and we think that they have gone far, far enough. The Minister this morning made strong emphasis on the serious difficulties and problems that did exist, he strongly recommended that members of the Assembly go back and re-read the original White Paper, and I do strongly ask the Assembly to continue that total opposition to any further expansion.

We have already got the expansion taking place, as I am sure members will be aware, on the M25. We are now threatened with the Air Track coming into Heathrow which will go right the way across our main town centre, and I think that Spelthorne as a district has borne the brunt, not only for this part of north Surrey, but the region in general.

Pollution has been mentioned, and I think it is quite serious when the Government now start talking considering putting a tunnel under the A4 and M4 to dilute and try and get dispersed pollution which they then admit that they will might then have to close that tunnel if the pollution gets too high. There is a contradiction in terms of itself.

The other major issue is, of course, and these are still not been resolved, and nobody has as yet come up with any forecast to say that they will be answered, and that is obviously on the environmental and social needs study.

So on that basis Mr. Chairman I just cannot see how this Assembly can continue any suggestion or idea of supporting a third runway and it should be still be continued to be totally opposed, as we have decided and agreed at an earlier Assembly. And therefore I think we should hold our position, not back off, and direct the officers to find alternatives if it is at all possible. Having said that I do accept and understand the difficulty that the district and the county around Gatwick face themselves. I do appreciate that. But I do feel that Heathrow has had enough and finally Mr. Chairman, if I may say, an argument that is constantly thrown up by people that support an extension at Heathrow, about the effect on the UK economy. To my way of thinking and Spelthorne way's of thinking, that is has not been proven, it is utter nonsense - if there is expansion figures that they keep talking about, in the numbers of growth areas, then they might need to look, when I know it has been discussed and thrown out, but they might need to go back and look at a second hub airport. And that the numbers they are talking about I still feel that that is a serious consideration that should be given further expansion.

Thank you.