Reigate MP, Crispin Blunt, slams Airports Commission report short-listing Gatwick for 2nd runway

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt has attacked the recent Airports Commission interim report and its short-listing of proposals for a second runway at Gatwick.  The Conservative MP, who recently won a battle to be re-selected to stand for the party in Reigate at the next General Election, called the report “nothing short of calamitous” for his constituents. And he said the development a second runway at Gatwick would bring with it “would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place.”  In a statement on his website, Mr Blunt said he had “registered his dismay at the Airports Commission interim report. However, he remains keen on a Thames estuary airport.  He says the interim report “merely represents a series of damaging, and potentially catastrophic compromises.”  “The second runway at Gatwick airport would be a disaster for the surrounding communities and environment” especially due to the level of development associated with an airport serving three times as many passengers as it does now – where could some 40,000 new houses be built.
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Reigate MP slams Airports Commission report

Monday 6th January 2014  (Redhill, Reigate, Horley Life)

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt has attacked the recent Airports Commission interim report into the future of UK aviation and its shortlisting of proposals for a second runway at Gatwick.

The Conservative MP, who recently won a battle to be re-selected to stand for the party in Reigate at the next General Election, called the report “nothing short of calamitous” for his constituents.

And he said the development a second runway at Gatwick would bring with it “would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place.”

Mr Blunt continued that after reviewing Sir Howard Davies’ report, he felt, “this shortlist represents strategic failure to address the future of UK aviation. “In ducking the essential question of how we are to build a proper hub airport, capable of working 24/7 for most of the 21st century, the report merely represents a series of damaging, and potentially catastrophic compromises.”

Outlining the report’s shortlisted three submissions – a new runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing runway, a new 3,500 metre runway at Heathrow, and the Heathrow Hub proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000 metres, enabling it to operate as two independent runways – Mr Blunt lamented the fact that none of the Thames Estuary proposals, those he supports, have been taken forward.

He called the scope of the report “depressingly short-term.”

Mr Blunt stated: “What should have been a marvellous opportunity to properly address the question of securing the UK’s economic future in an environmentally sound way has been missed, yet again.

“As far as the national and local interests of my constituents are concerned, this report is nothing short of calamitous. “The second runway at Gatwick airport would be a disaster for the surrounding communities and environment.”

He continued: “My overwhelming objection remains that the level of development associated with an airport serving three times as many passengers as it does now, would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place. “The rail line is already at capacity, as are the roads that serve Gatwick. This airport is simply not in the right place to serve as the UK’s hub, or as a key part of it. “Plans for new housing are already controversial given the existing constraints. Quite where the 40,000 new houses are to go to house the new workers at an expanded Gatwick is beyond me. “I suspect it has been beyond proper consideration in this disappointing report.”

http://www.redhillandreigatelife.co.uk/news/10913111.Reigate_MP_slams_Airports_Commission_report/

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Crispin Blunt’s website comment is at

http://www.blunt4reigate.com/news/crispin-blunt-responds-to-davies8217-interim/953

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In July 2013, when Gatwick airport submitted its runway proposals to the Airports Commission, Crispin Blunt said:

 

Damaging pipe dream’

But Reigate MP Crispin Blunt, whose constituency lies to the north of Gatwick, has criticised the plans and said expansion of the airport was “not in the local or national interest”.

Backing plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary instead, Mr Blunt said: “The best thing that can be said about this proposal is that it is not as completely impractical as a new runway to the north of the existing site.

“However, Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) has not completely ruled out that possibility which casts further blight over Charlwood and Horley.

“The overwhelming objection remains that the level of development, associated with an airport serving three times as many passengers as it does now, would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with a major airport in the wrong place.

“Gatwick, on the scale proposed by GAL, would require at least 40,000 new houses, and the company’s blithe assumption that housing for all these new workers is already provided for in local development plans is wholly incredible.

“For too long, the country has ducked the decision about building a new fit-for-purpose hub airport, and the opportunity for 24-hour operations.

“As time goes on, the strategic need for the UK to take this decision only becomes more urgent, and my support remains strongly for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

“The size of the Gatwick site lends itself to a single-runway airport, serving as a sensible, competitive alternate to London’s main hub airport.

“Whilst they pursue that objective, GAL will have my support, but the sooner they abandon this damaging pipe dream, the better for all their neighbours. It’s not in the local interest, nor is it in the national interest.”

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/gatwick-airports-second-runway-plans-5268792

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Gay Tory MP Crispin Blunt defeats attempt to deselect him

Letter from senior figure in local party suggests MP’s decision to come out in 2010 was ‘final straw’ for some party members

Crispin Blunt,

Crispin Blunt won the postal ballot after senior national party figures rallied to his side. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Press Association Ima

A gay former minister has fought off a campaign in his affluent Surrey constituency by opponents, who highlighted his sexuality, to block him standing as the Conservative party’s candidate at the next general election.

Crispin Blunt, who served as prisons minister between 2010 and 2012, won a postal ballot of the membership of Reigate Conservative constituency association after senior national party figures rallied to his side amid fears that a defeat would harm the modernisation of the party.

Blunt hailed his “thumping” victory in the ballot of about 400 members – by a margin of five to one – and called on opponents who forced the vote to consider their positions on the association’s executive council.

“I was astonished by the irrational and unexpected action of the executive council in September,” the former army officer said as he suggested they should ask how best they can unite the party.

Blunt won by a five to one margin in the postal ballot. A Tory source said: “We are very pleased. Crispin Blunt is a great champion for local issues.”

Downing Street was hugely relieved by the margin of Blunt’s victory, which allowed the party to depict opponents, some of whom had highlighted his sexuality, as marginal figures. One senior member of the Reigate association had described Blunt’s “totally unnecessary announcement that he was ‘gay'” as the final straw.

Modernisers feared that a defeat for Blunt, 53, so soon after David Cameron’s showdown with traditionalists over gay marriage, would prompt critics to say that the Tory grassroots is out of touch with modern Britain. Supporters of Blunt dubbed their campaign to save the former minister “Operation Meteor” – a reference to the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs – in the wake of evidence of homophobia after he came out in 2010, ending his marriage to his wife, Victoria.

Supporters of Blunt had dubbed their campaign to save the former minister “Operation Meteor” – named after the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs – in the wake of evidence of homophobia after he came out in 2010, ending his marriage to his wife Victoria.

One senior member of the association described Blunt’s “totally unnecessary announcement that he was ‘gay'” as the final straw.

Opponents of Blunt, who forced the postal ballot after securing a majority on the association’s executive council to block his automatic re-selection as the party’s candidate, insisted they wanted to unseat him because they claimed that he neglected his duties as a constituency MP while serving as a minister.

But a letter from a senior figure in the local party to a Blunt supporter showed that his decision to come out in 2010 was a major factor. Roger Newstead, the chairman of the Reigate South and Earlswood Branch, set out the thinking of the traditionalists after a Blunt supporter protested at the decision to force a postal ballot.

In the letter, Newstead told Dr Ben Mearns, who resigned from the branch commitee: “I do not know what motivated my executive colleagues but I suspect that Crispin has been the author of his own misfortune. There is no doubt in my mind that his very public and totally unnecessary announcement that he was ‘gay’ was the final straw for some members, particularly those in the north of the borough, with whom there had been a number of previous disagreements on policy matters.

“A number of lady members were very offended by the manner in which his marriage broke down. Apparently Victoria’s version was very different from Crispin’s.”

Newstead defended his letter to Mearns, which was prompted by allegations that the executive council, which forced the postal ballot, had acted in a homophobic manner. “It was a private letter to a member who had expressed some strong views to the branch committee meeting which included the observation that the executive were homophobic. Being a member of the executive I resented that and I put forward a selection of other reasons as to why some people felt the way they did.

“I still say it was unnecessary [for Crispin Blunt to come out]. To me it was an error of judgment. I wouldn’t have done anything like that. I would have just said if anyone had asked me: politicians have a unique lifestyle, it doesn’t suit everybody and there is a long history of parliamentary marriages breaking down. You don’t have to go out and tell people you have got homosexual tendencies – that sort of thing you know. It is a private matter and it shouldn’t have been put in the public domain. He put it in the public domain.”

The suggestion that Blunt’s former wife was at odds with the MP ran into trouble when she made a show of support for her former husband at the association’s annual dinner earlier this month addressed by Eric Pickles.

Blunt was allowed to make a brief speech at the dinner but was banned from mentioning the vote on the grounds that such remarks would be against the rules.

Tony Collinson, a former chairman of the association, said on Monday that he disapproved of homosexuality, saying: “I’m a Christian and I don’t think in fact that it is right. But that is entirely up to people. They must search their own consciences.”

Collinson declined to say how he had voted. “I’m not prepared to tell you what my view is. Everyone is entitled to their own view and we had a secret ballot on it and I don’t think I should make any comment.

“What I said was if what we know now had been known at the time of his selection in 1997 it is quite possible that he would not have been selected. I can tell you that the selection committee was not happy to have anyone that might have had any sort of thing in the cupboard.”

Collinson said in 2002, in the wake of the decision of Alan Duncan to come out, that he would not want a gay MP in Reigate.

He told the Guardian: “I would not be happy if we had a gay candidate here – I would always go for a candidate who had a normal background. Our current MP [Blunt] is happily married with two children.”

Another senior figure in the local association said that many elderly people in Reigate felt uncomfortable about Blunt’s sexuality, saying: “You can’t change people who are 75, 85, 90. They’ve got their own views from years ago.”

The Tory said Blunt’s announcement in 2010 had played no part in the decision to force a vote but added: “He did vote with the prime minister on gay marriages and a lot of people – we are quite old fashioned – didn’t like that one bit. But nothing to do with him being gay.”

The office holder said Blunt faced a vote because he had neglected the constituency. “I hope that when he sees the count, and he sees how many people are voting against him, it might make him pull his socks up and do what he should be doing.

“He doesn’t attend council meetings and he doesn’t attend country council meetings and he doesn’t help one on the local issues compared to Mr [Chris] Grayling next door. He attends everything and he is a much higher MP.”

Blunt told a recent constituency rally that victory was essential for the image of the party nationally. “Your backing will make an emphatic statement about the values of our community and party that will do credit to both,” he said.

In a letter to association members last month, Blunt said he enjoyed the support of his family. He wrote: “I accept that speculation, cheerful or otherwise, about the private life is something public figures must expect, but I am lucky enough to continue to enjoy the love and support of Victoria and my children, Claudia and Freddy, and to finally be at ease with myself.

“Your backing will make an emphatic statement about the values of our local community and our party, specifically that we are tolerant and reasonable people, who judge others fairly on their ability to do the task in hand.”

Blunt secured an overwhelming victory of around five to one in the postal ballot. A Tory source said: “We are very pleased. Crispin Blunt is a great champion for local issues.”

Blunt welcomed the result but criticised the “irrational and unexpected action” of the association’s executive council to force a postal ballot.

Blunt’s statement said the row “came without warning that there was any aspect of my performance as MP that was terminally inadequate, and, in the absence of any serious issue around my performance as MP, brought the local party into disrepute. Happily the wider membership has rescued the reputation of Reigate and the Conservatives by a thumping margin”.

He added: “Those members of the executive council who voted against my candidacy in the absence of a cogent reason they could publicly present and having now been so convincingly contradicted by the wider membership must ask themselves how they can best assist uniting and reinvigorating a party which is overwhelmingly united around my candidacy.”

• This article was amended on 22 November 2013 to remove a stray and confusing section of text that had been included in a paragraph about Tony Collinson because of an editing error.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/18/gay-tory-crispin-blunt-defeats-campaign-deselect

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Crispin Blunt’s page on the Conservative website is at

http://www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Blunt_Crispin.aspx

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His page on “They Work for You” is at

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10051/crispin_blunt/reigate

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GACC says they have fought off runway plans in 1970, 1993 and 2003 – and they’ll fight this one too

17.12.2013Responding to the news that a second, southern, runway is on the Airports Commission shortlist for further detailed consideration next year, the local community group GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) said the news was no surprise.  For the past year GACC has assumed that Gatwick would be included. Now it is clear the so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway option will be examined – the one that would cause most environmental damage. Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, said:  ‘Now the battle is for real.  The battle lines are drawn.   Now the spotlight is on Gatwick the next step will be to examine the runway plans in detail, and it will be found that Gatwick is an unsuitable site. GACC agrees with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB, WWF and other national environmental organisations that any new runway cannot be reconciled with the UK’s obligations under the Climate Change Act.   A new runway used to full capacity would cause substantial environmental damage to all the towns and villages for many miles around Gatwick.  In addition to the usual issues of noise, pollution and climate change, one of the emerging concerns is that making Gatwick larger than Heathrow would lead to the urbanisation of much of Surrey and Sussex.  That will be fiercely opposed. GACC  has fought off plans for new runways about every 10 years, in 1970, 1993, and 2003.  And GACC say they will do it again this time.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18925

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