Slough’s £1.5 million deal with Heathrow “unlocked funding denied to other councils” like Hillingdon
Slough Council has backed Heathrow’s runway plans, and entered into a deal with Heathrow to try and get the maximum benefits. Slough Council says its deal will “unlock £1.5 million in direct financial support denied to neighbouring councils.” Slough’s Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst has refuted suggestions that its partnership with Heathrow is anything less than the strong package he promised in January to mitigate the worst impact of airport expansion for communities closest to Heathrow. This has meant that Slough has secured funds for mitigation while neighbouring councils have been left with nothing. “Councils like Hillingdon, who have not negotiated with the airport, have no funds being allocated to them.”
Cllr Swindlehurst says the agreement provides a guaranteed minimum of £100,000 per year for 15 years where Heathrow and the Council will allocate the money to fund specific improvement projects in selected wards. That would only follow approval of the Development Consent Order for a 3rd runway, but Cllr Swindelhurst says additional funding pledges specifically mentioned in the agreement are in addition. Hounslow is now in talks with Heathrow, to get a financial deal. Hilliingdon has refused to enter into financial negotiations.
Slough’s deal with Heathrow “unlocked funding denied to other councils”
7.8.2015 (Colnbrook Views)
by admin on 7 August, 2015
Rather than “selling out” Colnbrook, by entering into a deal with Heathrow, Slough Borough Council says it has unlocked £1.5 million of direct financial support denied to neighbouring councils.
Has supporting Heathrow’s case to expand damaged chances of securing a reasonable package from the airport to mitigate the worst effects? No, quite the opposite, says Cllr Swindlehurst, Deputy Leader of Slough Borough Council. But others disagree.
Slough’s Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst has refuted suggestions that its partnership with Heathrow is anything less than the strong package he promised in January to mitigate the worst impact of airport expansion for communities closest to Heathrow.
Instead, Slough Council negotiated a package worth £1.5 million of direct financial support for measures to improve the neighbourhoods most affected by current airport operations and by the expansion of Heathrow. And this has meant that Slough has secured funds for mitigation while neighbouring councils have been left with nothing:
“Councils like Hillingdon, who have not negotiated with the airport, have no funds being allocated to them – so the above alone demonstrates that Slough has worked hard to obtain funds for both mitigation and community benefit, as set out in Cabinet at the start of 2015.”
Cllr Swindlehurst made his comments in response to a series of questions put to him by Colnbrook Views.
We asked: could you explain, for the benefit of Colnbrook Views readers, how you can reconcile the commitments made in January/February with the reality of what this agreement with Heathrow actually entails?
“Your question suggests that the Council’s Heads of Terms agreement with Heathrow is somehow at odds with the Cabinet’s comments that we were determined to secure mitigation measures and benefit for our affected communities as part of any support for Heathrow’s expansion. This is not the case.”
Cllr Swindlehurst says the agreement provides a guaranteed minimum of £100,000 per year for 15 years where Heathrow and the Council will allocate the money to fund specific improvement projects in Langley Kedermister Foxborough, Upton and Colnbrook with Poyle wards.
While that funding will be triggered following approval of the Development Consent Order for a third runway, he also insists that additional funding pledges specifically mentioned in the agreement are in addition.
Cllr Swindlehurst did not respond to criticism that the Council had in effect accepted a “gagging order” by signing an agreement that binds it to public support for a third runway until the Development Consent Order is signed. Slough’s approach differs markedly to other local authorities.
Hounslow Borough Council, opposed to expansion, is currently in talks with Heathrow over a financial deal while it is considering its official response to the Davies Commission Report.
Hillingdon Borough Council on the other hand has refused to enter into financial negotiations.
Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion said last week that that is a good thing:
“A comment was made to me in a recent Heathrow meeting that ‘Hillingdon residents were missing out’ because the borough did not engage with the airport. Personally I’m grateful that our local authority is not being lured into this trade – selling our children’s future for a few bob to balance the books now.”
Perhaps mirroring discussions in Colnbrook itself as to whether it is damaging to accept similar offers of funds to good causes that could be seen as endorsing a third runway and the associated mitigation and compensation offered, the jury remains out on that one.
However, as part of the settlement reached for Terminal 5 (which Hillingdon also opposed), the fully independent Hillingdon Community Fund was set up to channel £1 million of funding to nearby community projects EACH year for 15 years – ten times what has been agreed by the new deal.
Slough Council secret deal with Heathrow includes gagging order, making it impotent in fighting for a better deal from Heathrow for 3 – 4 years
Residents of Colnbook, close to Heathrow and due to be badly affected by a 3rd runway, submitted a FoI request to get the details for the secret, but legally binding, deal done between Slough Borough Council and Heathrow airport. The details of the deal are worrying. As well as finding out that Colnbrook, and help for the residents, do not feature in the deal, it has emerged that Slough Council has accepted what amounts to a self-imposed gagging order, unable to criticise Heathrow for the next 3 to 4 years,until Heathrow is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO). As well as a boost for investment in the town and improved access from central Slough to the airport, the secret agreement sees Heathrow commit to supporting the Council’s representations to Government to seek compensation for lost business rates, put by the council itself at up to £10 million earlier this year. In return, however, Cabinet is legally bound to giving public support for the airport until final permission, is granted. A Development Consent Order is at least three years away, possibly four. Residents expected that their council would have argued for “world class” compensation and mitigation.
Colnbrook was “sold down the river for a pittance”; details of Slough Council’s secret Heathrow agreement now revealed
The people of Colnbrook, about a mile west of Heathrow’s northern runway, have been trying to find out about the deal done by their council, Slough, with the airport – if there is a 3rd runway. Slough Borough Council has been reluctant to publish details, but has now been forced to do so. As Colnbrook residents feared, though they had been given assurances by the Deputy Leader, there is no provision to look after them. People are angry at what they see as deception of Colnbrook residents by Slough Council. A ward councillor, staunchly opposed to a new runway, has now provided the full legally binding agreement signed between the council and the airport. It shows that far from providing a package of mitigation for communities closest to the airport as repeatedly claimed by the council, Colnbrook is not mentioned once. There are no benefits for them. The deal sees a boost for investment in the town from Heathrow, including secret plans to “unlock” new commercial land in the borough regardless of whether a third runway is approved or not. It commits over half of the first year’s mitigation fund to paying for a study into relocation of the Grundon incinerator. It also only contains a period of 5 hours at night with no flights. There is also a gagging clause on the Council for years.