Candidates in Uxbridge & South Ruislip pledge to oppose Heathrow runway, though Labour candidate doubtful
Prospective parliamentary candidates for Uxbridge and South Ruislip made promises – if they got in to parliament – about how they would vote on HS2 and Heathrow Airport at a hustings debate. Candidates from 4 of the 5 main political parties took part – but not the Conservative candidate, Boris Johnson. All four candidates said they would vote against any bill seeking to approve a Heathrow runway. However, there were doubts about the position of the Labour candidate, Chris Summers (a councillor in Ealing). Mr Summers suggested that any future government should follow whatever recommendation is published in June by the Airports Commission. He said: “I think it is right we have this Davies Commission that’s looking into the issue, and I think there is something to be argued that they are the experts, and if they recommend a certain way, then it does seem that it will be a basic political decision if whichever government rejects that…” The constituency contains much of Hillingdon, which is one of the councils most deeply opposed to a new runway. In a Hillingdon borough referendum in May 2013 66% were against a third runway. The ballot also showed the same number (66.3 per cent) do not want see any more flights in and out of the airport. The extent to which Mr Summers is listening to his residents, or just following Labour party policy, is questioned.
MP candidates for Uxbridge and South Ruislip make HS2 and Heathrow vows
By Will Ackermann (Get West London)
Prospective parliamentary candidates for Uxbridge and South Ruislip made promises about how they would vote on HS2 and Heathrow Airport at a hustings debate this week.
Candidates from four of the five main political parties addressed an audience and answered questions at Brunel University on Thursday (March 19). They made promises about how they would vote if elected to parliament
Conservative candidate Boris Johnson skipped the session – the first of three planned for the borough – as it clashed with a People’s Question Time he was legally obligated to attend as London mayor.
Those who did take part discussed national policies, ranging from immigration to women’s shortlists, as well as local issues, including HS2 and Heathrow Airport’s proposed expansion.
Labour’s Chris Summers, the Green Party’s Graham Lee and UKIP’s Jack Duffin all vowed to vote against HS2 outright if elected to parliament in May’s General Election, while Liberal Democrat Mike Cox said he supported the project.
Speaking after the meeting, however, Mr Cox clarified that, if elected, he would seek to propose amending the HS2 bill such that the rail line would have to bypass the Hillingdon borough completely.
During the 90-minute session, all four candidates said they would vote against any bill seeking to expand Heathrow Airport.
Addressing this topic earlier in the meeting, however, Mr Summers suggested that any future government should follow whatever recommendation is published in June by the Airports Commission, which has been tasked with deciding whether it would be better to expand Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport.
Mr Summers, who during the course of the evening also said MPs who failed to vote as they promised to should have to resign, said: “I think it is right we have this Davies Commission that’s looking into the issue, and I think there is something to be argued that they are the experts, and if they recommend a certain way, then it does seem that it will be a basic political decision if whichever government rejects that, but it will be interesting to see what happens in that report in June.”
Mr Johnson, who was ’empty-chaired’ at the debate and came under fire from all sides, has previously said he would “oppose” HS2 unless certain conditions are met.
These, he has said, would include ensuring the track follows a tunnel underneath Ruislip and Harefield, as well as creating a “suitable” link to the existing HS1 line, which joins London to the Channel Tunnel.
The London mayor has said building a third runway at Heathrow Airport would be a “disaster”, but has never explicitly promised to vote against it, or the alternative Heathrow Hub option, given the opportunity.
Previously he had suggested demolishing the airport completely, before his hopes for building a ‘Boris Island’ hub on the Thames Estuary were dashed.
Mr Johnson is booked to attend the next hustings, taking place at St Margaret’s Church, in Windsor Street, Uxbridge, on April 10.
However, Mr Johnson, who rival candidates have accused of taking voters for granted, will not attend the third and final debate, to be held at Yiewsley Baptist Church, in Colham Avenue, on April 26.
The constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip contains a large part of Hillingdon Borough.
Hillingdon has been vociferous in its opposition to a new Heathrow runway. Its residents voted definitively against a new runway, in 2013. See below.
Heathrow referendum: Hillingdon votes against expansion
Hollow promises of Heathrow expansion revealed
Serious flaws in proposals to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been laid bare by Hillingdon Council in its detailed response to the Airports Commission consultation on expanding airport capacity in London.