Colnbrook Views yesterday submitted a Freedom of Information request after Slough Borough Council refused to allow publication of its agreement with Heathrow.
Slough Borough Council has thrown a veil of secrecy over the nature of its agreement with Heathrow Airport – insisting it has given “quite a lot of detail” already.
The agreement reached between SBC and Heathrow in February saw the Council commit to support Heathrow’s plans for expansion into the parish in return for measures including a guaranteed £100,000 contribution by the airport for 15 years toward a new “strategic partnership”.
We have given quite a lot of detail about what we’re discussing with Heathrow in our press releases
In its press release accompanying the agreement the Council said the new partnership would provide specific support and mitigation “for communities closest to the airport, including Colnbrook”. On being pressed by Colnbrook Views in February on what that entailed, Slough responded viaStreetlife to say:
“This includes the enhanced noise stuff – which is almost unlimited – but also improved infrastructure, roads, bus services (so people who are nearest don’t have to go on a convoluted journey to actually get there) and similar. Exact details still being thrashed out”.
However the 3-page “heads of agreement” signed on February 3, seen by Colnbrook Views and others in the community, actually has more far-reaching aims, and (so far) little if anything to do with mitigation for those most affected.
It sets out a commitment to a range of measures to boost the wider Slough economy, improve access to the airport from Slough town centre, and support airport-related expansion beyond Heathrow’s extended perimeter and existing commercial zones in the borough. Given its earlier statement in February that it would be looking for Heathrow’s help to redesignate green belt for housing that’s a double-whammy for any defence to the SIFE Pre-Inquiry which begins on Monday.
What the agreement does NOT include is any specific mitigation for those most affected communities beyond what has already been previously announced by Heathrow before the Airports Commission consultation ended (and subsequently dismissed by Sir Howard as less than “world class”).
And, disturbingly, half the first year’s Partnership funding is already earmarked to a project which will increase the misery for Colnbrook residents. We can’t say what that involves while Slough’s gagging order remains in place – but needless to say it covers a topic never too far from of our thoughts (given it dominates the local skyline).
The Council spokesperson said more information would be made available in due course:
We appreciate residents, particularly in Colnbrook, are keen to know as much about this as possible and we will be publishing more information as and when we can.
The full impact of the agreement – and the extent of Slough’s sellout of its easternmost ward – has to be seen to be believed. For this reason we are pushing for the document to be released at the earliest opportunity.
SBC’s refusal to share the document publicly, despite being widely “leaked” already, suggests the Council is worried about a backlash.
The Council decision came through just before close of business on Friday.