A LIVELY exchange of views on the pros and cons of expanding Heathrow Airport is taking place tonight (Wednesday) but there will be one notable absentee from the debate.
The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been criticised by Mayor of London Boris Johnson for failing to answer his challenge to stand up for the third runway in person.
Mr Johnson is part of a special People's Question Time event happening tonight at the Beck Theatre, Hayes, and wanted Mr Brown to attend to meet the public face-to-face and account for his decision.
However Number 10's response to the invitation never arrived and so it will be left to politicians including Hillingdon Council Leader Ray Puddifoot and Lord Clive Soley of Future Heathrow to tackle the issues.
Mr Johnson said: "It of course comes as no surprise that the Prime Minister has ducked the challenge of debating the expansion of Heathrow among the people who will be directly affected by it.
"Clearly deep down he must know that the case against the runway, and the opposition to it, is overwhelming. But he nevertheless proceeds with it seemingly hell-bent on proving that he is a can-do Prime Minister, even if what he is doing is as environmentally calamitous as this."
Mr Johnson and Mr Puddifoot will be joined by the former editor of The Ecologist Zac Goldsmith in arguing the case against expansion, while Mr Soley will be partnered by Frank Wingate, chief executive of West London Business in putting the case in favour.
The Mayor will also confirm that his representatives have now met with the 2M group, an alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion, to discuss a possible legal challenge.
Entry to the meeting is by ticket only.
The Gazette will have photos from the event in the Video and Pics section of its website from tomorrow.