Feb 7 2013 By Jack Griffith
THE borough is to hold its own public vote on the issue of expansion at Heathrow, as the council seeks to mobilise opposition to more runways at the airport.
The single-topic ballot will be promoted by a publicity campaign for the first local referendum to be held in Hillingdon.
Two questions will be put, one about expansion of Heathrow and the other about increasing the number of flights from the airport, although the wording has yet to be decided.
Voting is likely to start in March or April, with the 207,000 people on Hillingdon’s electoral register being provided with cards carrying their unique polling number.
Voters will be able to go to their nearest library or council office and vote on a dedicated polling day and there will be options to vote online or by post.
The council is expected to spend around £100,000 on the referendum.
While the result is not a foregone conclusion, it is hoped it will show the solidarity and depth of feeling that still exists about the threat of more runways at Heathrow.
The leader of Hillingdon Council, Conservative Ray Puddifoot told the Gazette: “There will be a number of ways people will be able to return their cards. We want to make the process as easy as possible.
“There is a perception in government that people are no longer concerned about the implications of expanding Heathrow and the devastation it would cause, but this is wrong.
“We want to keep the fact that we are still fighting this in public focus. We have a unity with Labour on this issue, and I am proud of that.”
Hillingdon Council has long been against any expansion at Heathrow. This stance has not wavered in the past year as the need to expand the UK’s airline hub capacity has become a national priority and calls to resurrect plans for a third runway have intensified.
The Davies Commission – set up by the coalition government last November to look into options for improving hub airport capacity in the UK – will not make its recommendations until 2015. Mr Puddifoot said the borough will demand a proper consultation.
“If the consultation is anything like it was for HS2 then the decision has already been made, and that is our fear,” he said.
“A hub airport with three runways is like a dog with three legs – a fourth runway is inevitable.”
Neighbouring Richmond Council has also committed to holding a similar referendum, and the two boroughs – key members of the 2M Group, a consortium of local authorities which oppose Heathrow expansion – will announce the results on the same day, some time in May, for ‘maximum impact’.
It will be held after local elections on May 2. London councils are not part of these elections.
Hillingdon Council’s cabinet is due to sign off on these proposals when it meets tomorrow (Thursday).
How will you vote? What is your stance on expansion at Heathrow – necessary for the UK economy or a step too far? Email your views to email@example.com.