To James Duddridge MP: You’re wrong about public opinion

This is a reply to James Duddridge’s letter allegedly of 29th Nov

Michael Downer
Southend-on-Sea
Essex

26th January 2011

James Duddridge MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
 
 

Dear Mr Duddridge,

Thank you for the copy of your letter dated 29th November 2010 which I received on 19th January. The original, as I explained on the telephone to Jonathan Hodge, I never received. I am disappointed that you did not use this opportunity to respond to my letter of the 5th January which was in your possession and where I made a couple of request bearing on issues which we had discussed. You go over these issues in your letter, but of course with no reference to the points I made in my letter.

Whilst making your views clear about the uses to which legal aid should be put – views clearly not shared by the Legal Services Commission in this particular case – you do not choose to comment on the information I gave you regarding the costs to the local tax payer resulting from the mis-handling on the part of the council and its paid officers over the airport issue. Costs which dwarf any which may arise out of the Judicial Review. A Review, incidentally, which would have been totally unnecessary had the council followed the correct procedures throughout the sorry history of this subject.

I do not know what evidence you have for saying that the majority of Southend tax payers support airport expansion. The only reliable indicator of what Southend tax payers think, is that of those who responded to the consultations, 76% stated that they did not want the Runway Extension. (the outcomes of several public meetings reinforced that view) I have no doubt that many who support airport expansion do not want the runway extension either. Words here are important. It is possible to have expansion without runway extension. After all the Stobart Group purchased the airport with the knowledge that runway extension was not guaranteed, only witholding £5 million of the £21 million conditional on runway extension being granted.

It is interesting that the minister in charge of Local Communities and Local Government in the last government, John Denham, granted Southend’s application for runway extension without it going to a public inquiry whereas Eric Pickles, the current minister, has decided on a public inquiry in the case of a similar application by Lydd airport. Clearly an indication of this government’s policy of involving the local community in these decisions.

I look forward to your answer to this and indeed my earlier letter.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Downer.

Read James Duddridge’s reply, dated 8th Feb

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