12:00PM, Friday 23 September 2016
The leader of the Royal Borough has hit back at concerns over taxpayers’ money being used to fund legal action over the expansion of Heathrow.
The council has threatened to sue the Government along with Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Richmond if plans for a third runway at the airport go ahead, as first reported by the Advertiser in March.
In a letter to the paper this week, John Knight, a Maidenhead resident, said it is ‘outrageous’ for the Royal Borough to use taxpayers’ money to pursue its ‘narrow political agenda in a vendetta against Heathrow’.
However leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) disagreed and said the borough had to protect its residents.
He said: “We’ve done research. It’s clear our residents are in favour of expansion of Gatwick, with 37 per cent positive towards Gatwick. The Royal Borough has to protect its residents, we can’t please everyone, but there is a clear mandate for the expansion of Gatwick.
“We need to respect the residents’ decision, that’s democracy.
“In West London it’s a serious issue, we think other local authorities will join us as well.”
The results of a study released in August, commissioned by the Royal Borough, found more residents were in favour of expansion at Gatwick, echoing the findings of an identical survey in January 2015.
The study found 38 per cent of residents oppose a new runway at Heathrow, compared to 34 per cent who support it, and 38 per cent are also opposed to extending the existing northern runway to the west compared to 32 per cent in support.
Overall the survey found 50 per cent supported a new runway at Gatwick, with 13 per cent opposed to it and 34 per cent who had no preference either way (three per cent did not know).
Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart signed a letter, along with fellow MPs Steve Pound (Ealing North) and Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall), addressed to the foreign secretary Boris Johnson urging the Government to back Heathrow.
It states: “While it is true that some of our constituents oppose expansion, most do not.
“Heathrow has been constrained for far too long – it is time for your government to show the UK is open for businesses and back Heathrow expansion.”