In my recent letter I sought to highlight the glaring divergence between local Lib Dems and the views of those they were elected to serve. For having the apparent temerity to point this out through an analysis of recent comments made by the local Lib Dem leader, Frances Haigh, another Lib Dem, Councillor Godfrey Newman, accuses me of writing ‘intemperate’ letters.
Fair enough, if that is his view. However, I think he is, like his leader, somewhat missing the point. The question is not whether I and others are intemperate or stroppy, it is the apparent divergence of opinion, within the Horsham Liberal Democrats, on the crucial matter of the potential expansion of Gatwick airport.
Moreover, it raises broader questions about the trust and integrity of a party that will be contesting local elections in less than six months’ time.
The national Liberal Democrats have declared themselves against any airport expansion as a matter of policy. While one may question the sanity and sustainability of this policy, at least it is clear. By a similar token, local people in Horsham seem to be largely against the expansion of Gatwick Airport and wish to have those views taken into consideration by their elected representatives.
Given that backdrop it is hardly intemperate to question the credibility of local Lib Dems when their leader so plainly disregards her own party’s declared policy and, worse still, completely ignores the views of those she is elected to represent and, presumably, wishes to represent again after the May council elections. I think we all have a right to clarity on this hugely important local issue.
What I do agree with Councillor Newman on wholeheartedly is his comment about airports in Europe being better prepared already. We are being outmanoeuvred by the likes of Schiphol in Amsterdam and we need to respond in a proactive manner both quickly and effectively.
The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to report in summer 2015. We should hope for a clear recommendation for additional capacity at Heathrow and that it be built quickly, efficiently and without delay.
This additional capacity would not be just right for the country but right for Horsham people too. It would underpin the continuing economic growth of the UK whilst simultaneously protecting the cherished way of life of the people of Horsham and West Sussex.
The pity is that Frances Haigh and her local Lib Dems seem to have no such concerns.
ADRIAN M. LEE
River Walk, Horsham