Re: the Airports Commission consultation event.
Your readers will be interested to know that the second half of the session highlighted very strong support for expansion among the local business community.
Out of 130 minutes of speeches, only 10 minutes was given to a business organisation to give reasons to support the runway. Ten minutes is not enough to adequately reflect the community of 45,000 businesses in the Gatwick Diamond, the largest majority of whom support a second runway judging by many surveys over the past year. They were not at the event because they are too busy trading to provide the £20.7bn GVA that drives probably the world’s first airport economy. Nor does 10 minutes from one business organisation reflect the support being publicly given by business organisations not only in Crawley but in Croydon, Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne, Burgess Hill, Chichester, East Grinstead, Hastings, Worthing & Adur, Hayward’s Heath, Battle, Hailsham, Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven and Lewes as well as the Regional Federation of Small Businesses and of course the Gatwick Diamond Business organisations.
However, in those 10 minutes I was able to talk about the potential to have two world class airports within an hour, to experience real fare and route competition and choice, and to increase the number of businesses exporting, already amazingly high at over one third (when the UK average is only 20%!) because there is an airport here. I also talked about the 110,000 people that leave the Gatwick Diamond every day to work, many of whom will take advantage of the well paid knowledge sector jobs that will be attracted to this area and those additional jobs from businesses already here which will grow even faster. I was able to knock holes in the Heathrow Hub argument and to talk about the ‘no cost to the exchequer’ solution of Gatwick.
What I did not do was insult and threaten the anti- campaigners in the way that they insulted Stewart Wingate personally. Nor did the business organisations attending rudely talk over, snort and jeer like the antis did when they did not agree. Unfortunately, the session in the afternoon purported to be a business session became just another knock Gatwick session by the antis.
My only comfort is that I believe that the Airports Commission will make their recommendation on sound, logical and economic reasons not on emotional outbursts.
Rosemary French OBE, Executive Director, The Gatwick Diamond Initiative