By Jack Andrews,
It’s not just those directly employed at the airport relying on Heathrow for their jobs. South east England and west London have grown up with Heathrow as businesses have taken the opportunity to base themselves close to Britain’s UK hub airport. They want to connect to the world and an entire supply chain has sprung up to provide jobs and services to those who depend on those links.
As the debate over new runways rumbles on, we were delighted when Feltham firm Mixed Freight Services approached us offering to help the Back Heathrow campaign. The company’s founder, Alan Smith, wanted to send a clear message to the politicians that would be happy to see the airport decline or even close. “Heathrow’s future affects people like the 70 employees working for our company,” said Alan, continuing, “There are hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region that depend on Heathrow and that is a serious number of people to brush aside in this debate.”
For Alan there is a stark connection between the future of Heathrow and that of his business. His firm can grow alongside Heathrow or it can decline alongside Heathrow – and the effect of closing Heathrow doesn’t bear thinking about.
That point was so important for Alan that he didn’t want to risk anyone not getting the message. His solution was to create something that would be difficult for others – including the politicians – to miss; he decided to turn an 18-metre lorry into a mobile advert for Back Heathrow. Those that see this lorry (pictured above with Alan, left) drive past over the coming months, whether they’re on the motorway or at the airport, will have no doubt of Alan’s support for local jobs.
Of course, Alan’s logistics enterprise is just one of thousands of local businesses that would suffer if a decision was made against Heathrow continuing to be a global hub in west London. As Stephen Fry, Chief Executive of Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, puts it, “Many of Hounslow’s firms are dependent on the Heathrow economy”. That’s why 77% of businesses in Hounslow support expansion, and why 76% in Hillingdon do too.
There’s a reason that 202 of the 300 top companies in the UK have chosen west London and the Thames Valley as the location for their headquarters – proximity to Heathrow airport.
The connectivity that a major competitive hub provides makes this area one of the best places to be if you’re looking to move people or freight around the world, that’s why companies like Microsoft, Honda, Mars and Google have chosen here as their centre of operations.
Major local employers also help sustain supply chain companies, whilst the multitude of employees living nearby ensures that shops and other community businesses can be successful. A recent independent report for Ealing, Hounslow and Slough Councils showed that 300,000 jobs across the region are at risk if Heathrow’s status as an international hub airport is jeopardised.
All of these tremendous economic and social benefits that Heathrow brings to west London and the wider region could be put at risk if more local politicians do not speak out in favour of the golden goose on their doorstep. Local voters are surely entitled to ask… what on earth are some of their elected representatives playing at? Meanwhile, it’s great that Alan and thousands of other supporters are, at least, looking out for jobs in our area.
Keep an eye out for a large, yellow Back Heathrow lorry!