Back Heathrow and Unite the Union tell London Councils: Stop Wasting Taxpayers Money on Legal Battle

London councils opposed to expansion at Heathrow have spent more than £100,000 of taxpayer’s money fighting it in the last two years, bringing the total to more than one million over the last 10 years. Others have refused to reveal what they have spent.

Community campaign group Back Heathrow has received information provided under the Freedom of Information Act which shows some councils have spent tens of thousands of pounds in advance of an expensive judicial review.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has spent a whopping £73,828.88 on legal services opposing Heathrow since August 2016 and a further £8,352.06 on public relations, advertising and marketing.

In the same period, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has spent £8,302 on publicising their position against Heathrow and given a further £1,562 to vocal opposition groups.

The Mayor of London was unable to provide a figure but has utilised resources from staff, saying any work undertaken by the General London Assembly staff will have been done as part of their tax-payer funded role.

Hillingdon failed to answer the question on what they had spent, instead directing Back Heathrow to their website, and presenting no information.

Neither Richmond or Wandsworth Councils responded to the FOI request, a matter that Back Heathrow will be seeking to challenge with the Information Commissioner.

Back Heathrow and Unite the Union group photoBack Heathrow supporters and Unite the Union members with Parmjit Dhanda and Peter Kavanagh 

Peter Kavanagh, Regional Secretary of Unite the Union for London and Eastern Region says: "Councils like Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon have been cutting services for years. Last year alone Hillingdon cut over £200,000 on services whilst finding a similar amount to give to lawyers. The least they can do is answer the questions and tell us how much their legal action is costing residents, many of whom work at the airport."

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director at Back Heathrow, says: “Just over a month ago Parliament gave the green light to Heathrow expansion with a cross-party majority of nearly 300 MPs. Polling shows more local people support this project than oppose it. They understand the technological advances that are making aircraft cleaner and quieter, and they want the economic benefits it will bring, including 180,000 new jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships.

"Yet these councils have chosen to spend over £1 million of taxpayer’s money over the past decade on campaign groups and expensive lawyers. Its time they respected the views of local people, businesses, unions and the democratic will of Parliament."