Local democracy in Hillingdon has hit a low point with a ban for a petition on the council’s website which calls for an end to the use tax payers’ money on its legal challenge to Heathrow expansion.
The petition says it should start co-operating with Heathrow instead, so residents can benefit from new jobs and prosperity when the new runway is completed.
Local resident, Mx Berry submitted the petition, only for Hillingdon to tell her it fell foul of petition rules because it “seeks to directly overturn a fundamental, democratically approved policy of the council where there has been substantial consultation on the matter.”
Mx Berry said: “I am shocked that the council can use this tactic to avoid listening to what is a serious issue for residents, who are angry that the council has spent over £1m of public money on legal fees and funding anti-expansion opposition groups.
“They refuse to listen or engage - even when they know opinion has shifted and people have changed their mind. They seem to want to shut down discussion on this issue. This isn’t democracy. It feels more like 1970s Soviet Russia.”
Mx Berry contacted Back Heathrow to raise her concerns. Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda, said: “Doesn’t Hillingdon want to hear what its residents think about Heathrow expansion or debate it? Local politicians are in danger of bringing themselves into disrepute. They are elected to engage with, not ignore, their residents. Small wonder that Mx Berry wants to take it further by formally complaining to the council. Just imagine what people would think if the government banned petitions, just because they are at odds with government policy.”
In January, council leader, Ray Puddifoot, instructed council officers to post back 1,500 Back Heathrow campaign cards rather than let councillors receive them.
Hillingdon’s own budget consultation in 2019 showed how opinion has shifted towards support for Heathrow expansion. The survey showed a spike in residents opposing the council’s hard line against the plan for a new runway.
Full Hillingdon budget survey results are here: https://modgov.hillingdon.gov.uk/documents/s40226/Appendix%2014%20-%20Budget%20Consultation%20Feedback%20from%20Residents.pdf