- Issued at 11am, 1 November 2018
A formal complaint to the Information Commissioner has been made by Back Heathrow (a campaign group representing 100,000 residents who support Heathrow’s expansion) after Hillingdon Council refused to reveal how much tax-payers money they are spending on legal action against Heathrow expansion.
Hillingdon is one of the five councils taking expensive legal action to block a decision by a majority of Labour and Conservative MPs to build a new runway at Heathrow. The new runway is forecast to create 77,000 new local jobs, and recent independent polling by Populus suggests most Hillingdon residents back the project.
Over the past decade the councils opposing the project have racked up over £1 million of taxpayer’s money on expensive lawyers, legal fees and funding opposition groups.
In a series of FOIs (Freedom of Information Requests) Back Heathrow asked Hillingdon how much they have spent in the latest round of judicial review action against a new runway. However, Hillingdon failed to answer the question on what they had spent, instead directing the group to a general page on their website, presenting no information.
A review of the response went unanswered by the council and a formal complaint has now been submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Back Heathrow Executive Director Parmjit Dhanda said: “Hillingdon Council has every right to take legal action if it so wishes. But if it is so proud of its actions, why won’t it tell local residents how much of their money they are spending to fund this? Is it because they got hammered last year by their own staff and local families for spending £215,000 on legal fees fighting Heathrow whilst proposing to cut children’s centres?
“If Hillingdon think they are right, then they should just tell local people how they have chosen to spend their council tax. Their refusal to do so means we have had to involve the Information Commissioner.”
Timeline of events
- Back Heathrow sent the original FOI request on the 27th June 2018
- Hillingdon Council replied, declined to provide a response and instead directing Back Heathrow to its website on 25th July 2018
- Back Heathrow sought an internal review of the inadequate response on 18th September 2018
- After no response was received from Hillingdon, Back Heathrow complained to the Information Commissioner on 25th October 2018