Back Heathrow had a stall at the Southall Vaisakhi Mela on April 14, playing its part in an important event for the local Sikh community. We had an enjoyable day out and the message of Vaisakhi - friendship and mutual respect - were much in evidence at Norwood Green.
For Back Heathrow it was a chance to meet some old friends and make some new ones. Our stall was surrounded by food stalls and was in front of the stage and sound system that supplied infectious Bhangra beats. Thanks to DJ Jazz Kalsi at Intamixx Entertainment for raising the temperature on what was a coldish spring day. Thanks also to event organiser Jaz from Asian Events Media and all the dancers and performers on the day.
From the warmth of the welcome, it was clear that support for a new runway at Heathrow airport is very strong in the local community. Jobs, apprenticeships, and prosperity for future generations are key to that support. However, more than anything, people wanted to know when the runway was actually going to be built? What was causing the delay?
They understood that parliament approved the decision last year, but what many did not know was that a group of councils, led by Hillingdon, were taking legal action against the airport. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of delay causes concern in a community so reliant on the economic benefits of our airport.
Last Sunday also gave us the chance to remind people that the consultation on the detailed planning stage begins in June. It is vital that the local community have their say, so when the time comes – get involved.
Heathrow takes its responsibilities seriously and must get it right if it is to receive government sign-off to finally build the new runway. It must work just as hard to ensure its future operations are sustainable, in order to meet air and noise targets set by the government.
But as we found at the 2019 Southall Vaisakhi Mela, if it creates opportunities and prosperity for future generations, local people will continue to back Heathrow.