On the 16th of June, the Luton Borough Council (LBC) Administration and Regulation Committee met. If you would like to view that meeting, please follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtZN0_YGuTs
At this meeting it was decided that, despite over three hundred job cuts to LBC public services over the past two years, its airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), needed three new, and going by their job titles, very expensive new posts.
It was decided LLAL needed a Governance Manager, to ensure the company is properly managed and run; a Finance Business Partner, to provide the financial expertise the company needs; and a Financial Controller, whose task is to work on corporate social responsibility, to highlight the areas of value LLAL creates to the local community.
So the big question is, why weren’t these posts already put in place when six years ago, LBC decided to turn LLAL from a rent collector, to an airport developer? Surely ensuring LLAL employees have the experience and knowledge “to ensure the company is properly manged and run”, was a prerequisite from Day One? LLAL pays a tidy sum to LBC to use the services of their employees, so did those employees not perform these functions?
Or could another answer be that LBC/LLAL just didn’t bother, or ignored those staff, as they could just do as they liked with public money as no one would ever hold them to account? The airport was going to be a global player and money was no object to achieve that.
Another alarming revelation is that LLAL has no Risk Assessment Manager. Apparently the job could not be filled at the pay scale offered. Could this also be because no risk was considered to be too great when it came to the airport empire, or just that no sensible person would want such a poison chalice of a position?
We can see why such posts are now belatedly being added.
As mentioned by a Liberal Democrat Councillor at the meeting, the LLAL DART project is now costing £281 million, plus interest and climbing, and is £56 million already over budget and still not due to come on line until Spring 2022.
The Development Consent Order process, Terminal 2 and expansion to 32 million passengers a year, had an original budget of £50 million. Due to a multi flawed original process, and now a substantial rewrite by even more expensive consultants, this now stands at £65 million, plus interest and no doubt ever more costs.
Add to these the current and potential stabilisation loans to LLAL over last and this year to continue this haemorrhaging of cash and the new holders of these posts will certainly earn their money.
A Conservative Councillor who sits on the LLAL Board as well as this Committee mentions the increased complexity of LLAL operations since he first sat on that Board six years ago. Of course they are complex, as the Labour controlling group changed the whole operational role of the company, from one with minimal or little risk, to one with huge risk factors.
Huge risk factors on a DART project that will not increase airport capacity by one person, or increase income to LBC public coffers until its vast costs are paid for, and that only exists to take approximately 30 seconds off a journey time for airport passengers, and maybe entice those passengers out of their cars and therefore cut air pollution? Huge risk factors based on chasing fictional figures for potential airport passengers, who seem to only exist in the minds of the expensive consultants mentioned earlier.
LLAL only needs these new staff to put right the arrogance, complacency and incompetence of previous LBC Councillors and LLAL staff
Let LBC give them a head start, and stop all funding of airport expansion NOW!