On the 27th March the council’s Development Control committee backed a planning application for a business park and a dual carriageway called Century Park, which is a key enabler for their Terminal Two airport expansion plans. To do this they are building over Wigmore Park which is a county wildlife site. The Development Control committee consists of 11 councillors, 7 were present when approved, 6 voted for (Labour & Conservative), 1 against (Liberal). This planning application received 411 responses, 408 were objections. 6 for and 408 against, why was it passed?
Those Labour councillors followed the local party line and approved their own planning application. A bit like students and school children marking their own exam papers. In fact if you read, ‘The Green Transformation Labour’s Environment Policy’, their decision even goes against Labour party policy. How can local councillors know better than their national party and the local population?
Building a dual carriageway over a county wildlife site brings additional air pollution, which will increase with airport expansion. You may not be able to see, smell or hear the airport, but the pollution reaches everyone in a 15km (9.3 miles) radius. The local Luton air quality report estimates that over 86 deaths a year are attributed to air pollution. The dual carriageway will encourage more road traffic. By approving the application, the councillors in Farley and Biscot wards further pollute the whole of Luton. Children and older people suffer the most, the vulnerable. Who is paying for Century Park? £20 million was refused to the council, have we now picked up the tab and are the council using Luton taxpayers money to pollute and kill its own residents? Councillors with no conscience?
Last Friday, school children and students went on strike again to protest against the lack of action and understanding by those in public positions to the threat of climate change. There is only one world and action is required now. Unemployment in Luton has gone down. Workers at the airport regularly strike for a fairer wage which shoots the local economy story line to pieces. Luton falls into the ‘Households Below Average Income figures for 2016/17’, published by the Department of Work and Pensions. LLAL state passenger numbers and revenue are going up and the Luton News reported that more passengers used the airport in March. How can this be when Luton is the 59th (out of 326) most deprived local authority, Luton has nine areas in the top ten per cent most deprived areas in the country. Three of these are in Northwell, two in Farley and South areas and one in Biscot and Dallow wards, with 48 and 38 percent of children living in poverty. Why is government austerity blamed for funding cuts? Councillors are knocking on your door for your vote, ask them why all the revenue generated is not put back into Luton, who they borrow from and who profits from the interest payments? Why not borrow and make interest payments local?
Politics in Luton is stale and when common sense goes out of the window, it’s time for change. The long term councillors know how to play the game, supported by legal, financial and consultant experts all with commercial interests and who come with a professional fee, lead the council astray and haven’t the town’s best interest at heart. They have no interest in the young and the planet, they would rather spend your money on Century Park and airport expansion. If the returns are so good and risks so low for Luton, ask the councillors to put their own wages and pensions into these schemes. How many Lutonians have the time, energy or money to play these games. Only a few spot when it’s not right, voice and contest.
Instead of jobs, revenue and economic growth being the selling point, it should be all about Luton, less poverty, better health and a cleaner environment. Clear statements that Climate Change is the number one priority. We should trust the people we vote for and time and time again the council change the rules and demonstrate that they can’t be trusted.
I’m in my 60’s now, I have voted for each major party during my life, once spoiling a slip in protest. It’s time for new politics in this country, the Brexit mess highlights that politics is not fit for purpose in this country. Challenge yourself, encourage yourself, don’t simply follow how you have voted before. The, “I’ll always vote for them, cause my parents did and I’ve always done so” is not right. If not for you, do so for our future, our children and students who cannot vote and strike to be taken notice of.
Addressing the world’s climate change issue can not be delayed, new roads, jobs, local economy and national GDP can.