Luton Borough Council talks much about job creation at our expanded airport, while hiding a dark secret about the jobs it refuses to create as an alternative to airport expansion. At the 2004 MK & S Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy planning Inquiry, a panel of inspectors told Luton “NOT to put all their eggs in the airport basket”.
Yet LBC policy has caused the airport to expand too rapidly.
LBC owns London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), staffed by councillors & council officers. (More correctly, the people of Luton own the airport, yet have virtually no say in its management or future plans.)
What many people don’t know is that LLAL recently bought farmland between Wigmore Valley Park and the Hertfordshire border, known as Century Park Fields. This land is a similar size to Wigmore Valley Park, and has had outline planning permission for over 20 years to build a business park. The planning application at the time claimed that this park would create thousands of new jobs. But instead of creating these jobs, the council wants to turn this field into a long-term car park for the airport (according to its own consultation).
Jobs connected to this business park would have been full time – and the nature of the business park suggested that they would be jobs with good salaries. But the council has said no. In Feb 2017 it proposed to build 20 office blocks, mainly on Wigmore Park, but those at the stakeholder workshop were told 70% of jobs would be for people outside Luton. In 2018 this was reduced to 10 office blocks, showing plans were entirely unformed and speculative. Meanwhile 17 office buildings on the airport complex, some recently built, have been closed and businesses forced to leave and relocate. LBC has a record of overclaiming the number of new jobs on big projects.
Anyone attending the recent annual airport job fair will know that current job applicants would be lucky to be offered 10 to 20 hour contracts. The unlucky ones would be offered zero hour contracts with no holiday pay and no National Insurance contributions. Those working 20 hour contracts could expect to earn a little over £8000 per year – a shameful amount considering they will be expected to work any time of the day or night. This contrasts sharply with pay levels for LLAL executives and for contractors working for them.
Here’s a link to an article which concludes: “London Luton Airport has announced profits of nearly £40 million. It is an absolute disgrace that the airport and its contractor won’t pay a wage workers can live on.”
Note: David Franks said this on 9 Dec: “As for employment, the Council is not involved. The Council does not seek tenders for contracts offered by the operating company at the airport. There are around 200 different employers at the airport and many (not all as some are not directly involved in the operation) are employed by the operating company (Council has no control and little influence) and by the operating company’s contractors. The Council’s company, LLAL, is constantly pressurising the operating company to insist on subcontractors paying the Living Wage. There has been some success but more needs to be done.”