Luton Council’s airport-owning company LALL has signed heads of terms today with the airport operators LLAOL to allow the operators to continue in post until 2031. This is the final stage in a commercial ploy whereby the Council put forward plans to expand the airport, in order to force the operators to table their own investment and expansion plans against the threat of termination of their operating concession. This move was predicted by HALE on 15 March (see Cunning Ploy).
In the press release it’s no surprise that Cllr Harris seeks to gloss the commercial shenanigans as taking account of feedback from residents: clearly this is not the case because he makes no indication of any positive changes that have been made as a result. Likewise it’s amusing to read that Glyn Jones is looking forward to ‘an ongoing relationship with the owner’ – having been forced at termination-point by that very owner to commit to massive further investment as the general economic situation in Europe wobbles, in return for a measly extra few years tacked on to the end of their contract.
What local residents are of course saying is that they have had enough of the noise and pollution which is steadily growing year-on-year. Luton is a local airport and should remain as such, while taking active steps to become a better neighbour. People want a reduction in night flights, not an increase – and the prospect of a flight every 90 seconds at peak times is unpalatable. Roads and rail are congested enough already.
Putting all Luton’s economic eggs in one basket is also not a wise move: any Council worth its salt would have spent the money it has just wasted on the futureLuToN expansion consultation by coming up with some creative and soundly-based diversification schemes to boost the local economy and deliver local jobs in a sustainable way.
The airport press release can be downloaded here: Plans to merge