Residents Against Expansion Hit Out At Back Heathrow

Neil Keveren with Zac Goldsmith after the No Third Runway rally in Parliament Square

Neil Keveren with Zac Goldsmith after the No Third Runway rally in Parliament Square

Harmondsworth resident Neil Keveren of direct action group Residents Against Expansion has hit out at the “garbage” issued by Back Heathrow following the successful No Third Runway rally on Saturday, 10th October.

Back Heathrow’s Rob Gray swiftly issued a press release in an attempt to counteract the positive publicity given to the well attended rally in Parliament Square. Prominent London politicians and senior campaigners were warmly received by a huge crowd. Estimates of the crowd have varied from “many hundreds”, “over a thousand” to “thousands”. People were standing on the grassy area in front of the stage but considerable numbers were also seated on low walls, statue bases and in the wings, out of shot of photographers making calculation of numbers difficult.


Back Heathrow, in its typical fashion, disregarded the strong arguments that were expressed against expansion, which it cannot dispute, and attempted to dismiss the rally as failing to reflect the true view of local people. Yet the press release did not say why it considered this to be the case. A note at the bottom referred to Back Heathrow being “a coalition of 100,000 plus residents, plus businesses, organisations and community groups who have come together to defend local jobs and secure a bright future for the UK’s hub airport”.

The press release does not reveal that Back Heathrow is a private company set up by Rob Gray, almost entirely funded by Heathrow airport and its foreign investors for its own benefit. The company is not defending local jobs. A third runway will destroy many local jobs and wipe the village of Longford off the map, together with most of Harmondsworth and ultimately Sipson with Harlington, Colnbrook, Cranford and many other areas being blighted by noise and pollution. Back Heathrow is about airport profits – Mr Gray would like you believe otherwise.

If Back Heathrow has 100,000 supporters, where are they? When is Mr Gray planning to hire a football stadium for its own rally? He has yet to organise a major event. Last summer he held “a barbecue with drinks” for its supporters. How many hundreds attended? What vast venue did Rob Gray book to accommodate the hoards who were fighting to get in? Well he didn’t publicise how many attended and there was no sign of any press interest. They had a little guest list at the Hilton Hotel in Syon Park. To get people to attend they were bribed with free food, free drink, free entertainment, free parking and a venue with tight security so that no one could see who was inside. (Photo below of anti-runway campaigners greeting ticket holders to the low-key event.)

A previous attempt to hold a “family fun day” fell apart due to Back Heathrow’s bad organisation and totally inappropriate venue, which meant it was cancelled. That was way back in summer 2014. It was never re-scheduled.

An unexpected welcome for people promised free burgers and booze.

An unexpected welcome for people promised free burgers and booze.

Rob Gray has little option but to keep sending out press releases claiming “numbers” because he has nothing else to add to the debate. He can’t offer any proof that he has anything other than people prepared to press a button on a website or send a pre-printed, reply-paid postcard. He and seven mates took an old photocopy paper box to Number 10 but goodness knows what was inside. It neither had the weight nor size to accommodate the suggested number of postcards. Even the BBC refused to specify a number, even though Back Heathrow had almost certainly given them one. Incidentally, pro-expansion responses to the Davies Commission (postcards at airport boarding areas no doubt) included “locals” who live in Africa, Australia, America…..

Plane attracts attention of police, public and photographers at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester

Plane attracts attention of police, public and photographers at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester

Neil Keveren has asked SHE to print his own response:

“Does anyone respond to Back Heathrow Rob Gray’s garbage? He has said: “Organisers quietly disappointed?” Not half as disappointed as Heathrow Airport Limited with not one potential London Mayor wanting an expanded Heathrow. London, the best city in the world, 100% rejects Heathrow expansion. Back Heathrow love numbers; Rob Gray quote this …nil point …..None. This is despite having spent millions stuffing their previously rejected ideas down our throats on every billboard and train station for the past two years.

Now if you want to see real disappointment look no further than Heathrow’s Nigel Milton after a UKIP conference vote. Just the one vote in favour of a “Best for Britain” third runway. Heathrow’s Matt Gorman came a close second in the disappointment race when he realised no one was going to be taken to task for dropping a 30m plastic runway in the drive of his Henley home. Calling the police to arrest 80-year-old ladies and children, he must have felt doubly miffed that no action was be taken.

Now I have been in the company of a few police of late and virtually all have shown a degree a sympathy for my protests, even if they can’t officially agree with me. One officer even remarked (and I won’t say where or when), “When I ride my bike to work the air is sh*t, so good on you.”

Back Heathrow boasts 100,000 members but I’ve never seen more than 100 in one place. Not sure they even had that many at their free party at Syon Park.

In Parliament Square today, speaker after speaker pointed out the political, environmental, legal, economical and finally the direct action battles that Heathrow will need to conquer before they can even dream of “Getting on with it”. It is going to be a very expensive exercise, one that might prove a price too high for the monopoly they strive to achieve. Passengers beware, you will be picking up the tab.

Heathrow workers please do not assume the decline of the existing profitable Heathrow will have anything to do with a lack of expansion. Your directors are going to send you into the red with this folly. You will be squeezed harder with minimum wage and zero hour contracts when this scheme dies years in the future. You will be dissapointed to have been lead in this direction but not as dissapointed as Mr John Holland-Kaye. He will not see his bonus and might not be able to finish the massive refurb of his huge Oxford home worth millions.

Many folk believe the Prime Minister’s “No Ifs, No Buts” will be honoured. I am convinced he won’t want his legacy to be that of a LIAR. If he reneges on his word there’ll be an outcry from those giving him the benefit of the doubt at this moment.

George Osborne will take the “unpopular” option at his peril as there will be no cosy Blair to Brown handover here. The Conservative Party has charismatic options, something not required or evident in an Iron Chancellor but totally essential in a Leader.

A third runway will never be delivered, No Ifs, No Buts.

Neil Keveren. Residents Against Expansion

Stop Heathrow Expansion