Day 14 - Easter Monday in Middlesborough
Neil has missed spending Easter with his family but he has his Uncle Ray - and a determination to save his village from a third runway at Heathrow. While the going is good, Neil has been completing a few extra miles each day, which has forced another rewrite of the walking schedule. It's been so tiring that this blog has been tapped into the tablet from Neil's bed in the van.
It's fine for me to walk on beyond my planned destination every day but it can make being in the right place at the right time for some meetings a bit tricky.
On Bank Holiday Monday, it was arranged for Andy McDonald MP for Middlesborough and Shadow Transport Secretary to meet us. He was very welcoming and took time to study the scrapbook of our community that I'm taking up to Scotland with me. He said the scrapbook, with pictures of some of those who would be affected by a third runway, was a very powerful statement.
I was pleased to hear that Mr McDonald understood the impact on the villages, that 3,750 surrounding homes could be unliveable and that 1.2 million Londoners would be adversely affected. It's probably not surprising that the MP would object to the taxes of the North being used to fund a foreign company's infrastucture in the south.
We talked about the tax evasion loop hole that Heathrow has exploited over the past ten years and I warned him of the lies Heathrow (HAL) has told us in the past and that job promises had not been delivered locally.
Most people understand that there will be serious health impacts if a third runway is built (a burden on the NHS that we will all pay for) but it was a good opportunity to explain why mitigation is not the answer. HAL propaganda has been spread throughout the country by the company and it can't be believed. They'll say anything to get what they want.
It's now clear that any benefits of a third runway have been greatly oversold and the negatives played down. Mr McDonald did say that he was looking at the government's recommendation to see if it passed Labour's "four tests". So how is that going? The MP would only say that this proccess was underway and we could feed into the debate with him via email. I felt we had lots in common and he seemed to give quality of life for all a high priority.
We agreed not to do the usual pictures and I thanked Andy McDonald for giving his time on Bank Holiday Monday. I must say, I found him genuine in his comments.
I left feeling confident that if true independent evidence was used in any judgement, rather than Heathrow and the government's "magical thinking", the conclusion would be that a third runway is undeliverable..