Unite hits out at 'retired, affluent' Uttlesford district councillors blocking growth at Stansted Airport
A union which has more than 2,500 members at Stansted Airport has slammed "predominantly retired and affluent" members of Uttlesford District Council for blocking passenger growth.
The authority, which since May's local elections has been controlled by the Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) party, has referred permission granted in November last year – by the council's former Conservative administration – back to its planning committee for review.
The move comes despite independent legal advice that the decision to allow passenger growth from 35 million annually to 43m, without increasing the cap of 274,000 flights a year, was sound.
Unite regional officer Mark Barter said: "It appears that Uttlesford District Council has now been effectively taken over by a residents' committee of predominantly retired and affluent people.
"This U-turn demonstrates that the new-look council has little or no concern for ordinary working people who rely on the many jobs that Stansted creates. The money generated from these jobs filters down and profits other businesses in the wider Essex community.
"With an insecure economic climate and the need to provide quality, well-paid jobs for current and future generations, such prevarication and backsliding are both unnecessary and damaging to the regional economy that benefits greatly from the success of Stansted Airport.
"The council has been advised throughout the process by independent planning lawyers, who have confirmed that there is no reason not to grant permission. Yet there is still delay, so the council's decision is particularly disappointing given that so many new jobs are reliant on the airport's growth.
"From tourism to the high tech industry, businesses are desperate to have easy, efficient access to Stansted Airport's increasing gateways to the world that would arise from an injection of investment when expansion gets the green light.
"Stansted Airport needs this permission as soon as possible to provide both the owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), and airlines with long-term clarity to make further investment decisions from which employment opportunities flow.
"We are backing Stansted because it is good for the business, the wider regional economy and for the passengers, but, most importantly, from a Unite perspective, it heralds strong growth in employment and secures jobs in the years ahead."
Unite's convenor at Stansted, Danise Smith, said: "There is no denying that the airport delivers substantial benefits to the Uttlesford, Essex and East of England economies. This comes in many forms, but most notably from the 12,000 on-site jobs, of which over 2,500 are Uttlesford residents.
"Planning permission will create 5,000 more jobs at the airport and a further £1bn of economic value will be generated.
"The airport offers more than the classic nine-to-five employment – it provides staff with a variety of shifts that suit their particular lifestyles.
"It is disappointing to hear critics of the airport characterise many of the roles at Stansted as 'low wage, low skilled' – many staff have also been equally disappointed by this view.
"Airports are notable for the huge range of roles and careers that they offer and, indeed, the opportunity to move within the airport is what attracts many younger employees to settle in Uttlesford and the surrounding districts, and start a family based on developing a career in aviation.
"Without the airport, they say that they would either be commuting into London or living somewhere else entirely."
More by this authorSinead Corr