Does 'retired and affluent' council have 'no concern for working people' after holding up Stansted airport growth plan decision?

PUBLISHED: 12:33 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:33 11 September 2019

Hundreds of jobseekers turned up for the Stansted Airport Jobs Fair in 2018  Picture: TONY PICK

Hundreds of jobseekers turned up for the Stansted Airport Jobs Fair in 2018 Picture: TONY PICK

© 2017 Tony Pick

Union leaders have hit out at council delays to Stansted Airport's expansion - which is expected to create 5,000 new jobs - claiming it has "little or no concern for ordinary working people".

Passengers in the departure lounge at Stansted Airport  Picture: LUCY MARTINPassengers in the departure lounge at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN

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Unite has joined a growing chorus of anger directed at Uttlesford District Council's new administration after it decided to review Section 106 mitigation measures contained in a proposed planning agreement, stalling an application to raise the ceiling on airport passenger numbers.

Union officials have added their voice to warnings from local and national chambers of commerce and Visit East of England about the economic damage which they claim council delays to granting permission is causing.

MORE - Are stark business and tourism warnings over delays to Stansted airport expansion plans simply 'project fear'?

Residents 4 Uttlesford (R4U) took control of the council from the Conservatives at the May 2019 elections. It says the matter will go to a planning meeting at a date to be set. Its leader, Councillor John Lodge, hit back at the Unite criticism, branding it "rude and ill-informed", and said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the comments.

Unite regional officer Mark Barter said working people rely on the jobs Stansted creates, and suggested the new-look council "has little or no concern for ordinary working people".

"It appears that Uttlesford district council has now been effectively taken over by a residents' committee of predominately retired and affluent people," he said.

"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."

R4U has pointed out that a judicial review case brought by campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion about whether the airport's plans to increase passenger capacity to 43m a year should be decided locally or nationally is set to be heard in the High Court from November 12 to 14. R4U said the planning committee members will have concluded their business before then.

"Uttlesford District Council is not holding up the application by a single day," said Mr Lodge.

The council was "very positive" about the economic benefit which the airport brought to the region and would very much like to see controlled growth which mitigates its effect on the environment, he said.

"I'm disappointed that they didn't have the courtesy to talk to me when I would have given them up to date progress on the application," he added of the Unite comments.

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