Rachel's October Update
October saw the culmination of all the work that has gone into setting ourselves up as an organisation, making it a very busy month for the HCEB. We had the first meetings of our Board of Directors and both Strategic Advisory Groups. In addition, I have met with local residents, the Executive Director of Expansion at Heathrow, the Head of Community Engagement at NATS, the CAA, the Secretary of State for Transport and the Minister for Aviation.
Last week, we held a residents’ forum in Colnbrook, where we had hoped to elect a residents’ chair. Unfortunately, none of the candidates who applied met the essential criteria for the role so instead , we used it to explore the best ways of working with local communities with those who attended. We plan to continue this discussion through further meetings and attendance at local residents’ associations. (Click here to read more about that decision).
During the forum, concerns were expressed by some residents about recent land referencing letters they had received from Heathrow. In particular, some people were worried about how any information they provided to Heathrow might be used in the future and who it could be shared with and whether it would be put in the public domain. A number of those present felt that the tone of the letter suggested that expansion was now a certainty, rather than convey that it was still at a planning process stage.
Part of the role of HCEB is to scrutinise Heathrow’s activities and where appropriate challenge them, on behalf of local communities. We agreed to write formally to Heathrow, expressing the concerns raised and seeking answers to specific questions, including requests for details of the timetable and nature of future letters that Heathrow intend to send and whether it is necessary to send them prior to the conclusion of the ongoing judicial reviews or even any planning consent being granted. We will share their response when it is received.
Airspace change process
I’ve had several opportunities over the last month to speak to those in the industry who are involved in the airspace change process like NATS and the CAA. On each occasion I have met them, I have been emphasising that the quality of engagement around this issue in particular needs to improve. At a presentation this week, I set them 3 key challenges:
Make engagement a priority. Community engagement cannot be an afterthought, it has to be put at the heart of everything they do. Not only is this the morally right thing to do, it makes business sense too as local people are best placed to understand their issues and propose solutions to local challenges.
Find better ways of communicating. Just because airspace change is a technically complex issue does not mean that communications have to be technically complex. They have to get better at making this issue more tangible for people so that it is easily understandable.
Work together. People’s time is valuable whoever they are so don’t waste it by asking them the same questions someone else asked six months ago. Engagement and consultation has to be effective, efficient and fair. This will involve the various bodies involved in this process working together to deliver effective engagement and consultation.
We have just put out a job advert to recruit a Residents Advisor. Their role will be to provide a high-quality advice service that supports residents to access sources of assistance in regard to the day-to-day operations of Heathrow Airport as well as the various compensation schemes proposed by Heathrow if expansion goes ahead. It is essential that residents can get clear, reliable and impartial information on a wide range of complex matters, so the Residents’ Adviser is a pivotal role.
If you are interested in applying or know someone who would be great in this role, you can find out more by clicking here. Applications close on 15 November 2018.
Board of Directors
Early this month, we had the first meeting of the Board of Directors. We’re really fortunate to be joined by 3 talented non-executive directors in Mark Izatt, Kris Beuret and Bharan Kumar. Mark is chair of the passenger services group and brings a wealth of experience from his professional life in communications. Kris Beuret is founder and owner of Social Research Associates Ltd who are market leaders in research and consultancy about the social aspects of planning, social policy and Transport. Kris will be chairing our Transport and Environment group and we’ll be inviting representatives from campaigning organisations on noise and the environment to be part of it. More details on the Transport and Environment group soon. Bharan is a GP in Slough who lives in South Buckinghamshire bringing direct experience in public health.
We’ll soon be joined by John Davies who is a West Drayton resident, who is a long-time Hillingdon resident and is involved in Yiewsley & West Drayton Town Centre Action group and the Yiewlsey and West Drayton Community Centre. We’re currently looking to recruit someone with a background in accountancy as a non-executive director to help the HCEB in that area.
Strategic Advisory Groups
Last week we had our Strategic Advisory Groups who brought together local authority leaders as well as representatives from the Heathrow Communities to advise the us on our strategies to engage with those who they represent. These groups are really important to help advise and shape the HCEB’s work. Click here to find out more about who sits on the HCEB Strategic Advisory Groups.
What’s coming up?
We’re currently working on putting dates in the diary for 2019 and we’ll be publishing them on our website really soon. We’ll also be publishing our strategic objectives for 2019 and will be inviting feedback on them.
If you have any questions, you can always get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org