17 October 2018 - Strategic Advisory Group: Elected Members Notes
Meeting: HCEB Strategic Advisory Group: Elected Members (SAGEM)
Present: Rachel Cerfontyne (Chair), John Read (Deputy Leader, South Bucks), Martin Tett (Leader, Buckinghamshire CC), Steve Curran (Leader, Hounslow), James Swindelhurst (Leader, Slough), Mike Goodman (Cabinet Member, Surrey CC) Guido Liguori, Sam Matthews, Rebecca Cox
Apologies: There were no apologies received. Julian Bell (Leader, Ealing) had indicated his intention to attend but was not present today. Ray Puddifoot (Leader, Hillingdon) and Ian Harvey (Leader, Spelthorne) had been contacted by email on a number of occasions, but no response had been received.
This was the inaugural meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group: Elected Members (SAGEM) and much of the discussion was focused around the function of the group and the way it should work going forward. The issues raised included:
· Engagement with local residents and campaign groups – the challenge of engaging effectively with the local communities with their conflicting views and differing attitudes regarding the level of engagement they required was discussed. There was a meeting with residents this evening at which the HCEB would be asking their views on how best to achieve this. The team also planned to meet with noise groups to ask the same question. Rachel Cerfontyne was also shortly to meet with the newly appointed Chair of the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN).
ACTION: Rachel would circulate a briefing on ICCAN to SAGEM members after her meeting.
· Heathrow’s consultation on airspace change – the problem of meaningfully engaging with communities about something so technically complicated and difficult to understand was discussed, and how to do this when those being consulted simply wanted the noise to be elsewhere. It was agreed that the consultation information needed to be area specific and set out in simple language. It should focus on those elements of airspace change that could genuinely be modified so that those they were consulting would feel that they had been listened to. The HCEB would have a role in communicating this to Heathrow. The issue of engagement with those people who would be experiencing noise in the future but do not currently was agreed to be key and SAGEM would play a role in influencing the way in which Heathrow engaged with this group during their forthcoming consultation on airspace change. All agreed that a clear statement from Heathrow on night flights would help alleviate a lot of anxiety.
· Heathrow’s consultation on expansion – consultation fatigue was recognised to be a serious problem and the response rate to the first consultation was very low. The role the HCEB could play in making a demonstrable difference to both the level and the diversity of engagement was discussed. Recommendations should be made to Heathrow about consultation methods, including moving away from the 1960’s style village hall events and using targeted approaches for different groups, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, degrees of expertise and geographical area. The HCEB had commissioned a piece of research on how to reach groups that formed part of the unheard majority – this could include younger people, ethnic minority communities and SMEs.
· Community Compensation Fund and sustainable communities – the HCEB would be asked to have an input into how the community compensation fund should be spent and would be making a series of recommendations to mitigate the negative effects of expansion should it go ahead. It was agreed that thinking about this in terms of investment in maintaining sustainable communities would be helpful, as this would also include the very disruptive construction period. It was suggested that, given that the community compensation fund had to be considered as part of the DCO process, the options for spending this should be included in the consultation. This would help highlight the mitigation and the road and rail benefits and might encourage more people to respond.
· Engagement with Hillingdon residents – it was agreed that it was vital to continue to try to engage with the residents of Hillingdon, despite the Borough Council’s policy of non-engagement with Heathrow – and by extension, seemingly the HCEB. A number of different methods were discussed, including approaching a head of a local educational establishment or contacting the local MPs.
ACTION: Rachel Cerfontyne should write to Ray Puddifoot reiterating the invitation to join SAGEM, copying this to all of his members to ensure that they were aware of his decision not to engage. An interview with Rachel in the local paper in Hillingdon in which she could voice her disappointment in the lack of engagement could also be organised.
· Declaration of SAGEM members’ interests – members of SAGEM had been invited to sit on the group because they had a clear interest, but also because they were able to take a strategic view and assist the HCEB in looking at the bigger picture.
ACTION: a form would be circulated to all members in which they would be asked to declare any interest that might be relevant.
· Work of SAGEM going forward – it was agreed that Heathrow would not be invited to routinely attend meetings. Instead they, or any other relevant organisation, would be invited should their contribution on a particular issue be required. Members indicated their willingness to work flexibly, including participating in email discussions and teleconferences. Members were asked to raise issues with the HCEB should anything come up that the team may need to be aware of. No formal minutes of the meetings would be drawn up, and instead the notes would reflect key messages, actions and decisions. Members also agreed to assist the HCEB expand the reach of its communications.
· SAGEM terms of reference and HCEB rules of organisation – these had been circulated prior to the meeting and, subject to a number of minor amendments, were agreed.
· HCEB work plan – a number of suggestions were made, including that progress against the plan should be added, that the HCEB should circulate a newsletter to increase awareness of its existence as soon as possible, and that engagement with sports clubs with a junior section could be an effective way to reach busy parents.
ACTION: the work plan would be reviewed at the HCEB team away day in early November and a revised version circulated. Members were ask to share any recommendations for performance tracking tools. The team were considering holding a series of question time events, the first to include a panel from NATS, the CAA and HAL to coincide with the consultation on airspace change. Further information on this would be circulated to SAGEM members.
· Independent parallel approaches – this represented an opportunity to shape the airspace change consultation.
ACTION: members were asked to forward any comments on this to Sam Matthews as soon as possible. These views would be assimilated into the HCEB’s feedback to Heathrow.
· Future meetings – the frequency of meetings and preferred venue were discussed.
ACTION: the HCEB team should set dates for 2019 as soon as possible, at a frequency of approximately every 10 weeks, and circulate to members. The possibility of meeting around the HSPG Leaders Group was to be considered as it could be the only viable way of convening again this year.