Politicians in Worcestershire unite over future of Birmingham Airport

Evesham Journal: County Hall: councillors backed a motion over Birmingham Airport County Hall: councillors backed a motion over Birmingham Airport

POLITICIANS across Worcestershire have united about the future of Birmingham Airport - saying it is vital it gets a second runway.

During a debate at County Hall, councillors said it was time the Government looked to move economic growth away from the South East towards this region.

They unanimously agreed for Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, to write to the Airport Commission and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to express their dismay at the current state of play.

Last month the commission recommended to the Government that airports at Gatwick and Heathrow should get expanded instead, and that Birmingham should not get a second runway until after 2050.

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "We all know Heathrow is operating at maximum capacity most of the time - when something goes wrong there it shuts down our access to the rest of the world.

"We're going the right way with HS2, but having proper access to our Second City and this region by creating that second runway is something that should be happening.

"The Government could choose to make that investment here in the Midlands rather than down south, and that is what they need to do, we all know the South East economy is 'overcooking' somewhat and need to share those benefits here.

"If the Government does go ahead and chooses Heathrow, it's a lost opportunity here in the Midlands."

The motion, created by Conservative Marc Bayliss, was unanimously backed by all the parties.

Coun Bayliss said: "We need to demonstrate this council's commitment to Birmingham's development and put it on the record.

"Airport passengers have risen five per cent a year, year-on-year for the last three decades and there is no sign of that abating.

"A larger airport would help redress the balance between the Midlands and the south, and would massively help Worcestershire businesses looking to operate across the globe."

Councillor Fran Oborski, a Liberal, said: "We need Birmingham as a hub (for air travel) - it's the Second City of the UK and anything we can do as a council to persuade people who make these decisions not to rule it out is something we must do for the whole region."

When the proposals were first unveiled last June, Birmingham Airport's chief executive Paul Kehoe said it would make the centre the same size as Heathrow now, taking up to 70 million passengers yearly.

But the commission has recommended the Government focus investment around London instead, with business leaders in this region calling it "illogical".

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