Protest that made a point

PUBLISHED: 12:41 02 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:32 06 May 2010

I am sorry if any passengers were inconvenienced by the demonstration at Luton Airport last Friday by residents of Kimpton and Whitwell making their collective protest at the Airport s plans to build a second runway and increase its capacity to 30 million

I am sorry if any passengers were inconvenienced by the demonstration at Luton Airport last Friday by residents of Kimpton and Whitwell making their collective protest at the Airport's plans to build a second runway and increase its capacity to 30 million passengers.

The responsibility for any inconvenience must lie with the Airport. Last Monday I hand-delivered a letter informing the managing director of the time of our arrival so that she could make whatever arrangements she thought appropriate for the convenience of passengers.

Every driver was given written advice to park in the Short Term car park and join the banner-waving demonstration on the roundabout, for which we had prior police approval. When we arrived, cars were directed into the service area and we were not expected to get out of them. We explained that we wished to park in the car park. The representative of the Airport denied that my letter had been received, until I explained that I had a receipt. She decided that we could not use the short term car park because we were not intending to fly but was unable to point to any public display of such a by-law. Because the demonstrators' cars could not all get into the service area, the roundabout became blocked. This resulted in traffic being backed up to the M1 by the arrival of 50 cars packed with members of the militant wings of the WI, Gardening Club and Tennis Club intent upon waving banners.

The Airport Authority inadvertently demonstrated in the clearest possible way the lack of infrastructure, resources and competence it has to run an airport of 7 million passengers let alone 30 million.

It subsequently said that it was trying to save us paying car parking charges. The bemused residents of Kimpton leaning out of their car windows and the forever courteous police standing by will testify to the fact that we came fully prepared to pay. If the Airport Authority is capable of such tortuous untruths, spin and incompetence in small things, how can we expect to believe them in large things?

PETER LIDDELL

* There were rude finger gestures and angry words from anxious air-travellers who found themselves mired in this morning's orchestrated traffic jam up and down the hill at Luton airport. Car horns honked, placards were waved and some tempers frayed a little around the edges.

The people of Kimpton were out in numbers to protest about the proposed development of the airport and the impact that it would have on the lives of all who lived in the vicinity. For many it was their first experience of anything at all that resembled a protest. For some it was daunting in the extreme.

This was not a violent protest. Cars were not set alight, and stones were not thrown, but all the same, the potency of the protesters' purpose was tangible.

Anybody there this morning could see that this cross-section of people, all of whom choose to live in one of the county's last surviving greenbelts is fighting for real.

DOUG JENNER

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