A parliamentary group, ‘The Gatwick Co-ordinating Group’, met on 16th July. The founding members are the MPs for Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Reigate, Mid Sussex, Mole Valley, and Wealden.
It followed the meeting by reporting that, taking into account the current unemployment pool in the area, at least 250,000 immigrant workers and their families would arrive in Crawley and neighbouring areas as the result of the building of a second runway at Gatwick.
These immigrants would be from across the EU, but predominantly from the east, where wages are low and unemployment high. The group then draws attention to their needs for health, educational, recreational and other services and issues a warning to the local councils who will have to provide them.
In February 2005, West Sussex County Council published their structure plan for the county up to and including 2016.
Policy NE 7 sets out its employment policy for the north-east of the county, which it defines as ‘focused on Crawley and Gatwick, including the town of Horsham… part of the wider Crawley/Gatwick subregion….RPG defines this area as one where further growth needs to occur in a form which minimises the additional pressures on land and labour, particularly in ‘hotspots’ where positive action is required. This means enabling further growth whilst discouraging inappropriate new development. The County Council considers the Crawley/Gatwick area to be one such ‘hotspot’ because of significant levels of traffic congestion, high economic growth, low numbers of vacancies, labour shortages and high property prices. It is the most economically buoyant area in the county...”
To turn to the express policies, Policy NE1, in para.119, cautions against creating employment faster than the growth in the resident workforce; it appears that this has happened in the past. ‘In the Crawley/Gatwick area care needs to be taken to ensure that the scale of allocations does not cause a recurrence of the past tendency for employment to grow faster than the resident workforce...’
Policy NE7: ‘Development which will support employment in the north-east of the county... particularly related to Crawley/Gatwick as a focus for growth, whilst minimising pressure on land and labour resources, should be permitted provided that infrastructure improvements are achieved and any adverse impact on the environment is minimised...’
The italics are mine.
On 19th July 2013, after two days’ notice of the motion to councillors, WSCC passed a resolution approving a second runway at Gatwick in principle.
I hope you and your readers will agree that it is not too late to request that councillor Louise Goldsmith (Chichester West, leader of the council) takes space in your columns to explain how WSCC reconciles its stated policies with its Resolution of 19th July last year.
Nowhurst Lane, Broadbridge Heath