Official statistics underestimate the levels of aircraft noise in east and south east London

                                                                                                                    6th April 2015 for immediate use

 Official statistics underestimate the levels of aircraft noise in east and south east London, according to the campaign group HACAN East.  Just a week after the London Mayor Boris Johnson refused London City permission to expand on the grounds of noise, HACAN East has complained that the noise from City Airport aircraft and those heading to Heathrow are measured separately and not added together.

John Stewart, who chairs HACAN East, said, “We need to get a figure for the total noise if we are to get a picture of the real noise levels experienced by residents.  In the areas of east and south east London where people get planes from both London City and Heathrow noise levels will be a lot higher than official statistics show.”

A report published in 2007 (1) found that “in some areas of East London flown over by both Heathrow planes and City Airport noise levels were comparable to those in parts of West London”.  Two years ago the Greater London Assembly called for joint readings to be taken.

Stewart concluded, “It is not rocket science to assess the cumulative noise.  The suspicion remains that it suits the aviation industry not to paint the full picture.”


 Notes for Editors:









Would London City Airport be so cavalier in dealing with its residents if they were richer?

2nd April 2015

by John Stewart

Last week the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, turned down City Airport’s application to expand on noise grounds.  Although the decision caught people by surprise, there was a widespread feeling that the airport had it coming because of the cavalier way it has dealt with residents, local authorities and elected politicians over the years.  I spelt this out in an opinion piece for the Newham Recorder:

 The question must arise:  would City Airport’s attitude have been different if it was dealing with a wealthier population?  We will never know for sure it certainly impacts on some of the poorest communities in the UK.

According to the latest Indices of Deprivation (2010), Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest are among 15 most deprived local authorities in the country. And Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Lewisham and Lambeth make it into the top 50.  Moreover, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets have highest percentage of deprived people in the UK (1).

They will also be the communities which fly the least.  They are the victims of what Les Blomberg, the executive director of the US-based Noise Pollution Clearing House called ‘second-hand noise’:  “noise that is experienced by people who did not produce it.  Like second-hand smoke, it’s put into the environment without people’s consent and then has effects on them that they don’t have any control over.”

A good neighbour would tailor its strategy, and particularly its communications, to the needs of its communities.  In areas of real deprivation, variable online skills and limited access to technology, a good neighbour would ensure it provided plenty of leaflets and regular face-to-face meetings with the public.  It would make sure its materials were written in clear, simple language.

London City simply does not do this.  The recent consultation on its plans to concentrate its flight paths over particular communities was a prime example.  The consultation took the form of putting a technical document on its website and of informing its supine consultative committee.  Nothing more.  No leafleting of the areas that would be affected.  And by only consulting online, City Airport effectively disenfranchised a huge number of people.  Across the UK, 21% of people can’t operate online, but amongst C2, D and E classes it is 72%; and for those in 65+ bracket it is 52% (2).

 It is hard to avoid the conclusion that London City Airport, rather than trying to tailor its work to meet the needs of the area it impacts, is using the demographics of the area to get away with doing as little as possible.



 (2). Media Literacy: Understanding Digital Capabilities follow-up; Ipsos Mori, 2014

Why Boris was right to refuse City Airport expansion

Opinion piece written by John Stewart, chair HACAN East, for the Newham Recorder

 Boris Johnson’s decision to refuse London City permission to expand may have come as a surprise but it was always on the cards that somebody would stand up to the airport.  London City is paying the price about being so cavalier about noise.

It has a history of refusing to engage with residents and elected councillors over its plans.  Last year it came up with proposals to concentrate its flight paths over certain communities yet it refused to leaflet the areas involved or come to talk with any local authority except Newham. Residents were frustrated, councillors were furious and the Greater London Authority wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport criticizing the airport’s behaviour.

In turning down the expansion application, the London Mayor showed he simply did not believe London City’s claims that an expanded airport, using larger planes, would mean less noise.

Newham is the one borough which has consistently – and controversially – backed the airport.  It does so on the basis it provides jobs.  In fact, the number of people employed by the airport is surprising small, less than 1,000, with another 2,000 or so jobs indirectly dependent on it.

Since the Mayor’s decision, London City spin doctors have gone into overdrive citing jobs that would be created by the expansion plans.  Be very wary! There are less jobs at the airport now than in 2009 when it said it would create 1,500.

The airport’s lack of honesty – be it about noise or jobs – has proved its downfall.  Local people, elected councillors and the Mayor of London simply don’t believe what it says.  Unless it cleans up it act, people may start to question whether East London needs it at all.  It has become the embarrassing relative amongst the exciting new developments which are taking place in the Royal Docks.


Boris refuses City Airport’s plan to expand

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has refused London City Airport’s plan to expand on noise grounds.  In a letter he has instructed Newham Council, who had approved the application, to refuse it.  Newham’s decision was always dependent on the Mayor’s approval.

Read the Mayor’s decision: LCA 3031 Stage 2 Letter – Refusal (26 March 2015)

London City Airport wanted permission to build new taxiways to permit larger planes to use the airport.  It also wanted more car parking spaces.  The decision will be a bitter blow to the airport as it will now no longer be able to bring in the larger planes it wanted to serve new destinations.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which campaigned against the expansion plans, said “The airport is paying the price for being so cavalier about noise.  Quite simply, Boris did not believe its claims that it was dealing adequately with noise.  We salute his decision”


For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650


Key constituencies impacted by London City Airport and 2015 General Election candidates

Key constituencies impacted by London City Airport

Scroll down for details of hustings meetings

 2015 General Election candidates

Should you want to write to them about City Airport – maybe about its plans to concentrate the flight paths or about its plans to expand to allow bigger aircraft to use the airport – here is the list of candidates standing in the key constituencies, with their email addresses where we have them.

 Bethnal Green and Bow

Ali Rushanara MP       Lab

Matthew Smith            Con

Teena Lushmore        Lib Dems

Alastair Polson          Green

 Poplar and Limehouse

Jim Fitzpatrick MP      Lab

Christopher Wilford     Con

Elaine Bagshaw           Lib Dem

Maureen Childes        Green Party

 Leyton and Wanstead

John Cryer MP         Lab

Matthew Scott          Con

Martin Levin            UKIP

Ashley Gunstock    Green

Carl Quillian          Lib Dem

 East Ham

Stephen Timms MP Labour

Tamsin Omond     Green

Samir Jassal        Con

Lois Austin          TUSC

West Ham

Lyn Brown MP   Lab   

Festus Akinbbusoye Con

Jane Lithgow    Green

Paul Reynolds Lib Dems

 Ilford North

Lee Scott MP  Con 

Wes Streeting Lab  

Philip Hyde     UKIP

 Ilford South

Mike Gapes MP   Lab

Chris Chapman  Con

Amjad Khan       UKIP


Angela Watkinson MP  Con

Paul McGeary     Lab

Lawrence Webb  UKIP

Melanie Collins   Green


Margaret Hodge MP Lab

Mina Rahman          Con

Tony Ford Rablen   Green

Roger Gravett         UKIP

Joseph Mambuliga  TUSC


Andrew Rosindell MP  Con

Sam Gould            Lab

Gerard Batten       UKIP

Lorna Jane Tooley Green

 Dagenham and Rainham

Jon Cruddas MP  Lab

Peter Harris         UKIP

Kate Simpson     Green


Clive Efford MP  Lab

Alex Cunliffe     Lib Dem

Peter Whittle   UKIP

Spencer Drury  Con

 Lewisham East

Heidi Alexander MP  Lab

Peter Fortune    Con

Julia Fletcher   Lib Dem

Storm Poorun Green

 Lewisham West

Jim Dowd MP   Lab

Russell Jackson  Con

Tom Chance  Green

Alex Feakes Lib Dem

Martin Powell  TUSC

 Bermondsey and Old Southwark

Simon Hughes MP    Lib Dem

Neil Coyle                Lab  

Jean-Paul Flora      Con  

Rosamind Beattie    UKIP

William Lavin          Green

April Ashley            TUSC

 Lewisham Deptford

Vicky Foxcroft      Lab

Birn Afolami         Con

Michael Bukola     Lib Dem

John Coughlin    Green

Chris Flood       TUSC

 Dulwich and West Norwood

Helen Hayes   Lab

Resham Kotecha   Con

James Barber  Lib Dem

Rathy Alagarathan  UKIP

Rashid Nix            Green

Steve Nally          TUSC


Kate Hoey MP   Lab

Adrian Trett      Lib Dem

James Bellis    Con

Gulnar Hasnain   Green


Matthew Pennycook Lab

Matt Hartley            Con

Ryan Acty              UKIP

Abbey Akinoshun   Green

Hustings Meetings (as we know them)


HUSTINGS Bethnal Green



HUSTINGS Greenwich & Woolwich

HUSTINGS Hornchurch

HUSTINGS Ilford North

HUSTINGS Ilford South

Leyton and Wanstead

25th April: 11am Wanstead Library, Spratt Hall Rd, E11 2RQ

29th April: 7.30 for 8pm, St John’s Church, Church Lane, Leytonstone

Hustings Lewisham Deptford

HUSTINGS Lewisham East

HUSTINGS Lewisham West & Penge



HUSTINGS Walthamstow


HACAN East calls on the CAA to require City Airport to consult again on flight path changes

HACAN East has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) asking for it to require London City to consult afresh about its proposals to concentrate its flight paths.  Any new consultation should give people the option of saying whether they want all the flights concentrated on one area or whether they prefer some sharing of the burden.

Below we summarise the reasons we want a new consultation.  Our full response is at: London City Airport consultation report

‘Representative organisations’ can write into the CAA making comments on the consultation.  It seems they only accept submissions by post.  They need to be sent to:  The Director (LCY RNAV Replication ACP), Safety and Airspace Regulation Group, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway,London WC2B 6TE

The reasons we are calling for a new consultation:

  1. London City didn’t make clear the nature of the consultation: in particular, it was not obvious that people were not being asked their views of the proposals.

The Airport is now saying that the consultation was not intended to assess how much support there was for the proposals.  Yet that was not made clear in their original, and very technical, consultation document.   Presumably this is why the airport can say it wants to go ahead with its proposals despite just 3% of people backing them.

  1. London City was in breech of CAA guidelines because it did not carry out a more extensive consultation warranted by the nature of the proposals

 The airport is arguing that because, in its view, the changes are minor, the CAA only required it to carry out the minimal consultation it did.  We are saying that the changes are far from minor.  They will mean that tens of thousands of people will get 30% more planes than they currently do.  It should, therefore, have carried out a fuller consultation.

  1. London City, by only consulting online, effectively disenfranchised a huge number of people.

The figures show that, in some poorer areas, 72% of people can’t operate on online and that 52% of those over 65 can’t.  This will apply to many of the boroughs in East London, some of them amongst the poorest in the country.

  1. London City refused to hold any public meetings or leaflet the most-affected areas.

 The airport was asked and refused.

  1. London City discounted over 1,000 objections

The airport discounted over emails it was sent via an online petition, despite assurances at public meetings it would accept objections in any format.  If people knew it was going to do this, many would have objected in a different way.

  1. London City’s press work seems to have been minimal

 We are asking the CAA to ask the airport for the details of their press releases and which newspapers used them.

  1. London City misinterpreted Government policy on respite.

 The airport maintained that sharing routes around different areas was not Government policy; that policy was to concentrate routes.  In fact, Government policy is to encourage concentration but with respite where appropriate.

City Airport wants to press ahead with controversial flight changes despite only 3% support in recent consultation

Press Release

 15/2/15 Press Release for immediate use

 City Airport wants to press ahead with controversial flight changes despite only 3% support in recent consultation

London City Airport wants to press ahead with its controversial plans to concentrate its flight paths despite only 3% of people backing them in the recent consultation.  The opposition to the proposals emerged in a report on the consultation which the airport released late on Friday afternoon (1).  The report now goes to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for approval.

London City’s consultation was widely criticized at the end of last year.  It refused to leaflet or hold meetings in the areas that would be worst affected by the new flight paths.  It justified its minimal consultation on the grounds that the changes it was proposing were not significant.  Despite criticism from MPs, local authorities, residents’ groups and members of the Greater London Authority, London City has defended its consultation in its report to the CAA.  It is also refusing to withdraw or modify its original plans.

Residents’ organisation HACAN East, which coordinated much of the opposition to the changes, has made clear the fight is not over yet.

HACAN East chair John Stewart said, “This latest report shows City Airport to be as unresponsive and arrogant as ever.   The fight will continue.  The campaign will now be pressing the CAA to order the airport to carry out a fresh consultation.”

Stewart added, “Our parent body, HACAN, works closely with Heathrow Airport.  The contrast with City could not be starker.  Heathrow has promised it will not concentrate all its flights over certain communities and is committed to full consultation on any changes that take place.  London City, by contrast, is a fourth division outfit with little concern for the neighbouring community.”

City Airport wants to concentrate both flights which are landing and taking off.  Among the worst affected areas will be parts of Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Collier Row and Havering in East London and Eltham, Catford, Dulwich, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall in South London.

The campaigners accept there may need to be some concentration but are calling on the airport to vary the routes over the course of a day to give residents some respite as Heathrow is planning to do with its flight paths

Whatever the CAA decides, no changes to London City’s flight paths will be implemented before the end of this year.


 Notes for editors:

 (1). The report can be found here: and the orginal consulation here:

For further information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6421 or 07957385650




Waltham Forest Committee highly critical of City Airport

Waltham Forest’s Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee were so frustrated at London City Airport’s repeated refusal to send anybody to the Committee that at last night’s meeting they replaced City Airport with a fluffy toy.


The Committee resolved to:

1. Mount a strong communications campaign re: both the proposal by City Airport to concentrate its flight paths and City’s application for expansion just agreed by Newham but still to be signed off by the Mayor of London’s office.

2. Use the ward forums to make councillors aware of the issues

3. Ask to meet with the Civil Aviation Authority about the flight paths consultation.  The CAA will be assessing City Airports much-criticised recent consultation into the recent flight path changes and, if not satisfied with the consultation process, has the power to require them to reconsult.

4. Link up with the GLA and the London Councils where they can.

The Committee thanked HACAN East for their work in bringing the issues into the public eye.  And gave the campaign group a round of applause.


Rotten Boroughs

The Sunday Times

9th February 2015

by Camilla Cavendish

Labour closes its eyes and pinches its nose in its rotten boroughs


Tower Hamlets. Rotherham. Doncaster. Birmingham. Most of us thought rotten boroughs had vanished in the 1990s, along with Ted Knight in Lambeth, Shirley Porter in Westminster and Militant Tendency in Liverpool. But they seem to be making a comeback. With some corners of this land beginning to resemble 1960s Chicago, MPs who enjoy making grand speeches about “devolution” would do well to think about what can happen when the political elite loses sight of the reality of some local politics.

Last week’s resignation of Rotherham council’s cabinet comes more than two years after the exposure of its failure to protect as many as 1,400 young white girls from their systematic grooming and rape by men of largely Pakistani origin. This was not an honourable resignation, a recognition of the councillors’ part in an appalling human tragedy. It was forced on them by the government, which has rightly lost patience with people in powerful positions who are still, according to the new report by Louise Casey, “in denial”.

That’s a nice way of putting it. When Rotherham’s Labour council was told by its youth service what was happening, it shut down the youth service. It was warned by school heads that taxi drivers were ferrying very young girls to have sex. Rather than ban drivers, some of whom worked for the council’s home-school scheme, it stymied every attempt to tighten up taxi licensing.

The grim tale of petty rivalries, “misplaced political correctness” and collusion told by Casey, and Professor Alexis Jay before her, has strong echoes of the inquiries into the so-called “Trojan Horse” scandal in Birmingham, where the council ignored warnings that schools were being infiltrated by extremist governors. Rather than stop the bullying of head teachers who refused to impose Islamic values on schools, officers painstakingly penned 28 legal “compromise agreements” — payoffs with gagging clauses — to get rid of staff whom Muslim governors did not like. Officers have since claimed they did not spot a pattern. Frankly, “denial” seems too soft a word.

The malpractices of the 1980s were chiefly financial: taking backhanders from developers, or inflating bills for council work. An internal audit report into Lambeth in the early 1990s found that the council’s 3,000-strong maintenance department had billed millions of pounds of fictitious work and forced council tenants to have “repairs” to gas fires and appliances that were working fine.

I worked with Lambeth, Southwark and other councils in the mid-1990s when I ran a series of regeneration projects. I once watched, stunned, as a smiling developer handed a brown envelope to a local councillor in the Brixton council chamber, late at night after councillors had dismissed my plea to reject a particular planning application. To this day I don’t know what was in the envelope, but the gesture was clear: stuff the voters, we’ll look after you.

Yet that is all beginning to look like a golden age compared with some of today’s machinations. In Tower Hamlets, the mayor, Lutfur Rahman, stands accused of intimidation, misusing public grants, smearing his Labour opponent as a racist “infidel” and stealing votes — all of which he denies. Four local residents have brought a case against him alleging systematic voter fraud, which is being heard by Richard Mawrey, who exposed the Birmingham postal voting scandal.

Good leadership can put things right. Rochdale, just over the Pennines from Rotherham, faced similar problems of sexual grooming. But three years ago the Labour council appointed a new chief executive who confronted the problem and sacked staff, making clear that failure had consequences.

In Rotherham, poor leadership became entrenched. The council was an unaccountable, one-party state. In neighbouring Labour-run Doncaster, after two boys were horrifically tortured by two brothers in 2009 following repeated errors by a social services department that was broken, one social worker described the council to me as “a one-party state left to rot”. These councils escaped challenge: unlike Lambeth, which made significant progress after it went to no overall control in the 1994 elections and appointed a dynamic chief executive.

Quietly but decisively, the coalition government has started to take over some of these failing institutions. In Doncaster and Slough, it has handed child-protection functions to independent trusts, rather as the Blair government successfully relieved Hackney council of its schools. In Rotherham, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, is appointing government commissioners to run the council until new elections next year.

This is a massive intervention in democratic institutions. But there has been no outcry. For local democracy is getting thinner and thinner. Fewer and fewer people vote in local elections, especially if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. And fewer and fewer MPs sit on local councils. In 1960 about a quarter of British MPs were also local councillors; now it is fewer than 1%. This is at odds with France, Finland and Spain, where most national politicians sit on their local authority. This gives them both a greater stake and more say. Working in Lambeth, I saw how hard the indefatigable MP Kate Hoey had to work sometimes to exert leverage over the council on behalf of voters.

The disconnect between local and national politics has made councils defensive and MPs reluctant to interfere — especially if MPs are reliant on ethnic votes. Four years ago, Jack Straw warned that some men of Pakistani descent viewed “vulnerable young white girls” in some parts of the country as “easy meat”. The MP Keith Vaz attacked him, for “stereotyping”. Birmingham Labour MPs attacked the coalition for appointing an outsider, Peter Clarke, to investigate the Trojan Horse scandal, when their priority should have been to get the truth.

It is Labour’s misfortune that it happens to have a greater presence in areas of high deprivation, compounded by immigration pressures. In Tower Hamlets it expelled Rahman five years ago for his close links to an extremist Muslim group, only to watch him be elected mayor.

These problems go deeper than any one party. But Labour needs the courage to take on its demons as Neil Kinnock did when he attacked Trotskyite infiltrators in Liverpool responsible for “the grotesque chaos of a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers”.

Louise Casey states that “Rotherham council is a place where difficult problems are not always tackled as they should be. Without accepting what happened and its role in it, it will be unable to move on and change.”

I would be less restrained. I would suggest that wilful, active denial on the scale we saw in Rotherham is a crime. And that there needs to be an urgent debate in the Labour party about whether it, too, is in denial.