Heathrow Flight Paths Consultation

Heathrow Airport is consulting on proposed new flight paths, to make better use of the existing two runways and in preparation for the new third runway. The proposed changes are likely to lead to increased aircraft noise in Wimbledon. They held an initial consultation from 8th January til 4th March 2019, and Merton Liberal Democrats submitted the below response.

Full details of the consultation, including the questions, can be found on the Heathrow Consultation website.

Merton Liberal Democrats’ submission to the Heathrow Airspace and Future Operations Consultation:

Introductory comments:

We wanted to make a number of initial comments before turning to the specific questions (which could also be considered a response to questions 9 and 10 of the consultation):

  • The consultation seems based on the assumption that a third Heathrow runway will go ahead. We would take this opportunity to reiterate the firm opposition from the Liberal Democrats at all levels to a third runway at Heathrow, primarily on grounds of increased air and noise pollution.
  • We have concerns about the nature of the consultation. Whilst you are consulting on a complex series of issues, the amount of information is confusing, and in some instances it is clear that the policy decision has been made, and false choices are being offered up for choice.
  • The consultation fails to adequately consider the cumulative impact of changes at Heathrow, which needs to be addressed in relation to the growth in flights from other airports, most notably City Airport where the impact of noise is increasingly an issue for people in many parts of north east, east and south east London.
  • Merton does not currently experience any flight paths on the approach to Heathrow, and generally avoids aircraft noise (depending on the prevailing wind). An increase in flights over the borough would therefore have a disproportionate impact on noise and more air pollution.

Q1a.  Do you support our proposals for a noise objective?


  • Yes, but a radically different noise objective than that set out.

Q1b. Please provide any comments you have on our proposals for a noise objective


  • We feel that the stated objective should be an outright commitment to reduce noise levels overall, as the only real way to mitigate the effects of noise on health and quality of life, for the following reasons:
  • The proposals are only to “limit and, where possible, reduce the effects of noise on health and quality of life” as opposed to committing to reduce noise. Limiting the effects will presumably include measures such as sound-proofing for schools, workplaces and residential homes. This will only mitigate the effects as long as people remain inside. Children should be able to play outside as much as possible, and everyone’s quality of life is enhanced by the peaceful enjoyment of open spaces. 
  • Local residents need longer breaks from scheduled flights, particularly at night. There is little benefit in these breaks being regular or predictable if they are not long enough for people to enjoy uninterrupted sleep.
  • There should be no flight noise at all between 11pm and 7am. The objective should be to reduce or eliminate flights from 11pm until 7am, not “manage” their impact. 

Q2a. Would you prefer to have longer periods of respite less frequently or a shorter period of respite every day?


  • While recognising that people would have differing views on this issue, there does overall seem merit enabling people to have daily rest, and some time each day for the enjoyment of the outdoors and their local environment. 

Q2b. Please tell us the reasons for your preference.


  • Despite the above, it is vital that this policy is combined with an overall objective to reduce nuisance to local communities and take all possible measures to increase the hours of respite available to as many people as possible.

Q2c. Please provide any other comments or suggestions you have on runway and airspace alternation.


  • New flight paths should be coordinated with London City flight paths to avoid, where possible, areas being overflown by both sets of aircraft at the same time. 

Q3a. Should we prefer westerly operations during the day and easterly operations at night to reduce the total number of people affected by noise?


  • This is a false choice which Heathrow is suggesting must be made.

Q3b. Please tell us the reasons for your answer.


  • We feel that night flights should be ended entirely.  

Q3c. Should we sometimes intervene to change the direction of arriving and departing aircraft to provide relief from prolonged periods of operating in one direction – even if that means slightly increasing the number of people affected by noise?


  • Yes

Q3d. Please tell us the reasons for your answer.


  • We feel that “managed preference” has some advantages, and might enable better co-ordination with London City airport.

Q4a.  To help inform our consideration of the options, we want to know whether you would prefer for us to:

Use one runway for scheduled arrivals from 5.30am (runway time 5.15am)

Use two runways for scheduled arrivals from 5.45am (runway time 5.30am)


  • We don’t believe any of Heathrow’s runways should be used before 6.00 am.  

Q4b. Please tell us the reasons for your preference


  • The consultation does not offer clear evidence of the assertion that night flights make a “significant contribution” to the UK economy – just a vague reference to “independent studies”.
  • A trade off clearly exists: the economic impact of poor sleep and impact on the health of workers living near the airport should be taken into account. The health of people living near the airport should be the overriding priority.

Q4c. Please provide any other comments or suggestions you might have on early morning arrivals


  • We don’t believe any of Heathrow’s runways should be used before 6.00 am.  
  • But, the priority should be providing residents a lengthy break from noise on a regular basis.

Q5a.  Please provide any comments or suggestions on how we should encourage the use of the quietest type of aircraft at night (outside the proposed scheduled night flight ban)?


  • Implement an outright ban on any aircraft landing at night with older or noisier engines.

Q5b. Please provide any other comments you have on night flights and restrictions:


  • It is important that Heathrow understands the impact its operations are having right across the capital. Severe levels of noise disruption now being experienced by some of London’s residents are not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it.

Q6. Airspace – local factors. To answer this question, please look at the design envelopes for expansion online using the postcode checker or look at them in our document Heathrow’s airspace design principles for expansion. What sites or local factors should we be aware of in your area (or other area of interest to you), when designing flight paths for an expanded three-runway Heathrow? Please give enough information (e.g. postcode, address or place name) for us to identify the site(s) or local factor(s) you are referring to and tell us why you think it is important:


Q9 Having considered everything within the consultation, do you have any other comments?

Q10. Please give us your feedback on this consultation (such as the documents, website or events)

Responses to Q9 and Q10:

  • See the “introductory comments” above.

Support for rough sleepers in cold weathers - Severe Weather Emergency Protocol

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated by the Mayor and Greater London Authority in case of temperatures forecast below freezing anywhere in London.

When SWEP is "activated", the arrangements in Merton are:

  1. If you become aware of a potential rough sleeper, please make a referral, with as much detail as possible about the individual and their location to:

    - SPEAR Outreach Team, during office hours on 020 8404 1481 or 07827 237694;

    - Night Duty during out-of-hours on 020 8770 5000, who will, where appropriate, agree and arrange emergency accommodation.

  2. Rough sleepers can also be advised to attend the Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden SM4 5DX, during office hours until 4pm and ask to see a member of the Housing Options Team. Under the SWEP, the Council will source emergency accommodation for anyone verified by the SPEAR Outreach Team as a rough sleeper in the borough of Merton. We recognise however, that particularly outside of usual business hours, independent verification may not be possible and where this is the case, provision of the emergency accommodation will be at the discretion of the Emergency Duty Team officer.

  3. In the first instance, accommodation will be sought through the YMCA in Wimbledon (020 8542 9055) or the Winter Night Shelter, but if this is unavailable, then bed & breakfast accommodation will be arranged, although it may be difficult to arrange bed & breakfast at short notice. Rough sleepers placed out-of-hours should be advised to approach the Merton Housing Advice Service at the Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, SM4 5DX on the following business day, to discuss their options for alternative housing and to review their immediate accommodation needs in the light of the current weather conditions.

Open Letter from Cllr Carl Quilliam following the Brexit Vote

Dear friend,

Brexit is a mess. That much is true whether you were one of the 72% in Wimbledon who, like me, voted to remain in the European Union, or whether you voted to leave.

Following Theresa May’s crushing defeat in the vote on her Brexit deal any hope of an orderly Brexit is rapidly disappearing.

The UK has been negotiating for more than two years, and the best deal the government could come up with has been (rightly) thumped in Parliament.

Without this bad deal the only Brexit that remains is the worst case scenario: a chaotic No Deal Brexit. A No Deal Brexit that means food and medicine shortages, higher prices in shops and flights grounded.

Read more

Christmas in Merton 2018

A quick look at what's happening in and around the borough over the festive period

Recycling and rubbish collection dates:

Christmas travel:

Christmas events in Merton:

Merton Heritage Service, festive events:

  • 10-31st December,`Tis the Season to be Jolly, the story behind popular Christmas customs
  • 10-31st December, Frosts & Festivities, an exhibition about Merton in winter
  • 10-31st December, The Twelve Days of Christmas, a Merton heritage exhibition inspired by the popular festive rhyme
  • 10-18th December, Local History Christmas Sale 

All events held at Merton Heritage Centre, 2nd floor - Morden Library

Free Christmas parking

Parking will be free in Council-managed car parks in Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon on a number of weekends. See here for full information.

Local shops and other information

Open letter to Stephen Hammond

Dear Stephen,

As you know, next week you and your fellow MPs will be faced with a historic decision that will determine the future not only of the people you represent today, but also of their children and grandchildren.

When we debated during the election campaign last year you pledged to stand against a hard Brexit. The withdrawal agreement being presented to Parliament next week is a blueprint for a damaging hard Brexit. It will leave us with a worse deal than we currently have in the EU, severing trade links and stripping us of our ability to influence many of the rules that govern our trade. Rather than taking back control, this Brexit deal would see us lose control. It satisfies neither those who voted leave nor those who voted remain.

Now you may feel that because Labour has once again gone missing on the most important issue of the day you can afford to back this deal without opposition. I am writing to you to underline that I and your constituents will hold you to account for your vote next week.

Having knocked on thousands of doors and spoken to thousands of your constituents, I know the people of Wimbledon will not easily forgive a vote for this botched deal. If there is to be an early general election, rest assured people locally will know that when it came to the crunch you chose your party and your career ahead of the future of this country and honouring your election pledges.

It is clear that the only way out of this mess is through a People’s Vote with an option to remain in the EU. Polling shows the people of Wimbledon back one; thanks to the Lib Dems Merton Council now backs one; so join us and back one too – even if that means leaving behind your newly minted ministerial salary.

It’s time for you to do the right thing for your constituents: vote down this botched Brexit deal and back a People’s Vote.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Carl Quilliam
Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Wimbledon

Air pollution at new school site risks children’s health

Tonight Merton Council approved building a new school in South Wimbledon, despite serious air quality concerns.

Cllr Simon McGrath - a member of the Planning Applications Committee - ultimately voted against granting planning permission. Reflecting on his decision, he said:

“Air pollution is a silent killer, and it really needs to be treated as the public health emergency it is.

"After looking at all the evidence, I felt that the proposal should only go forward with significant, measurable improvements in pollution levels near the school site.

“Labour Council bosses are putting our children’s health at risk by pushing through new Harris Academy without doing anything to improve the air quality. The Council's own research shows that air pollution levels are far above the acceptable level, and the argument that pollution will simply have reduced by the time the school opens is an unacceptable risk.

“It is extraordinary that the Council did not look into the need to reduce pollution levels before they spent millions of pounds buying the site. Local children deserve better from Merton.

“Local Lib Dems have long pushed for improvements to air quality across Merton - and specifically near to our schools. It's time the Labour Council faced up to their poor record on air quality.”

Merton Liberal Democrats have previously highlighted research showing that a number of Merton schools are located in areas with dangerously high pollution levels. They are calling for a radical and ambitious plan to improve air quality as an urgent priority.

Wimbledon MP under pressure back People's vote after march

Scores of Merton residents were among the nearly one million people who marched on Parliament on Saturday 20 October to demand a "People’s Vote".
The People’s Vote campaign is calling for a referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, with the option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper. This would allow people to be given a final say on the negotiations.
Nearly two-thirds of Merton residents voted to remain in the EU at the 2016 referendum, and hundreds more since have signed a petition coordinated by Merton Liberal Democrats calling on the two local MPs to back the campaign for a People’s Vote. In September, Merton councillors supported a Liberal Democrat proposal in support of a People’s Vote. Conservative and residents association councillors abstained.
Unlike his Mitcham & Morden counterpart - Wimbledon's current MP, Conservative Stephen Hammond has not yet committed to supporting a People's Vote.
Speaking after the march, Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner for Wimbledon, Cllr Carl Quilliam said:
“The Government has made a total mess of these Brexit negotiations. We are now facing the very real possibility that we will crash out of the EU in the most chaotic way possible, without a deal of any kind.
“Nobody voted to be poorer, yet that is exactly what will happen if we leave the EU with a bad deal or no deal.
“The overwhelming majority of Merton residents are deeply concerned with the direction the country is heading. Merton Liberal Democrats believe they, not politicians, should be given the final say on the Brexit deal.”
If you would like to join the Merton Liberal Democrat campaign for a People's Vote you can sign up here.

Merton Council backs People's Vote on Brexit deal

This week Merton Council backed Liberal Democrat and Labour motions in favour of a People's Vote - a referendum on the final Brexit deal with the option to remain in the EU.
The two motions were passed by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, with Conservative and Merton Park Residents Association councillors abstaining both times.
Read more

Labour council bosses vote down motion to keep Little League Free

Last year Merton Council announced plans to charge local Little League football groups up to £4,000 a year to play in public parks. Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against the charges, and this week they took the campaign to "keep Little League free" to the Council Chamber.

Councillors Eloise Bailey, Hina Bokhari and Carl Quilliam presented a petition, signed by over 1539 concerned residents, and proposed a plan to allow Little League to continue to use our parks for free.

There was strong support in the public gallery, with Little League players, parents and volunteers attending the meeting to show their support for the motion.

Unfortunately Conservative and Labour councillors refused to play ball. The Conservatives claimed to support the motion in their speeches, but this support rang hollow when they put forward a wrecking amendment, perhaps unsurprising given that they had themselves proposed to increase Council fees and charges earlier this year as part of their budget plans.

Meanwhile the Labour councillor leading on Community and Culture argued strongly for the charges, despite the Labour Leader of the Council's public promise, just months ago that there would be no charges at all. All Labour councillors at the meeting backed imposing charges.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hina Bokhari said:

"We won’t be giving up. I truly believe that Merton could make this dream come true, and just as the nation is swept up in the belief and hope of the World Cup, we can work to keep Merton a place where families and children can use our parks for free and allow our community led charities to keep providing such wonderful services."

Pay all Wimbledon Tennis workers living wage

Local Lib Dems have revealed shock new figures showing that around 4000 workers at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships won't receive the London Living Wage.

Cllr Carl Quilliam, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem group on Merton Council where the tournament is held, has slammed the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) for not ensuring that contractors receive this wage, despite the Club stating they support the London Living Wage.

The London Living Wage is calculated to ensure workers can cover the cost of living in London and are not forced into poverty.

New figures uncovered by the local Lib Dem’s show that only 1000 workers for the tournament receive a full London living wage, while 4000 contracted-out workers are left to struggle on the legal minimum.

Read more

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