"A FORMER Havering mayor has been accused of "jumping on the bandwagon" too late in a battle to stem the number of aircraft flying over Havering.
Cllr Georgina Galpin and Romford MP Andrew Rosindell launched a petition last week in Hornchurch against the expansion of London City Airport in Silvertown after receiving scores of complaints from local residents.
Earlier this month Newham Council agreed to allow the terminal to increase its flights by 50 per-cent by the end of next year - from 80,000 to 120,000.
The petition calls for an immediate halt on flight increases and for as many as possible to be redirected over the River Thames.
It will be presented to the House of Commons, No.10 Downing Street and the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis.
Cllr Galpin said: "I was very angry to find out that when the original decision was made to increase air traffic and change the flightpaths, the residents of Havering were not given any opportunity to voice their concerns or opinions!
"The consultation was not extended to include the people who would be most affected - the residents of Havering."
But critics have rounded on Cllr Galpin. They point out that it was her Conservative administration that had the opportunity to respond to London City Airport's planning application when it came before a meeting of Newham Development Control in October last year.
Critics say they failed to do so, instead saying the airport's expansion would not have a significant adverse environmental impact on the borough.
They also accuse Havering Council of failing to even alert residents about the airport's planning application and its likely effects.
Steve Pullum, a campaigner for Fight the Flights, said: "It's pretty amazing really that one of the people responsible for doing nothing is now complaining that nothing was done. You couldn't make it up!"
Labour Leader Cllr Keith Darvill said: "I'm not impressed with her late conversion on this issue - it smells of jumping on the bandwagon."
Putting forward a motion on the issue at Wednesday's full council meeting, Cllr Darvill accused the Tory administration of neglecting its representative duty to consult or inform residents about the airport's expansion.
He said: "The borough was formally notified about this application in 2007/08 but failed to make any response. As a borough nearby we are certainly entitled to do so and other authorities such as Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Bexley and Essex did so.
"It would have been wise for the administration to have briefed members so that we could have got a feel for what residents in the borough thought.
"It's disappointing that the administration failed in its duty."
See next week's Recorder for full coverage of the debate on this issue at Wednesday's full council meeting."
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