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Ealing Gazette column: Heathrow, hospitals and Scotland: It’s been a month of weighty decisions

This month has seen some very big decisions that will affect my constituency, Ealing borough, London and the United Kingdom for a very long time to come.

Firstly the Davies Commission finally killed off the Mayor Boris Johnson's madcap scheme to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary that would have meant the closure of Heathrow Airport. Second Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary pushed through the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es and the people of Scotland voted whether to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

Weighty matters indeed with huge consequences attached.

It is a huge relief that Howard Davies has now ruled out Boris Johnson's frankly crazy scheme to build a brand new hub airport in the Thames Estuary and even the Mayor, given his new electoral interest in Uxbridge and South Ruislip has recognised his consequent, even barmier idea to close down Heathrow Airport and build a new Heathrow City, is a non-starter and that Heathrow could succeed as a secondary airport. It is a pity he didn't recognise this earlier before he wasted a colossal amount of tax payers money on a dead in the water proposal.

The closure of Heathrow would have been devastating to the west London and Thames Valley economy with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs many thousands of them in the most deprived parts of my constituency. That now, whatever Boris Johnson may say, is thankfully not going to happen.

There are now three options on the table - the building of a new runway at Gatwick or two Heathrow proposals including extending the current northern runway or building a new runway to the North West. I have long opposed Heathrow expansion because of the noise and environmental impacts and this remains my position. The so called Heathwick option with point to point traffic flying from a new Gatwick runway and Heathrow remaining as a two runway hub airport looks the best balance in terms of protecting both jobs and the environment. I will be looking closely at the detailed environmental impacts of the two Heathrow options and in the event they are chosen I will fight to mitigate the impacts and to maximise compensation for affected residents.

The closure of the two A&Es on the 10th September was a severe blow to local people and our campaign against the wider closure plans that include Ealing and Charing Cross, but although we lost this particular battle the war to save our NHS and our A&Es goes on. It is vital that it does as it makes no sense to close A&Es when there is an all year round A&E crisis and closing them will cost lives due to people having to travel further to receive emergency treatment in the first instance and secondly through the lost time when a critically ill patient has to be moved from a standalone urgent care centre to another A&E miles away.

Finally on Scotland I am a firm believer in the United Kingdom and from experience know that we are all better together as a family of British nations. I made a modest contribution to the No campaign when I helped get constituents from Southall to take part in a campaign video to send a message to everyone north of the border including the Black, Asian and minority communities that we are all better together. Let's hope the people of Scotland get their big decision right.

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