Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Was Wrong - And I Apologise

Since the weekend, I have received a large number of comments taking me to task for my remarks on Sunday. Anne-Marie Griffin from Fight The Flights has also contacted me by email. Behind the anger were some shocking stories from people who had to live close to the airport for years. I see now that coming on top of everything they have endured, my infamous 'Taliban' comment must have seemed like the last straw.

It was a throwaway line, intended to liven up my report of Peoples' Question Time in March, but to some it looked unbelievably callous. I think I understand now, so:

I am very sorry for the hurt that my ill considered words caused to local residents, including the people who made official complaints. It was unintentional but I realise that is no excuse. I also deeply regret the time it has taken for me to grasp the reality of this situation. I was wrong and I hope they can accept my apology.

In 20 years of political experience I have never reached a view based on pique - despite my reactions on Sunday afternoon. By training I am a scientist and a lawyer, and I'm usually too dispassionate, if anything. Some comments suggested I am in the pocket of the airport, but that is not the case.

I have sought to keep my options open on this issue because I'm not sure if my constituents are winners or losers overall. There are those who work at the airport, rely on it for business, or use it to travel, and the view of economic development advisors is that it provides a boost for East London. I want to protect peoples' livelihoods particularly in a recession.

On the other hand, there are residents who are disturbed by noise and who have a right to a calm environment. So far the complaints in my postbag are few, but they have the potential to increase and I have noticed more overflying recently. It is a delicate balance to strike, with far reaching consequences.

So I have asked Anne-Marie if she would be willing to meet me to put her case and share her experiences. To ensure balance I will also be seeking a meeting with the airport management. And I would be interested in other views too - your comments are invited.


AdamB said...

I got a fair bit of traffic from Conservative Central office yesterday searching for 'Roger Evans Taliban' and the like. You weren't leant on by any chance were you Roger?

Roger Evans said...

No, I wasn't Adam. I haven't been contacted by them during this episode. It was Anne-Marie Griffin's email to me yesterday morning that helped me to see things from her point of view. Alan Howe, who runs the Barkingside 21 blog also made some critical, but helpful, comments. He was worried that I was allowing my judgement to be clouded, and he was right.

I screwed this up all by myself and that is how I intend to put it right.

Nicholas J. Rogers said...

I think there's a strong case to be made that London City Airport is one of the best things ever to happen for East London. Those campaigning to curtail its use or block its expansion should think twice about biting one of the hands which feeds them.

Anonymous said...

I think you were right all along.

The Anti Rog T Blogger

Barry said...

Hi Nicholas J. Rogers

I think you are so wrong in your statement that London City Airport is one of the best things in East London. Here are some factual points to what we give to them.

1. London City Airport's security bill is paid 100% for by the Tax payer That's 24,000,000 in the past 5 years. This is a private business remember.

2. London City Airport has broken noise and air monitoring planning laws for 8 years.

3. The claims of Jobs that London City Airport say they have and will bring in have been found to be misleading.

4. Newham the Borough that London City Airport is running from has the highest mortality rate of death by asthma for under 30's in the UK.

5. Their businesses are registered in the tax haven Jersey.

I could go on but I'd take up to much of Rogers Blog Site. As you can see we the Tax payers give London City Airport more than what they give back.

The only people that think that London City Airport is the best thing in East London is the Airport themselves and their shareholders.

We should be really getting both sides of the story out and not just the PR that's put out from a business that wants to please the money men.

I make all these comments even though I'm an occasional London City Airport user. It's there it's fine as it is but expansion in East London I believe is madness

Rog T said...

My take on it

Well done Roger, needed to be saidI hope a few other politicians follow your example and reflect on their mistakes and act as you have

Anonymous said...

I was really worried that you stated you would support the LCA expansion. While you may still support it , it is good news to see you getting together with FTF to hear their views along with the airport management.
It also restores some belief in the political system to hear you apologise. It is refreshing to hear. After all the recent smear tactics around Westminster , its a word that should be heard but rarely is - so thank you.

Anonymous said...

Well said Rog T - Your blog sums up exatly what I wanted to say but unfortunately dont have your way with words.Also your treats gaffe piece on your blog was very well written so you have a new fan :)

Fight The Flights have also commended Roger Evans on their website.

I hope you and residents can at least understand each other , even if your views are opposing.

So Mr Evans again thanks you for your posting and restoring my fate that their are some politicians out there to at least try to make amends :)