The London City Airport Fight the Flights campaign have recently posted comments about me on their website which are economical with the truth, to say the least. I am therefore putting this blog up to set the record straight since the comments I have written on my blog in the past few days have obviously not been recognised.
Fight the Flights have criticised me for taking up free car parking at London City Airport. I have told them on more than one occasion that I hardly ever claim this “benefit”. London City Airport does, in fact, provide free parking for all MEPs who wish to take it up. To claim the free parking, the MEP goes to the Information Desk and presents her/his identification. A free parking ticket is then issued. There is no pass which has to be applied for; the free parking is simply there if an MEP wishes to take it up.
In order to be open and transparent, I put this free parking facility on my European Parliament Declaration of Members’ Interests when I first became an MEP, and have continued the practice over the past nine years. Since all MEPs are entitled to this free parking, I would hope that my MEP colleagues who regularly use London City Airport would also have entered the free parking on their Declarations of Interests. If anyone wishes to check who makes use of the free parking, I suggest they ask City Airport to let them consult their records.
Furthermore, I have only taken up the free parking facility once in the past year. Apart from this one occasion, during 2008 I always took the DLR to City Airport. The one time I took a car to City Airport was a out of necessity and related to a matter concerning members of my family.
I hope this has dealt with the parking issue, or rather non-issue as there is really nothing there.
On the wider question of the environmental impact of flying, I do try and use the train to Brussels as much as possible. This makes sense as I live near St Pancras station. I generally only use City Airport once a month to fly to Strasbourg for the simple reason that the only direct flight from London to Strasbourg goes from this airport. Strasbourg by rail takes nearly seven hours compared to two and a half by air, including travel to the airport. I have therefore taken the view that flying to Strasbourg can be justified in the way flying to Brussels cannot, although I must also put my hand up to occasionally going to Brussels from City Airport when I have had no other option. Again I would suggest anyone who is sufficiently interested asks City Airport to verify this.
I have spent some time dealing with the driving to City Airport, free parking and flying versus the train because of the concern expressed. I hope this blog clarifies matters.
Fight the Flights also criticise me for being unresponsive and not replying to correspondence outstanding for 17 months. I am bemused as to why they didn’t ask me about this earlier. After all there could be a good reason for the delay, for example I may not have actually receioved the original email/letter. I will, of course, reply swiftly once I receive a copy of whatever was sent to me, as is my customary practice.