MEMBERS of the GLA have been criticised after refusing to pass an agreement opposing a third runway at Heathrow as it was lunchtime and they were hungry.
A motion raised at a London Assembly meeting on Wednesday by Richard Barnes (Con), its member for Ealing and Hillingdon, was scrapped when Labour and Liberal Democrat members refused to debate the issue in favour of going for lunch.
This means the motion will not be debated by members of the London Assembly, who are paid £47,500 a year to represent Londoners.
It will also mean the Assembly will not be giving a formal response to the Government’s consultation on the third runway proposal at Heathrow.
Mr Barnes said: “Instead of us presenting a united front against a third runway, the Labour and Liberal groups disgracefully put their lunch before the people of London. This was a complete abdication of their responsibilities.
“They are paid good salaries thanks to the tax payer yet they could not be bothered to debate an issue that is of critical importance.”
Christine Shilling, press secretary of No Third Runway Action Group, said: “It is totally outrageous to treat us with such utter contempt.
“Do we count for nothing? Or are their stomachs more important than our homes?
“Why has the motion of a GLA member, who is our elected representative, just been disregarded in such a derisory fashion?
“It makes a mockery of democracy and is a situation bordering on anarchy.”
Mr Barnes said Toby Harris, the leader of the Labour Group at the GLA, suggested lunch instead of discussing the motion and the chairwoman of the meeting, Liberal Democrat Sally Hamwee, agreed.
He claimed only the Conservatives and Green Party members stayed behind, and were “all completely staggered.”
John Bruaggins, spokesman for the GLA Labour Group, said the assembly session was mainly to ask questions of GLA transport commissioner Bob Kiley and London
Underground managing director Tim O’Toole, before three motions were due to be debated in a half hour period.
However, he said the question time over ran and there was not enough time to discuss the Heathrow motion because it was last in line.
He said: “Some members had other appointments to go to, not just lunch, so it did not seem a good time to embark on an important discussion such as the third runway.”
Donna Hill, spokeswoman for the GLA Liberal Democrat Group, said: “The motion was deferred to the transport committee for discussion under standing orders.
“The chairwoman made the decision without consultation with anyone else.”