Pouring rain didn't dampen the spirits of the protesters and they stepped out of the coach at the third and final stop in Henley-on-Thames, the home of Matt Gorman, Heathrow's Director of Sustainability and Environment. The house was unmistakable from the road as there was a large 'Proud to Back Heathrow' poster in the window and a sticker in the back window of the car on the drive. Mr Gorman doesn't keep a low profile. On reading these public declarations of support for the third runway proposals, the residents decided to deliver Mr Gorman something he might like – a runway outside his front door.
Later online research showed that the 5-bed detached house was bought in 2008 for £1,025,000 and could now be worth £1,365,000. If that estimate is accurate, Matt Gorman's profit alone in the past 8 years is greater than the full valuation of many homes in the Heathrow villages. Little wonder that wealthy bosses at Heathrow don't understand the fears of people living in blighted homes. No plans are being made to create new housing for displaced people. No schemes have been put into legal documents. No support is planned for tenants made homeless. These are issues that need to be addressed BEFORE a decision is made on Heathrow expansion.
At the Henley house, a calm and confident young woman came to the front door and talked to two villagers. They reassured her that this was a short peaceful protest and they'd soon be on their way. It was a good-natured conversation, as was the protest until half a dozen neighbours decided to come out of their houses to vent their anger about having protesters in their street. Their behaviour was a marked contrast to the sympathetic response from people in Oxford and Witney. Mr Gorman's neighbours found it acceptable to make provocative, threatening and offensive remarks to people who had arrived to conduct a peaceful protest about their situation.
Soon afterwards, as protesters were preparing to leave, Mr Gorman arrived followed by a police officer.
Armelle Thomas with photo of her late war-hero husband shows what it means to be proud. Sheila Taylor (84), a lifelong Sipson resident, stands with her. Sheila's home will effectively be INSIDE the airport's proposed new boundary with her road enclosed on three sides by airport fencing. As proposals stand, Heathrow will NOT buy her house to build a runway and will instead leave her sandwiched between two runways and car parks.
Mr Gorman asked the police officer various questions to ascertain if there were laws to use against the people from the Heathrow communities who had visited him, who he had been told were taking photographs of the house and had walked on his driveway. No crime had been committed and the residents went happily on their way leaving the tiny cluster of Henley moaners to shuffle out of the rain and back into their expensive homes, free from aircraft noise and choking pollution.
One wonders how these people would react if Mr Gorman wanted to force them from their homes to build a real runway!
Mr Gorman has claimed to be interested in feedback from communities but on his day off from work he made it clear he had no interest in their views.