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Taxpayers ‘subsidising’ airport claim Greens

CASH-strapped Solihull Council has been accused of using taxpayers’ money to “subsidise” Birmingham International Airport.

CASH-strapped Solihull Council has been accused of using taxpayers’ money to “subsidise” Birmingham International Airport.

Solihull Green Party has slammed the council, an airport shareholder, for choosing not to withdraw its dividend from share pay-outs.

The call comes as the airport hopes to finally move forward with its runway extension, with an announcement expected within weeks.

The project was approved almost two years ago, but the scheme has been delayed by the recession. Now the airport is ready to press ahead with the plans, although the runway will be shorter than originally planned.

The airport has decided to reduce the extension from 410 to 350 metres - still long enough to offer non-stop flights to China, Indian and America’s West Coast.

But Green Party spokesman Chris Williams said this week that the scheme was being bank-rolled using taxpayers’ cash.

“By not choosing to withdraw its dividend, the council is effectively subsidising the airport - a private enterprise,” he said.

“There are many other businesses in the borough that are struggling to survive and they’re not receiving help.

“The airport is thriving and yet it’s been supported when sweeping cuts are just around the corner.”

Solihull Council will also be helping to fund a £32m diversion of the A45 - hammering out a deal with Birmingham City Council to share the costs of the large scale project.

But Councillor Andy Hodgson, cabinet member for resources and efficiency, said: “Solihull Council holds less than four per cent of the shares in Birmingham Airport so is not a major shareholder.

“Dividends are agreed based on a long term business plan for the airport, not on an annual basis. Any business decision is made in the best interest of the borough and the taxpayer in the long term.”

 

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