£24m in tax spent on City Airport security

Ed O'KeefeBy Paul Bentley

£24 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on policing London City Airport in the past five years, it emerged this week.

Whilst Heathrow Airport subsidises its security costs by 70%, London City Airport (LCA) relies entirely on the public-funded Metropolitan Police Service for funding. 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson disclosed the figures to Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones, in response to a question she posed at Mayor’s Question Time last month.

Johnson revealed that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) spent £2 million on LCA security in 2004/5, and over £5 million annually up to and including the current financial year.

In contrast, the MPS spent £13million on security at Heathrow in 2007/8. Over the same year, policing the LCA cost £5.5million. Considering that Heathrow served 70 million passengers in 2007/8 whereas LCA served 3million, many see the LCA expenditure as being disproportionately high.

‘Airport operators should not rely on subsidies’

Jones said of the LCA security costs: “This is money that could be used to protect Londoners from crime, but instead it is used to protect the interests of a private company. The £5.6 million of public money spent this year on policing London City Airport is equivalent to nearly 120 more officers on the streets, or 16 Safer Neighbourhood Teams. This is a bad deal for London taxpayers and bad news for community safety.”

She added: “There should of course be a police presence at London City Airport, but the airport operators should meet the costs in full instead of relying on subsidy from London taxpayers.”

Mixed reactions from locals

Local residents have mixed feelings about the LCA security costs.

Kevin Brennan said: “It is very important that an airport – particularly one that is so close to the City – has a high level of security to mitigate criminal activity. But the airport is more of a convenience than a necessity. The owners and those using the airport should bear the brunt of the costs. It is astonishing that, yet again, a private enterprise is dependant on the hard-hit tax-payer to keep them in business.”

Jacqueline Bradshaw-Price, from Tower Hamlets, was less diplomatic: “Fellow residents and I are furious.  The average airport user earns about £90,000 a year.” 

The Mayor did not attempt to defend the figures but noted: “The budgets include overheads that are managed by support departments such as HR and Resources.”

London City Airport refused to comment.

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