The Conservative leader on the London Assembly is embroiled in a row about referring to opponents of expansion at City Airport as 'the climate change Taliban.'
A number of complaints were made against Roger Evans after he wrote the following about the airport protesters, many of which are his constituents:
"We were promised a flash mob objecting to plans to increase flights in and out of City Airport [at People's Question Time] but in the event there were about a dozen campaigners in red shirts who oppose all airport expansion. Boris was having no truck with the climate change Taliban and he pointed out that Newham Council had given their approval so clearly there was local support for a project that would create jobs during the recession."
Writing in the Guardian yesterday, John Vidal asked:
"Could [Boris] please do something about young Roger? He is in deep water in the area after describing people who are fighting the airport expansion as "the climate change Taliban". Roger, you really must not go calling peace-loving east London residents terrorists. Expect a slew of official complaints."
Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson said today:
"Roger Evans’ attitude is a clear disrespect of local people’s legitimate concerns. Airport expansion will affect the quality of life of thousands of Newham residents who are anxious about increased noise and airpollution. The real threat to Londoners health and lives doesn't come from a ‘climate change Taliban’, but from he air pollution that already causes 1000 premature deaths in the capital each year".
"The London Mayor supports the concerns of people in West London about noise and air pollution, but dismisses the people of East London who have expressed those same concerns about airport expansion. We shouldn’t be surprised at the Mayor’s attitude towards local people. After all, he will need to evacuate 35,000 people from the Isle of Sheppey to build his fantasy island airport on top of World War II explosives."
The offending comments have now been removed from Evans' blog although no acknowledgment has yet been made.
Taliban for London
Evans' follows in a long line of Tory 'humorists' from Richard Littlejohn to Brian Coleman who enjoy railing against the Traffic Taliban, and 'Taliban for London'.
But whereas the 'Town Hall Talibandits' may easily be dismissed in this way, those people opposed to the expansion of City Airport come from across the political spectrum.
And as their representative on the Assembly, Roger Evans would do well to treat them with some respect.
-Update- Statement added from Darren Johnson