A PUBLIC consultation held in Menston by Leeds Bradford Airport to give residents the chance to view and comment on its airspace change proposal has been branded an "abject failure".

The event, held at High Royds Sports and Social Club in Guiseley Drive, on Wednesday, September 27, was attended, it is estimated, by around 50 to 60 people.

Alan Elsegood, Menston's representative on the airport's consultative committee was unable to attend because of the short notice given but has since canvassed opinion in the village and spoken to Peter Jenkins, Burley's representative on the committee, who did attend.

Mr Elsegood said: "The walk-in format of the meeting meant that the information/exposition was spread over a total of five hours for most of which time those residents of the two villages who engage in employment or have children of school-age were precluded from attending, and many more have reported that they just couldn’t cope with attending after struggling through the traffic from Leeds or Bradford after finishing work. Airport staff had set out two tables, and took questions from individuals who came up to speak to them. There was no open/public questioning. As a consequence, the format of the meeting failed to put over a consistent message and people have come away with different impressions of what is to happen and what the implications will be."

As a result of representations put forward by Mr Elsegood and Mr Jenkins, and the intervention of ward councillors and Burley and Menston's MP Philip Davies, Simon Whitby, LBA's operations director, has said there will be now be new public meetings in both Burley and Menston, at dates yet to be arranged.

Mr Elsegood said it was crucial that as many people as possible, with all points views, attend and have their say.

It has been requested that the meetings are:

* held at a time suitable for adult, working residents to attend, with sufficient notice given.

* have a formal, explicit presentation in non-technical terms by a member of LBA management fully conversant with the rationale behind the proposed changes, the options which may be available for routeing, the implications relative to exactly where the different types of aircraft will fly (in terms of guaranteed track-keeping and the experience of noise at ground-level and laterally).

* provide explanatory documentation.

* allow for questions from the audience.

It has also been requested that the closing date for the consultation process be extended so that residents have adequate time to consider what they have heard and read, debate and formulate their considered responses to the consultation.

Mr Elsegood added: "This is the one and only chance in a generation to get it right and we need not just reassurance but guarantees. Menston Parish Council is displaying a diligent approach to recognising its public responsibilities and expects LBA to do likewise."