Arts or air travel? Billboard sparks debate that splits Twickenham

Controversial graffiti defacing a billboard advertising Heathrow’s planned expansion has split opinions and sparked debate among Twickenham residents. 

The billboard was hailed by campaigners as an expression of the strength of feeling around the airport’s expansion, as reported by SW Londoner.

An opinion poll conducted by SW Londoner today found that 50% of residents thought the arts are more important than air travel.

The advertisement in question, which originally read: “Expand Heathrow and the benefits will extend all over Britain”, was altered to promote the expansion of the arts.

Monica Boxley, an artist and jewellery designer from Twickenham, said: “The arts often get marginalised and swept to the side.

“It isn’t a priority at all. Local groups make it a priority but we don’t get any funding.”

Figures released by government officials estimate the building costs of a third runway to be approximately £7 billion, but the project could provide an overall £7.6 billion economic boost.

Jane Haves, a gallery curator in Twickenham, said: “The question of arts or airport, I think, is not really the question because the two things are completely separate.

“Arts are vitally important, both in the community sense and also in a wider sense.”

Out of three flight path proposals submitted to the Davies Commission, a runway in a south-west location seems to be preferred.

This would direct flight paths over Whitton, Twickenham and Teddington.

Whilst the graffiti has raised the question of funding distribution in Twickenham, this is perhaps just the start of more Heathrow-related questions from the community.

Janis, of The LoversLights Gallery, added: “The question of whether we should expand the airport is a completely different issue and has a whole different load of arguments attached to it.”

Featured picture courtesy of Jodie Holland, with thanks

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