Following winter flight delays at most major UK airports, Harlington Council in west London has given the thumbs up for an all-weather cover over the redundant airstrip next to its Church Road allotments. Eschewing technology used at modern sports venues, allotment members have taken a more straightforward approach.
“Of course, we looked at Wimbledon’s sliding roof last summer. The strawberries were almost as good as Mr Evan’s but that design would have cost about £13.6m.” said Frank Johnson for the allotment committee. “We virtually decided right then but still had another expenses-paid trip in the budget and so we went to the Millennium stadium in March to see Wales thrash England. Nice pies at half-time mind but the cost would have been £33.4m; even with the Trevor Bayliss hand-wind version."
"Anyway, allotment subs went up £4 only last year, which was very unpopular, so we went for something a bit more affordable whilst keeping the ‘horticultural look’ of the area. In the end, we’ve ordered heavy-duty polythene covers from Gardman Polytunnels. Their Jumbo range accommodates a 1930s Douglas Dakota DC3, with over a foot to spare at either wing tip, and might be safe at up to 25mm of snow and 30mph winds.”
Councillor Jon Shilling, portfolio holder for transport, says that Harlington must compete on an international basis “...especially if the HS2 project gets the go ahead, when we could lose out on passing trade at the BP shop in Sipson Road. Polytunnels will give us the edge over places like Leighton Buzzard; stuck in the 19th Century with only their narrow-gauge railway to boast about.”
Accepting the allotment airstrip is currently only used by a radio-controlled model flying club, Cllr Shilling explained. “... starting small means we’ll be able to practice flying the planes in and out through the Polytunnel entrance, without any serious risk. Obviously, when we move onto the real thing the pilots will need to be a tad more careful because Polythene is expensive to repair.”
“It would have cost £50 more but with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps ordering the double-door option might have been prudent.”