In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Boris Johnson considers taking legal action against the Government over London airport expansion study, as Gatwick bosses unveil plans for new runway
Boris Johnson personally raised the prospect of taking legal action against the Government with David Cameron to speed up a review of London airport expansion.
The Evening Standard reported that the Mayor of London told the Prime Minister that he could go to the High Court to bring forward a government-commissioned study into Britain’s airports which is only due to report fully after the 2015 election.
And in a sign that the battle over London airport expansion is still dramatically escalating, Gatwick bosses today unveiled plans for a second runway which is sure to create a full-blown clash with Heathrow over which airport should expand to meet the South-East’s aviation needs.
The two developments hugely upped the stakes in the debate over airport expansion in Britain.
During a phone call on Friday, Mr Cameron is believed to have reacted with concern to the idea of Mr Johnson seeking a judicial review which would plunge the Government’s aviation strategy into chaos.
Mr Johnson has been infuriated by the decision to delay the full Davies report until after the election, with only an interim paper being published next year.
Mr Johnson could launch a judicial review, arguing he was not properly consulted on the setting up of the inquiry. Such a move, though, is likely to only delay the review and would send tensions with Mr Cameron spiralling to a new high.
Gatwick bosses plans for a new runway at the airport are said to honour a 1979 legal agreement that no runway can be built at the West Sussex airport before 2019.
The options will be submitted to the Government-appointed aviation commission led by former Financial Services Authority (FSA) chief Sir Howard Davies boss which will make its full report in summer 2015.
New London station bamboozles visiting Beatles fans
It has to be the most famous pedestrian crossing in the world, immortalized by the Beatles on the cover of their Abbey Road album in 1969.
Situated just outside the north London EMI studios, the crossing enjoys listed status for its “cultural and historical importance” and draws thousands of tourists every year.
But a growing number of visitors hoping to take photos of themselves recreating the enigmatic, single-file crossing of the famous foursome are finding themselves in a very different part of London – thanks to a railway station.
Since the station was built last year and named after another Abbey Road at least 16 km away, tourists have been descending on the distinctly less glamorous east London neighbourhood of West Ham.
Instead of the leafy mansions and prim tree-lined streets one might expect of one of the most expensive postcodes in Britain, visitors are met with a train depot and a series of industrial parks.
“There are always loads of tourists here,” said 68 year old local resident Jack Walker. “They get here, look around, wonder where the crossing is, find out it’s on the other side of London, and head back to the station.”
Tourist misfortune, however, sometimes makes for much local hilarity.
Rui Araujo, a council patrol officer, recalls watching a young American couple mimicking the group’s famous crosswalk pose, apparently unaware that the pock-marked east London zebra-crossing bears little resemblance to the real thing.
Kirpal Singh is not complaining though. His Star Newsagents has seen a daily average of 30-40 additional customers, many of whom buy bus passes or stock up on drinks and chocolate to sustain themselves on the long trek back across the city.
Monrovia tourist guide taps into Liberian capital’s growing potential
New map aims to show off city more renowned for war and strife, pointing way to historic sites and cocktail bars.
Visitors to the Liberian capital of Monrovia who pick up a new tourist map will find directions to the city’s historic highlights, including the Masonic lodge – one of the oldest in Africa – and remnants of the old city built by freed American slaves who settled there in the early 1800s.
But they may be surprised to see that it also features the location of the local sewer commission, an apocalyptic-looking advert for four-wheel-drives, and a handful of streets with no names.
Despite these incongruent recommendations, the map is being hailed as a major step towards normality in a city better known for its burnt-out buildings than for its historic sites and cocktail bars. Thousands of copies of the six-page map have been distributed throughout the city, highlighting restaurants, gyms, bakeries and casinos.
“Monrovia is a beautiful city in a very dramatic natural setting – with a rocky peninsula and the ocean on one side, and a mangrove marsh on the other. There are beaches outside of town that are excellent this time of year – there is absolutely no reason why Monrovia couldn’t have some tourist potential,” said John Sheehy, founder of Emerging Business Lab, which created the map. “This is not just about showing expats where to go to for a coffee or wine, but a tool for other countries and cities to show we are open for business. I am very proud of what it is doing for the city and the country,” said Sheehy.
The map is the latest evidence of a tourism industry that is slowly but steadily blossoming. One tour group advertises the country as “a land of rich, unexplored rainforest, longer-than-the-eye-can-see deserted beaches, and a kind hospitable people” and says “few have visited its magical jungles and breathtaking beaches”.
Paris leaps into the bizarre with bouncing bridge
Crossing a bridge has never looked like so much fun.
Visitors to Paris could soon be bouncing across the River Seine on a giant inflatable trampoline bridge, taking in a unique view of the Eiffel Tower.
Paris-based architectural company AZC proposed the bizarre idea as part of a local design competition.
The blow-up crosswalk features giant trampolines in the centre of three 30-metre-round sections. It’s held together with a cord and is filled with 3700 cubic metres of air.
Under the right amount of tension, the sides of each section flip up in a bid to keep thrillseekers from falling over the side.
We don’t want to burst their bubble, but it looks like more safety features will be needed!
The company said the bridge is “dedicated to the joyful release from gravity as one bounces above the river”.
The design is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than constructing a new bridge.