LABOUR Parliamentary candidates for Southend have backed the expansion of the town’s airport – but with strict conditions restricting night flights.

Kevin Bonavia (Rochford and Southend East) and Tom Flynn (Southend West) have issued a joint statement giving their support to the proposals for a major expansion at the airport.

In it the two Parliamentary hopefuls said: “There are areas of Southend which suffer an unemployment rate more than twice the national average. We simply can’t risk a chance like this to improve our town’s economy.

“It is not just the extra jobs at the airport. It’s the extra money they will bring in and feed through to other businesses.

“There are plans being put in place for vocational courses to train people in the specialist skills which will be required, giving a further boost to Southend as a centre for learning and skills.”

They said it was clear there was a lot of concern over the aircraft noise, especially at night.

The statement added: “With our support comes one key condition. We propose that in return for agreeing to the expansion, the airport agrees to accept a very strict, legally binding limit on night flights.

“Southampton Airport, which the council often mentions as a comparable regional airport, runs perfectly well with no night flights at all. We also think expansion of Southend Airport might just put paid to Boris Johnson’s Estuary Airport idea, which is still very much on the agenda for the London Mayor.

“That plan would be bad for Southend as we would get more environmental damage without economic benefits.

“We intend to start a campaign in support of Southend Airport and we urge people who agree to get in touch with us via the website southend-airport and register their support.”

Southend Council’s ruling Tory administration has yet to decide it if will support the airport’s expansion plans, while the Lib Dems still want answers from the airport’s owners.