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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Transport unions are shooting themselves in the foot

The recent two tube strikes and the two planned strikes are forcing many millions to use different methods of transport, to be massively delayed or feel obliged to take holidays to avoid the stress of a strike days.

The scenes at many of our rail stations shows that we both have a good and varied transport network but when the railways are loaded they understandably cannot fully cope. The loss to businesses in Ealing and London wide is very large because of strikes.

Many tourists who have visited Ealing and London for a short break will not return.

Chiswick Park tube station
I am a great supporter of unions, as history shows without unions many workers would have a poorer level of health and safety in their workplace. Many accidents have been averted and incidents of bullying, because of unions.

In a company I worked for previously, I was a Workplace Representative and a First-aider. My approach was not to be argumentative but raise issues that fellow employees had concerns about so that management could consider them and hopefully accept sensible ideas after discussion.

We have seen for many years that unions have worked with management effectively but in the transport sector there is a different situation. We often see those unions using language that is aggressive, calling for strikes using reasons that are not by many, seen as being fair.

General Secretaries seem to act as if they are in the playground shouting at Transport for London ‘teachers’. Calling each other names, refusing to talk despite what appears to be a fair deal for many workers who get paid much more than many teachers, bus drivers and other public workers.

No job should always be regarded as sacred. Companies and their employees need to adapt to what the world needs and what technologies exist. So the introduction of a night service is good initiative and the workplace needs to adapt. They appear to have been given a reasonable deal.

Caroline Pidgeon at Ealing Broadway station
I have twice been made redundant. I did not give up and complain, but adapted and successfully found work. Change can be unsettling but what is needed in all disputes is a grown up discussion.

Reforms are needed and some of this needs to take place to take the financial link between political parties and MPs with unions. Political parties’ policies should arise because it will solve the problems of the day and not because a union paid the political party like the Labour party millions of pounds.

I am not, however, in favour of there being a minimum requirement for the share of employees voting in a strike ballot. I think it is crucial that employees retain the right to strike but the key is to ensure that the union management do not strike for reasons that most would state as being unnecessary or unwarranted.

Some of the unnecessary transport strikes are essentially the unions shooting themselves into the foot. Like somebody ‘crying wolf’. When the next dispute takes place, which may deal with some very important matters, no one will care. People are turning against transport unions as they appear to only cause negativity to London.

Striking should be the last resort. I hope we can see everyone get around the table when the next Mayor of London is elected.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb visits Southfield

We were lucky to have the Lib Dem MP, Norman Lamb, drop my recently. We were knocking on doors asking residents in Chiswick about their views on some national matters including Heathrow, the Human Rights Act and Europe.

Norman Lamb in Southfield
Of course people were still raising the issue of the impending wheelie bins which we are still fighting to stop. Such a waste of money that could be spent on vital services.

Labour seem happy to close our day centres whilst the fail to keep our streets clean.

Norman Lamb MP has a great history in government and since the general election of raising the profile of mental health.

Norman commented very openly about legalising assisted dying... "For many years, I opposed attempts to legalise assisted dying. I had concerns, shared by many, that the risk to the most vulnerable individuals outweighed the benefits.

Norman talking to a resident in Ramillies Road
Equally, I respect those with deeply held religious concerns. But my views have been challenged in recent years. As an MP and in my role in the last Parliament as a health minister, I have spoken to many terminally ill patients, and the families of those who suffered slow deaths in great pain.
So many of them were convinced, when someone is suffering intolerably, and when they are reaching the end of their life, they should be allowed to end their suffering with dignity, and with the support of those closest to them.

These testimonies have forced me to think again. Would I want the right to decide for myself, when faced with terminal illness, when I wished to die? And would I want it for loved ones? The answer is unequivocally, yes.

Every few months, we hear about a case where someone who is terminally ill is faced with an impossible dilemma.  Either they must accept a slow and painful deterioration and death, or they must endure the indignity of travelling to another country to end their life – risking criminalisation of the relatives or friends who support them. And they only have this option if they can afford it, which many simply cannot. The current legal situation is not just a messy compromise; it is cruel, and it is wrong."

Photos were taken by Suzanne Tanswell, so thank you for the time spent snapping away.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A great success: the Beaumont Road PlayStreet‏

Last weekend myself and Councillor Gary Busuttil were able to attend a lively street party in Beaumont Road.

The event, where resident have their street closed off from traffic for a few hours, usually on a Sunday, was organised by Jill Ward and Vanessa Folley.

Photo taken by Jill Ward
It gave people a chance to meet each other, many of whom did not either know or commonly speak to their neighbours. There was a great atmosphere with lots of children playing games whilst the adults tucked into the homemade cupcakes!


PlayStreet joint organiser, Jill Ward, said: "We were thrilled to have over 40 people come to our first PlayStreet. We met neighbours we had never even seen! It gave our road a real sense of community & people have been thanking me all week.

The work to set it up was minimal with the letters & survey were all prepared by the Council. We can now run a PlayStreet once a month & following its successful start several neighbouring streets are planning to start their own!"


Three top tips the Beaumont Road PlayStreet organisers gave were:

  • Talk to a couple of neighbours before you start to see if there is interest
  • Agree a time for a PlayStreet with them so you have support
  • Ask a couple of people to help with stewarding in advance


Last year the Southfield ward Liberal Democrat Councillors persuaded Ealing Council to not charge residents for these types of events as they bring people together.

If you would like to start up a street party then please check out Playing Out, Ealing Council's website or let us know and we can help you out!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Ealing does not need Heathrow to be expanded

Howard Davies's Airports Commission recently delivered a massive blow to residents in Ealing and West London, when it gave the go ahead to expand Heathrow.

Only the Liberal Democrats have been resolutely against expanding Heathrow, locally, regionally and nationally, as we see our quality of life worsening if there is an increase in air traffic. The additional air and noise pollution will make our lives worse.

I recall visiting a school in Hounslow where the pupils could not play outside due to the planes that there already are. Anymore and we will be causing problems for not just how our children can be educated but their enjoyment of their time at school.

Time at school should be fun and a chance to socialise whilst learning, not avoiding the noise of large planes going over head.

Some residents have mentioned the proposed cap on night flights but I think we know that any expansion will lead to an increased number of people in Acton and Chiswick suffering from flight noise in the short term, to a u-turn and more night flights.

I am also very cynical about whether the airline industry will fund triple glazing or investing in planes that will be much quieter and much more fuel efficient.

By encouraging flights without altering the tax system we are missing the point. We need to both invest in more environmentally friendly methods of transport whilst ensuring that more polluting methods of transport such as airlines pay the correct taxes to pay for the increased environmental damage they cause.

Both the Tories and the Labour parties have said they will accept the commission’s report which was published after the general election to avoid embarrassment to them. Sadly only the Liberal Democrats will be standing up to fight for the residents of Ealing.

I fear that future generations of our children will suffer for the short term greed of our country.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association Summer Party

Each summer there is one afternoon I hope the weather stays sunny and somehow each year it tends to be pretty much perfect.

On Saturday 20th June, there was the Annual Summer Party, where some of the local residents meet and chat whilst enjoying barbecued food, Pimms, local baked cakes and the children can have their faces painted,

The event is organised by the wonderfully active Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association who combine the raising of important local matters with the Council and local Councillors, as well as ensuring social events take place - helping local residents to have fun and to get to know each other.

Myself and Gary Busuttil concentrating!
I have been lucky to be one of the four responsible for the BBQ-ing. So many burgers and sausages were ate. People often coming back for me. When I was cooking, I was joined by fellow ward Councillor Gary Busuttil who before coming a Councillors worked professionally as a cook!

There was also a kiddies arts & crafts area whilst a magician entertained the parents.

I baked a fruity cake to add to the many cakes on the bake stall. From my tasting I think Chiswick should have a Bake-Off  itself! So many of the cakes looks, smelt and tasted wonderful.

Also present were the local police team who chatted to residents, giving a combination of crime prevention advice as well as listening to many residents who had lots of questions. We are lucky in Southfield that the local police team want to be present at lots of community meetings. I think it is one reason why the crime rate in the area is low as many residents have learnt tips on reducing crime.

The bake stall!
The credit for organising the event should be given to Suzanne Tanswell and the great team of over twenty volunteers who helped before the day or on the day itself.

Days like these show me why all areas should have active and social residents' associations.

It was great as well to speak to so many people who have so many diverse backgrounds and come from different parts of the world.

People make great events and yesterday there were so many hardworking, community minded people. It was a pleasure to have been asked to help and meet so many great people.

Lastly let me thank Suzanne Tanswell who (as well as organising lots of things) took some lovely photographs including the ones in this blogpost. The  Chiswick David Bailey!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

An expanded Heathrow will mean an unacceptable level of noise and air pollution

When it was announced that the Davies Commission will report its findings after the recent General Election it sounded like an excuse to allow a new government to implement change without much legitimacy.

As it currently stands, of the main parties, only the Liberal Democrats are against expanding Heathrow. This is at a local, a regional and a national level.

We believe that an expanded Heathow would bring an unacceptable level of noise and air pollution to Ealing.

Myself seven years ago at Downing Street
The Liberal Democrats in government have been pioneers of investing in increasing more sustainable methods of travel like HS2 and Crossrail. We believe that Councils and the government should do more to encourage cycling.

The Davies Commission is about to make recommendations into expanding air capacity in London and a Conservative Government (or Labour if they had got in) will sadly be inclined to support this proposal.

I suspect that the Conservatives will press ahead with Heathrow expansion.

We hear constantly about triple glazing and quieter planes but we have seen more flights in total and more night flights. The cost of triple glazing millions of properties would not be feasible and the airlines will do anything to avoid this.

We need to think more about the health of our children. The schools I visited in Hounslow had children kept inside due to noise from the planes flying frequently overhead.

Air pollution does not have regard to borough boundaries and so Heathrow generated air pollution will harm us all in London.

That is why retaining Heathrow and not expanding it, is the only option for Ealing and West London.

We need to gather ourselves to stop the government from expanding Heathrow. The health of children in Ealing depends on it.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Buddhist Vihara parking permit petition cancelled by Council

Ealing Council made a decision at the end of last year to reduce the number of groups who were eligible for parking permits. This included the organisers of the Buddhist Vihara on The Avenue, many of whom do not live in the area.

Sadly they were not consulted and their initial requests for information were ignored until local Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillors got involved.

Receiving the petition in the Vihara
I was asked by one of Vihara’s management to visit them and to be presented with a petition. I handed in the petition and since then they have collected more signatures – about 500 so far with more being collected!

Many people have been annoyed that the large increases in the annual cost of the parking permits as well as the huge increase in visitor’s vouchers. It is sad that Ealing Council did not think to consult users of the permits to listen to their views.

It is no wonder many people think the Labour-run Council does not want to listen to people’s views. If you have any issue or grievance with Ealing Council or would like a petition handed in for you please let me know at gary.malcolm@ealing.gov.uk