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Thursday, 9 May 2019

Liberal Democrats glad for government u-turn on unfair evictions

For a number of years residents have written to Councillors in my group on the topic of landlords who are treating tenants really badly by evicting tenants who have not done anything wrong and do pay their rent. A so called “section 21 notice”, also known as a section 21 notice of possession or a section 21 eviction, is the notice which a landlord must give to their tenant to begin the process to take possession of a property let on an assured shorthold tenancy without providing a reason for wishing to take possession.

When a section 21 notice is issued, decisions are made on paper and not hearing evidence in a court face to face, meaning that many people are left homeless at a very short notice.

These no-fault evictions, have led to landlords intimidating tenants into not asking for repairs, and means renters – including 1 in 4 families – never really know where home will be in a year’s time.

The campaign to end section 21 notices had gained the support from many sections of society with a 50,000 strong petition online, and backing from Shelter. Liberal Democrat Councillors in Southfield, Chiswick were more than happy to sign the petition. Very recently the Government announced its intention to abolish section 21 notices, which were introduced in 1989.

Liberal Democrats welcome the announcement but sadly it has taken too long to happen. In Germany the relationship between tenants and landlords are often very positive and long landing; in the UK renting is often seen as a lower form of life than those with mortgages.

We need the government to ensure that tenants get a fair deal, so their often powerful landlords cannot abuse their powers. Everybody who rents a flat in the private sector should have the right to feel secure in their home. But so many millions of responsible tenants could be uprooted by their landlord with little notice or justification.

Unfair evictions do not benefit society. Landlords should be able to end tenancies where they have a legitimate reason to do so, but they should not be allowed to people with only a few weeks’ notice.

Liberal Democrats hope that in the near future that the commitment will lead to actions to protect tenants from unethical behavior and also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Lib Dems demand that Ealing Council and the Mayor of London do more to stop idling

Idling adds to the amount of exhaust fumes in the air we breathe.

The Royal College of Physicians estimate 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this. London and Ealing appears to suffer more than other locations, especially the Uxbridge Road.

The fumes contain harmful gasses that contribute towards climate change as well as other harmful gasses such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases. In London we have so many cases that can be reduced.

If every car, van, taxi and lorry driver stopped idling it would not end air pollution in London, but it would certainly make a real difference and it is a difference that could be quickly and easily made.
Ealing Council has only fined 35 people and they were between 2006 and 2009. So, no fines after 2009. Ealing Council should hang their head in shame.

The fines can be issued for engines not being switched off when vehicles are parked under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002. The fine is sadly very small (£20). I think that the government need to increase the limit to encourage Councils to fine idling vehicles owners.

Liberal Democrats want the Mayor of London to ensure that in relation to Transport for London’s (TfL) powers of licensing taxis and private hire vehicles it uses every opportunity to discourage the idling of vehicles, including the use of enforcement powers.   I also call on the Mayor of London to actively reduce idling of vehicles by personnel throughout his organisations’ vehicles including the Metropolitan Police Service and Fire Brigade vehicles.

In one section of an Ealing Council transport report it says it is against idling but of course appears to have done almost nothing in this area. More recently Ealing Council allowed commuter parking within our Controlled Parking Zones but did not bother to monitor the extra pollution is has caused.
Where there are a few electronic signs to discourage idling they are so expensive that nearly every area gets no signage. In Hounslow I have seen some less expensive signs that are to be trialled and we are pressing Ealing Council to make use of these signs.

At many local schools despite the Council’s “School Travel Plan” encouraging schools in the borough to sign up to the Safer Parking Promise scheme, with no enforcement it means parents often idle their engines when they visit or drop their children off in the mornings.

Liberal Democrats are demanding that around our schools we ensure that no idling zones are created to ensure air is cleaner.

Liberal Democrats say that wIth National Clean Air Day taking place on 21st June, we should take action soon on engine idling to improve the air we expect our children to breathe.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Liberal Democrats vote down Ealing Council budget and Council Tax proposals

Each year at the end of February, councils vote on a budget and the level of Council Tax that residents will pay for the forthcoming year of services. Ealing Council debated proposals this year and the Liberal Democrat group voted down proposals for a number of reasons.

First of all it must be said that the national Conservative party has been reducing money for our Council, essentially robbing money from our residents before they knew they have lost it.
Also there is little evidence that the Government is willing to help solve the national funding shortfall affecting all councils for Adult Social Care.

Interestingly we only get a small income for what are called “Winter pressures”. Does Theresa May not realise that vulnerable people need care all year round, not just in Winter!

And on business rates Councils could keep the money it generated but now they have to give back 25% to the government. Councils should have access to the money. That is our money, not the government’s!

We see high and increasing levels of knife and other violent crime as THIS council plans to cut Children’s Centres. A council Scrutiny Panel heard evidence that intervention at an early age can reduce some of these crimes. So the short term savings by cutting some Children’s Centres appears to be a false economy.

Elsewhere we will see many libraries managed by volunteers, where the evidence shows will not by fully sustainable in a few years’ time. I hope if any of our community libraries close in the future that the Council does not blame the community.

The form of Ealing Council has been to take many legal actions which can cost a lot of money but sadly many are lost, wasting money. A recent one, was its aim to sell a town hall. The Council lost the legal case at the High Courts.

Ealing Council wants to stop Ward Forum meetings and has cut the ward forum budgets. By trying to avoid listening to residents it is essentially saying “We know best!”

There is a great set of evidence showing that many roads in Chiswick have speeding traffic and therefore are a risk to pedestrians and cyclists. But the budget proposals do not appear to be using money to reduce speed at these known hotspots in Chiswick.

We saw in the past few months that additional staff were needed to be hired and over 500 hours of overtime were needed, when the parking system was changed, which led to much confusion, annoyance and a loss to Ealing Council financially. The Council should have been more aware than it was.

In summary many of our services are worse than they should be (dirty streets for example), our financial reserves have fallen over the last year by £20M and will again by £5M this year!

Ongoing noise pollution form local dairy: they should be closed down

For more than ten years Liberal Democrat councillors have seen the northern party of Southfeld Chswick suffering from the dairy producing near constant noise pollution through the night caused by a range of reasons including vehicle movements and heavy plant equipment operating.

Many of their vehicles or vehicles that enter or leave their site with collections of milk or the raw materials block some of the roads nearby to the dairy. Again they flout the rules making sure they use loopholes to evade justice.

The dairy creates more noise than a group of cows
I have welcomed the hard work by a local residents’ association who have campaigned on the issue to press the Council to take action when often they appeared not to be too interested.

In addition to that more recently a hole was created in the roof to cool down the factory since it produces so much milk for the space that the company operates on the site. In essence it is far too big for this location which is surrounded by residential homes.

The behaviour of the directors is very poor as they must know the harm they are causing by children and adults not being able to sleep properly. Some people have moved out of the area because of the issue.

When the Council finally turned down an after-the-event planning application to allow the hole in the roof, Freshways appealed meaning that they can operate until another court case comes down against them.

It is just another delaying tactic their lawyers and Freshways use.

My view is that Ealing Council and other local authorities should have the power to close down companies like these once they repeatedly fail to adhere to the rules. Also we need to stop directors from operating in the future.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

An insider's view of the Brexit Deal and how it might affect West London

Last week there was a great Town Hall meeting where the issue of Brexit was discussed. Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake was present to speak and answer questions from the packed meeting.
Joining Tom Brake was Nacho Morais, Chair of West London for Europe, who talked about campaigning in West London and the People’s Vote march scheduled for October 20th 2018.

Tom Brake MP
It was stated that some of the likely effects of a no-deal would include the continuation of medicinal stockpiling and also of food. Businesses and people are now so nervous that they are assuming the worst situation will happen.

It does appear to many as if the best deal that can be achieved will be a total disaster for Ealing, London and the country.

Nacho Morais mentioned reminded us about the Irish aspect of Brexit: a third of milk in Northern Ireland goes to Ireland. The border issue is a crucial one that is not easily solved.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake mentioned that if European citizens leave the UK, then come back, they will have reapply to live here even if they have lived here for many years contributing. It is a sad way to treat people who have helped our country by working in the health service.

What is sad is that the Labour party have a chance to stop Brexit but are trying their best to sit on the fence. But almost all of the options of the Labour flowchart lead to Jeremy Corbyn having to support a People's Vote.

Ealing Liberal Democrats believe that residents should go on the People's Vote march on 20th October. It is likely to be even bigger than the last one.

This will be a chance to remind MPs who are not sure about Brexit to vote to cancel Brexit or go for a People’s Vote.

Monday, 9 July 2018

A sports hub for Southfield Rec?

For many years the Liberal Democrats have been supportive of initiatives to improve access to youth club services for our residents in Chiswick and Acton.

The Southfield Ward Forum, which the Liberal Democrats chair, has funded W4 Youth on two occasions to help provide a range of activities for teenagers in the area such as football and table tennis.

After many years of hearing about possible plans for a youth club on Southfield Rec, by surprise it appeared on the agenda of a Council meeting this week with no up-front briefing for Southfield ward Councillors to ask questions. This approach is very regrettable as residents and Councillors will have lots of questions and it would make sense to ensure they are dealt with in an organised fashion.

There are implications on requiring planning permission (the Council told ward Councillors that the only buildings that can be sited on Southfield Rec would be those that relate to maintaining the grounds such as for tool storage) so it appears the Council is by passing its own rules when it wants to without taking into account the views of residents who might be affected such as those living in the South Western section on Wilkinson Way or Southfield Road.

The Council plan to grant a 99-year lease to W4 Youth for the construction of a community sports hub including a car park. The suggested uses include: Youth clubs (street dance club, drama club), sports facilities (T20 cricket club, football pitches), a café and administrative offices for the charity.

It also appears that the lease will allow the football pitches and tennis courts to be hired out. We have asked whether the Council has consulted the current users of the football pitches and the tennis courts but so far not had a response.

I am in favour of improving the facilities for local people but these types of initiatives should be done by involving residents as well as local Councillors so that a better outcome can be achieved.

As it stands currently there are lots of questions and it appears that the Council should have asked to attend the Southfield Ward Forum meeting that was held in the last two weeks.

This would have been an opportunity to put forward proposals, listen to concerns and answer questions so that any proposals will be better for all.

For the Council to shun the local residents' association, residents and ward Councillors is deplorable.

The proposals can be seen here on the Council’s website (report 14).

 If you have any views please let me know at

Monday, 28 May 2018

Labour-run Ealing Council's secret parking shame

Many Chiswick and Southfield residents have seen the notices placed on lampposts detailing Council plans to allow commuters to park in your streets even though many residents have bought their annual parking permits!

The plans mean that Ealing Council wants to charge non residents money to park in areas where local Southfield residents are paying the annual CPZ permit fee. Over 40 sites are possibly affected across Southfield. Councillor Gary Malcolm has made a Freedom of Information request to uncover information from the Council about their plans.

It appears that the Council has not considered the impact of having more parked cars will cause in terms of an increase in road traffic accidents by reducing the visibility of oncoming vehicles at blind corners. Many residents have told us that it will mean that people who have paid for their CPZ permit will not have a parking space for them to park during the day.

Councillor Gary Malcolm said: "At £4.50 a day to park this will be the cheapest all day parking in London! The introduction of residents permits was  to stop commuters clogging up the streets. This could encourage commuters to seek out cheap parking options travelling from Windsor, Slough or Oxford to save huge amounts of money over train season tickets once this loophole is announced!"

If you are against these proposals you should contact Tony Singh at Ealing Council ( to let him know your views on the matter. The more people who let the Council know that their plans are not wanted, the higher the chance that they will back down. Please copy ourselves ( into the email so we are aware of your views.

The closing date for views is 11th June.