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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

Lib Dem Councillors Celebrate 30 years of the Gunnersbury Triangle

I was lucky enough to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve on Bollo Lane recently.

Fellow local Southfield Councillor Andrew Steed was also present. Despite there being a large set of flats next door the wildlife reserve gives a great chance for kids to learn about nature in this hidden beauty off Bollo Lane.
The two mayors cutting the special cake

We were lucky to have the Mayors of both Hounslow and Ealing to cut the cake which was baked by a volunteer of the Triangle.

I still regret the time when the flats which now overlook the reserve, was approved after a Conservative Councillor in Ealing voted for the development.

Wildlife experts were against the building of those flats including David Bellamy.

A fun afternoon was had, despite the rain!

Councillor Andrew Steed and I with the two local mayors

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Liberal Democrats are already making Ealing fairer

In Ealing, voters will make their choice on who should represent them on May 7th.

Councillor Gary Malcolm
Liberal Democrats in government have successfully turned around the poor state of the economy - where we were shedding over 1,000 jobs a day when we took over from Labour - into the fastest growing economy in the G8.

We have a sound platform to continue the good work that the Liberal Democrats have done as part of the coalition government.

Ealing has seen investment to improve many core services. We have delivered:
  • £45 million to Ealing schools, since 2010, to benefit the most disadvantaged children.
  • Free school meals for 13,400 children in Ealing in school years Reception, 1, and 2.
  • Almost 8,000 apprenticeships giving our youngest members of Ealing a greater future.
  • 5,500 more residents in Ealing in work, compared to 2010.
  • A £900 income tax cut for over 150,000 Ealing residents, taking 22,000 of them out of tax altogether – something the Conservatives said back in 2010 wouldn’t be possible!
  • A £950 cash increase for 38,000 pensioners in Ealing, compared to 2010.
  • Tax-free early years education or weekly childcare for 10,500 Ealing families.
  • Waiting limits for mental health treatment for the first time.
  • Equal marriage – allowing same-sex couples the right to marry here in Ealing Town Hall - something Labour said they had a principled objection to only a few years ago.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Jon Ball has been visiting residents in Ealing, and they say they are looking forward to voting Liberal Democrat because of the £8 billion a year we will invest in the NHS, something that not one of the other parties have pledged to match.

Housing in many areas including Southall and Acton needs improving. Our policy to introduce a ‘Rent to Own’ scheme will allow young people to buy their own home without needing a deposit, by ‘buying’ a share in their homes by paying their rent.

We will cut bus fares by two-thirds for 21,600 16 - 21 year-olds people in Ealing.

We will also give a £250 respite bonus every year to 3,570 full time carers in Ealing.

We will require that all children should be taught by a qualified teacher: currently 115 teachers in Ealing are unqualified.

Ealing Labour have failed: rather than invest in our shared future like the Liberal Democrats, they have closed day centre after day centre, making life worse for vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with disabilities.

The Liberal Democrats have made Ealing a fairer place already. A vote for the Liberal Democrats on May 7 and will help us all go further.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Liberal Democrats improving Education in Ealing

In Ealing, things are improving as we see that crime is down, there are more people in employment and millions of residents have been taken on apprenticeships across the country.

Those running Ealing Town Hall, like to take the credit for the improvements to our education system, however they forget to mention that the majority of money comes directly from the coalition Government.

So when our primary and secondary schools are maintained, expanded and improved, large chunks of money comes from the government.

Gary Malcolm
Liberal Democrats believe in giving every child a fair start in life. That's why we put an extra £2.5bn into schools each year from our 'Pupil Premium', as promised in the 2010 election manifesto. The money is targeted at those that need the most help, to achieve equality of opportunity.

In just one year seven schools in our borough received the following amounts:

  • Hambrough Primary School, Southall - £126,000
  • West Twyford Primary School, Acton - £81,000
  • Selborne Primary School, Greenford - £107,100
  • Gifford Primary School, Northolt - £325,800
  • Perivale Primary School, Perivale - £83,700
  • North Ealing Primary School, Ealing - £54,900
  • Southfield Primary school, Southfield - £144,000
  • St John's Primary School, West Ealing - £171,000

Some of the great examples of what the Pupil Premium has been spent on included a Maths tutor for a year 10 pupil who had gaps in their learning. Another was curriculum adaptations for pupils going into key stage 4, who were on the spectrum of autism.

The additional learning and communication helped them out massively. This will help those children to better learn and develop, so they can gain employment or an apprenticeship more easily.

Also a hot and healthy meal at lunch time greatly improves the health, behaviour and results of schoolchildren, providing them with their best start in life, enabling every child to fulfil their potential.

Evidence has shown that free school meals make a real difference in our classrooms. They were first piloted in 2009 and my aspiration is that free school meals is expanded to give free school meals to every primary school pupil in England.

We’ve also provided £150m to upgrade school kitchens and dining rooms, on top of a billion pounds of new money to fund the meals.

The government has also increased funding of nursery places for 2 and 3 year olds and agreed for an increase in paternal leave so they parents can spend more time with their new-born children. All of these policies are helping families across Ealing.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Southfield Ward Forum update - including a sad Carlton Road day centre update

Despite the rain and the cold weather, it was a wonderful Southfield Ward Forum meeting in St Albans Church. Since the church was saved from being converted into a number of luxury flats we looked forward to using the venue for public meetings.

The meeting was kicked off by  Rev Mike Tufnell who updated residents of future events to be held in the large church. Although I am not religious, churches like St Albans are amazing places due to the arhitecture and the stained glass windows. The next Ward Panel meeting that will take place in the church we hope to be in the Summer.

St Albans Church before the meeting
There were a number of topics we discussed...

Closure of the Carlton Road Day Centre
I announced that in the Summer it is likely that the centre will close, although the exact timings is not known. This will be a sad end to a great service the Council runs very well. Despite a huge campaign last week the Labour run Ealing Council decided that they did not want to look at the alternatives which Liberal Democrat Councillors put forward.

These would have allowed the day centre to stay open. Labour Councillors who voted to close it should be ashamed of themselves. The users are the most vulnerable as they are severely physically disabled. When the day centre shuts the Council wishes to sell off the site probably to build expensive homes and not affordable units.

I pay tribute to the staff at the Day Centre who will shortly lose their jobs, and thank all those residents who tried in vain to stop Labour closing the day centre. Southfield Councillor Gary Busuttil has been active on this and so I give a special thanks to his hard work and dedication.

Thames Water Sewage problems continue
Don Tanswell, chair of the Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association, updated the meeting about the ongoing issues due to the lack of effective emptying of the storage tanks near to Hatfield Road, when it rains.

It appears that lots of good evidence has been taken and Ealing Council might be in a position to take legal action to get Thames Water to either fix the issue or install roofs on the six tanks.

Ward Forum Budget
We agreed to...
  • Plant 13 trees around the Beaconsfield Road area which will replace 13 that are to be felled due to problems they have caused residents in the area.
  • Consider funding a couple of small arts events in Chiswick and Acton.
  • Install an additional cycle rack near the 94 bus terminus.
  • Improve the cycling facilities and improve Acton Green by installing a Brompton Cycle Hire unit near where the large bins near Turnham Green Station which had attracted lots of dumped waste. Also new cycle racks will be added near to the taxi rank and a section of the path will be converted into grass to improve the environment. Much of this work has come from the hard work by Councillor Andrew Steed.

The church's drum set!
Neighbourhood Watch
In Southfield we have 51 Neighbourhood Watch reps who help to reduce crime by informing their neighbours of crimes the police have informed them of. Some also check up on vulnerable residents in their area to see that they are fit and well. The reps do as much or as little as they can do - some take on ten houses and others a whole street. Some insurance companies offer discounts to home and contents insurance as a Neighbourhood Watch scheme often reduces crime!

The police want more people to help our and so please email me using if you want to know more information or you want me to speak to the local police team so they can arrange for you to become a Neighbourhood Watch rep. At the meeting one person said she was interested!

Next Ward Forum meetings - put them in your diary!
The next four ward forums (venues to be confirmed) will start at 7.30 pm on these dates:

  • Wed 10th June 2015
  • Wed 9th September 2015
  • Wed 9th December 2015
  • Wed 9th March 2016

Monday, 19 January 2015

Mental health in Ealing should not be ignored or stigmatised

Research shows that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives, however there is still stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

The Liberal Democrats believe that mental health should never be ignored or stigmatised. That's why we are committed to improving mental health services in Ealing, London and nationwide.

There are many reasons why people suffer short or long term incidences of mental health problems. These include a loss of their job, when family or social relationships change, developing a physical health condition.

Save Our Solace demo outside Town Hall
Not feeling you can talk about problems with someone, can mean we “bottle up” emotions which often intensifies our perception of a difficult issue.

Many voluntary groups organise and run groups which provide residents a chance to talk and take away people’s “load from their shoulders”. Many of these groups help reduce potential mental health problems without aiming to do so.

Labour’s national campaign about the NHS contrasts with the Labour party locally, who are more than prepared to close important local facilities.

Ealing Council over the past few years has closed a number of day centres, affecting many people’s mental health. Closing more facilities like Ealing’s Solace and the Carton Road Day Centre in the Acton area, will mean more users suffer.

Very recently one user of the Solace centre ended his life at Ealing Broadway station. While it is too early to know what may have led to the tragedy, this underlines the importance of ensuring that the Solace Centre and other similar centres are kept open to provide its 365-day a year support for local residents. One user said Ealing Council had played “Russian roulette with our lives.”
Services like Solace only cost a tiny expenditure in the overall Council budget. Labour cannot absolve responsibility.

Many users now do not believe what Labour say as they have closed so many centres and plan to close many more this year.

In Government the Liberal Democrats are using £400 million to help people with mental health problems get the right support early on, such as talking or psychological therapies.

We are also introducing waiting limits, so people will know for the first time how long they have to wait for mental health treatment.
Our new mental health action plan sets out our priorities for essential change in mental health, including:

  • Investing over £400m to give thousands of people access to evidence-based psychological therapies.
  • Children's mental health: Investing £54m in order to improve access to mental health care for children.
  • Crisis Care Concordat: Making sure no one experiencing mental health crisis is ever turned away from services.
  • Choice in Mental Health: Giving people the same choice for their mental healthcare as they do for their physical health.
  • Liaison and Diversion: Committed £25m for a scheme that identifies health issues offenders when they enter the criminal justice system.
  • Restraint: Investing £1.2m in staff training in order to reduce harmful restrictive practices.
The Liberal Democrats believe mental health should not be ignored or stigmatised. It should be taken as seriously as physical health.

Only the Liberal Democrats are making this issue a top priority.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My New Year message for Ealing

As the current year comes to an end I have looked forward to the promise that 2015 brings.

Sadly I fear that life for many people in Ealing will not fulfill that promise and indeed could be worse than it has been. The reason for this, are the range of cuts that Labour run Ealing Council have recently announced including the closure of many day centres and the introduction of fortnightly collections of waste.

By announcing fortnightly refuse and recycling collection when they were adamant during the May local election campaign that there would not be such a change, Labour have shown what little respect they have for the residents of this Borough. Liberal Democrat Sutton Council guaranteed the funding for weekly waste collections until 2018!

Liberal Democrats against day centre cuts 
Additional cuts include day centres such as the Carlton Road Day Centre and the Solace Day Centre.

Both face closure, which will leave many vulnerable people and their carers facing an uncertain 2015.

Day centres are a safe and welcoming place for physically disabled people to go to. They offer family carers a way to get a break from their caring duties, to get a haircut, visit the doctor, or just to have a coffee. The day centres are often the only way that the users can socialise.

These centres save the NHS so much money by reducing the incidence of depression for all those concerned. So, by choosing to cut services in this way, Labour has shown us how truly callous they can be towards the most vulnerable in our society.

The Liberal Democrats acknowledge the time people spend caring for relatives and participating in community activities across the Borough. We support those who help others make Ealing a better place for everyone. This is why the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the residents of Ealing in the coming year.