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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ealing Council hikes up parking charges

Many residents have seen that Ealing Council wants to put up parking fees. Labour-run Ealing Council have not been quite as upfront as they could have been; it appears they mainly wish to change of parking policy to bring in more revenue than in previous years.

It is true that Ealing's CPZ permit fees are currently cheaper than Brent, Hounslow and Hammersmith. If the proposals come into affect then we will be on par with them but the Council is using this as a smoke-screen to hide other parking changes that will badly affect some residents such as visitors.

Liberal Democrats believe that any future increases are capped by inflation to show residents we are not using parking as a revenue goldmine. If they then claim at there will be no 'profit' from these price changes then we demand that any surplus from the changes must be ploughed into sustainable transport methods like cycling.

I think the issue of visitor permits is a very important part of this because the price increase will cause a lot more grief as many visitors are not used to a local area where they often do not live. Not just the increase but that carers will find it more difficult as some are family (non-paid) carers. The Council should either: a) avoid an increase of this amount; or b) delay an increase over a number of years so residents can better prepare. Liberal Democrats also believe we need to have a scheme for carers or medical staff permits like Hammersmith or Hounslow do.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Southfield police AGM meeting update

This evening I attended the annual general meeting of the local Southfield Ward police Panel. This is the body made up of up to 15 elected residents, the local police team, local councillors plus the local park ranger and other Council staff.

The meeting gave a chance for residents to ask questions of the police about what they have been doing in the past year and what their priorities might be for the coming year (currently they focus on burglary, anti-social behaviour and car crime).

The police informed residents that burglary rates were down in the area compared to neighbouring areas and last years figures. However they said many crimes such as burglary and stolen items from vehicles can be reduced by being more careful. This could be removing items from cars or not leaving car keys within reach of the letter box (where some criminals use a magnet on a stick!). To reduce burglary it is always sensible to check you haven’t left a door ajar. Sounds obvious but don't give the criminals an easy ride.

The group has set up a website where you can find information about the Southfield Neighbourhood Watch activities:

The funding for this came from a local Council committee where myself, Councillors Harvey Rose and Andrew Steed decide on the fund of local projects. This Wednesday (29th) the meeting will be held to discuss the funding of other local projects. It takes place from 7.30pm at Acton Green Church Hall, Cunnington Street, W4. All welcome.

At the end of the evening about 12 residents were elected on to the panel so there will be space for another three residents who want to get involved in reducing crime in the area. If you want to hear more about how you can get involved do contact me using

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Did Labour make the right choice today?

Some may have seen on TV that the Labour party selected a new Leader in Ed Miliband. From my perhaps biased point of view the whole three or four month campaign seemed rather boring with no exciting comments from the candidates, bar a few moments from Diane Abbott.

New leaders tend to get an easy first few months while people work out what policies they might wish to change. But one thing is clear that whoever was to become the new leader of the Labour party seemed to have no appologies for the financial mess they left our country in.

And since the new coalition government took charge the Labour party in opposition have blamed everything on everyone else without wanting to accept any responsibility.

A leader in opposition needs not to against everything but should be proactive and create positive policy, offering new possibilities on how an administration should run its affairs. The Liberal Democrats in Ealing do that and since the local elections this May we have put forward many positive ideas - two of which have been accepted and so we look to see how they introduce these ideas (treating residents like customers via a Council Customer Charter and to invest in better IT so that the council can both save money and run many services more reliably).

We wait to see whether Labour nationally take their heads out of the sand like the proverbial ostrich.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Cricket anyone?

I just heard the last cricket match of the season for the team I play for was cancelled today due to lack of numbers. Sad news.

I was looking forward to playing another game before the end of season break. In the game last weekend I played quite well (I am never the best cricketer in the team) and got a wicket as well as hitting my first 6 for the team. It made a quick 12 before being clean bowled. I did at least raise the run rate and it allowed the next batsman to play in a less risky fashion before we won the close game.

Even the fast bowler shook my hand when I had hit the ball over the rope. I amazed myself - and my team mates. I get quite a few fours but have never got a six for my team. I smiled before I soon lost my wicket.

I shall look forward to the pre-season training in 6 months' time.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Do you think Ealing Council cares about what you think! Really?

Many residents, over many years, have complained that Ealing Council has either ignored their views or never asked what they think about important issues.
The Council is currently in the middle of a process where it will create a policy called a Local Development Framework (LDF). This will be the guide for what will be allowed or not when developers or others want to alter our borough. It will cover issues such as whether we want to see lots of large buildings or whether the Council might wish to see more housing instead of parks.
This is the most important set of documents Ealing Council will adopt for decades, as they will affect Ealing up to and beyond 2026. The Council has arranged to start what it calls a consultation process over the next few months. In reality though it is a few meetings where a handful of people will attend to discuss questions where the Council have already decided what the answers are.
There are only eight meetings, with only one about transport and none about the provision of heath or education services in Ealing. Very few people know about them (hence me using this opportunity to raise the profile of the meetings), which makes the process a charade. For more information please see the link:
The Liberal Democrats believe the Council should be far more proactive and consult residents and local businesses properly, in a way to really find what they want from our different town centres whether it be Greenford in the north of borough, to Southall in west, or Acton in the East.
A more proactive method would be to consult using a wider range of methods such as ward Forums; face-to-face surveys at residents’ homes; telephone surveys; street or shopping centre ‘intercepts’ and citizens’ juries.
The previous Conservative administration set up a scrutiny committee relating to the LDF. However, they decided they didn’t want any residents’ or other local groups to be formally involved, such as the Ealing Civic Society, Southall Community Alliance, or the Park Royal Partnership. That is arrogance and this “I know best” attitude will not do.
The Council recently pledged to set up an advisory body to guide the process.  Liberal Democrats have pressed and are waiting for this to be formed by the Labour-run Ealing Council.  If one is not set up soon, it is further evidence the Council does not want to hear views from its tax-payers.
Unless the Council addresses the shortcomings of the LDF consultation process, it will be seen as being fatally flawed. Without open discussion on these issues there must be serious doubt on whether Ealing is complying with the requirements of the legislation.
Ealing Council’s “Statement of Community Involvement” seems fine, but it is never followed through with the consultation that will yield a proper understanding of what Ealing needs and wants. Only the Liberal Democrats believe this is crucial.  Let us see some action now!

Ealing Council's Council cashback not seen as being successful

At a Council meeting last night which I attended, the "Value for Money" committee heard evidence from a number of politicians and council staff. After the evidence it was agreed that the Conservative Council's £50 cashback scheme was not seen as being successful.

Some said the cashback was a bribe on the electorate before the local elections and many residents wanted to see local parks and buildings to be improved like Gunnersbury Park or the Priory Community Centre.

The evidence indicated that the Council did not fully explore some of these options. The committee agreed that there was no proper measurements to determine whether the cashback was a success or not. As a school teacher would say - a D-plus grade!