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Monday, 26 December 2011

My Christmas Message...

I hope everyone in Ealing had a happy Christmas. I am hoping for some snow as well. When shopping for some of my Christmas presents, the queues seemed as long as usual. Christmas tends to bring out the positive side of ourselves.

Last week at my company, everyone had the chance to bring in their children for an afternoon party. I think all the kids and parents had a great time (especially eating the cake!). Christmas is a time to have fun and take a break from work but we must never forget those whose lives are more difficult at this time.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ealing Council's Cabinet Meeting - Tonight (20th December)

When I attended tonight's last cabinet meeting of the year I was hoping when it was finished to have the chance to listen to the end of a meeting, also in Ealing Town Hall, relating to the Ealing riots. Sadly they both finished at the same time.

I have noted some of the items from the Cabinet:
  • 2011 OFSTED reports - these showed in most areas Ealing Council and the schools have done okay in the last year. There are some areas where action is needed but far more good points than bad. Well done to staff and teachers.
  • Primary School places in Acton - with a growing population school places are needed. It was decided by the cabinet to expand  West Acton school, Noel Road, but there will be a final decision to be made in February concerning what happens to the users of the related Community Centre. Expanding Derwentwater school was not seen as needed at this time - but the Cabinet wanted to keep this option open for later if that is needed (more people having children).
  • Anti-bribery and corruption policy - the Government introduced this legislation which means companies  and Council need to be more organised about preventing fraud and bribery by a range of actions such as ensuring staff know what they need to do in different situations. When Councils across the country award multi-million pound contracts to firms there is sometimes publicity as to whether the company who won the contract, was the best choice or had called in favours with Council staff.
  • Quarterly Performance Figures - Ealing Council is failing in a number of areas especially when dealing with residents who telephone the Council with issues. Some of the figures showed that the time waiting for their calls to be answered had risen by 50%
That's all Ed!

Temporary Ealing bus service changes for the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games

I have just heard from Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of Greater London Assembly's Transport Committee, that a number of bus routes are to be either diverted, have an altered frequency, capacity or be curtailed, during the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

At present, changes are proposed to Routes 7/N7 and 92 which serve the Borough of Ealing. And some bus stops will be relocated.

Routes 7 and N7 – Russell Square to East Acton (7) / Northolt (N7):
Due to the part-closure of Russell Square, will be curtailed at a temporary terminus on Bedford Place.
From Montague St, buses will run directly into Russell Square and then Bedford Place. Required while Russell Square is a media hub.

Route 92 – Ealing Hospital to St Raphael’s North:
The route will be diverted due to the closure of Engineers Way: Eastbound via Empire Way, Wembley Park Drive and Fulton Road Westbound via Fulton Road and Empire Way. Required while Wembley is a venue.

If you want the document containing maps and more details please email me at or tweet me at @CllrGaryMalcolm

Monday, 19 December 2011

Meeting with the Ealing Police Borough Commander Andy Rowell

It is always good to meet Andy as he is more open to discussion of policing matters in Ealing.

Myself and two fellow Liberal Democrat councillors, Nigel Bakhai and Jon Ball, met with him so he can update us on policing matters in Ealing and also those of a London-wide nature. We also asked him some questions as well. The main points to note are:

1/ Crime is lower than expected in Ealing although there are spikes in certain geographic areas.

2/ Snatch victims commonly have iPhones taken so watch out when you leave the tube or rail station. Someone might be watching you, ready to grab your phone.

3/ About 250 people in Ealing have been arrested and of those about 170 have been charged / convicted of crimes relating to the riot.

4/ There continues to be a good career path from bring a Special Constable or a PCSO, into a Police Constable. Clearly being a Special or a PCSO means you have a lot of the training you need for being a PC. I wish people would stop having a go at PCSOs as many do an absolutely great job.

5/ The new Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe seems to have a good plan of action from what I hear. He is doing what the police should be doing - disrupting crime - there is a large cross over between criminals of many types of more serious crimes who also commit car related crimes (e.g. no insurance). So he has run a number of operations across London to catch them by using technology such as AMPR. Also he is now looking to crack down on the stealing of metals such as copper and lead which can make a lot of money for criminals given the increase in price when selling it to scrap merchants (some who are less fussy as to who they buy metal from).

6/ We asked about the possibility of cracking down on some pubs or off licences who in Hanwell appear to be leading to some anti-social behaviour.

Overall a very useful meeting.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Mayor must do more to address shortage of affordable housing

I think we all know about the issue about the lack of quality housing for many groups of people in London. There needs to be more efforts to bring disused buildings back into life.

On a related subject this week, Mike Tuffrey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly housing spokesperson, challenged the Mayor over figures released in the latest version of the Mayor's revised Housing Strategy which show a planned increase in the number of affordable homes to be delivered between 2011 and 2015 of just 0.6% per annum.

Over the same period, London’s population is expected to increase by over 200,000 people. Commenting on the Mayor’s latest plans Mike said: “London is growing, with approaching a million more people expected to be living here by 2030; demand is already high, with over 800,000 people now waiting for social and affordable housing in London; and over 230,000 households are overcrowded, the highest rate in the country.

The land is there, much of it in public ownership and coming under the direct control of the Mayor of London. Yet there’s still no strategy to link public sector land with private sector money."

The 12 week public consultation period runs until 6 March 2012. If you wish to comment on the Strategy please email Mike at

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Report of last night's Full Council meeting in Ealing Town Hall

Here is an update of a meeting that went on longer than most do. The key points to note are as follows:

I asked the Council Leader what proportion of the Priory Centre user groups have found replacement accomodation in Acton or the borough. He declined to answer the question so we have to assume that zero or almost none of the groups have found accommodation. Most priority must be given to help the groups.

There was a petiton handed in relating to the possible (likely) closure of Ealing Hospital. Lib Dem Councillor excellently spoke up for patients and residents about the need to keep Ealing Hospital open and offering the full range of services. Cllr Bakhai also suggested that all three Ealing party Leaders sign a letter he has written to show Ealing Council's cross party campaign to save Ealing council. Positive action on this. Let's keep fighting.

There was a second petition relating to the Labour Garden Tax which they are to introduce early next year. I spoke up to register my disagreement to this barmy idea. Recycling must be free. Anything else and we are sending a signal that we want residents to either not recycle different forms of waste - or worse it might encourage lots of extra fly-tipping.

After the petition was handed in (it contained about 5000 signatures) there was a vote as to whether the Council should look at the Garden Tax plans again. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives voted for this extra scrutiny but Labour voted to push ahead with its plans. Very sad.

There was a motion later that discussed Ealing Council and the cuts it has been making in particular the parts of the budget that are to affect vulnerable residents in a bad way. The council needs to revisit some of these decisions. Councillors Jon Ball and Harvey Rose spoke up about different service areas that will be affected.

The next debate was on the issue of the Government's Pupil Premium. This is bringing £5 million to schools in Ealing to help those children who are most disadvantaged. The debate was led by Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed who welcomed the Pupil Premium.

At this point Labour decided it was a good idea to be louder than roudy. In fact them and the Conservative spent the rest of the meeting shouting at each other rather than debating the issues. So from the vote it seems clear that the Labour party are against the Pupil Premium. I am sure the schools across Ealing will not welcome that sort of approach from the Labour party.

There was motion (not debated) which it became apparent that the Liberal Democrats and Labour both welcome solar power to reduce the costs of providing energy for residents. Solar cells are now profitable. With the rise in oil, gas and electricity prices we need to do more to reduce our demand on foreign oil supplies which are costly and worse for the environment. Shame the Ealing Tories do not see this...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Thursday's Acton Regeneration meeting in Acton Library

Tonight there was an interesting meeting about the future of Acton - the Pool, the Priory Centre, the Town Hall to name a few parts of the regeneration.

Of course we need to improve Acton to lead the way so that we can reverse the trend of people not shopping in Acton High street. It is v sad to see shops where a company has gone broke. This has been happening more so over the past few years.

The overall scheme will improve Acton but there are concerns:
  • Less community space
  • The Pool being closed earlier than many residents think reasonable before a planning application has been lodged
  •  Many user groups of the Priory Community Centre look like they may not get any suitable accommodation in Acton and so will either have to shut down their activities or find space potentially a long way away (which is not suitable for many types of groups) 
  • There will not be a cafe. It appears to save money they are removing the cafe from the plans as well as reducing the office space for Council staff and the size of the gym by about 20%.
  • There is a reference to the current library (which will be replaced by a new library of the same size) being used as a restaurant or a pub! There are a lot of pubs in Acton already. Another one makes no sense.
Towards the end of the meeting a number of residents were able to ask the Council officers questions and two issues seemed to consistently rattle residents - 1) user groups being left with nowhere to go and 2) whether the rents for space or gym use will be too pricey.

As with most projects of this type the details are crucial. The Council needs to re-double its efforts to ensure the Priory Community Centre users are found suitable accommodation.

347 pedestrian crossings across London unfit for blind Londoners

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, has quite rightfully said it is “A total disgrace“ about that the huge number of pedestrian crossings in London which have no facilities for blind and partially sighted people.

Research undertaken by Caroline Pidgeon revealed that there are currently 347 Transport for London (TfL) pedestrian crossings which have no facilities to assist blind and partially sighted people to safely cross the road. This is despite there being long standing national accessibility standards to ensure every pedestrian crossing has either an audible sound and/or a rotating cone to assist blind and partially sighted people.
In addition to widespread poor access for blind and partially sighted people Caroline Pidgeon has also discovered that there are 113 pedestrian crossings which also fail national safety standards by not providing the minimum amount of time for pedestrians to safely cross the road.

What Caroline Pidgeon said:
“It is a total disgrace that London has so many pedestrian crossings which are inaccessible for blind and partially sighted people or fail to give enough time for pedestrians to safely cross the road. It says everything about the low priority given to pedestrians by the Mayor of London that such basic safety standards are still not being met at so many pedestrian crossings across the capital.

The Mayor has had plenty of time to make sure every TfL pedestrian crossing in London is safe and accessible, but he has completely failed to do so.

This weekend is called Very Important Pedestrian Weekend as Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street are closed to traffic. The reality is that for the rest of the year, across the whole of London, pedestrians are too often ignored.”

Brian Paddick Listens to Ealing Residents

Last night Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate attended a public meeting to speak about why people in London should vote for him in the 2012 mayoral contest. He then answered questions from Ealing residents - and one from Hillingdon (who had travelled to hear Brian speak)!

Bridget Fox, who is a Liberal Democrat candidate for the Greater London Assembly, was also present and spoke on a number of issues and showed her excellent knowledge on air pollution and other environmental matters.

The main points from the evening were:

  • Brian Paddick has a track record of success. He started off as a police constable and ended up as one the Met's highest ranked officers. He knows how to reduce crime and has given some very productive advice on why the riots started and how we can avoid them in the future.
  • Ken Livingstone is a man of the past; Boris now has a track record (and not a very good one, given his poor judgement in spending our money)
  • Talking about bus fare he said it was very easy for Ken to promise to reduce them but it isn't sustainable. Ken promised the same before and then they rose and rose AFTER the election! Brian thinks the key is to reduce spending on non-priority items (such as the £9 wasted by Boris on 6 Routemaster buses or the expensive cable car across the Thames) and then ensure that fares are fair. Fair's Fare.
  • An example of a fairer bus fare would be to introduce a one-hour ticket. This would mean that those who use two buses in the same hour would only pay once. The proposal would not cost that much and would help those on low and fixed incomes.
  • About hospital closes Brian said that he is totally against merging hospitals' Accident and Emergency and Maternity services. These should be local and are needed so that friends and families can visit those who are sick or have had children.
  • There was a need to create more affordable housing. One suggestion was to both protect green spaces but building one brownfield sites such as those which Transport for London owns. They could lease them and some of the money could come from banking organisations who many feel owe us all something.
  • Bridget Fox said she wanted to see Youth Workers attached to each local police team. This would cost money at the beginning but would help a lot of teenagers and would probably reduce future spending on issues that could have been avoided.
  • With the Olympics nearing us it was mentioned that more needs to be done to ensure that the new stadiums and facilities are not left dormant after the Olympics. Brian also said that he wanted to see lots of children able to take part in sports after the Olympics have occurred. Quote right.  

It was a great night and it is good to see politicians travelling around London to hear what people want and what they things about how things are now.

If you want to contact Brian or Bridget why not use their twitter accounts: @brianpaddick and @BridgetFox

Friday, 2 December 2011

Mayor has been saved from himself over fare rises

Transport for London this week confirmed that fare rises in 2012 will now be lower than the fare rise package first proposed by Boris Johnson a few weeks ago.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon has been very active on this issues making a lot of great points about why our fares are too high. If we want more people to use public transport and not use their cars as often we need lower and fairer fares.

Caroline Pidgeon said: “It is the Coalition Government, not the Mayor who has ensured that fare rises have been reduced. Left to his own devices Londoners would have faced far higher fare rises under Boris Johnson.   The Mayor has been saved from himself."

Caroline added: “What is now necessary are further measures to help low income Londoners. A one hour bus ticket and real action in tackling Oyster overcharging are desperately needed.”

Ealing Scrutinises Itself! Then delays instead of taking proactive actions

Tonight I was invited to give my views in relation to how Ealing Council conducts itself when the administration puts forwards its proposals and plans.

Normally opposition political parties attend Cabinet meetings and are allowed to give their opinions on these plans. I do this as Leader of the Liberal Democrat party and either state my party's viewpoints or ask questions to get information to help determine whether a plan is one that will help the residents of Ealing.

If my party or the other opposition party disagree with the Labour administration (perhaps some of their cuts which affect the elderly or vulnerable residents) then we can "call in" a decision. This means at a separate meeting the item will be discussed by a committee who have councillors from all political parties.

Sometimes that committee agrees that the original decision was correct; in about 20% of cases the original decision was thought to be either wrong or needs amending.

In my statement I made a suggestion that opposition political parties should be able to put down amendments at the Cabinet meetings so that some of the details can be improved. Often it is the details that make a report acceptable.

Another idea was raised to suggest the the Cabinet committee (which is made up completely 100% of Labour councillors!) should be converted into a debating body - than the current rubber stamping exercise which it is.

After an hour or more of discussion it was agreed that the Chair of the scrutiny panel would look at this issue and report back to the committee at its next meeting. Sadly this is a less than proactive measure. I think there is scope to make improvements so that members of the public can get the chance to overturn bad or poorly thought out decisions. We have to wait it seems to get movement on this one.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Public meeting in Ealing with Brian Paddick

On Wednesday Dec 7th, at 7.30pm, in the Haven Green Baptist Church Hall there is a public meeting where Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat GLA Mayoral candidate) will be speaking and listening to residents about what the are concerned about.

They want to hear about your concerns about London so come and ask your questions. Indeed as it is a public meeting so everyone is welcome.

Contact me at or @CllrGaryMalcolm and let me know any questions you have for Brian Paddick

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ealing Council's Strike Update

I have just heard from one of Ealing Council's senior managers who is dealing with the strike today. The update reads....
Adult Services
All critical and statutory services are operating, including homecare and meals on wheels. 
Cowgate and Carlton Road Day Centres (dealing with severely disabled adults) are closed.  All users were informed in advance.
All critical and statutory services, including sheltered housing are operating.
Children’s Services  
All critical and statutory services, the Youth Offending Service and Youth and Connexions are operating.
Refuse and recycling collections
All services are operating as usual.
Jubilee Gardens Library in Southall is the only one to open today.
Customer Services Centre at Perceval House
  • The centre is open, but is operating with fewer staff, so longer waiting times are likely.  
  • No cash payments are being taken in the customer services contact centre today.  Payments can still be made online or via the automated telephone payment system.
  • Calls to the council’s main switchboard are being answered.
Community Centres, Highways and Leisure Centres
These are running services as normal.
Parking Services
Due to reduced staff enforcement is focussing on priority areas today. 
Highways maintenance and street lighting
Services operating as normal.
Sheltered Housing and Community Alarm
Shift patterns have been changed to respond to staff shortage. All residents are getting a call or visit. If pull cords are operated there will be a response.
Children & Adults
Essential services are being maintained re Children in Need, Looked After Children, the Leaving Care team, Referrals and Assessments. and Fostering & Adoption. After School clubs are seriously affected by school closures but users/parents were written to in advance.
Corporate Resources and Chief Executive's
All services are operating as usual.
School Closures
The percentage of schools closed in the borough is the 15th highest of the 33 London boroughs.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Ealing Council's Cabinet Meeting Update - 29th November

At tonight's meeting there was an update from the Leader of the Council regarding the strikes that will occur on 30th November. He started off reporting it in a non party political way then sadly decided to use it as an opportunity to have a go at the government. I think most people have sympathy with public sector workers but since negotiations and offers are on the table, we should be discussing things not having strikes to make things worse.

We then got on to a large section of the reports which related to Council budget reductions (cuts in plain language). The reductions are large at around £30 million. Most appear to be ones which will not affect the vulnerable but some certainly will.

I asked a few questions on this subject. For example Councils have reserves (savings) in case they need money in an emergency or difficult times. My view is that the economy across Europe is not nin a healthy state and so some of these reserves should be used to avoid making so many cuts which it did last year and many this year.

Another fact is that if you reduce your budgets by 25% then it make sense to reduce reserves by a broadly similar amount. This would allow either less cuts to vital services that affect the elderly or those most in need, or allow spending on projects that could make aspects of the Council administration more efficient. It is also very strange that the council is borrowing money for capital projects (building schools for example) when it has an underspend of nearly £10 million!

Every time you borrow money you will pay extra (the interest) for 10 or 20 years to come. So if reserves can be used to pay for infrastructure without increases in long term borrowing then that would be a more sensible approach.

A later item related to a respite service in Hanwell. The council wants to use 4 beds that are currently used for adults with learning difficulties, for short-term care placements out of London that wish to return to Ealing. The proposal will save about a quarter of a million pounds but looking between the cracks you can see some of the problems.

Although the Council would make money by freeing up space in the Hanwell location and so not paying for the generally more expensive out-of-London charges for care needs, it would mean that the Short Breaks Service in Hanwell would have less capacity and could be overwealmed. Given that most users will require use of the Hanwell facility at the same time as those coming in from out of London, it isnt obvious how this system will work.

When questions were asked about the occupancy of the Short Breaks Service at their peak (weekend) period no clear answers were given. To me it appears that we need more choice in terms of locations rather than settling for a stuggle to make the best of the current situation. I dont think the Council is trying to run down the current service I think more work needs to be done on this plan.

Crime hotspots - One of Labour's manifesto pledges was to spend money on improving lighting in areas where there is lots of crime. Not rocket science! Any way they produced a report where some items were legal considered confidential (to stop muggers finding our which streets have poor levels of light) however a lot of those roads were also mentioned (with their levels of light) in the main body of the report - the section that is available on line!

The Leader of the Council was to some degree in agreement that it was a tad strange! They chose three roads that do need improved lighting so they get my blessing but the mechanism is rather simple and even included a road that will have lighting improved from another Council budget - good to see one part of the Council is talking to another part. Not!

The last item related to a Parking Services Annual Report. Sounds interesting but a number of pages had missing or incorrect numbers. One table had the phrase: "...average transaction per week(xxxxxx)...". So when the LAbour Councillor was asked whether he read the report he stated clearly that he had! Later he said "I read a draft copy of the report." Sounds rather fishy. And so the Cabinet agreed the report even though there were missing sets of data as well as tables of data that didnt add up correctly. Call in Carol Vorderman please.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Ealing Council Threatens Acton Green by Using it as a Car Park

Last night at the Southfield ward forum we heard that the Council is hiring out Woodstock Road which will be used for the filming of a BBC TV Drama "Parade's End on Monday 28th November.

I have complained that the Parks department has allowed for Acton Green to be used as a car park during the filming. An officer from the Council said in an email to me: "...Parks services were consulted and agreed to the use of Acton Green as a unit base for crew vehicles and displaced resident vehicles."

It was this year that usage of the site would be limited to allow the Green to recover, and to also prevent any noise from Funfairs etc.

I think this is an outrage. Hiring a street out for filming is okay but to allow Acton Green, which is already damaged from previous activities, to be used as a car park during the filming is a scandal.

I have asked that Council officers should be present throughout the WHOLE period to ensure NO damage is done to Acton Green. I have also asked that a commitment is made so that NO more similar use of Acton Green without the express permission of the Southfield ward councillors. I have not heard a suitable reply.

Do feedback any comments you have and whether there is any damage to Acton Green.

Let us know be emailing me at:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Southfield Ward Forum - What Happened Tonight

Thought I would pen something about what happened at the ward forum that tonight took place in the Scout hut in Rugby Road, W4. A great venue - small enough so everyone can hear each other and gets in about 50 people maximum.

The main item tonight was having the Head of Southfield's Primary School. He gave a good presentation for about twenty minutes about what was going on in the school and their approach to teaching our children and how they integrate with us in Chiswick. He then answered questions for about 25 minutes and I think in my role of chairing the meeting, that people seemed to like hearing from the Head of their school.

He raised a lot of great topics which included:

  • The pupils are involved in the "Walk To School" week
  • 30 percent of pupils had free school meals (higher than the average for Ealing and nationally)
  • About half of the pupils didn't speak English as their first language. The Head said that the governors, staff and parents organised a lot of events where families from different cultures would make food and share so that everyone can bond.
  • Cycle training sessions funded by the Lib Dem run Southfield ward forum seemed to have gone down well in the school. Feedback was that the children really had fun and hopefully are better, safer cyclists now.
  • In response from a question from a member of the public about speeding traffic and parked cars near the school, I committed to setting up a meeting with local councillors, school representatives and Council traffic officers to see what can be done to reduce problems.
  • Half the pupils come from Southfield ward.
  • There are some problems with a lack of computing equipment over recent years but some improvements have been made. The Head said he was looking to make improvements on this issue in the future.
  • They have a lot of lunch and after-school including chess, samba, choir and drama. They are this week visiting a local pizza restaurant to learn about making pizzas.
  • They have a school travel plan which aims to reduce car use (congestion) and get more kids to school in sustainable ways.  

After the Head had spoken he was warmly clapped. And then clapped after answering questions so I can say with surety that he went down well.

After the schooling item the meeting heard updates on a number of local consultation schemes for different projects the ward might be funding. The meeting closed a few minutes before the official end time.

The next meeting is on Wed 8th February 2012 at the Acton Green Church Hall, Cunnington Street, W4 @ 7.30pm. Do come along.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ealing Council Riot Scrutiny Committee - update

Tonight I attended Ealing Council's Riot related scrutiny committee. It was good to hear from two groups of teenagers who gave their perspective of why the riots occurred.

Over the past month or two looking at the views of those from Ealing and those from around the country I am piecing together more about why the riots occurred. Sadly I haven't heard much from those in prison - the actual rioters.

However it remains clear to me that there is no one simple reason why hundreds of people rampaged through Ealing. Was it the higher rates of unemployment? Government cuts? Or just groups of people being greed and taking advantage of a situation? Also many are blaming high unemployment when in the North East the rates are higher but there was littler or no rioting.

I think clearly that the police made mistakes in Tottenham that allowed a riot to occur. This was due to both a lack of police and a lack of skill in handling the situation, as it appeared.

Then once Tottenham occurred it seemed a number of people coordinated secondary attacked in other areas in London. Ealing has a good network of shops and transport so potentially it was more likely to be hit than Acton or Shepherds Bush. The shops in Westfield are shut and security from the businesses is far more stringent than in Ealing.

Of those who attacked Ealing I see it as being likely there were the older (later 20 year olds) coordinators who got a number of younger individuals to join in perhaps from both social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as using Blackberry as a communication channel. There were a number of teens who I think stole because they knew Ealing was to be targetted as well as many who may have been there or were there to watch.  Certainly video footage shows that some people were watching but not taking part.

I think the main point to make is that fewer young people took part in Ealing than elsewhere and teenagers need not all be brushed as rioters when few teens actually rioted. We need to provide role models for our youth and ensure that the Council and government works more effectively at skilling teenagers so they have greater chances to take part in the workforce and via apprenticeships or work trials.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Southfield Ward Forum - This Thursday at 7.30pm

The ward forum this Thursday (24th November) takes place at the Scout Hut, Rugby Road, Chiswick. W4 1AT.

We are lucky enough to have the Chair of Southfield Primary School who will speak about the school and is happy to answer questions from people who come along. There are a range of issues we will be discussing. The full agenda is below:

1.   Welcome and introductions
2.   Request for “Any Other Business” items
3.   Notes of the last ward forum held on 27th Sept 2011
4.   Southfield Primary School - presentation by the school’s Headteacher
5.   Thames Tunnel update
6a.  Acton Town Centre corridor improvements
6b.  Outer London Fund for High Street improvements
7.   Southfield ward budget
8.   Any Other Business
9.   Date of future meeting
10.  Meeting closes (approximately 9.30pm)

Please come along. Present at the meeting will by myself chairing the meeting with fellow Southfield Councillors Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Buses set to get more crowded under Boris Johnson

The Mayor admitted this week that bus capacity is being cut back on key bus routes across London.

Starting from tomorrow capacity will be cut back on a number of routes. As well as conceding that there would be a real reduction in capacity throughout the day on this bus route the Mayor conceded that reductions have also taken place on some other bus routes and will continue when further bendy bus routes are converted.

I think at the key issue is not whether bendy buses are good or bad, but simply whether people can get on a bus. The Mayor promised to get rid of bendy buses - he didn't promise to make bus journeys more crowded. At a time when bus ridership figures are at a 50 year high, and almost certain to rise even further, it is appalling that big cuts in bus capacity are taking place.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Today's meeting with Ealing Council's Chief Executive

At the Liberal Democrats regualar meetings with the CEO of Ealing Council a number of issues were discussed: Council cuts; regeneration in Southall, Ealing and Acton; the Ealing Riots; Libraries and Legal advice in the eastern end of the borough.

Coming to the cuts it appears after six months of only a few proposals on how Ealing Council needs to reduce its spending it will be announcing a longer list of cuts. My party will be scrutinising them to see how many of them will leave people more vulnerable or in need.

I asked about the topic of a £5.5 million car park in Southall and was told that most of that money has not been spent (as they do not know where the car park will be sited!) and so could be reallocated to other areas of Council spend where the need is greater.

On the issue of riots Lib Dem Councillors asked about how local businesses are still being affected and about the police response during the riots. The Riot Panel chairman, Darra Singh, was the previous CEO of Ealing Council and so understands some of the issues during his national panel's activities trying to make recommendations to reduce the chance of future riots. It appears that because the riot in Tottenham was not quelled or avoided it gave troublemakers elsewhere to use it as an excuse to loot and take advantage of the police who did not appear to be flexible or quick in moving their resources around London.

A lot of local businesses had received monies from the government / Ealing Council to help them make the repairs to the shops that were damaged. I know that a number of local Liberal Democrat councillors in Ealing have made great efforts to shop or visit restaurants in Ealing to support them.

Lastly we discussed the lack of legal advice in the East end of Ealing (including Acton and part of Chiswick). The Council seemed hopeful that a service offering forms of legal advice could be set up.

If you have any comments or thoughts on Ealing Council email me at or tweet me @CllrGaryMalcolm

Monday, 14 November 2011

Report of the local Southfield police forum

In Southfield tonight I attended the local police forum. After the AGM recently a number of long-standing committee members stood down to allow for some turn over. The meeting tonight had a lot of new members. Because this was the first meeting after the AGM there is no chair until chosen later in the meeting's agenda.

I chaired the first part of the meeting. This section of the meeting was used to explain what the panel is for (to promote crime reduction measures) and to discuss some priorities for the group and the police to concentrate on:

1. Education matters - to see whether there could be a positive outcome by linking up Southfield Primary School with a local youth club.

2. Anti-social behaviour - the panel is to invite people from a couple of Housing Associations to ask questions as to why they appear to have tennants who are causing a lot of anti-social behaviour in the ward. The panel want to see how they select tennants for renting particular properties.

3. Communication - to grow the number of members on the panel the group will explore ways of improving its communication as well as trying to ensure that the police communicate the activities they are doing so more residents have knowledge of how to reduce crime and how to contact the local police team.

After that section the meeting had an election and two people said they wanted to be chair of the panel (so they agreed to share the role). The meeting finished spot on time so it was an enjoyable night. Local politics is about discussing difficult issues and trying to come up with solution to issues in the area.

If you need to contact the Southfield police team use either of the two phone numbers: 020 8721 2946 or 07879 694814. Or email them to report a non-urgent crime via

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A conversation with Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate Brian Paddick yesterday

I was lucky enough to see Brian Paddick yesterday afternoon in central London.

He is a busy man. He fitted in a meeting early in the afternoon and had three others that day! As the Liberal Democrat Mayoral Candidate he is showing that the role of Mayor is one you need to work at. He has been around to so many places already to ask Londoners what they want from a Mayor.

On Thursday Brian Paddick visited the threatened Earl's Court Exhibition Centre with Councillor Linda Wade and other campaigners, followed by the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, the Irish Cultural Centre and the POSK Polish Centre in Hammersmith.

He spoke to us about Councils and the Mayor who are not helping local businesses. One example is where in some red route areas there is space for stop and shop parking bays but they have not been installed - this means local shops are suffering needlessly. Also there is too much empty council housing and so he would take a tough line against errant Councils who do not bring more into use.

He then went on to show that tHe Liberal Democrats nationally had "put the brakes on many Tory excesses". Too right.

Check out his website:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Exhibition Concerning a housing development at 2 Colonial Drive, Chiswick

Today myself and fellow Southfield Councillor Harvey Rose attended the second session held by the developers of a proposed bridge across Bollo Lane coming from Chiswick Business Park. The development will also include a large complex of 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats sited on Colonial Drive.

They had a 3d model with a number of drawings and illustrations to show what the development would look like. My initial views are that the bridge is better than the design I saw about 3 years ago. There may be some overlook issues given the height of the proposed flats. More questions will need to be asked. Apparently the developer will submit a planning application to Ealing and Hounslow Councils in December.

See the link below from -

If you have any views do let me know at

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

We still have a long way to go to make London’s streets safer for cyclists

Caroline Pidgeon, who is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commented today on the Mayor of London's reply to her questions about cycle safety and TfL’s limited proposals that were announced to improve conditions for London cyclists.

As someone who cycles a lot it drives me mad that Boris does little to help cyclists be safer.

Caroline Pidgeon said: "The harsh fact is that 14 cyclists have already died on London’s roads this year compared to 10 last year.  These figures speak for themselves about the need for urgent action."

Today’s measures announced by TfL are welcome, but there is still much more that must be done to ensure London’s roads are far safer for cyclists.
The roll-out of trixi safety mirrors at every major junction and a complete review of London’s most dangerous junctions are desperately needed.

Boris if you are a cyclist why don't you seem to realise what can be done to help cyclists.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Latest Council Cabinet meeting report back...

Tonight's cabinet meeting went along very quickly. Only lasted about an hour which is half the normal length.

The two main items were Gunnersbury Park and an agreeable budget saving:

1/ Ealing Council is to pay about £5 million pounds and Hounslow only 10 percent of that to help fund Gunnersbury Park. The hope is that two bids totalling around £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable a lot of the regeneration of the buildings in the park as well as improve them so that the park can become a real tourist hot spot.

When I asked the Leader of the Council about Hounslow Council and their lack of finance for the project he said that it would be expected that they pay the larger slice of the second part of monies for the regeneration. I am not exactly won over by this but when I asked for a guarantee that under the current administration housing would not be built on Gunnersbury Park, that was given.

2/ About 9 months ago Ealing Council had the idea of saving money by reducing the size of desks that some council staff used. This meant that you could fit more desks and staff into the main council buildings and so reduce the overall rent bill that Ealing Council pays for some of its other buildings.

To me and the Liberal Democrats this saving is sensible and paintless. It saves about a million pounds. Weirdly the Conservatives in Ealing have stuck to their past record of objecting to pretty much all budgetary reductions without making much efforts to say where their savings would come from. I believe a party is only credible if they are consistent and able to support good ideas and object to the poor decisions. That is what the Ealing Liberal Democrats are going.

We do not complain at all the cuts but the ones that negatively affect the vulnerable. We also are happy to praise the council when they do something good.

If you have any questions please contact me via or using @CllrGaryMalcolm on Twitter.

Why political AGM meetings are not dry and boring!

Last night the Liberal Democrats held their Annual General Meeting. Usually people might think meetings of this sort are dry and stuffy. Being set in a pub in South Ealing people had a good time discussing local and national political events as well as eating and having a drink.

As Liberal Democrat Leader in Ealing I spoke about what my team of councillors have been up to in the past 12 months. Of all three political parties we had the best attendance rate! Cllr Harvey Rose and Cllr Nigel Bakhai attended 100% of their meetings plus some extra ones that the Council don't count in their official figures. I thanked their hard work.

I mentioned that the Labour-run Ealing council have made a number of cuts which will affect vulnerable residents. Also I spoke about the crazy decision to spend £5.5 million on a car park that isn't needed. In the Liberal Democrat Council Tax budget amendment we would have stopped this waste of our money and redirected it on other areas such as saving some of our libraries, reversing the Park Ranger and Enviro-crime officer cuts, amongst other things.

Labour currently like blaming the government and not want to concentrate on the difficult job of reducing the budget as every Council is having to do.

I went on to say that the Conservative party in Ealing does not appear to offer any solutions to the problems that are being raised. If you are to reduce budgets you need to do so thinking of the long term by looking at every penny the council spends to see what areas are most in need of money.

After I had taken questions, a few about the new Garden Tax that Labour are introducing, Mike Cox spoke. Mike lives in Hillingdon and has lived in Ealing. He has been our GLA candidate for the area and spoke about the many positive policies that the coalition government has introduced in the past 18 months such as stopping Heathrow from being expanded (a long time Lib Dem policy). Note that the Conservatives only came around to this viewpoint a year or so before the general election!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Feedback on yesterday's St Albans Church planning site visit

Yesterday morning myself, with fellow Southfield ward Councillors Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose, met the planning committee, developers, the Council's planning officer and residents to discuss the current proposals for converting St Albans Church into ten flats and a house.

Nearly 50 people turned up to welcome the Planning Committee of Ealing Council as they carried out a site visit prior to the formal meeting this Wednesday (9th November). In addition representatives from the developer and the Montesorri School attended. The hour long visit provided an opportunity for council members to acquaint themselves with the site and to also listen to comments from local residents.

It was pointed out to the Planning Committee members that a number of items trouble residents such as the lack of some details in the report (about an access road, recycling facilities) as well as losing a site that could be used as a community building. We also highlighted some of the possible alternative uses for the site that the council officers have overlooked. Many people took the chance to go inside the Church.

Fellow ward councillor said: "This was possibly the first and last opportunity for residents to view the interior of St Albans. It was actually quite a moving experience: the church is stripped of nearly all its furnishings but we saw some beautiful windows and memorials to First World War soldiers."

Thursday, 3 November 2011

D-day arriving for St Albans Church decision

This coming Wednesday (9th November) in Ealing Town Hall at 7pm, the planning committee will decide whether or not to approve the conversion of St Albans Church into ten flats.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this subject. If you are not aware of the application, it proposes to convert the church into ten residential flats and a two storey building. There are concerns regarding safe access to the site given it is located on the bend of South Parade and that it should be used for community purposes.

The Council officers are recommending that the application is granted, but your Southfield Liberal Democrat team is contesting that in conjunction with local residents. So hearing your views is very important in getting this across to Ealing Council.

If you have any views on the matter or would like us to inform you of the result of the planning committee please contact us as soon as possible (email will be quicker). Our email address is:

Monday, 31 October 2011

At long last Labour drop support for 3rd runway at Heathrow

De ja vu. Like the mad tram plan for Ealing that Labour had, they lost the election and then changed their policy. Today Labour did the same for Heathrow. Originally for it and now against it.

Shame it took them an election loss to work out why Heathrow expansion is a very bad idea. More noise, more pollution. No thanks - I would rather have clean air and an environment where children can play outside without the huge noise they suffer if they are living in Hounslow.

Heathrow expansion would have meant much more of London was effected in a bad way.

One of the first things the coalition government did when they came to power was to cancel Heathrow expansion. In London the Liberal Democrats, especially Caroline Pidgeon, have been very vocal on this important issue.

Tweet me your views on this Heathrow u-turn via @CllrGaryMalcolm

Monday, 24 October 2011

Conservative Plans for the Privatisation of the Fire call centre

The Fire Authority's Liberal Democrat team has been leading opposition to the Conservative administration's plan to privatise the Fire Brigade Control Room, which handles 999 calls.

During the days of the civil disturbances the control room handled two-to-three times the usual number of calls, with unprecedented peaks in the volume of calls on the nights of 8th and 9th August (when the riots took place). Despite widespread praise for the dedication and effectiveness of the Control staff, the Conservatives have singled them out for privatisation in the hope of making budget savings.

An excellent Greater London Assembly Member, Mike Tuffrey, challenged the idea at LFEPA's Annual Meeting. He pointed out that there were no tested private providers of 999 call-handling, that it risked splitting 999 call-taking from the rest of the Brigade's mobilising of fire engines and that such a vital function needed close management rather than an arms-length contractor.He said he will continue to oppose the plan, which the Conservatives hope to settle before the voters get a say next May.

When plans are announced you would have hoped a bit more background work had been done!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Oxjam Chiswick Takeover - get your ticket and hear some great music

It's not too late but if you like live, local music why not get a ticket and see a day's worth of music in Chiswick? I am. See the link for more info:

One Day - One Wristband - 5 Venues - 50 Bands. 50 bands from the unsigned, the up and coming to tomorrow’s headliners. From Classical, Steel drums and Flamenco to Indie, Rock, Hip Hop, Dance, Dub Step and Pop – there’s going to be something for everybody.

This is the first time Chiswick has had an Oxjam and we are going to put Chiswick on the Oxjam map! All of the venues will be a 15 to 20 minute walk from each other and in the weeks before and on the day Chiswick will be awash with Oxjam - it will be the biggest (and dare we say best!) music event ever to be held in Chiswick!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Report of Tuesday's Full Council meeting in Ealing Town Hall

There was a great range of topics discussed at the meeting. The main points were:

The chair of the Priory Community Association handed in a petition for over 1500 signatures. The Liberal Democrats helped to spread the petition and I made a speech supporting the many user groups who look likely to be cast aside, and forced from the Priory Centre, when the works begin to converting it into a Primary School.

In the meantime the user groups want to stay in Acton but the Council appear not to have made much efforts in helping them find alternative accommodation. Shame on Ealing Council.

Lib Dem Councillor Nigel Bakhai handed in a petition of over 500 names in support of Ealing Council taking the lead to ensure Ealing gets a proper transport interchange like they have in Hammersmith. Later Ealing Common Councillor Jon Ball made a very good speech relating to the transport interchange where Labour councillor (who does sometimes get too excited) Bassam Mahfouz shouted out that our interchange plan would be paid for with a "blank £85 million pound cheque". Clearly Bassam doesnt know both what a blank cheque is and that a proper interchange costs only a tad more than the cost of the current proposals.

I asked (in Prime Ministers Questions style) the Labour councillor for Transport, two questions about the new recycling / waste management contact. It was confirmed that they will be greener in terms of the fuel they use and how they are powered. I also gained the confirmation that the drivers of the vehicles would have attended training sessions to be more wary of cyclists to reduce the number of vans colliding with cyclists (who often die given the weight of most vans).

When I asked a second question about ensuring that all future contracts the council manages contain a clause to ensure that Council contractors vehicles are only driven by those trained on the one day course. He refused to answer that question sadly.

Other items discussed were:

  • The Lib Dem request that Ealing Council does not go for a fortnightly household Waste system was accepted. Residents will be please about this.
  • Sadly though they will not be impressed with the lack of a backtracking into its new Garden Tax it will be introducing next year. Shame on Labour.
  • The Council agreed to set a freeze target for the next Council Tax. This should help lots of residents who feel the Council does a bad job in serving them.
  • Lib Dem Councillor Jon Ball and Labour's Councillor for Policing matters shared a motion which wanted to ensure we do not have reduced police numbers. The Conservatives did not sign up to this!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ken Livingstone 'cannot win', says top Labour official

That's the headline on a dramatic report in the Telegraph about the falling out in the Labour Party over Ken Livingstone's bid to become Mayor of London again:
"The official in charge of the London Labour Party has been removed after saying that Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for the mayoralty, “cannot win” next year’s election if he continues as now.
"Hilary Perrin, Labour’s London regional director, has been moved back to her previous role overseeing all the regional directors after Ken and his chief of staff, Simon Fletcher, appealed to Ed Miliband’s office. Another London Labour official, Paul Harrington, has also left his job. An awayday to plan the campaign, supposed to take place last Friday, was cancelled."

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

LibDems want to see more community facilities and having a greater number of apprenticeships

I attended the Ealing Riots Scrutiny Panel laast night and it has pointed the way to areas which the Council should look at to avoid future riots.

I was caught up in the riots for some of the evening in Ealing Common and saw some of the problems first hand. My initial thoughts based upon residents views last night are that the areas Ealing Council should concentration on are:
Promoting the current set of community facilities we have in Ealing such as youth clubs
More actively investing in apprenticeships
Encouraging more young people to get involved in Council activities such as ward forum and local police meetings

Although there is no silver bullet there are a number of things the Council can do to help avoid future riots such as using ward forums as a focus to engage more young people. In my ward covering some of Acton and Chiswick we have invested over £10,000 in a local youth club which appears to be having a real positive impact on teenagers in the area. They feel safer, are having fun and giving something back to the area.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Scrutiny committee to look at the expensive Southall car park plan after Labour vote split

At a scrutiny committee tonight which myself and fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed attended, it was agreed to look (at its next meeting) the business case of the proposed 5.5 million pounds car park for Southall.

There were a number of Labour Councillors who voted for the proposal to review the business case which meant that the proposal, supported by myself, won 7-4. This means that the Council officers will get together the business case figures about why £5.5 million pounds should be spend on a car park. It is good to open up this subject for discussion, as one Labour councillor last night made a comment that there isn't really a solid business case.

When I investigated this before not only is the 5.5 million pounds a huge amount of money to spend the need for a car park just doesn't appear to be there. Added to this the Council will be paying interest on the 5.5 million pounds for about twenty years. The money should be used on more important services that the Council might be cutting or to bring back cuts it has made to Park Rangers, Envirocrime Officers, etc. The list goes on.

I hope opening up this cloudy issue will show that it would have been wise to follow the Liberal Democrat proposal to not build a car park for so much in Southall. My party was the ONLY party to put forward a budget amendment when the Council Tax was set in Ealing about 6 months ago.

If the scrutiny committee deemed the business case for a car park not very sensible then perhaps the Council will reverse its plans (there is still time).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ealing Council's Cabinet Meeting Update

Tonight's cabinet meeting was quicker than usual; it lasted only an hour. I had got back from a week in Portugal playing cricket. From temperatures of 28 degrees to ones nearer ten!

The first item that was discussed related to Blue Badges which help more vulnerable / disabled get about and park in locations where it is often tricky. The report is similar to what other local councils are doing which is to automate the process by getting residents who wish to obtain a blue badge so that it is faster and cuts our fraudulent claims. I asked a number of questions to establish how this was to be done as my experience of data matching services whose aim is to reduce fraudulent claims (by matching applications from different locations for the same person) can actually turn down valid people who are eligible for a Blue Badge. I gained a commitment that the figures for future attempted frauds and the speed of processing blue badge applications would be published so we can see if the new system is working.

There was an item relating to the vision of creating a square near North Acton tube station. This would be funded from what are called section 106 payments (by developers to fund local improvements often to compensate for extra traffic or noise etc. that a new planning development creates). The project is only in its early stages are the report calls for powers for Ealing Council to buy some land to enable the project to take place. Although the detail is not shown the vision is sensible and so I look forward to seeing more detailed plans in the coming months as that part of Acton is not very inviting.

The next item was a report where the council will spend some money to make use of solar power cells to save money in the medium term. Although in the short term the council will be spending money (which it doesn't have a lot of) these projects if the modelling is correct, should save the Council money.

There was a good discussion about how the Council might bring in £150,000 per year by allowing advertisement hoardings in locations such as the A40. Any of the hoardings would require planning permission so this agreement starts the process so that the Council can negotiate and assess which locations are most suitable for any hoardings. Sadly the Labour party at the meeting used this report as an excuse to state that it was only doing this as it needs to find money. Although it needs to finds savings (all Councils do) I see no reason why the point should be raised. I prefer debates about issues and whether a plan is sensible or not.

Thames Tunnel‏ - Acton and Chiswick Meeting Update

There was a meeting last Thursday evening in the Scout Hut, Rugby Road, about the possibility of Thames Water constructing storm tanks in Acton and Chiswick with the aim to reduce pollution in the Thames. Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed attended the meeting and reported on some of the issues raised:

Councillor Andrew Steed said: “Thursday night was well presented and informative, with an effective Q & A session which most people seemed satisfied with. As the second stage of the Consultative Process has been delayed, we await publication of a great deal of information, which will be released next month. However, we were brought up to date on the amended plans which involve a widening of the intended [Thames] tunnel, and given an estimated schedule for the consultation process and opportunities to comment up to the start of works in 2017.”

Councillor Andrew Steed said: “There are still unresolved issues, not least being what will happen to the site once it becomes redundant after the work has been completed. This will be an issue for Ealing Council to look at, and we hope that local residents and elected representatives will be asked to contribute to any discussions that take place.”

Councillor Andrew Steed added: “I would like to express thanks to Richard Aylard and his team from Thames Water, and also to Don and Suzanne Tanswell from Southfield Park Triangle Residents Association for organising the event. Finally thanks to local residents for turning up and asking such a comprehensive range of questions.”

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ealing Cycling meeting - good news for Ealing

I attended a meeting tonight (well yesterday as I see the clock just clicked past midnight!) where the plans for a central Ealing cycle hub moved forward.

The plans are now a lot of more developed and the Council officers seem to have made a great job of ensuring that the taxi services will be improved (not harmed despite some rumours recently).

The overall plan is to have shelter in between the trees so that you retain the trees whilst allowing for some covering for cyclists, pedestrians and taxi users whilst in the area. There will be a cycle hire area near the current taxi hut for Brompton bikes and the rest of the bikes can be stored in secure lockable stands.

It looks like the shelters will not block out the light and will give more support to those who wish to store their bikes before travelling on the local buses or the tube or trains from Ealing Broadway station.

The next stage will be to go to planning to get approval for the designs. I personally hope it goes ahead as it will really encourage more cycling.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Hollow - a European debut film I went to today

Tonight I was invited to see a film called Hollow. The Producer and Writer, Matthew Holt, is a friend from my cricket club. A few of us from the club went to see this European debut in a cinema in Piccadilly tonight.

The film is part of the wider Raindance Festival. You might like to go to some of the other films?

The film is a sort of horror, drama set in a village and stars four good actors using the more modern use of being filmed using a camcorder (shaky scenes etc). Was a good film with a sudden ending. Worth watching if it comes out in the cinemas which would be good.

After the film there was a 15 minute Q and A session with the Writer and the Director.

Not been to the cinema for a long time so a good night out with friends.

Why Brian Paddick should be the next London Mayor

Quite simply he is someone of character and good judgement. He served for a long time in the Met police and has been correct when speaking about the recent riots as well as the NOTW phone hacking scandals.

And secondly London deserves someone serious who takes the job as his priority. Boris thinks that the role of Londoon'd Mayor is to have a laugh. When the riots occured I recall he took a long time to visit the traders who suffered so badly. And Ken - well he is yesterday's man. And listening to him speak now he appears to be acting with a nasty tone in his voice. He doesn't cut the mustard.

Brian Paddick is someone who has a strong record on policing and is someone who knows what needs fixing in the Met. Less waste on administration and paperwork and more police on the streets. Also Brian is pointing to ensuring that all residents in London have a fairer time whether that be housing, education or other aspects of life. The Lib Dem idea that the coalition government put forward, the Pupil Premium, is working to help the education of our children.

A vote for Brian Paddick next May will be a vote for action to reduce inequalities.

Check him out at: @brianpaddick and

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The local Safer Neighbourhood Ward AGM meeting

Tonight was a short meeting and it took place in the same location as the meeting last night. Some of the same people even attended!

Some advice was given to reduce the height of peoples' garden hedges. This would lessen the chance that any potential criminal can hide behind the hedges as well as use the high hedges as cover when breaking into people's homes.

We heard from Southfield's new police sergeant who mentioned that Southfield ward, which covers some of Acton and the section of Chiswick in Ealing, has has a pretty low crime rate compared to the surrounding areas.

Those in attendance including fellow Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Steed heard about people having their phones and iPads stolen when they leave tube stations. You have been warned. Always check who might grab your belongings.

One of the Southfield police team also goes on patrols with officers who deal with street drinkers. The aim is to try to get drinkers off drink and if they have drug problems then they are helped to seek assistance for that addiction. So much crime is produced from those with drug or alcohol problems.

One resident who attended asked the question: "When should I call 999?" The answer given was that if you are watching the crime then call 999. They will assess the priority of the call based upon other issues at the time. If a 999 is not used then do call 101 and give all the information about the crime and importantly a description of the criminals or those you think were about to commit a crime. Try to give the person's height, build, skin colour, clothing, age.

And always report a crime if you see something. If you don't then the police will say they have no reports of any crime. You can do some crime reporting (of non emergency items) on line.

Remember that at the moment a lot of people (esp women) are having their gold necklaces stolen as they can be melted down and sent off for cash. Also if you have a Sat Nav remember to wipe away the sucker mark or else a villain will see this and break in to see what you have in the glove-box.

At the end of the meeting there was a number of residents who stood down from the committee (after having served for three years) and they were replaced by some residents new to crime reduction. They will attend only four meetings a year, with the police, council officers and three local councillors incl. myself to reduce crime in Southfield.

I wish them a fruitful year.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Report of the Southfield ward Forum - 27th September

The ward forum meeting took place at the Carlton Day Centre and a lot of issues were discussed. Present was one Ealing Council's recycling officers, the local police team and a park ranger. The following was agreed:

1/ Lighting Southfield Rec - after a good discussion the ward agreed to fund a consultation for the 1000 or so residents around the Rec to see if they might benefit from having the Rec lights installed at night. We also agreed to see what anti-crime measures (a night camera) mights be installed to reduce any crimes that a lit park could attract.

2/ We also agreed to spend money on the following ward proposals -
  • Feasibility Study into road traffic concerns on Cunnington Street
  • Newspaper recycling bins outside Chiswick Park tube (x1) and South Acton stations (x1)
  • Mixed collection recycling bins outside Chiswick Park tube (x1); at the west side of The Avenue near the E3 bus stop(x1); at the junction of Brookfield Road and 5-7 Southfield Rd (x1); and at the Acton Green side of Fishers Lane (x1)
  • Street signs for Acton Lane at the junction of Beaconsfield Road
  • Feasibility study into traffic numbers at the Larden Road - The Vale junction
  • Alteration to the wall layout in the Beaconsfield (Prime Ministers) estate to reduce anti-social behaviour
  • Contribution to the Sunflower Club (a senior citizen's social club)
  • Planting Wildflower on Southfeild Rec near to Wilkinson Way
  • Adding a path near the old playground of Southfeild Rec. with a Hoggin groundcover
  • Funding for W4 Youth for them to expand their equipment in their youth club
  • Installing two picnic tables in Acton Green Common near to the playground
  • Installing two picnic tables in Southfield Rec. near to the playground
  • A replacement tree for The Avenue
  • Lighting for the alleyway between Woodstock Road and Southfield Road

3/ The local police team gave details of the two recently approved dispersal zones for Acton Green Common / Beaconsfield Estate and Southfield Rec (they give the police powers for the next few months to move people on if they are causing anti-social behaviour)

Tweet @CllrGaryMalcolm if you want to suggest an item for the agenda of the next meeting.

Good discussion about matters of importance

Many people do not watch political conferences. If they had watched the recent Liberal Democrat conference they would have seen a lot of good discussion about important matters.

Without the Coalition Government our country would be in a very poor shape, perhaps like Greece, as there would be infighting about how they are to solve their financial problems. Our coalition has amicably started to reduce the budget (and the huge interest payments this will save us). None of this is easy but it needs to be done. We are doing better than the USA, Spain and Greece to name a few countries.

Locally we want to see less paperwork in the Met and that money spent on front-line officers that can reduce crime and the fear of crime we have in Ealing. At the conference we spelt out our disgust of the rioters and looters that rampaged across the country. We also went on to say that the Met need to be quicker at adapting to tricky situations to ensure that if Ealing needs more police in the short term because of an emergency then they can get the resources they need.

Vince Cable stated that as a country we need to do more and more is planned to prompt growth and jobs. Some examples include initiatives like Crossrail which can bring jobs in the short term but also bring jobs to London. Vince followed up by announcing plans to separate the risky investment section of banks from the high street banks. This will mean that we should not be in the situation, left to us by the last government.

We then debated the difficult subject of domestic abuse. The coalition government has launched a cross-department body to end this type of violence. Also the government has opted in to the European Union Directive on human trafficking, which will strengthen the assistance offered to victims of human trafficking.

Finally we know in Ealing, with a growing population of toddlers, that we need to expand or create new schools. The government introduced a Liberal Democrat policy called the Pupil Premium which will continue to help Ealing’s most disadvantaged children. The government allocates an amount of money per child, so whichever school they attend, the money goes with them so the school can fund a better or more tailored education for them. This helps those pupils who need the most help at the start of their education.

So the next time you catch a TV show covering a political conference do at least watch five minutes and see how different parties might have policies that affect you.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Ealing's Olympic Torch Holders - a few hundred whittled down to two!

At a meeting this morning in Ealing Town Hall I was present when we discussed and then approved two Ealing residents who will carry the Olympic torch as part of the Olympic build up.

Over two hundred people contacted the council to say they wanted to be  Olympic torch holders. The short list was whittled down to about twenty. Myself with the Leader of the Council and the Ealing Conservative's party Leader discussed the merits of each applicant before choosing two.

We decided that the two residents would have to have some strong sporting interest as well as being a community person. Many of the applicants had one of the criteria ticked but a handful ticked both boxes.

It was very tricky to select them. I hope when the Council announces the two, we selected, that they become a local inspirational hero.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Acton Green Residents Association AGM news

Tonight I attended, with fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed, the AGM of the AGRA - known locally as the Acton Green Residents Association.

It was a quicker than average meeting but was still very interesting and had a lot of items relating to the police and crime matters generally.

Southfield's new police Sergeant, Darren Grey, was able to attend. He is a real hand on sort of guy. He would rather be on the beat than sitting in an office creating a strategy document. He said he is someone who likes to bash heads together to get things done.

I know personally from one crime case he was working on he was willing (and thick-skinned) enough to be present at an address in Southfield taking verbal abuse from individuals who are knowledgeable of, or part of, some criminal activity. He was reminding certain individuals that the police were watching them! That is police presence.

Other advice given at the meeting was to trim your hedges for no higher than 1.5 metres. High hedges are known to allow criminals to break into homes without being easily seen by passer-bys.

Also the sergeant reminded local residents not to leave anything in your cars as criminals will often break into cars hoping that there is something in a pocket of a coat or jacket.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Positive news about Ealing Cinema

Many people in Ealing are sad when they see the old Cinema in Ealing just as an eyesore with the Council fighting with the owner of the land who had planning permission to build a new cinema.

Very recently there was some good news. CEO Justin Ribbons of, Empire, in August, has had meetings with local activists to press home and discuss the need for action on this issue to get Empire to build the cinema they promised.

It seems now that Justin Ribbons "remains cautiously positive", given the progress made resolving the outstanding planning amendments. There are apparently no major amendments that will cause any further delay.

So let us see the revised planning application from Empire so the Council can discuss the matter and then if they agree to the plan, then we might have a cinema within 60 weeks.

Fingers crossed.

Sign the petition to continue to the pressure:

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Southfield Ward Forum, Tues 27th Sept

The meeting takes place from 7.30pm at Carlton Road Day Centre, 8-10 Carlton Road, W4 5DY, which is easy to get to by the E3 bus route or a ten minute walk from Turnham Green tube station. All residents and local businesses are welcome.

The meeting will be chaired by myself, Councillor Gary Malcolm and ward councillors Harvey Rose and Andrew Steed will be present to discuss topics and answer questions.


1. Welcome and introductions – also Health & Safety Notices (7.30pm)
- apologies for absence

2. Request for “Any Other Business” items (7.35pm)

3. Notes of the last ward forum held on 29th June 2011  (7.40pm)
- review for accuracy
- matters arising (that are not on the agenda)

4. Southfield Recreational Grounds – should they be lit at night? (7.55pm)

5. Southfield ward budget (8.40pm)
- update on ward projects in progress
- proposals for 2011-12 budget

6. Southfield dispersal zones (9.05pm)

7. Section 106 Allocations (9.10pm)

8. Any Other Business (9.15pm)

9. Dates of future meetings
- Thur, 24 November. Venue: Scout Hut, Rugby Road W4
- Wed, 8 February 2012. Venue: Acton Green Church, Cunnington Street, W4

10. Meeting close ( 9.30pm)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Four years of fare misery under Boris Johnson

It was sad to see Boris Johnson’s fare proposals for 2012, which he confirmed today, will be set at RPI plus 2 per cent.

This is the fourth year of fare misery that Londoners will face under Boris Johnson. He has already hit Londoners hard by hiking up bus fares from 90 pence to £1.30 for a single fare since he arrived at City Hall. Today’s further rise will really hit hard many people, especially those on low incomes. Boris Johnson has failed to tackle effective action to tackle fare evasion or cut waste which is widespread throughout TfL.

If the Mayor got on top of these issues there would be no need for such severe fare rises, especially for low income Londoners. The Mayor must also take real action to stop Londoners being ripped off by Oyster overcharging and give bus users a fair deal by introducing a one-hour bus ticket.

Ealing Council's cabinet meeting update

Yesterday I attended the Council's cabinet meeting. The following items are snippets:

1/ School Meals - The council is about to tender to gain a supplier for cooking school meals for 60 schools in Ealing. I asked a question that surprised the Cabinet member for Education. Quote simply I asked whether they would ensure that initatives, by Jamie Oliver, to improve the diet in schools. She seemed interested that someone was interested in this subject. I was given a committment from her that the contract when agreed would include elements to ensure a more healthy school diet.

2/ Green Spaces Strategy - The council is to consult on an updated strategy relating to parks in Ealing. In reply to my questions the Council stated it is still committed to improving Gunnersbury Park despite the 118 page report only mentioning Gunnersbury a few times. The list of consultees was reasonably extensive but they did miss some groups I identified. In relation to volunteering the report said nothing but the Council Leader said it was something of a priority quoting two parks! They agreed to ensure that the strategy document was looked at again to encompass volunteering given it has a lot of potential for educating and training children and young people. Only time will tell.

3/ New Recycling Contract - The Labour council agreed sadly to implement a plan to charge residents £40 per year for a garden waste collection service (that is currently free) using wheelie bins or via biodegradable sacks (£20 for 25 sacks). The report had little detailed financial information When questioned they stated that residents could decide whether they wanted wheelie bins or biodegradable sacks.

That might sound nice (apart from the extra cost) however there will be extra costs of having to collect two types of garden waste vessels. When asked about whether they are planning to introduce a fortnightly black bag waste scheme the administration said they were not. The Leader of the Council will be trying to state that the Council needs to do one or the other. But don't listen to that argument as I have quoted ways to save money elsewhere.

4/ Customer Service Performance - Public figures showed that residents were having to wait a lot longer than normal on the phone and when visiting the Town Hall to get information they needed. I asked the question about whether the customer Service Strategy was wrong or not being implemented correctly. The answer given by the officer, was that more recent figures show a big improvement. Why did they not update the meeting with these figures using a simple one-page printed update?

5/ Mayor's Riot Relief Fund - So far about £100,000  has been given out to local, independent businesses who suffered in the Ealing riots. So the Mayor and all three party leaders will have oversee about who is to receive funds from the Mayoral Fund.

6/ Acton's Priory Centre - This related to a Liberal Democrat call-in (to review a previous Council decision) about the impact to move out about 60 community groups from the Priory Centre when they have no alternative locations to go to. The only good news on this matter is that the original plan was to turf out (my term not the Council's) the community groups in April 2012 may be altered to see if they can stay where they are until July 2012. Not what I call real positive news but the Council seems to be trying to make some accommodation.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

If you live in Acton or Chiswick come to the police AGM

The Southfield police forum (which is made up of residents, local councillors, police) are having their Annual meeting on Wed 28th September from 7pm at the Carlton Road Day Centre, Carlton Road, W4.

The meeting will report on a number of local police matters concerning Chiswick and Acton that have happened over the past year. A new committee will be elected (each year some stand down) and so volunteers are needed. You can ask the local police team questions. They will give you advice on reducing crime. There are only four meetings a year so it isn't hard work (sometimes we even have fun!)

The residents who attend really can easily make a lot of difference as residents can direct the police into spending their time on particular projects or issues.

It is easy to get to using the E3 bus or a 10 minute walk from Turnham Green tube station.

If you want more information about the meeting please email me via or Tweet me at  @CllrGaryMalcolm or call me on 07813 205218.

It would be great to see you. Please pass on to whoever you think might be interested.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Councillor Malcolm Attended the Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association Meeting

Whilst many watched Ealing in the rugby world cup this morning I attended a local residents' meeting. In order the following issues were discussed:

The police spoke about three matters -:

1) they introduced a new member of the team (PCSO Emma Green)
2) That the long-standing Seargant (Helene Holloway) has been moved to another ward in Ealing. Her replacement is Seargeant Sergeant Darren Gray.
3) That the Police have gained new powers to clear gangs from Southfield Rec and Acton Green. Please check out this link for more information:

The contact details of the Southfield police team are: Phone: 020 8721 2946 / 07879 694814 or Email:

And here the link shows the full team:

Then it was mentioned that the Southfield ward forum was coming up soon. It is Tuesday 27th Sept from 7.30 at Carloton Road Day Centre, W4. I will be chairing the meeting where we will be discussing some issues relating to spending some of the committee's budget on items to improve the area and make it safer. One topic that will be discussed will be whether it is a good idea to install lights in Southfield Rec. Currently there are no lights and residents do not feel safe to cross the Rec.

Lastly the Thames Tunnel issue was discussed. It was reported by the Chair that the Council had not been very helpful on this matter until recently. The project is where a tunnel will be built under the Thames to help reduce pollution / waste getting into the Thames (occurs more when there is bad whether). To do this they will be installing lots of tunnels, a storm tank and ventalation shafts which are apparently 15 metres tall.

There will be a meeting organised in early October (the 6th) in the Scouts Hut where Thames Tunnel project team will be able to answer questions about the latest project. It appears that the decision has privately been made to site the Storm Tank in the border of Acton and Chiswick. Residents also want to make sure that any works do not disturb them. It is possible from a letter on the subject that some properties might be compulsory purchased but we have not heard a definite statement on this matter.

Check this link out to read more:

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A tale of two holes – and a £39m price tag

In principle, I have no objection to people digging holes in the ground. Even very expensive holes. Potholes? Bad. But lift shafts, underground tunnels and other such excavations? Good. A big hole that loops back on itself and could* end the universe? That’ll do nicely. The combination of a hole, Bernard Cribbins and Lego? Excellent.

If I had to postulate a general theory of holes, I’d say that a hole that is not used is a bad hole. And two holes that are not used are doubly bad.

Which brings me to the question of the £39 million spent on building two holes in the ground at Shepherd’s Bush station. That the holes are called lift shafts might raise your hopes. But no, the project was cancelled £39 million in, so all we are left with is two holes in the ground, unused.

In 2009 further work on the project, i.e. putting the holes to use, was “deferred indefinitely” and it has stayed that way since. The reason is a half-decent one, namely that the costs of the rest of the work had spiralled up horribly so it was better to quit at that point. But of course the fact that the costs spiralled up so massively says something about the failure of planning and management up to that stage.

So thank you Mayors Livingstone and Johnson who between them have spent £39 million on giving us two holes in the ground, unused.

Monday, 5 September 2011

New Oyster system to help customers pay the correct fare

After a long campaign by Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the London Lib Dem GLA Group, a new system will help Oyster passengers who occasionally forget to touch out.

Transport for London (TfL) has introduced a new facility for Oyster pay as you go customers who occasionally forget to touch out at the end of their Tube, DLR, Overground or National Rail journey.

Currently those who do not scan their pay-as-you-go card at the end of a journey are charged the maximum Zone 1-6 fare of £7.90. But a new system will calculate the likely journey based on the individual's travel history and charge the appropriate fare, it is claimed.

Caroline Pidgeon said: "We don't want to penalise customers who normally touch in and out for occasionally forgetting, so, for such customers, we are looking at ways of correcting journeys that have been left open without a final touch at the destination."

In January figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly showed mistakes at ticket gates had resulted in Oyster card users being overcharged by £60m last year. And in August 2010 BBC London revealed TfL had refunded £40,000 in eight months to customers who had been overcharged by faulty machines when topping up their Oyster cards.

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly group, said: "The mayor and TfL must address the much bigger problem of Oyster overcharging caused by the system not always working properly, for example when barriers are left open, or the machines are not working at the start of the journey. We still have a long way to go in tackling the scandal of Oyster overcharging."

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Brian Paddick selected by Liberal Democrats for London mayoral contest

London's mayoral election next year will be a contest between Brian Paddick, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone after the former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner was selected as the Liberal Democrats' candidate for the second time.

Brian Paddick has thanked Liberal Democrat members "who placed their trust and confidence in me to be their candidate for mayor of London – I won't let you down".

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister, said Paddick provided Londoners with a "real, credible alternative" to Johnson and Livingstone.

"Brian's experience is exactly what London needs right now. Whether dealing with the aftermath of the riots or phone hacking and corruption in the Metropolitan police, Brian has shown in recent weeks that he has the authority and leadership London needs." The phone hacking scandal that rocked News International, the Metropolitan police and the political establishment is likely to surface in the 2012 contest. Paddick, whose phone was hacked by the now defunct News of the World, is among a group of public figures who have sought permission for a judicial review of the Met's handling of the phone hacking scandal.

Paddick, who retired from the police in 2007 after 30 years of service, told the Evening Standard on Friday that reformed gang members should go into school to warn children of the dangers of getting involved in violent crime, after the recent riots in the capital raised fears about violent young people.