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Friday, 29 April 2011

Irish developer Glenkerrin faces collapse

For all those people who have taken an interest in Ealing politics you may wish to read the article below by James Whitmore from

"Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has applied to appoint administrators to Irish developer Glenkerrin’s UK properties. The administration hearing, due to be heard on 10 May, would involve the appointment of administrators at Grant Thornton to the company’s five London properties.

These are the Crowne Plaza hotel in Shoreditch, three developments near Canary Wharf in Docklands - an apartment block called the Forge, the Island Point residential development and a proposed 62-storey residential and hotel tower, designed by Foster & Partners, called City Pride – and a retail and residential site, Ealing Arcadia, in Ealing Broadway.

Yesterday, NAMA appointed Paul McCann and Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as receivers to Irish properties owned by Ray and Danny Grehan personally and through their development business, Glenkerrin, in a bid to recover a 650m debt.

The Grehan’s major properties include the Grange apartment complex in Stillorgan, the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth and the former site of the UCD Veterinary College in Ballsbridge. Ray Grehan paid 171.5m for the Veterinary College site in 2005 which made it, at the time, the most expensive site per acre in the country.

He is thought to have bought an apartment at “super-prime” apartment block One Hyde Park, developed by Christian Candy’s CPC Group and Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al-Thani." 

The importance of this is not only that the Arcadia site is back in play (and the Council is believed to be in private talks already with another potential developer), but also that the lease on the station site (Villiers House and shops, including the BBC car park) is also owned by Glenkerrin.
This is a unique opportunity for a comprehensive redevelopment of the station to coincide with Crossrail, which so far Ealing Council has refused to get to grips with, as have also Crossrail themselves, Network Rail and TfL.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Top columnist spreads "voter confusion" over AV

City Hall's election managers have written to journalists asking them to stop making the false claim that the Mayor of London is elected under the Alternative Vote system.


We have noticed that there have been some inaccuracies recently regarding the election of the Mayor of London.  For any editorial stories you are writing, I wanted to clarify the voting system used in London to ensure there is no voter confusion ahead of the 2012 Mayoral elections.

The Mayor of London is elected by supplementary vote, not alternative vote.

Quite how this terrible misconception could have arisen in the minds of the British press is beyond me, although it may have something to do with statements like this one in the Daily Telegraph:

It is the system, I may as well admit, that is used in London mayoral elections. [AV] may be just about tolerable there; but I can see no case whatever for introducing it across the country.

An incredibly misleading and factually inaccurate statement written by er, the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Perhaps City Hall's election managers could start by copying him in.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

YES to AV and the Ealing Scrutiny Panel

The scrutiny panel I attended tonight went on so long that I missed the YES to AV meeting in Ealing Town Hall.

At the meeting was scheduled to be Tom Brake Lib Dem MP, Steve Pound Labour MP, Jenny Jones Green GLA and it was chaired by Adrian Cave OBE. I hope a lot of people attended as AV is so much better than our current outdated electoral system.

At the scrutiny panel which started at 7pm (and finished at 10pm) a number of subjects were raised:

Discretionary Rate Relief - this is where the government and / Councils given rebates to organisations like charities or sports clubs so that they can afford rents and provide services to the community. The current system does not fully work and so the Council wishes to review it which it is doing whilst looking to save money as well! The positive conclusion is that it is likely the Council will be reviewing each organisation separately and will not waste time on very small organisations.

Voluntary Grants - the council committee agreed to not reduce grants this year to give more time to allow organisations to review their outgoings over the next year, The future after this time is not known.

Controlled Parking Zones - I made points to state that the current Religious Parking Arrangements should not stand as they are likely to be open to be abused due to the council not requiring any owner or car details of the people who are meant to be visiting a religious premises. They are allegedly passed on which means many residents who live near a religious building cannot park as the cheaper religious permits can be used to flood the area.

I then raised issues about permits for carers who spend a lot of time visiting relatives to assist when they are in need to help due to illnesses. I also helped to ensure that CPZ zones could still have buffer zones which would mean people in a zone can park in the road adjacent to the border of a parking zone when the parking pressures are great in particular areas.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Update of Ealing's Decision-making meeting...

Last night Ealing held its main meeting where all councillors are expected to attend. We discuss borough-wide issues and make decisions.

I handed in a petition on behalf of a resident who disagreed with the excessive increase in charges for parking and visitor’s permits

I then asked an oral question put to the Leader of the Council about the current plans for a new car park in Southall. He stated the plan would still be about £5 million (no change from the last official estimate) however a senior Council Manager said to us about two weeks ago that the car park would cost about £3 million. The stories are not consistent and so I wonder whether the Leader of the Council may in the future spend £3 million on the car park and then siphon the £2 million into another project? 

There were good speeches from Lib Dem councillors Harvey Rose and Nigel Bakhai on Ealing’s libraries and the need to retain them as well as highlighting that the Council’s libraries consultation is biased and not fair. We have a lot of concerns given that on one hand Labour tonight said that the ratio of residents who would like within a mile of a library would be 91% when currently the figure is 96%. So they appear to have made decisions about which libraries are to close but until the consultation is completed we won’t know their decision.

Councillor Andrew Steed and myself made speeches on a lot of national financial matters to highlight some of the useful things that the government are doing. We do not agree with everything that the coalition does but we should be proud of a number of changes that have happened as the countries financial mess is sorted out.

In a motion about policing, Labour trumpeted what they claim is a large increase in uniformed officers. In truth most are existing Council officers but they are wearing florescent clothing (I don’t think that is a uniform). The Council is cutting a lot of PCSOs and replacing them with far fewer PCs.

In an item relating to Councillor’s allowances Labour refused to allow a discussion. A Tory councillor and Jon Ball spoke to state the issue was important and controversial that it should be discussed in public. What happened was that no speeches were allowed but our amendment for a 10 percent reduction was turned down and a Conservative amendment for a 25% reduction was also turned down (but do remember that when the Tories were last in power they increased their allowances by about 50%)! 

Lastly (and after the meeting) all three party Leaders made short speeches about the last year. I thanked the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor who has raised about £40,000 for two local charities (two charities are chosen each year by the Mayor). The Tory leader, Jason Stacey, made a final speech as he is to step down as Tory leader in about two weeks time. His replacement will be one of four possible candidates.