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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.

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