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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cuts to Vulnerable Services, Council Finances and the Council’s New Household Waste Contract

At last night's Cabinet meeting a number of topics were discussed. The main items which have relevance to us all are:

1/ Financial Update Report:
The Council are increasing, not reducing, a number of their reserve accounts. This means they are saving money (for rainy day) instead of using it now to reduce the amount of cuts in areas that affect vulnerable people.

Relating to the economy probably most of us realise that it IS raining and we have our umbrellas out. This might be a Labour-minded strategy to save money now for a project later on in this electoral cycle or again trot out the line that the national government are forcing these cuts, so Ealing will have to make these cuts - and then they blame the Government.

Ealing Council as each council across the country needs to stop blaming others and get on with focusing its attention on protecting services for the vulnerable and keep as many front-line roles as is possible. This Council has not done this.

2/ Contract re-tender for collecting of household waste, recyclables and maintaining our parks:

Over the past year Ealing Council has been re-tendering its largest contract which covers many areas which we see each day – collecting our household waste, cleaning our streets and parks. The main details of the contract will be:

It was won by Enterprise Managed Services Ltd who have a record it appears to be doing similar contracts with many other local authorities
The contract will be a 15 year deal with a 7 year clause which would allow it to be ended if things are not going very well.
I asked a question about the new targets for street cleansing and other areas and the lead Labour councillor said that they have a target of 100% for roads being swept adequately and waste collected correctly.
The roads will be swept the same day (but after) as the waste is collected
The white plastics recycling bags will go but more or larger green boxes will appear.
Interestingly it may be that Labour now want to have a fortnightly collection of household waste. In the report it stated that this is something they may wish to implement. I do recall the Liberal Democrats and the other two Ealing political parties all said they were not happy with a fortnightly collection system. Perhaps Labour have changed their policy?

3/ Supporting People Update
In this item, which relates to housing related budgets that would allow and support vulnerable or socially excluded residents to maintain a tenancy and live independently.

Labour-run Ealing Council agreed to cut this budget by 47% This is far more than the average budget savings needed across the Council. Is this another example of where Labour here are cutting some of the services that are used by our most vulnerable?

4/ Property Strategy – the Cinema
I spoke up to state that the current plans to implement a CPO (compulsory purchase order) so that the Council can buy the land opposite the Town Hall. The current owners have not built the cinema they said they would (and having the planning permission to do so).

The Liberal Democrat view is that we want Empire (the owners of the land) to either build a cinema or to sell to someone else who will build a cinema. The council should have taken this compulsory purchase order approach earlier as it takes a long time to progress. We have an all-party support for action but it is a shame Labour has dragged their feet for a number of months.

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