I thought I would update you on the main council meeting last night where a lot topical matters were discussed.
At the start of the meeting I asked a question about allotment rents which are expected to rise. Because a lot of plot holders are retired and on fixed incomes any rental system should mean smaller plots attract lower increases and those larger plots might be charged at a higher rate. This would be a fairer system than we have now. The Labour councillor responsible for allotments doesn’t seem to know much about allotments (head in the soil approach) and thought a cheap comical joke was suitable. The issue of allotment rents is very important for lots of residents.
In the opening motion myself and fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed raised a lot of Ealing related financial matters and decisions. I said that we need to ensure that the Council continues to invest in good IT so that we can save money by automating some types of activity. This will also help to ensure that residents get a better service as it will be quicker to report items and get things fixed.
I also mentioned the issue that the Council needs to be more focused at helping our vulnerable people and protecting our front line services. The Labour-run Ealing Council seem so often to just blame the Government.
That sort of attitude just takes away from actually serving residents. There has not been an apology when Labour decided to spend over 6 million pounds on a car park which will only help a few people. Six million pounds could have been used in so many more ways – or to reduce any future cuts.
On a discussion regarding Ealing Hospital (concerning the possibility of merging and whether this would mean services might disappear from it) and despite some political point-scoring, all three political parties voted for a motion to ensure that we work cross party on this vital matter to ensure that Ealing Hospital isn’t closed and keeps its services. I am a diabetic and know many others living in Southall are diabetic – they need a local hospital, not one many miles away. The Liberal Democrat Councillors who spoke were Nigel Bakhai and Jon Ball who made a lot of relevant and useful points.
Later in the evening there was sadly no time for discussion on High Speed 2 (a high speed rail service which would link London to Birmingham and beyond. The Liberal Democrat view is that we should support the scheme even though all of the details are not known about the route or any problems caused when building starts. We believe this country needs better transport. Both the local Tories and Labour parties believe it makes the most sense to oppose the scheme whilst saying they are in favour of HS2. Trying to look two ways, me thinks!