A lot has been written about the riots that affected Ealing and other areas of the country.
The Liberal Democrat group were more than impressed with the speed and efficiency that Council staff and contractors helped to get Ealing cleaned up from the damage.
The police also were criticised but half of Ealing’s officers were sadly moved to other areas of London. They did the best job they could in a difficult situation. I think the Met though need to look again at when it moves police resources from one area to another in these fast-moving situations.
Liberal Democrats have always said that it makes sense to see what areas of the Met’s activity, such as the large volume of paperwork, can be reduced to allow more front-line officers to be available.
When I was present in South Ealing, as some of the rioting was occurred, the air was acrid from bins and cars set alight. The day afterwards, when I helped to clean up Ealing with hundreds of residents, you could see clearly the shops, bars and restaurants that had been attacked and damaged.
I have since suggested to the Council that it empties or removes bins from town centres if there is evidence to suggest riots are likely, using Sutton as a good example. The police and the Council are actively considering this now.
I am also glad that the courts have looked into the individuals accused of rioting and acted to send a signal that the rioting and looting is not something we can condone.
Less has been said about how we try to ensure riots do not happen again. How can we stop the mindless thugs from rampaging our town centres again?
In my locality, the ward forum I chair, paid £10,000 to a youth club to help fund the rental of community buildings and equipment such as a table tennis set, sewing equipment, a stereo, make up, stationary and some computer games.
Many teenagers just want a place where they and their friends can meet which is SAFE. The “W4 Youth” club serves a lot of kids that had nowhere safe to go, last year.
Recently their football teams have won competitions and one 15 year old has improved his table tennis ability. I hope he will be good enough to take part in the 2016 Olympics (he out-classed me by a mile)!
Liberal Democrats believe that by investing in our youth we can improve people’s lives now as well as make a difference between how different communities in our towns and cities treat each other.