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Monday, 31 October 2011

At long last Labour drop support for 3rd runway at Heathrow

De ja vu. Like the mad tram plan for Ealing that Labour had, they lost the election and then changed their policy. Today Labour did the same for Heathrow. Originally for it and now against it.

Shame it took them an election loss to work out why Heathrow expansion is a very bad idea. More noise, more pollution. No thanks - I would rather have clean air and an environment where children can play outside without the huge noise they suffer if they are living in Hounslow.

Heathrow expansion would have meant much more of London was effected in a bad way.

One of the first things the coalition government did when they came to power was to cancel Heathrow expansion. In London the Liberal Democrats, especially Caroline Pidgeon, have been very vocal on this important issue.

Tweet me your views on this Heathrow u-turn via @CllrGaryMalcolm

Monday, 24 October 2011

Conservative Plans for the Privatisation of the Fire call centre

The Fire Authority's Liberal Democrat team has been leading opposition to the Conservative administration's plan to privatise the Fire Brigade Control Room, which handles 999 calls.

During the days of the civil disturbances the control room handled two-to-three times the usual number of calls, with unprecedented peaks in the volume of calls on the nights of 8th and 9th August (when the riots took place). Despite widespread praise for the dedication and effectiveness of the Control staff, the Conservatives have singled them out for privatisation in the hope of making budget savings.

An excellent Greater London Assembly Member, Mike Tuffrey, challenged the idea at LFEPA's Annual Meeting. He pointed out that there were no tested private providers of 999 call-handling, that it risked splitting 999 call-taking from the rest of the Brigade's mobilising of fire engines and that such a vital function needed close management rather than an arms-length contractor.He said he will continue to oppose the plan, which the Conservatives hope to settle before the voters get a say next May.

When plans are announced you would have hoped a bit more background work had been done!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Oxjam Chiswick Takeover - get your ticket and hear some great music

It's not too late but if you like live, local music why not get a ticket and see a day's worth of music in Chiswick? I am. See the link for more info:

One Day - One Wristband - 5 Venues - 50 Bands. 50 bands from the unsigned, the up and coming to tomorrow’s headliners. From Classical, Steel drums and Flamenco to Indie, Rock, Hip Hop, Dance, Dub Step and Pop – there’s going to be something for everybody.

This is the first time Chiswick has had an Oxjam and we are going to put Chiswick on the Oxjam map! All of the venues will be a 15 to 20 minute walk from each other and in the weeks before and on the day Chiswick will be awash with Oxjam - it will be the biggest (and dare we say best!) music event ever to be held in Chiswick!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Report of Tuesday's Full Council meeting in Ealing Town Hall

There was a great range of topics discussed at the meeting. The main points were:

The chair of the Priory Community Association handed in a petition for over 1500 signatures. The Liberal Democrats helped to spread the petition and I made a speech supporting the many user groups who look likely to be cast aside, and forced from the Priory Centre, when the works begin to converting it into a Primary School.

In the meantime the user groups want to stay in Acton but the Council appear not to have made much efforts in helping them find alternative accommodation. Shame on Ealing Council.

Lib Dem Councillor Nigel Bakhai handed in a petition of over 500 names in support of Ealing Council taking the lead to ensure Ealing gets a proper transport interchange like they have in Hammersmith. Later Ealing Common Councillor Jon Ball made a very good speech relating to the transport interchange where Labour councillor (who does sometimes get too excited) Bassam Mahfouz shouted out that our interchange plan would be paid for with a "blank £85 million pound cheque". Clearly Bassam doesnt know both what a blank cheque is and that a proper interchange costs only a tad more than the cost of the current proposals.

I asked (in Prime Ministers Questions style) the Labour councillor for Transport, two questions about the new recycling / waste management contact. It was confirmed that they will be greener in terms of the fuel they use and how they are powered. I also gained the confirmation that the drivers of the vehicles would have attended training sessions to be more wary of cyclists to reduce the number of vans colliding with cyclists (who often die given the weight of most vans).

When I asked a second question about ensuring that all future contracts the council manages contain a clause to ensure that Council contractors vehicles are only driven by those trained on the one day course. He refused to answer that question sadly.

Other items discussed were:

  • The Lib Dem request that Ealing Council does not go for a fortnightly household Waste system was accepted. Residents will be please about this.
  • Sadly though they will not be impressed with the lack of a backtracking into its new Garden Tax it will be introducing next year. Shame on Labour.
  • The Council agreed to set a freeze target for the next Council Tax. This should help lots of residents who feel the Council does a bad job in serving them.
  • Lib Dem Councillor Jon Ball and Labour's Councillor for Policing matters shared a motion which wanted to ensure we do not have reduced police numbers. The Conservatives did not sign up to this!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ken Livingstone 'cannot win', says top Labour official

That's the headline on a dramatic report in the Telegraph about the falling out in the Labour Party over Ken Livingstone's bid to become Mayor of London again:
"The official in charge of the London Labour Party has been removed after saying that Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for the mayoralty, “cannot win” next year’s election if he continues as now.
"Hilary Perrin, Labour’s London regional director, has been moved back to her previous role overseeing all the regional directors after Ken and his chief of staff, Simon Fletcher, appealed to Ed Miliband’s office. Another London Labour official, Paul Harrington, has also left his job. An awayday to plan the campaign, supposed to take place last Friday, was cancelled."

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

LibDems want to see more community facilities and having a greater number of apprenticeships

I attended the Ealing Riots Scrutiny Panel laast night and it has pointed the way to areas which the Council should look at to avoid future riots.

I was caught up in the riots for some of the evening in Ealing Common and saw some of the problems first hand. My initial thoughts based upon residents views last night are that the areas Ealing Council should concentration on are:
Promoting the current set of community facilities we have in Ealing such as youth clubs
More actively investing in apprenticeships
Encouraging more young people to get involved in Council activities such as ward forum and local police meetings

Although there is no silver bullet there are a number of things the Council can do to help avoid future riots such as using ward forums as a focus to engage more young people. In my ward covering some of Acton and Chiswick we have invested over £10,000 in a local youth club which appears to be having a real positive impact on teenagers in the area. They feel safer, are having fun and giving something back to the area.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Scrutiny committee to look at the expensive Southall car park plan after Labour vote split

At a scrutiny committee tonight which myself and fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed attended, it was agreed to look (at its next meeting) the business case of the proposed 5.5 million pounds car park for Southall.

There were a number of Labour Councillors who voted for the proposal to review the business case which meant that the proposal, supported by myself, won 7-4. This means that the Council officers will get together the business case figures about why £5.5 million pounds should be spend on a car park. It is good to open up this subject for discussion, as one Labour councillor last night made a comment that there isn't really a solid business case.

When I investigated this before not only is the 5.5 million pounds a huge amount of money to spend the need for a car park just doesn't appear to be there. Added to this the Council will be paying interest on the 5.5 million pounds for about twenty years. The money should be used on more important services that the Council might be cutting or to bring back cuts it has made to Park Rangers, Envirocrime Officers, etc. The list goes on.

I hope opening up this cloudy issue will show that it would have been wise to follow the Liberal Democrat proposal to not build a car park for so much in Southall. My party was the ONLY party to put forward a budget amendment when the Council Tax was set in Ealing about 6 months ago.

If the scrutiny committee deemed the business case for a car park not very sensible then perhaps the Council will reverse its plans (there is still time).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ealing Council's Cabinet Meeting Update

Tonight's cabinet meeting was quicker than usual; it lasted only an hour. I had got back from a week in Portugal playing cricket. From temperatures of 28 degrees to ones nearer ten!

The first item that was discussed related to Blue Badges which help more vulnerable / disabled get about and park in locations where it is often tricky. The report is similar to what other local councils are doing which is to automate the process by getting residents who wish to obtain a blue badge so that it is faster and cuts our fraudulent claims. I asked a number of questions to establish how this was to be done as my experience of data matching services whose aim is to reduce fraudulent claims (by matching applications from different locations for the same person) can actually turn down valid people who are eligible for a Blue Badge. I gained a commitment that the figures for future attempted frauds and the speed of processing blue badge applications would be published so we can see if the new system is working.

There was an item relating to the vision of creating a square near North Acton tube station. This would be funded from what are called section 106 payments (by developers to fund local improvements often to compensate for extra traffic or noise etc. that a new planning development creates). The project is only in its early stages are the report calls for powers for Ealing Council to buy some land to enable the project to take place. Although the detail is not shown the vision is sensible and so I look forward to seeing more detailed plans in the coming months as that part of Acton is not very inviting.

The next item was a report where the council will spend some money to make use of solar power cells to save money in the medium term. Although in the short term the council will be spending money (which it doesn't have a lot of) these projects if the modelling is correct, should save the Council money.

There was a good discussion about how the Council might bring in £150,000 per year by allowing advertisement hoardings in locations such as the A40. Any of the hoardings would require planning permission so this agreement starts the process so that the Council can negotiate and assess which locations are most suitable for any hoardings. Sadly the Labour party at the meeting used this report as an excuse to state that it was only doing this as it needs to find money. Although it needs to finds savings (all Councils do) I see no reason why the point should be raised. I prefer debates about issues and whether a plan is sensible or not.

Thames Tunnel‏ - Acton and Chiswick Meeting Update

There was a meeting last Thursday evening in the Scout Hut, Rugby Road, about the possibility of Thames Water constructing storm tanks in Acton and Chiswick with the aim to reduce pollution in the Thames. Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Steed attended the meeting and reported on some of the issues raised:

Councillor Andrew Steed said: “Thursday night was well presented and informative, with an effective Q & A session which most people seemed satisfied with. As the second stage of the Consultative Process has been delayed, we await publication of a great deal of information, which will be released next month. However, we were brought up to date on the amended plans which involve a widening of the intended [Thames] tunnel, and given an estimated schedule for the consultation process and opportunities to comment up to the start of works in 2017.”

Councillor Andrew Steed said: “There are still unresolved issues, not least being what will happen to the site once it becomes redundant after the work has been completed. This will be an issue for Ealing Council to look at, and we hope that local residents and elected representatives will be asked to contribute to any discussions that take place.”

Councillor Andrew Steed added: “I would like to express thanks to Richard Aylard and his team from Thames Water, and also to Don and Suzanne Tanswell from Southfield Park Triangle Residents Association for organising the event. Finally thanks to local residents for turning up and asking such a comprehensive range of questions.”

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ealing Cycling meeting - good news for Ealing

I attended a meeting tonight (well yesterday as I see the clock just clicked past midnight!) where the plans for a central Ealing cycle hub moved forward.

The plans are now a lot of more developed and the Council officers seem to have made a great job of ensuring that the taxi services will be improved (not harmed despite some rumours recently).

The overall plan is to have shelter in between the trees so that you retain the trees whilst allowing for some covering for cyclists, pedestrians and taxi users whilst in the area. There will be a cycle hire area near the current taxi hut for Brompton bikes and the rest of the bikes can be stored in secure lockable stands.

It looks like the shelters will not block out the light and will give more support to those who wish to store their bikes before travelling on the local buses or the tube or trains from Ealing Broadway station.

The next stage will be to go to planning to get approval for the designs. I personally hope it goes ahead as it will really encourage more cycling.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Hollow - a European debut film I went to today

Tonight I was invited to see a film called Hollow. The Producer and Writer, Matthew Holt, is a friend from my cricket club. A few of us from the club went to see this European debut in a cinema in Piccadilly tonight.

The film is part of the wider Raindance Festival. You might like to go to some of the other films?

The film is a sort of horror, drama set in a village and stars four good actors using the more modern use of being filmed using a camcorder (shaky scenes etc). Was a good film with a sudden ending. Worth watching if it comes out in the cinemas which would be good.

After the film there was a 15 minute Q and A session with the Writer and the Director.

Not been to the cinema for a long time so a good night out with friends.

Why Brian Paddick should be the next London Mayor

Quite simply he is someone of character and good judgement. He served for a long time in the Met police and has been correct when speaking about the recent riots as well as the NOTW phone hacking scandals.

And secondly London deserves someone serious who takes the job as his priority. Boris thinks that the role of Londoon'd Mayor is to have a laugh. When the riots occured I recall he took a long time to visit the traders who suffered so badly. And Ken - well he is yesterday's man. And listening to him speak now he appears to be acting with a nasty tone in his voice. He doesn't cut the mustard.

Brian Paddick is someone who has a strong record on policing and is someone who knows what needs fixing in the Met. Less waste on administration and paperwork and more police on the streets. Also Brian is pointing to ensuring that all residents in London have a fairer time whether that be housing, education or other aspects of life. The Lib Dem idea that the coalition government put forward, the Pupil Premium, is working to help the education of our children.

A vote for Brian Paddick next May will be a vote for action to reduce inequalities.

Check him out at: @brianpaddick and