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.