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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ealing Council's Strike Update

I have just heard from one of Ealing Council's senior managers who is dealing with the strike today. The update reads....
Adult Services
All critical and statutory services are operating, including homecare and meals on wheels. 
Cowgate and Carlton Road Day Centres (dealing with severely disabled adults) are closed.  All users were informed in advance.
All critical and statutory services, including sheltered housing are operating.
Children’s Services  
All critical and statutory services, the Youth Offending Service and Youth and Connexions are operating.
Refuse and recycling collections
All services are operating as usual.
Jubilee Gardens Library in Southall is the only one to open today.
Customer Services Centre at Perceval House
  • The centre is open, but is operating with fewer staff, so longer waiting times are likely.  
  • No cash payments are being taken in the customer services contact centre today.  Payments can still be made online or via the automated telephone payment system.
  • Calls to the council’s main switchboard are being answered.
Community Centres, Highways and Leisure Centres
These are running services as normal.
Parking Services
Due to reduced staff enforcement is focussing on priority areas today. 
Highways maintenance and street lighting
Services operating as normal.
Sheltered Housing and Community Alarm
Shift patterns have been changed to respond to staff shortage. All residents are getting a call or visit. If pull cords are operated there will be a response.
Children & Adults
Essential services are being maintained re Children in Need, Looked After Children, the Leaving Care team, Referrals and Assessments. and Fostering & Adoption. After School clubs are seriously affected by school closures but users/parents were written to in advance.
Corporate Resources and Chief Executive's
All services are operating as usual.
School Closures
The percentage of schools closed in the borough is the 15th highest of the 33 London boroughs.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Ealing Council's Cabinet Meeting Update - 29th November

At tonight's meeting there was an update from the Leader of the Council regarding the strikes that will occur on 30th November. He started off reporting it in a non party political way then sadly decided to use it as an opportunity to have a go at the government. I think most people have sympathy with public sector workers but since negotiations and offers are on the table, we should be discussing things not having strikes to make things worse.

We then got on to a large section of the reports which related to Council budget reductions (cuts in plain language). The reductions are large at around £30 million. Most appear to be ones which will not affect the vulnerable but some certainly will.

I asked a few questions on this subject. For example Councils have reserves (savings) in case they need money in an emergency or difficult times. My view is that the economy across Europe is not nin a healthy state and so some of these reserves should be used to avoid making so many cuts which it did last year and many this year.

Another fact is that if you reduce your budgets by 25% then it make sense to reduce reserves by a broadly similar amount. This would allow either less cuts to vital services that affect the elderly or those most in need, or allow spending on projects that could make aspects of the Council administration more efficient. It is also very strange that the council is borrowing money for capital projects (building schools for example) when it has an underspend of nearly £10 million!

Every time you borrow money you will pay extra (the interest) for 10 or 20 years to come. So if reserves can be used to pay for infrastructure without increases in long term borrowing then that would be a more sensible approach.

A later item related to a respite service in Hanwell. The council wants to use 4 beds that are currently used for adults with learning difficulties, for short-term care placements out of London that wish to return to Ealing. The proposal will save about a quarter of a million pounds but looking between the cracks you can see some of the problems.

Although the Council would make money by freeing up space in the Hanwell location and so not paying for the generally more expensive out-of-London charges for care needs, it would mean that the Short Breaks Service in Hanwell would have less capacity and could be overwealmed. Given that most users will require use of the Hanwell facility at the same time as those coming in from out of London, it isnt obvious how this system will work.

When questions were asked about the occupancy of the Short Breaks Service at their peak (weekend) period no clear answers were given. To me it appears that we need more choice in terms of locations rather than settling for a stuggle to make the best of the current situation. I dont think the Council is trying to run down the current service I think more work needs to be done on this plan.

Crime hotspots - One of Labour's manifesto pledges was to spend money on improving lighting in areas where there is lots of crime. Not rocket science! Any way they produced a report where some items were legal considered confidential (to stop muggers finding our which streets have poor levels of light) however a lot of those roads were also mentioned (with their levels of light) in the main body of the report - the section that is available on line!

The Leader of the Council was to some degree in agreement that it was a tad strange! They chose three roads that do need improved lighting so they get my blessing but the mechanism is rather simple and even included a road that will have lighting improved from another Council budget - good to see one part of the Council is talking to another part. Not!

The last item related to a Parking Services Annual Report. Sounds interesting but a number of pages had missing or incorrect numbers. One table had the phrase: "...average transaction per week(xxxxxx)...". So when the LAbour Councillor was asked whether he read the report he stated clearly that he had! Later he said "I read a draft copy of the report." Sounds rather fishy. And so the Cabinet agreed the report even though there were missing sets of data as well as tables of data that didnt add up correctly. Call in Carol Vorderman please.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Ealing Council Threatens Acton Green by Using it as a Car Park

Last night at the Southfield ward forum we heard that the Council is hiring out Woodstock Road which will be used for the filming of a BBC TV Drama "Parade's End on Monday 28th November.

I have complained that the Parks department has allowed for Acton Green to be used as a car park during the filming. An officer from the Council said in an email to me: "...Parks services were consulted and agreed to the use of Acton Green as a unit base for crew vehicles and displaced resident vehicles."

It was this year that usage of the site would be limited to allow the Green to recover, and to also prevent any noise from Funfairs etc.

I think this is an outrage. Hiring a street out for filming is okay but to allow Acton Green, which is already damaged from previous activities, to be used as a car park during the filming is a scandal.

I have asked that Council officers should be present throughout the WHOLE period to ensure NO damage is done to Acton Green. I have also asked that a commitment is made so that NO more similar use of Acton Green without the express permission of the Southfield ward councillors. I have not heard a suitable reply.

Do feedback any comments you have and whether there is any damage to Acton Green.

Let us know be emailing me at:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Southfield Ward Forum - What Happened Tonight

Thought I would pen something about what happened at the ward forum that tonight took place in the Scout hut in Rugby Road, W4. A great venue - small enough so everyone can hear each other and gets in about 50 people maximum.

The main item tonight was having the Head of Southfield's Primary School. He gave a good presentation for about twenty minutes about what was going on in the school and their approach to teaching our children and how they integrate with us in Chiswick. He then answered questions for about 25 minutes and I think in my role of chairing the meeting, that people seemed to like hearing from the Head of their school.

He raised a lot of great topics which included:

  • The pupils are involved in the "Walk To School" week
  • 30 percent of pupils had free school meals (higher than the average for Ealing and nationally)
  • About half of the pupils didn't speak English as their first language. The Head said that the governors, staff and parents organised a lot of events where families from different cultures would make food and share so that everyone can bond.
  • Cycle training sessions funded by the Lib Dem run Southfield ward forum seemed to have gone down well in the school. Feedback was that the children really had fun and hopefully are better, safer cyclists now.
  • In response from a question from a member of the public about speeding traffic and parked cars near the school, I committed to setting up a meeting with local councillors, school representatives and Council traffic officers to see what can be done to reduce problems.
  • Half the pupils come from Southfield ward.
  • There are some problems with a lack of computing equipment over recent years but some improvements have been made. The Head said he was looking to make improvements on this issue in the future.
  • They have a lot of lunch and after-school including chess, samba, choir and drama. They are this week visiting a local pizza restaurant to learn about making pizzas.
  • They have a school travel plan which aims to reduce car use (congestion) and get more kids to school in sustainable ways.  

After the Head had spoken he was warmly clapped. And then clapped after answering questions so I can say with surety that he went down well.

After the schooling item the meeting heard updates on a number of local consultation schemes for different projects the ward might be funding. The meeting closed a few minutes before the official end time.

The next meeting is on Wed 8th February 2012 at the Acton Green Church Hall, Cunnington Street, W4 @ 7.30pm. Do come along.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ealing Council Riot Scrutiny Committee - update

Tonight I attended Ealing Council's Riot related scrutiny committee. It was good to hear from two groups of teenagers who gave their perspective of why the riots occurred.

Over the past month or two looking at the views of those from Ealing and those from around the country I am piecing together more about why the riots occurred. Sadly I haven't heard much from those in prison - the actual rioters.

However it remains clear to me that there is no one simple reason why hundreds of people rampaged through Ealing. Was it the higher rates of unemployment? Government cuts? Or just groups of people being greed and taking advantage of a situation? Also many are blaming high unemployment when in the North East the rates are higher but there was littler or no rioting.

I think clearly that the police made mistakes in Tottenham that allowed a riot to occur. This was due to both a lack of police and a lack of skill in handling the situation, as it appeared.

Then once Tottenham occurred it seemed a number of people coordinated secondary attacked in other areas in London. Ealing has a good network of shops and transport so potentially it was more likely to be hit than Acton or Shepherds Bush. The shops in Westfield are shut and security from the businesses is far more stringent than in Ealing.

Of those who attacked Ealing I see it as being likely there were the older (later 20 year olds) coordinators who got a number of younger individuals to join in perhaps from both social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as using Blackberry as a communication channel. There were a number of teens who I think stole because they knew Ealing was to be targetted as well as many who may have been there or were there to watch.  Certainly video footage shows that some people were watching but not taking part.

I think the main point to make is that fewer young people took part in Ealing than elsewhere and teenagers need not all be brushed as rioters when few teens actually rioted. We need to provide role models for our youth and ensure that the Council and government works more effectively at skilling teenagers so they have greater chances to take part in the workforce and via apprenticeships or work trials.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Southfield Ward Forum - This Thursday at 7.30pm

The ward forum this Thursday (24th November) takes place at the Scout Hut, Rugby Road, Chiswick. W4 1AT.

We are lucky enough to have the Chair of Southfield Primary School who will speak about the school and is happy to answer questions from people who come along. There are a range of issues we will be discussing. The full agenda is below:

1.   Welcome and introductions
2.   Request for “Any Other Business” items
3.   Notes of the last ward forum held on 27th Sept 2011
4.   Southfield Primary School - presentation by the school’s Headteacher
5.   Thames Tunnel update
6a.  Acton Town Centre corridor improvements
6b.  Outer London Fund for High Street improvements
7.   Southfield ward budget
8.   Any Other Business
9.   Date of future meeting
10.  Meeting closes (approximately 9.30pm)

Please come along. Present at the meeting will by myself chairing the meeting with fellow Southfield Councillors Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Buses set to get more crowded under Boris Johnson

The Mayor admitted this week that bus capacity is being cut back on key bus routes across London.

Starting from tomorrow capacity will be cut back on a number of routes. As well as conceding that there would be a real reduction in capacity throughout the day on this bus route the Mayor conceded that reductions have also taken place on some other bus routes and will continue when further bendy bus routes are converted.

I think at the key issue is not whether bendy buses are good or bad, but simply whether people can get on a bus. The Mayor promised to get rid of bendy buses - he didn't promise to make bus journeys more crowded. At a time when bus ridership figures are at a 50 year high, and almost certain to rise even further, it is appalling that big cuts in bus capacity are taking place.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Today's meeting with Ealing Council's Chief Executive

At the Liberal Democrats regualar meetings with the CEO of Ealing Council a number of issues were discussed: Council cuts; regeneration in Southall, Ealing and Acton; the Ealing Riots; Libraries and Legal advice in the eastern end of the borough.

Coming to the cuts it appears after six months of only a few proposals on how Ealing Council needs to reduce its spending it will be announcing a longer list of cuts. My party will be scrutinising them to see how many of them will leave people more vulnerable or in need.

I asked about the topic of a £5.5 million car park in Southall and was told that most of that money has not been spent (as they do not know where the car park will be sited!) and so could be reallocated to other areas of Council spend where the need is greater.

On the issue of riots Lib Dem Councillors asked about how local businesses are still being affected and about the police response during the riots. The Riot Panel chairman, Darra Singh, was the previous CEO of Ealing Council and so understands some of the issues during his national panel's activities trying to make recommendations to reduce the chance of future riots. It appears that because the riot in Tottenham was not quelled or avoided it gave troublemakers elsewhere to use it as an excuse to loot and take advantage of the police who did not appear to be flexible or quick in moving their resources around London.

A lot of local businesses had received monies from the government / Ealing Council to help them make the repairs to the shops that were damaged. I know that a number of local Liberal Democrat councillors in Ealing have made great efforts to shop or visit restaurants in Ealing to support them.

Lastly we discussed the lack of legal advice in the East end of Ealing (including Acton and part of Chiswick). The Council seemed hopeful that a service offering forms of legal advice could be set up.

If you have any comments or thoughts on Ealing Council email me at or tweet me @CllrGaryMalcolm

Monday, 14 November 2011

Report of the local Southfield police forum

In Southfield tonight I attended the local police forum. After the AGM recently a number of long-standing committee members stood down to allow for some turn over. The meeting tonight had a lot of new members. Because this was the first meeting after the AGM there is no chair until chosen later in the meeting's agenda.

I chaired the first part of the meeting. This section of the meeting was used to explain what the panel is for (to promote crime reduction measures) and to discuss some priorities for the group and the police to concentrate on:

1. Education matters - to see whether there could be a positive outcome by linking up Southfield Primary School with a local youth club.

2. Anti-social behaviour - the panel is to invite people from a couple of Housing Associations to ask questions as to why they appear to have tennants who are causing a lot of anti-social behaviour in the ward. The panel want to see how they select tennants for renting particular properties.

3. Communication - to grow the number of members on the panel the group will explore ways of improving its communication as well as trying to ensure that the police communicate the activities they are doing so more residents have knowledge of how to reduce crime and how to contact the local police team.

After that section the meeting had an election and two people said they wanted to be chair of the panel (so they agreed to share the role). The meeting finished spot on time so it was an enjoyable night. Local politics is about discussing difficult issues and trying to come up with solution to issues in the area.

If you need to contact the Southfield police team use either of the two phone numbers: 020 8721 2946 or 07879 694814. Or email them to report a non-urgent crime via

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A conversation with Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate Brian Paddick yesterday

I was lucky enough to see Brian Paddick yesterday afternoon in central London.

He is a busy man. He fitted in a meeting early in the afternoon and had three others that day! As the Liberal Democrat Mayoral Candidate he is showing that the role of Mayor is one you need to work at. He has been around to so many places already to ask Londoners what they want from a Mayor.

On Thursday Brian Paddick visited the threatened Earl's Court Exhibition Centre with Councillor Linda Wade and other campaigners, followed by the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, the Irish Cultural Centre and the POSK Polish Centre in Hammersmith.

He spoke to us about Councils and the Mayor who are not helping local businesses. One example is where in some red route areas there is space for stop and shop parking bays but they have not been installed - this means local shops are suffering needlessly. Also there is too much empty council housing and so he would take a tough line against errant Councils who do not bring more into use.

He then went on to show that tHe Liberal Democrats nationally had "put the brakes on many Tory excesses". Too right.

Check out his website:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Exhibition Concerning a housing development at 2 Colonial Drive, Chiswick

Today myself and fellow Southfield Councillor Harvey Rose attended the second session held by the developers of a proposed bridge across Bollo Lane coming from Chiswick Business Park. The development will also include a large complex of 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats sited on Colonial Drive.

They had a 3d model with a number of drawings and illustrations to show what the development would look like. My initial views are that the bridge is better than the design I saw about 3 years ago. There may be some overlook issues given the height of the proposed flats. More questions will need to be asked. Apparently the developer will submit a planning application to Ealing and Hounslow Councils in December.

See the link below from -

If you have any views do let me know at

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

We still have a long way to go to make London’s streets safer for cyclists

Caroline Pidgeon, who is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commented today on the Mayor of London's reply to her questions about cycle safety and TfL’s limited proposals that were announced to improve conditions for London cyclists.

As someone who cycles a lot it drives me mad that Boris does little to help cyclists be safer.

Caroline Pidgeon said: "The harsh fact is that 14 cyclists have already died on London’s roads this year compared to 10 last year.  These figures speak for themselves about the need for urgent action."

Today’s measures announced by TfL are welcome, but there is still much more that must be done to ensure London’s roads are far safer for cyclists.
The roll-out of trixi safety mirrors at every major junction and a complete review of London’s most dangerous junctions are desperately needed.

Boris if you are a cyclist why don't you seem to realise what can be done to help cyclists.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Latest Council Cabinet meeting report back...

Tonight's cabinet meeting went along very quickly. Only lasted about an hour which is half the normal length.

The two main items were Gunnersbury Park and an agreeable budget saving:

1/ Ealing Council is to pay about £5 million pounds and Hounslow only 10 percent of that to help fund Gunnersbury Park. The hope is that two bids totalling around £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable a lot of the regeneration of the buildings in the park as well as improve them so that the park can become a real tourist hot spot.

When I asked the Leader of the Council about Hounslow Council and their lack of finance for the project he said that it would be expected that they pay the larger slice of the second part of monies for the regeneration. I am not exactly won over by this but when I asked for a guarantee that under the current administration housing would not be built on Gunnersbury Park, that was given.

2/ About 9 months ago Ealing Council had the idea of saving money by reducing the size of desks that some council staff used. This meant that you could fit more desks and staff into the main council buildings and so reduce the overall rent bill that Ealing Council pays for some of its other buildings.

To me and the Liberal Democrats this saving is sensible and paintless. It saves about a million pounds. Weirdly the Conservatives in Ealing have stuck to their past record of objecting to pretty much all budgetary reductions without making much efforts to say where their savings would come from. I believe a party is only credible if they are consistent and able to support good ideas and object to the poor decisions. That is what the Ealing Liberal Democrats are going.

We do not complain at all the cuts but the ones that negatively affect the vulnerable. We also are happy to praise the council when they do something good.

If you have any questions please contact me via or using @CllrGaryMalcolm on Twitter.

Why political AGM meetings are not dry and boring!

Last night the Liberal Democrats held their Annual General Meeting. Usually people might think meetings of this sort are dry and stuffy. Being set in a pub in South Ealing people had a good time discussing local and national political events as well as eating and having a drink.

As Liberal Democrat Leader in Ealing I spoke about what my team of councillors have been up to in the past 12 months. Of all three political parties we had the best attendance rate! Cllr Harvey Rose and Cllr Nigel Bakhai attended 100% of their meetings plus some extra ones that the Council don't count in their official figures. I thanked their hard work.

I mentioned that the Labour-run Ealing council have made a number of cuts which will affect vulnerable residents. Also I spoke about the crazy decision to spend £5.5 million on a car park that isn't needed. In the Liberal Democrat Council Tax budget amendment we would have stopped this waste of our money and redirected it on other areas such as saving some of our libraries, reversing the Park Ranger and Enviro-crime officer cuts, amongst other things.

Labour currently like blaming the government and not want to concentrate on the difficult job of reducing the budget as every Council is having to do.

I went on to say that the Conservative party in Ealing does not appear to offer any solutions to the problems that are being raised. If you are to reduce budgets you need to do so thinking of the long term by looking at every penny the council spends to see what areas are most in need of money.

After I had taken questions, a few about the new Garden Tax that Labour are introducing, Mike Cox spoke. Mike lives in Hillingdon and has lived in Ealing. He has been our GLA candidate for the area and spoke about the many positive policies that the coalition government has introduced in the past 18 months such as stopping Heathrow from being expanded (a long time Lib Dem policy). Note that the Conservatives only came around to this viewpoint a year or so before the general election!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Feedback on yesterday's St Albans Church planning site visit

Yesterday morning myself, with fellow Southfield ward Councillors Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose, met the planning committee, developers, the Council's planning officer and residents to discuss the current proposals for converting St Albans Church into ten flats and a house.

Nearly 50 people turned up to welcome the Planning Committee of Ealing Council as they carried out a site visit prior to the formal meeting this Wednesday (9th November). In addition representatives from the developer and the Montesorri School attended. The hour long visit provided an opportunity for council members to acquaint themselves with the site and to also listen to comments from local residents.

It was pointed out to the Planning Committee members that a number of items trouble residents such as the lack of some details in the report (about an access road, recycling facilities) as well as losing a site that could be used as a community building. We also highlighted some of the possible alternative uses for the site that the council officers have overlooked. Many people took the chance to go inside the Church.

Fellow ward councillor said: "This was possibly the first and last opportunity for residents to view the interior of St Albans. It was actually quite a moving experience: the church is stripped of nearly all its furnishings but we saw some beautiful windows and memorials to First World War soldiers."

Thursday, 3 November 2011

D-day arriving for St Albans Church decision

This coming Wednesday (9th November) in Ealing Town Hall at 7pm, the planning committee will decide whether or not to approve the conversion of St Albans Church into ten flats.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this subject. If you are not aware of the application, it proposes to convert the church into ten residential flats and a two storey building. There are concerns regarding safe access to the site given it is located on the bend of South Parade and that it should be used for community purposes.

The Council officers are recommending that the application is granted, but your Southfield Liberal Democrat team is contesting that in conjunction with local residents. So hearing your views is very important in getting this across to Ealing Council.

If you have any views on the matter or would like us to inform you of the result of the planning committee please contact us as soon as possible (email will be quicker). Our email address is: