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Monday, 31 December 2012

My New Year's Message for Ealing

With the Olympics, this year has generally been more positive compared to the sad event of the Ealing riots in 2011. I was lucky enough to attend a number of the Olympic and Paralympic events. They personally have inspired me to take up two new sports - tennis and fencing.

In my local park (Southfield Recreation Grounds) a tennis league takes place every 6 weeks where you pay £10 and play each person, of varying standards, over the 6 week period. The winner is the one who gets the most points. It is really fun and if anyone wants to know more please tweet me at: @CllrGaryMalcolm

My view watching the Olympics
The Council needs to remind people of the many good facilities such as parks we have around the borough. Only if we can get more kids playing sports can we win more medals as well as keeping us all healthier.

Myself and many others have spent more time in the variety of restaurants and shops in Ealing to help support local businesses in the post riot time where many insurers seemed not willing to pay the shopkeepers the insurance they said they were entitled to.

In 2013 the Liberal Democrats hope that some proper work on a new cinema will take place. Ealing hungers for a new cinema and we should not have had to wait this long.

We have also been fighting to ensure that our local hospitals and fire stations can be protected from being downgraded. These vital services are not ones that can be taken away without any harm being caused to Ealing's residents.

Another missed collection
Over the past year a theme has been the dirty streets in Ealing caused by the poor management of Enterprise. My postbag mainly contained emails and communications from residents aggrieved about this matter. People feel ashamed that their streets are so dirty.

Some of the decisions taken by Ealing Council's administration have not to me been focussed on protecting our most vulnerable residents. How much or little money a Council has it needs to look at how it can protect the elderly, those with disabilities and the many community services that Ealing residents use. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for these in 2013. We are clear this is one area which the administration needs to be reminded about.

Despite a number of disappointments this year in Ealing the Olympics has given many people a positive spirit which we must build on.

I wish everyone a great New Year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

How to reduce crime over the festive period

Speaking to the local Southfield police they have today given me the crime figures for November as well as some useful advice for reducing crime over Christmas. Please spread the advise to your neighbours.

Most of the crime figures are down from last month. There has been a slight spike in the theft from motor vehicle crimes but other than that the figures are slightly down from the previous times. There has been a spike in robberies and snatches - these have been of the high value items such as jewelry and iPhone 5s.

Local policing
A few crime prevention tips that will help ensure your safety over the festive period:

  • Leave a light on when out in the evening or use a light switch timer - try to have one that comes on downstairs as well as upstairs
  • Don't leave gifts under your tree overnight if it is in view of the road (gifts are for your loved ones and we don’t want to entice opportunist burglars)
  • If you do get any gifts from online remember to remove any address details or labels from the boxes before throwing them out (this can be an indicator to a burglar that you have a lovely new TV, Ipod or laptop)
  • Be vigilant when walking home, keep your phones and other gadgets in your pockets - don’t advertise yourself to thieves.

Let us know if you have any good crime reduction tips.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

We must see a dramatic improvement in access to the Tube

Recently there was the announcement that manual boarding ramps on the Tube, which were introduced during the London 2012 Games, at 16 Tube stations, will now be kept and extended to more stations.

This is good news but something that Liberal Democrats across London have long supported. Caroline Pidgeon has been very vocal on this issue. In the photo you will see that (a few years ago) I needed to get around using a crutch. Getting around via the train and tube was very difficult. Sometimes people did not get up to allow you to stand.

Me at Turnham Green tube when I was
 younger and thinner!
However the biggest issue was the problem of either no lifts or ramps to gain access to the stations. This affects those in wheelchairs everyday of the week.

It is only right that this much needed commitment to improving access to the Tube has been made in a week when it was confirmed that London would host the 2017 Paralympic Athletics World Championships.

Next year we must see dramatic improvements in access to the Tube. It is vital that manual boarding ramps are quickly extended to a further 17 stations which supposedly have ‘step free access', but where in practice a gap exists between the platform and trains.

Check out some of the other campaigns that Caroline Pidgeon and the London Liberal Democrats are fighting for.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Labour-run Ealing Council introduce a "Tax on the Poor"

At last night's main Council meeting where a lot of the important Council decisions are taken, the Labour party introduced a local Council Tax support scheme which means that many of Ealing's poorest residents will be taxed.

Lib Dem Councillor Jon Ball spoke about the matter and said some of the problems with the scheme are:
Councillor Jon Ball
  • It essentially takes away any real chance of residents to get claims for support backdated so the poor will get poorer
  • The consultation only had a response rate of less than half a percent
  • The Council has turned down about £600,000 of money from the government by the way it was introducing the scheme
The scheme is a real blow to tens of thousands of vulnerable residents in Ealing when the Labour-run Council is spending money on vanity projects like a £5 million car park. The Council is meant to prioritise helping vulnerable residents, but here Ealing Council has decided not to.

Ealing Council had money allocated so that they could avoid the hardship that now will be caused to many of Ealing's residents and chose not to use it to help these vulnerable residents. Perhaps they want to use it to build another car park that is not needed?

Other issues that came up at the meeting included:
  1. I handed in a petition, collected in Perivale, to change the weekend parking times so that local businesses can be helped
  2.  Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Bakhai raised a good question about Council repairs to estate buildings. One example Nigel quoted involved the delaying of Council repairs to security doors as the building is due to be replaced in a number of years. Residents NOW deserve some security. I raised this issue with the Chief Executive of Ealing Council today.
  3. When a member of the public raised the issue of poor street cleaning and performance by Enterprise the Labour Councillor responsible for this area said: "That's how it worked out" and "It's okay," making excuses about the current poor performance. Liberal Democrats want to see tougher action to ensure that Enterprise perform.
  4. A motion was listed on the agenda which criticised the Conservative party Leader. In their party there certainly has been a lot of problems over the past year: such as the expulsion of one Conservative Councillor; one Conservative councillor is said to have created a false identity on a website forum; and walking out of an important planning committee meeting.
  5. A Liberal Democrat proposal raised by Councillor Andrew Steed, to freeze Council Tax for the next year, was greeted warmly by the Council. The Council will formally set its Council Tax early next year. 
  6. A motion about protecting Acton Fire Station which is on a list of fire stations which the Mayor of London might shut. We set up a petition in November where we collected signatures in Acton. Check out and sign our online petition

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fine failing refuse contractor or get rid of them!

Many residents across Ealing are suffering from the continued poor level of service that Labour-run Ealing Council’s waste contractor, Enterprise, are providing.

Nine months after the contact started we are still left with a large number of streets that are dirty and unclean.
Last year my Council postbag contained a majority of complaints about the huge increase in parking charges.

Now a huge share is from residents annoyed with the following:

  • Missed collection of waste and recyclables
  • Streets not swept properly
  • Leaves not swept up
  • Uncollected bags of leaves
  • Reports of fly-tipped waste not collected quickly
  • New residents not knowing what they can recycle

A local resident e-mailed with the following observation: “…it appears that the whole of Bedford Park has been missed today for green box and food waste. The green boxes littering the area do not add to aesthetics! I have reported a missed collection on the website. Street-sweeping appears fairly haphazard and there are piles of uncollected leaves, and uncollected bags of leaves. We have a repeated problem with fly-tipping…I had to report the fly-tipping three times over about two weeks before it was removed - I was told 'nothing was there', when it clearly was.”

Uncollected waste
Extracts from internal Council documents read: “…the level of reported daily missed collections remains
unsatisfactory” and “…performance appears to have deteriorated…”

The Liberal Democrats believe that Ealing Council needs to take tougher action against Enterprise. They have failed in many areas and although they may be trying, they really appear to have made little progress especially when you factor in the large number of extra staff they have collecting household waste and recyclables.

The number of missed collections has been worse than the acceptable level for EACH of the last seven months (April to October) from the available data.

So far Ealing Council appears spineless when asked about fining Enterprise for their poor level of service. From an investigation I uncovered that Ealing Council incurred additional expenditure by having to take on staff to deal with the high number of complaints from residents who suffered missed collections. So WE pay for THEIR mistakes!

Recyclables not collected as well!
I am all for giving people a chance but nine months is a long time. Either fine Enterprise to show you mean business or get rid of them. From the last set of monthly figures I saw, our streets were dirtier than the previous month. Only 7 wards had an improvement, 16 had worsened! Having clean streets should be the norm. Dirty streets should be the rare exception.

Liberal Democrats say that if you hire a contractor, you have to make sure they will deliver. And if not, the contract needs to ensure that poor performance results in the contractor losing out. In any other setting Enterprise would be sacked, taken to the courts to pay substantial damages.

If you have a story where your street is dirty or your waste is left uncollected please let me know using email or Twitter via: @CllrGaryMalcolm

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Movember is over and over £300 has been raised

Now that Movember has ended I said I would update people before I shave off my moustache. I raised (including gift aid) £345 which was below what I had hoped but still a good sum for the charities that will benefit.

I am still trying to get a few more late donations. Any kind takers can still donate.

Mo: Now
For those not aware of Movember check out their webiste. But today the levels of awareness, understanding and funding of male health issues, like prostate cancer, lag significantly behind causes such as breast cancer.

Often men are reluctant to openly discuss the subject due to longstanding traditions, coupled with an ‘it’ll be alright’ attitude. Men are less likely to schedule a doctor's appointment when they feel ill or go for a check up, therefore decreasing the chance of early detection and effective treatment of common diseases.

So I hope that the money raised in the UK and around the world in Movember will be used to education lots of people and prevent the cancers than many may suffer from.

Before Movember started
I am not sure whether I should keep my 'tash as a number of people said I looked younger. I am sure they were just being nice. So thank you if you donated to my Movember appeal. Your donation is appreciated. And do let me know @CllrGaryMalcolm whether I should keep the 'tash or grow the beard back...

Friday, 30 November 2012

Two local police events in Chiswick and Acton

At last night's Ward Forum meeting the local Southfield police team told us about two events occuring in our area. If you can get to them you will learn about how to avoid crime and potentially get your bike fixed!

Crime Prevention Day
The Safer Neighbourhood Team is hosting next Tuesday (4th Dec), on Acton Green,  between 11am and 4pm, a crime prevention day.

They will be there to give advice to the public on all aspects of crime prevention, and will be happy to discuss any issues that residents might have. Please pass this information on, and encourage anyone who has concerns about crime in the ward to attend.

Exchanging Places - reducing cycle accidents
This is your opportunity to see for yourself how difficult it is for cyclists to be seen from the driving seat of a big truck.

On the 19th of December the Southfield Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team, in conjunction with officers from the MET’s Traffic Division will be hosting an event where cyclists will be invited to sit in the driving seat of a large truck. They will then be able to see for themselves the limited visibility available to drivers of large vehicles and buses.

Southfield Police team
Officers will also be giving cycle safety advice and offering free bicycle security marking.

Ealing Council will be providing two Dr Bike Cycling Instructors who will be offering free cycle maintenance and safer cycling advice.

The event will be held at the junction of Centre Avenue and The Vale W3, between 7am and 11am on Wednesday 19th December.

If you get to either of them please do. If you are not free then do let your neighbours know. Spread the word.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Southfield Ward Forum has Rats!!!

Tonight's Southfield ward forum was lively, especially when we were talking about Ealing Council and its rubbish collection (adjective, not the noun!)

We had a great discussion about rubbish and how the Council and its contractor Enterprise was still failing to do its job correctly. It should collect our household waste, recyclables and sweep our streets efficiently. Instead the figures for the past two months show that it is failing misrably.

For example when I was told things were improving figures showed that in Ealing borough the contractor was doing its job worse in October than September. Hardly improving things. The Liberal Democrats believe that Enterprise should be fined and fined 'large'. They are letting down residents in most parts of the borough, especially Southfield.

Topics raised in this 'rubbish' (noun not an adjective) discussion were:

  • One resident after moving some uncleared leaves on Woodstock Road discovered a dead rat. Very nice. Not.
  • That a number of residents put our their waste on the wrong day. Ealing Council needs to be better at informing residents about the arrangements for the collection of waste and recyclables, especially those who have recently moved into the area or those who do not read English as their first language.
  • The fact that many streets were swept BEFORE the household waste had been collected - leading to lots of extra waste being left on the street.

We had a visitor from ARK Priory Primary school to update us on the new school that is sited where the Priory Community Centre was sited. A number of questions were raised and the following were some of the main points raised:
Priory Community Centre
  • When the school is built it will have two classes, each of 30 pupils where being located near to the school is an advantage.
  • The company, ARK, are not from a religious nature but one of charity and education. Let's hope so.
  • The Head of the school will be selected in the next week or so.
  • There will be one teacher and one assistant per class.
  • They have made a committment to having after school activities and breakfast clubs.
  • When I asked about whether the displaced community groups, who can not get places at any other Acton based facilitiy, they will have the chance to rent the school in the evenings for a not-for-profit price. Quite right!

We then had the local police team who as usual gave a lot of great crime advice...

Gary Busuttil with the local police team
  • Do not leave the curtains open with all the presents around the Christmas tree available. Again easy for a villain to spot possible homes with lots of presents to steal
  • If you get a present at Xmas, make sure you tear up the wrappers as some criminals will notice the cardboard box for a plasma TV and then potentially break in and streal the said item.

If you want to know details of the next ward forum meeting please tweet me at @CllrGaryMalcolm or email me at

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Next Southfield Ward Forum meeting is on Thur 29th Nov...

The Southfield ward forum is a chance for residents to ask their three local councillors questions and a meeting where Council officers and the local police team discuss local issues.

The Forum also has an annual budget of around £40,000 and funds local projects that improve the area like adding new lighting, improving plagrounds and parks as well as installing cycling facilities to encourage more people to cycle.

Scout Hut, Rugby Road
The meeting takes place at the Scout Hut, Rugby Road, Chiswick. W4 1AT, this Thursday (29th November) from 7.30pm.

The venue will be open from 7.15pm so please feel free to come a little early. There will be any of the documents that relate to the meeting so you do not need to print our any paperwork.

On the agenda for this meeting are the following items:

  • A chance for residents to raise Council related matters
  • Ark Priory Primary Academy (formally the Priory Community Centre) - presentation
  • Southfield Neighbourhood Police Team - where you can ask the police questions
  • Southfield Road Shopping Parade Consultation results
  • Southfield ward budget - where you can make suggestions of where the Council should spend some of its money
  • Discussion on the Council's Waste & recycling collection and Street cleaning

All are invited so please turn up. If you have any questions about the meeting please email me at

Hope to see you on Thursday.

PS If you want to read some facts about Southfield ward click here

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Hospital Demo at Ten Downing Street

Earlier today there was a aniti hospital closure demonstation on Whitehall before over 50,000 petition signatures were handed into 10 Downing Street.

I was there with Liberal Democrat Councillors Nigel Bakhai and Andrew Steed and Gary Busuttil from Southfield who has been very active in this campaign.

Gary Busuttil with a large number of petitions
No member of the Conservative party was present so does this mean that they are for closing Ealing and other local hospitals?

As many of you know the Accident & Emergency and maternity wards of a number of local hospitals including Ealing and Charing Cross, are due to close if plans by the North West NHS come to pass.

Today we held a demonstration before the petitions were handed into 10 Downing Street.

Myself and Councillor Nigel Bakhai at the rally
Although the final decision as to which hospitals will be downgraded, the current plan does not give us much hope. This will mean longer times to travel whilst ill to get to the nearest A&E ward, of if visiting a relative you would need to travel a lot further.

It is disgrace that so many views of residents in Ealing and West London might be ignored. Any government minister must see the volume (and weight) of the petitions and stop these downgrades to our hopsitals which will just mean more people will suffer.

Councillor Andrew Steed at the rally

See some of the other related posts on hospital downgrades....

Gary Busuttil and Councillor Andrew
 Steed queuing to get  into downing Street

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Movember - 15 days gone...

Since I said I would shave off my beard and grow a moustache to raise money for charity as part of Movember, I have so far raised £150.

Not bad but I am hoping to get a total of £500. This is a picture of me earlier today...

Day 15
The second picture is when I started the journey of turning myself into a moustachio muskateer.

I have been joined in my gorwing antics by five or six colleagues at work and hopefully we can raise a lot of money and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

Check out my initial post when I started Movember (the new name for November).

Day 0
All donations are welcomed however small via the Movember website. Check out this link. Anything you donate will be appreciated greatly.

Monday, 12 November 2012

46 per cent of MPs back third runway at Heathrow

I read today of the Ipsos Mori survey commissioned by the Evening Standard detailing that a majoity of both the Labour party and the Conservatives support expansion of Heathrow.

Crazy. The facts show that there is no no need to expand Heathrow as it is not running at full capacity. The arguments that the country is in a bad finanial situation is totally disingenuous, as an expansion can hardly be done overnight anyhow.

Me at an anti-Heathrow expansion rally
Quite rightly it points out that the Liberal Democrats are vehemently opposed to expanding Heathrow.

Check out the Evening Standard article and make up for yourself if you live in Ealing who you trust on the Heathrow issue.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Some interesting facts about Southfield

The Greater London Assembly has produced some data into the profiles of each ward around London. Here is some of the information relating to Southfield ward which covers some of Acton and Chiswick...

2002 2012
Population 12,800 13,550
Children (aged 0-15) 1,950      2,600
Working Age (16-64) 9,550            9,550
Older People (Aged 65+)  1,300 1,350

Outside Turnham Green station
Population breakdown (2011)
Male 50%
Male Children 20%
Male Working Age 71%
Male Older People 9%
Female 50%
Female Children 1400 19%
Female Working Age 70%
Female Older People 11%

Number of Dwellings                                6,171
Unauthorised Absence in All Schools      1%
Mean house price                                    £645,171

Household breakdown (2011)
Couple household with dependent children 17%
Couple household without dependent children 30%
Lone parent household 8%
One person household 37%
Other multi person household 8%

Councillor Andrew Steed on Southfield Rec

Claimants breakdown (2011)
Rate of incapacity benefit claimants 2.9%
Rate of income support claimants                    2.9%
Rate of Jobseekers' claimants 3.1%

Employment by Industry (2011)
Retail, Wholesale & Motor Trades 26.2%
Education 9.2%
Health 4.2%
Arts, entertainment & recreation 3.5%
Accomodation & food services 5%
Construction 4.5%
Manufacturing 8%
Professional Scientific & technical 14.7%
Information & communication 8.1%
Business Administration & support 10.5%
Transport & Storage (incl. Postal) 3.2%
Financial & Insurance 1.2%
Property 1.6%

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ealing Liberal Democrats Slam Tory Walkout

Ealing Conservatives faced fierce criticism after five of their Councillors walked out of a crucial Planning Committee meeting earlier this week. The walkout meant that the Planning committee with seven Labour Councillors were able to vote through a controversial planning application.

The Planning Committee members, made up of cross party representatives, were due to discuss a controversial planning application sited in North Acton. The application was refused by a previous committee in August but brought back to the committee by officers for reconsideration.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Bakhai voted against the development – but with no other opposition, the application went through.

Councillor Nigel Bakhai
After the meeting, I spoke with Councillor Nigel Bakhai and he said: “It was absolutely disgraceful for no less than five Tory Councillors to leave the meeting before this crucial application was discussed. I objected to the application because it doesn’t include enough affordable housing – only 20 units out of 151. It is also a poor design, and made up of a series of multiple storey tall buildings – which is over-development for this area."

Because of the Conservative's disappearance Labour-run Ealing Council were able to vote through their controversial plans.

This shows a complete lack of care for the borough as a whole and our finances – but unfortunately we have come to expect this from the Conservatives in Ealing.

They are not an effective or credible opposition to the reckless Labour administration, and they clearly have no sense of responsibility. Ealing deserves better.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Movember: I have gone clean shaven to help raise money for prostate and testicular cancer

As many of you know I have had a beard for a quite some time but as you know we are now in Movember (not November) where some (brave) men go clean shaven and grow a moustache to raise money to reduce prostate and testicular cancer. I have taken the plunge.

I am looking to raise £500 this month and hopefully you have a spare tenner or more that you might like to donate to the cause. Here is the link to make kind donations.

Pre shave

Post shave
More information can be found on the Movember website.

On the site I will post updates as my clean shaven face becomes more moustachio.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Open letter to the Leader of Ealing Council

Dear Leader of the Council,

At the Council meeting [16th October] I asked you a question relating to the fact that Southfield's share of grade A streets is ten percent below the average. It is not the only ward in Ealing where this is happening. Truly shocking.

I have given you and Ealing Council’s management staff over a week to come up with details of what they will do for Southfield - extra staff, forcing staff who are not up to scratch to be dismissed or re-trained, or something else. So far not a response from anyone. Head in the sand? You know the issues that continue in Southfield. Whether it was the non-collection of household waste or recyclables in April and May, things are the same now.

Being somewhat cynically I can only assume that there is a political bias as to some wards being treated worse than others. Southfield was the ward that suffered the most from April’s non collection problems and again the streets are the dirtiest of ALL twenty-tree wards in Ealing.

This leaves both Ealing Council and Enterprise with a less than poor reputation - which is getting worse. I expect residents to be treated fairly and correctly. The longer their [Enterprise’s] sad performance continues, the greater the chance there is of their organisation folding. Because Ealing is not paying out for their poor service is irrelevant.

I expect some clear action plan which is communicated to ward councillors and residents, as to how things can be improved in a number of wards like Southfield which are the most badly hit.

Councillor Gary Malcolm,
Leader of Ealing Liberal Democrat Group

Thursday, 18 October 2012

See where Ealing Council wasted £40,000 of OUR money

At Ealing Council's most important meeting for discussing issues there were a number of topics that were discussed:

  • Official - the streets in Southfield are the worst
  • Ealing Council wastes £40,000 on a magazine that was not needed
  • The legacy of the Olympics and the Paralympics
  • Why the Lib Dems are the only party truly against Heathrow expansion

Southfield: 23rd out of 23 wards!
Myself, Councillors Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose and many hundreds of residents have wondered why their streets have been left dirty, litter filled and in need of some TLC. The answer is that the combination of Ealing Council's management of, and their contractor, Enterprise, has been an utter disaster.

Labour: dirty streets
When official figures showed that for September that the streets of Southfield are the dirtiest in the WHOLE borough, then I jumped at the chance to ask what the Leader of the Council will do to ensure Southfield is looked at with more importance. His answer was that he would speak to me afterwards. Hardly an answer. I am still awaiting a full reply. This contractor has been allowed to get away with extremely poor service since April. They should be fined. Perhaps money is all they understand.

Labour's waste of £40,000
Liberal Democrat Councillors Jon Ball and Andrew Steed spoke up against the spending of £40,000 on a magazine (called "Altogether Better") which told residents what they already knew. It did not add anything from Around Ealing which it produces about ten times a year. Labour's top finance spokeswomen said in the debate: "Silly little things like £40,000". I think £40,000 is a lot of money. That could fund the salary of two people to help clean our streets, a teacher or many other things that Ealing would get some benefit from. Instead we saw Labour deny that there is a problem. One one hand it says "We don't have any money" and then it spends £40,000 on a magazine that is not needed.

An Olympic Legacy in Ealing?
Next I raised an item which the chamber agreed with, stating that the Olympics and the Paralympics were a massive success for London and could bring a positive improvement to West London. I did state that Ealing Council has many fine sporting facilities and parks but they need to promote them through the website and other methods so that more kids can get into the habit of playing competitive or non-competitive sports.

This would be great for people's health but also might lead us to more medals in future Olympic Games. I also went to talk about facilities for those who are disabled. We need as a borough, to do more to not just provide access to transport, but to other community facilities as well.

Liberal Democrats against Heathrow expansion
 Liberal Democrats the only party against Heathrow Expansion
With the Conservatives almost likely to change their current official position, and so will be for expanding Heathrow after the next general election in 2015. So no one can trust that promise.

The Liberal Democrats have been consistently against Heathrow expansion. And remember that the Labour party changed their position after the last general election. But their leader Ed Miliband has not said much to make me think he is actively against it. Action not words please.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ealing Liberal Democrats submit response to hospital consultation

Ealing Liberal Democrats have submitted their formal response to NHS North West as part of their hospital consultation to downgrade a number of local hospitals.

The Liberal Democrats have been very active and took part in the march on Ealing Common two weeks ago, where I spoke to the thousands of people who had gathered to share their opposition to the proposed closure of many local Accident and Emergency wards.

Councillor Nigel Bakhai on Ealing Common at the rally
Councillor Nigel Bakhai sent in the Liberal Democrat's submission and said this to me about the issue: "There is a case for improving healthcare and hospitals across the area.

However, the case is not made for the specific proposals and how closing A&Es and other hospital services will deliver better health outcomes. We are concerned about the extra distances that patients and ambulances will have to travel in an emergency if you reduce the number of A&Es. There are poor transport links between Ealing and Northwick Park or West Middlesex, and more patients in the West of the borough are likely to go to Hillingdon than the consultation expects."

There is also result in more pressure on already over stretched GP practices and on the remaining hospitals which are left after the reconfiguration. The population of Ealing is growing as well as aging and we should be improving hospital services not reducing them.

Finally, much of the area around Southall is deprived, and as a result its population tends to have greater health needs and it therefore does not make sense that Ealing should be downgraded to be a “local hospital” which will effectively be little more than a polyclinic when there is so much local demand on existing health services.

This is only the start of the fight to protect these local heath facilities.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Hospital Debate - a knock out blow against the NHS plans

Rarely do public meetings in Ealing Town Hall’s Victoria Hall fill the venue. Last night was very different. A full meeting with many residents from all over the borough having their say.

From the Liberal Democrats we had myself and Councillor Andrew Steed present, as well as Councillors Jon Ball and Nigel Bakhai, our spokesperson for Heath matters, who had come back from the Liberal Democrat conference that finished earlier that day. The photo taken by Councillor Jon Ball shows the packed audience...

Packed audience in Ealing town hall
The debate pitted two people from each side against each other who spoke first before questions were asked by members of the audience. The audience was chaired by Victoria Macdonald, Heath correspondent of Channel 4. The meeting had so many questions that it actually finished 30 minutes late.

The general points that were raised by residents or said by the panel were:

  • Lots of people have given reasons why the hospital consultation North West London are conducting is biased and flawed. Many people still do not know about the proposals, only 50 copies of the consultation were available in Southall library (which serves about 65,000 residents!)
  • The proposals pit one community against another. Dr Spencer says it's okay if you vote to keep Charing Cross' A&E and shut Ealing's A&E or visa versa.
  • It appeared that if any of the hospitals were downgraded they would have a smaller building on site and sell the land.
  • Dr Spencer said that Maternity services at Ealing Hospital had worsened but when an audience member read out a list of monthly facts, from a public document, it was very clear Dr Spencer's comments were incorrect and not true (things had improved). He had the chance to apologise and retract his statements but he didn't do either. The figures show that Ealing's maternity unit is best in north west London!
  • It is very strange that the plans in total (all hospitals combined) seem to have fewer people having operations, being admitted into the various wards etc. – despite the fact that populations are increasing in West London and the birth rate is increasing.
  • Local doctor in debate in Ealing said it takes far longer to travel to hospital than the NHS proposals tell us. Even if you travel where the proposals state they assume people live next to a tube or rail station.
  • A senior cardiologist at Ealing Hospital spoke against the NHS proposals – he said a lot of his colleagues agreed with him.

I am a diabetic and I find the NHS plans as being bonkers. It was great to see a full hall so people could ask a lot of question to those who think that downgrading our hospitals is a good idea. The consultation was biased and did not engage with Ealing’s communities fully. Many people still do not know about the plans.

This is round one to those who are against the plans. The fight will go on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Southfield's Police team nearly up to full strength

At the local Southfield police panel meeting tonight it was their AGM. There was a good chance to hear from the local police team what they have done over the year and what changes there will be to the police in Southfield, Chiswick.

The items I noted down included...

1. Police team nearly back up to full strength and the Lib Dem petition
You might be aware of the petition set up by the Southfield Liberal Democrats to get ensure that our area had a team of six led by a sergeant who does not have to share his time between other wards.

Tonight we had good news that we now have 5.75 officers (up from about 4 previously). We have two PCs, 3 PCSOs and our sergeant share some of his time assisting the police team in South Acton. The petition was set up and since then we have collected about 650 signatures. Thank you to all those who signed our petition.

Gary Busuttil and Lib Dem Councillors bump into the police
2. Crimes of the last year

Recent increase in cycle crime and thefts from vehicles. Our PC said that many examples were where people have either left their bikes insecure or left on show items in the cars which will have attracted criminals to breaking into those cars.  Recently there had been a large number of break ins to BMWs due to problems with a device that was used to assist criminals gaining access. The local police team contacted owners in the area with BMWs to inform them of how to reduce the chances of their car being accessed. It even gained some coverage on BBC's Watchdog! Well done.

3. Gary Busuttil elected onto the Southfield ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel
At the AGM tonight, resident and crime fighter, Gary Busuttil, was chosen to be a member of the police panel. At the end of the meeting we spoke and he said: "My aim over the next year with the help of the rest of the panel, is to set up a Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) on Steele Road, which is one of the few roads in the ward without a NHW. Living in Steele Road for four years I want to see more people aware of the local police meetings and how they can help people to reduce the chance of them being a victim of crime.

Gary Busuttil fighting crime in Chiswick
4. Likely changes to policing next year
After many, many months of rumours and comment it appears that a number of changes will happen that should enable the police to deal more quickly with serious crime as well as the less urgent crimes as well.

Basically it will mean that there will be less "blue light" teams to investigate 999 calls. Instead they would ONLY investigate top priority crimes such as murder, gun/knife attacks, robbery, domestic violence etc.

Then there will be more police added to the local teams who will then deal with the current types of cases plus the less urgent 999 calls. This should mean that urgent call get a faster response as well as local teams being better resourced so that they can deal with non urgent but important matters. We will see how this plays out next year, but it appears in Southfield we will get extra police.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Southfield Ward Forum - what happened...

At the Carlton Road Day Centre the Southfield Ward Forum took place last night where are range of local issues were discussed:
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Litter, recycling and street sweeping
  • Controlled Parking Zones 
Before the meeting I had been sent a petition that related to a local laundry which was causing a great deal of noise pollution and disturbance to residents in Chiswick. I formally accepted the petition and the Council are taking legal action against the noisy business. Personally I hope they can be shut down ASAP, as they clearly appear to want to operate pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without give a damn about local residents.

Litter that is seen more commonly  now
The first two items involved Council officers we had invited so they could give details of what they do and answer questions from residents.

1. Enviro-crime officer: Jim, who covers Southfield ward, spoke about a number of activities that he had been involved in over the past month or two.  He had investigated lots of complaints of flytipping and taken action to ensure the person who dumped the waste was uncovered. He also ensured that legal action was taken against the owners of vehicles who damaged pavements or had no tax to be parked were they were. When Jim had answered questions from residents I comments that over the past three or four months he had really made a positive difference to Chiswick and Acton. Residents gave clapped him as he sat down.

2. Anti-social Behaviour officer: Paul went through the range of actions the Council, in cooperation with the police, can take to stop incidences of anti social behaviour - mediation, warnings, Anti social behaviour orders, housing injunctions. He sited some examples of work his team had done and agreed to keep in contact with the ward forum so that residents can ensure they know who to call about the different anti social behaviour issues. Paul also kindly stayed to answer questions from residents. When he sat down he was also clapped.

Anti-social behaviour
3. Closure of Accident and Emergency wards to Charing Cross hospitals:
Southfield Councillor Andrew Steed spoke about the NHS North West's plans to close a number of local hospital's A&E and Maternity units. This would mean that people would have to travel longer distances to receive treatment. There are lives at stake given that fast treatment is crucial when a number of cases of 999 are called.

Sadly the consultation has not been publicised to an acceptable level - many people in the meeting did not know about the possible changes to local hospitals. Also the questions they ask force you to select one local hospital against another. If you choose Option B then Charing Cross is retained but others are downgraded. Liberal Democrats believe that the process of changing out health services is so crucial that it should not be left to people choosing which hospital is the one they wish to be retained. With a larger birth rate and population there is an argument that none of the hospitals should be downgraded. So when the Liberal Democrats complete the consultation form (before the deadline of October 8th) we will state this.

Check out the rally to protect our local hospitals that myself and Councillor Andrew Steed attended. You can also hear the speech on You Tube, I made to the large number of concerned residents at the rally.

4. Ward Budget:
There were a number of items we discussed relating to the ward budget we have access to which is nearly £40,000 annually...

  • Agreed to set up a consultation in January to measure whether the addition of lighting to Southfield Rec has been successful. It will look to see whether people feel safer now and whether they are using the Rec more in the early mornings and later evenings.
  • There were a number of possible plans to add or upgrade cycle parking around the area. We are to get more details about these so that we can say Yes or No to them at the next meeting.
  • We agreed to spend £330 to help a local social club which assists elderly residents.
  • We agreed to a consultation to see whether a proposed 20 mph zone could be introduced to some roads near Larden Road in Acton. This area borders Hammersmith Council and some of there roads have a 20 mph limit so this may help to reduce accidents and bring a consistent speed limit to the area.
  • Agreed to introduce changes to Bedford Corner at no cost to the ward, which will hopefully reduce the number of times vehicles have damaged the kerbing and railings in this area. The plan essentially moves back the current railings.

5. Discussing the Council's approach to Recycling and Road Sweeping:
A resident asked a few questions about the problems they were having about their roads not being swept properly as well as whether items are being recycled. One resident reported that the pre-separated recycleable waste in her street was being chucked into a vehicle so that it got mixed up.

I suggested that we invite someone from the recycling team to deal with some of these questions at the next meeting. People were in agreement to the idea.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ealing Council Discusses Possible Local Hospital Downgrades

At tonight's Cabinet meeting in Ealing Town Hall, the main items that was was on the agenda was undoubtedly about the possible downgrades of many local hospitals in West London.

See a previous post I wrote about the rally that took place at the weekend. You can see photos of the day as well as a You Tube clip of my speech to the large crowd.

Campaigners against hospital downgrades
At the meeting tonight Tim Rideout, who is writing Ealing Council's consultation response to the proposals by NHS North West London to downgrade four local hospitals, gave his initial views on the proposals. They are not encouraging...

  • Consultation methodology is flawed (as the process is too short, does not engage residents adequately and contains many leading questions)
  • Evidence that centralising (shutting) Accident and Emergency wards is a good move is not proven. I think people's lives are at risk from forcing ambulances to travel further afield. Only for cases like heart attacks or strokes is their real evidence sending patients to a specialist ward is beneficial.
  • There appears to be no account of the higher than average population and birthrate in Ealing. The planning is not based on populations and so will always be out of date before it was published!
  • There are no alternatives in the document. It only allows you to essentially agree to their proposal and suggest which hospital you either want to save or have downgraded. To say the least this is a form of consultation that is more leading than any biased market research survey I have seen before. 
  • Many of the arguments used are based on theoretical arguments and not on hard facts.

That is just a flavour for some of the reasons why the proposals are bad news for us all.

The Cabinet agreed to hold a special meeting to discuss the final report which will take place on Friday 5th October.

Tweet your comments about the proposals to downgrade our hospitals via @CllrGaryMalcolm

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Say No to Hospital X-Factor

At the rally earlier on today, approximately 5000 people attended, to show their presence to stop local hospital downgrades. Some had come via Acton and a larger set of residents from Southall.

Myself and fellow ward Councillor Andrew Steed were lucky enough to lead the march, holding the banner at the front as we travelled from Acton Park to Ealing Common.

Andrew Steed and Gary Malcolm marching from Acton Park
Rare is it that Councillors of all Ealing’s political parties, join together. Today was one of those rare occasions. I was lucky to speak to show why the Liberal Democrats in Ealing are against some of the NHS North West proposals such as downgrading 4 or our 8 local hospitals.

Check out these two posts on my blog about the consultation process and a recent stall we set up in Hanwell to raise the profile of this important issue.

There are many reasons why downgrading our local hospitals is a bad move:
  • There are more people in Ealing and the surrounding area now so cutting heath care provision is not sensible
  • I am a diabetic and have been to Ealing Hospital many times for treatment. Ealing Hospital and other local hospitals provide a lot of good services.
  • Closing hospital wards will mean people will be forced to travel larger distances to get treatment or to visit loved ones or friends.
  • A small share of hospital spend is spent on Accident and Emergency services.
Acton march arrives at Ealing Common
We arrived at Ealing Common and there were hundreds of people waiting for us. A good atmosphere was with us and we had picked up lots of people on the way from Acton.

When the Southall march arrived the number of people had swelled, hugely. Fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Bakhai was present with his banner and supporters.

Hanwell Councillor Nigel Bakhai (left)

I see the plan of NHS North West London as a type of Hospital X Factor, where the four with the most votes survives.

This isn't the way to consult on major changes about our health service, pitting each area against each other.

The consultation does not properly look at the likely need of Ealing in the next ten or twenty years’ of time. It also makes statements that are not backed up by facts.

Others will say this is step one where we downgrade half our hospitals and then close them later in part two.

Myself and a range of speakers from different political parties gave our views on the hospital downgrade plans. The view from the stage really showed us how many people are now behind the cause...

Some of crowd at the rally
When I spoke I said these plans to take away our Accident and Emergency wards are "bonkers". With a growing population our hospitals need improving not being cut.

See a You Tube clip that was taken of my speech.

When I mentioned that I was diabetic and used Ealing hospital I think people understood that as a patient things will worsen if we get rid or our A&E or maternity wards.

Gary Malcolm speaking at the rally
It is amazing that so many people have signed the online or paper petitions but we need more. We also need more people to fill in the consultation document, despite it's length to say they want no downgrades in any of our local hopsitals.

If you have signed the petition, thank you, but please get your neighbours to sign the petition. We need to double the number of petition signatures and we can only do this by hard work.

I say No to hopsital downgrades and No to Hospital X Factor !!!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Watching the Paralympics Wheelchair Fencing

I was lucky enough to see the wheelchair fencing today at the Excel Centre, East London. On the piste, close to me, was Justine Moore who is the GB Team's representative in the women's foil contest.

Foil is the form of fencing where you score points by hitting the opponents chest. The athletes in their wheelchairs move around a lot, to avoid attacks, and then launch counter attacks. I think that wheelchair fencing is perhaps more exciting to watch than conventional fencing.

GB fencer Justine Moore
Justine was not a favourite but the Paralympics is a real chance to take a few scalps with the aim of qualifying for the quarter finals, later in the day, after this morning's round robin where everyone plays each contestant in their group in a first to five hits.

Sadly, Justine lost her first duel against Russia's Irina Mishurova 5-2 after being 4 nil down.

Justine Moore then lost her second duel against the handy German, Simone  Briese-Baetke, five nil. It was not looking good for her to qualify at this stage.

Then she faced Hungary's Judit Palfi. To qualify she would need to win this one. Check out the match footage.

So, win she did. Being three nil up and then at four all, Justine Moore managed to win the last hit to give her the 5-4 victory.

Next she faced probably the best of the fencers in her group, Jingjing Zhou. Check out the video where we see Justine take a shock two nil lead.

Justine's last match was against an opponent that she had a chance to beat, Ukraine's Iryna Lukianenko, who had lost all her matches of the day and was sitting in last place. Fingers crossed...

So with Justine losing her last match against Iryna Lukianenko 5-4, she was level in joint fourth place with two other fencers. All three of those did not make it to the quarter finals.

See what Justine had to say after the group matches. Well done Justine. On another day, a win or two more might have happened. Look forward to the Epee on Wednesday.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Heard about the re-skilling family day 2012 in South Ealing?

I have always been someone who liked to bake my own bread and even grow my own herbs, despite not having a garden.

I heard about what appears to be a great day where people turn up and learn new skills that will be useful for  everyone especially those with families. If I can bake bread that tastes okay then you can!

Making bread is easier than it looks - give it a go
The organisers, Ealing Transition, are pleased to announce their second Re-Skilling Day! The skills you could learn included in the FREE sessions are:
  • How to Knit
  • Talk on Bee-Keeping
  • Fermentation & Chutney making
  • Keeping Chickens & Pigs
  • Make-Do-and-Mend
  • Bread making
  • How to make a Rocket Stove
  • Recycling
  • Bike Maintenance
  • Grow-You-Own Veg
  • Story Telling

It takes place on Saturday, 22nd September 2012, between 1.30pm until 6pm at St. Mary’s Polygon, St. Mary’s Road, Ealing, W5 5RH. I understand places could be limited on some workshops, so pre booking is recommended: call 020 8123 6215 or email

For the full programme of workshops see their website:

Tell your friends and learn a new skill this month.

Listen to those who make their own honey

Sunday, 2 September 2012

What's Boccia?

You may ask. The great thing about the Olympics and the Paralympics is the sports you have never seen before, or the games you last saw as a child. Boccia is one of those sports.

Check out this for more information but essentially it is boules but played by many profoundly physically disabled. The aim is with your team's 6 balls to get as many as close to the jack, the white ball, as possible.

I was lucky enough to see Great Britain beat rivals Argentina 8 to 4. The score flattered GBR who were level four all after the fifth end (there are six ends in total for this type of event).

What is amazing is like crown green bowling there is a lot of accuracy needed, a good tactical brain to know when to play a risky type of shot, and a dose of good luck!

Have a look at some of the pics and videos that I took. The game can be slow as each player concentrates on where to aim their ball. The umpires are always there to indicate to the players which team has their ball nearest the jack and often gets out their compasses to measure which team has won. Sometimes the winning margin is tenths of a mm!

GB pair Peter and Stephen McGuire won 11 nil

Saturday, 1 September 2012

In Hanwell at an anti hospital downgrading stall

From 11am this morning in Hanwell near the clock tower, we were collecting signatures to stop Ealing Hospital and other local hospitals from being downgraded.

Councillors Nigel Bakhai, Jon Ball and Andrew Steed was there to give assistance to our helpers who were speaking to residents encouraging them to sign the petitions and have their say via the official consultation.

Please check out the consultation documents and have your say. Also sign the petition that Ealing Council set up to stop hospital downgrades. Here are some pics of the afternoon...

Councillor Nigel Bakhai with Councillor Gary Malcolm campaigning in Hanwell

A resident signing the petition

Gary Malcolm with Nigel Bakhai with their new costumes

Another signiture

Monday, 27 August 2012

Make sure you have your say on your local hospital - and stop them being downgraded

A short while ago I wrote about the need to protect our local hospitals. For me I see this as four local hospitals:

  • Ealing
  • Charing Cross
  • Hammersmith
  • Central Middlesex
All could be downgraded and the current consultation gives a possible chance to save some of our local hospitals.

Councillor Andrew Steed campaigning against hospital downgrades
Check out the consultation where you can read “Shaping a healthier future for North West London”. You can phone them on 0800 881 5209 and ask for a copy of the consultation document.

Their preferred option is to downgrade hospitals to only a “local hospital”. That means closing the Accident and Emergency, Maternity and Children’s wards. Only Option C in the consultation keeps our hospitals as major hospitals.

Please fill in the consultation and let the NHS know what your views are. You can also see a related post to this where you can download save our hospital posters, petition forms etc.

To sign the petition click here.