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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Report: Last Council Cabinet Meeting Before the Council Tax Is Set

Yesterday was a strange night. Although there were lots of important items to discuss perhaps the most important was discussed less than you would have expected. The Financial Budget reports and the many appendices will be discussed this coming Tuesday, when the level of Council Tax is agreed (decided). There is not always agreement but it will be a freeze.

I spoke on the following items:

1. There was a plan last year to save over £300,000 on reducing the number of day centres around the borough. We disagreed with their plans as they were putting money before vulnerable residents. This Council report indicated that it had changed its mind and, although still wanting to save about £340,000, appears willing to review their previously poor decision. In six months a new plan will appear. Many users were worried about the extra travel time they would need, and to a new location. We will be waiting until September this year for an update.

2. IT investment - This is an area where the Ealing Conservatives did not invest properly to ensure that the computing infrastructure was at a good level. People were using such an old version of Windows that m,any staff had problems doing their job as effectively as they should have been. The Liberal Democrats support the improvement of the Council's IT. One good move is to replace servers at regular intervals so that they do not all "konk" out at the same time.

3. Short Breaks Restbite Service (Hanwell) - the Council had wanted to run down the service and had plans to sell the building. I noticed that in one report and one Council website they still are stating they are to sell the building. I asked whether the report was accurate and whether the Council Officer, who made a statement to a Liberal Democrat Councillor a few months ago that the site would not be sold, was being truthful. Thankfully the report was inaccurate. This was about the tenth times buildings have appeared on Council reports recently stating they will be sold when apparently they are not. The cynical amongst us will not be sure. We await any future plans. But the Council needs to look after the vulnerable with a greater priority.

4. Controlling Pests - The council is altering its charges for dealing with pests in Ealing. I stated that the wider issue was whether the Council is offering advice (either via the phone or on its website) so residents know what services are available and what they will cost. My points were accepted and the Leader of the Council said the Council should look to improve this area.

I did notice in the report that people living in houses with Tropical Ants can call the council and get them to fix the problem. Strangely squirrels were also considered a pest - most people I think they are cute!

The meeting closed after about two and a half hours.

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