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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