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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...