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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Needlessly: More Day Centres to close in Ealing

Last night, Ealing's council's cabinet took a number of decisions. The first was the most crucial...

Again we saw the Labour, who speak of protecting the vulnerable, do not follow through with the correct actions. Check out the list of five priorities - nothing about helping our elderly and vulnerable residents.

Whether in difficult financial times or not, the Liberal Democrats have said that cuts should not be made to the vulnerable. In this opening remarks, the Leader of the Council, before closing the Learning Curve and Stirling Road day centres, he said it was: "almost impossible," [not to close the two day centres].

Almost impossible = It is possible to avoid closing them.

The car park costs about £5.5 million
And the Liberal Democrats have shown that by cancelling the build of a £5 million car park this would allow for the retention of the two day centres. There were options for altering the staffing at the two day centres and making some savings which would not affect the users. Those options sadly appear not to have been looked into as much as they should have.

Campaign to save Ealing's Day Centres
I asked the Leader of the Council about the choice between a car park or protecting the many disabled residents that use the two day centres. I think his expression gave away his thoughts.

The Liberal Democrat Group are "calling in" the decision so that it can be delayed or hopefully reversed. This is just two in a series of previous day centre closures that will affect, in a negative way, many residents lives.

Two other items were discussed at the meeting which may be interesting to read about >
  • Ealing Cinema - Many of you will know that Empire have promised after getting planning permission to build a cinema on the opposite side of the road from Ealing Town Hall, but have not delivered. Ealing Council moved a step closer to ensuring that the site (owned by Empire) can be used to build a cinema by Land Securities. Although we may be some way off seeing Land Securities build a cinema, it may prompt Empire to do the decent thing?
  • Promoting more recycling in Ealing - Coalition government's money is to be used to increase the recycling rate in Ealing. This will be done by encouraging more residents to recycling more kitchen waste. There will also be a scheem to give prizes to people or streets who are good recyclers. The details have not been agreed yet. I will update you as there is more news on this.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Political colours will show themselves when Ealing Council sets it tax

In about two months’ time Ealing Council will set its Council Tax. Although not confirmed yet, it appears that Ealing Council will agree to the Liberal Democrat proposal to take a Government grant to freeze its Council Tax for two years.

When a Council sets its Council Tax budget you can see where its priorities lie. Over the past year or two, we have seen Labour-run Ealing Council make decisions that will severely affect the most vulnerable including the elderly or infirm:

  • Closure of day centres, cuts to Alzheimer’s and older peoples’ services, or reductions in grants to charities and the voluntary sector
  • High increases in both the parking & visitor voucher CPZ prices (many carers will probably pass this extra cost onto those they care for).
  • More recently Ealing Council announced plans to introduce a new local Council Tax Benefit scheme. This will mean that about 30,000 residents of our poorest residents will be expected to pay money they do not have and Ealing Council is already anticipating lower collection rates next year.

Councillor Gary Malcolm
Labour-run Ealing Council are quick to use the Government as an excuse for any cuts to services whilst still wasting money on their pet projects or not taking responsibility for poorly run services. This includes:

  • Wasting £5.5 million on a car park that is not needed.
  • Spending £40,000 on a new glossy publication when it already publishes Around Ealing.
  • Not fining Enterprise for their, well below par, performance in cleaning our streets and collecting our waste and recyclables.

The Liberal Democrats know that in Ealing savings have to be made but the key is to always protect those who are the most vulnerable and the most in need.

Despite being in Government in a tough time, the Liberal Democrats have ensured that money is being spent in the right places. For example. the Pupil Premium has resulted in many schools in Ealing receiving extra funds to help the poorest children on free school meals. The amount allocated to schools in Ealing has increased to £8.7 million this year and will rise again next year.

The Liberal Democrats have also successfully fought to increase the income tax threshold to nearly £10,000 which means 10,450 of the poorest residents in Ealing no longer pay income tax, and 128,900 residents have benefitted almost £600 per year. Furthermore, thanks to the Lib Dems in Government, 3550 new apprenticeships have been created in Ealing since 2010.

We may not run Ealing Council, yet, but we are here to steer the current administration in a direction where resources are dedicated to those who need the most help.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Inflation busting fare rises are Boris Johnson’s New Year's gift to Londoners

Most of us recently got a few Christmas presents from our friends and relatives. But the present that Conservative Mayor of London, Boris, has given all Londoners is an Inflation busting fare rises are Boris Johnson’s New Year's gift to Londoners.

Thank you Boris.

I remember only a year ago when he pledged to bear down on transport fares. Words mean nothing. He has let Londoners down. Check out the interview he did where he made his pledge.

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, speaks for all Londoners when she said: "Under Boris Johnson the cheapest bus or tram fare - a single Oyster Pay As You Go fare - has soared from 90 pence to £1.40. While most people have seen hardly any improvements in their incomes the Mayor has imposed a staggering rise in the cost of just getting to work."

Caroline Pidgeon
She adds: “These latest fare rises will add to the financial problems facing many Londoners, especially those on low incomes who are already struggling with rising fuel bills.

“Of course investment has to be maintained in our transport infrastructure, but if the Mayor was really committed to meeting his election pledge to ‘bear down’ on fares he could have easily avoided such steep fare rises.

“If the Mayor simply stopped pouring public money into his vanity projects such as the Thames Cable Car he could ensure fare rises were capped at no more than inflation, as well as fund a one-hour bus ticket.”