Search This Blog

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Liberal Democrats Showed Council How They Could Have Saved Two Ealing Day Centres

Last night Ealing set its Council Tax. What might be reported will be the news that using government money Ealing Council is to again freeze the level of Council Tax for this coming year.

What the Labour party won't like being reminded of, is that they voted (as well as the Conservative party in Ealing) to shut two vital day centres - the Learning Curve and at Stirling Road.

The Liberal Democrat group proudly found money so we could save these two day centres as well as investing over £1 million pounds extra into our pavements and roads.
Stirling Road Day Centre

The other main plank of our amendment was that we earmarked monies to improve recycling rates, from the fines we eagerly anticipate from the worse than poor performance of Enterprise, the Council's rubbish and waste contractor.

When the voting took place we saw both the Conservative and Labour parties vote against our proposals to save the two day centres that provide so much good help to many vulnerable and disabled users. Shame on them. Hang your heads in shame.

This was the third year in a rows where the Liberal Democrat group put forward an official opposition budgetary motion. The Conservatives did not want, it seems, to spend the time doing this. It was commented that the Liberal Democrat group are the EFFECTIVE opposition to Labour. Too true!

The Liberal Democrat amendment was put forward by Councillor Andrew Steed and then I seconded the amendment. Later in the debate Councillor Jon Ball spoke about a constituent in Ealing Common who had fallen and injured herself twice due to the poor quality of pavements.

Learning Curve

So if you want to protect Day Centres clearly people need to vote Liberal Democrat. If you want to cause more problems for the many users of day centres then Labour is your party. It is about priorities. Ealing Council should protect our most vulnerable.

The American politician Bob Riley said: “In a time of tight budgets, difficult choices have to be made. We must make sure our very limited resources are spent on priorities.”

Councillor Leader, Julian Bell, in a Cabinet meeting about a month ago said [avoiding the closure of the two day centres] was “Nearly impossible”. The Liberal Democrats have shown it is more than possible.

The Liberal Democrat group state clearly that Labour-run Ealing Council needs to get their priorities right.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mayor of London still allowing embassies to avoid the Congestion Charge

Hardworking Londoner, Caroline Pidgeon, says that soon every Londoner will be owed £10 by embassies that dodge the Congestion Charge.

How sad this is. Why have we a Mayor of London who is not fighting for Londoners.

The amount of unpaid Congestion Charge and penalty charge notices owed by embassies and diplomatic missions that evade paying the Congestion Charge now stands at £68 million according to new figures obtained from the Mayor by Caroline Pidgeon AM, leader of the Liberal Democrat  London Assembly Group.

Caroline Pidgeon
In answer to a recent written question the Mayor has admitted that in mid January the level of unpaid Congestion Charge stood at £67.5 million. By the 10th anniversary of the Congestion Charge (17th February) the level of unpaid Congestion Charge will be around £68 million. By the end of this year every Londoner will be owed £10 by embassies that continue to dodge paying the Congestion Charge.

Too many embassies are insulting their host city by evading a charge which everyone else - including even the Queen -  has to pay if they wish to drive in central London. The Congestion Charge brings benefits from reduced congestion and it also funds transport projects.

Under Boris the level of unpaid Congestion Charge has soared and soon each and every Londoner will be owed £10 by these embassies and diplomatic missions that dodge paying the charge.

It is time the Mayor of London showed some real leadership on this issue, instead of his frequent excuses.

Back in December 2009 the London Assembly called on Boris Johnson to write to every head of state which had an embassy in London that evaded the Congestion Charge. The Mayor should have then published online the responses he received.   Yet the Mayor rejected these proposals and instead has allowed the unpaid Congestion Charge bill to soar.

Boris, pull a finger out get back this money that the embassies should have paid us.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group proposes radical changes to Mayor’s budget

The Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group has presented a radical alternative to the Mayor’s draft budget, prioritising home building, creating new jobs and safeguarding London’s fire and police services.

The changes to the Mayor’s budget include plans to create a new £1.7 billion housing investment fund, to deliver a further 55,000 affordable homes and create 37,000 permanent jobs.  At the same time the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Members have shown how extra resources can be found to avoid the Mayor’s dangerous proposals to cut fire stations, police counters and the decimation of dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

Acton Fire Station
The Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group proposals are fully costed and will be delivered by reversing the Mayor’s 7 pence a week cut in the council tax precept, backed up by responsible prudential borrowing to fund the investment plans. The proposals also involve cutting out long standing waste and unnecessary expenditure, such as chauffeur driven cars for senior Met police officers.

These proposals are so necessary. The budget amendment addresses, head on, the current lack of investment in London’s economy and the chronic shortage of affordable homes. London needs more homes and more jobs and that is exactly what our proposals will deliver.

Liberal Democrats totally reject the Mayor’s proposals to make savage cuts to London’s fire and police service. The Mayor’s priority is to make a trivial cut in the council tax.  Our priority is the safety of Londoners.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Ever thought of becoming a Councillor?

I was asked to write a short piece for Ealing Council about elected councillors. Could you be one? You need an interest in your local community and a passion to get involved.

Becoming a councillor is an extension of what some people are already doing. For example, if they are already active in community work, a political party, trade union or school governing body. For others, it is a chance to ‘give something back’ to their community, because you have the opportunity to help shape local services and improve people’s lives.

Councillors represent the residents in their ward, as well as helping to set council policy, scrutinising its services and sitting on committees that make decisions on issues ranging from planning applications to licensing. In Ealing, a lot of councillors also hold down full-time jobs. The amount of time you spend on
your work will vary depending on the area you represent and any special duties you may take on. Councillors receive an allowance to recompense them for time and money spent on council business.

First of all, you have to have lived or worked in Ealing for at least a year and be aged 18 or over. You do not need any formal qualifications and, if elected, you will be given training and support. Candidates have to be a British citizen or from a member country of either the European Union or the Commonwealth.

Myself in the Town Hall office

Why did you choose to be a councillor?
I was annoyed that writing complaint letters to organisations often leads nowhere. I wanted to ensure that fewer mistakes happened; and that, if problems existed, then, by being proactive, I could
help to solve them and help residents and businesses with their issues.

What about the work-life balance?
Being a councillor can take up a lot of hours but most meetings are in the evening and do not require you to miss time from your day job. The diary for council meetings is agreed once a year so it is relatively easy to schedule in your work or family life around being a councillor.

What are the worst and best bits?
The best thing is getting a ‘thank you’ from residents who you have helped. At a recent meeting I chaired in Chiswick, a lady who used a disability scooter thanked the three councillors for getting a number of dropped kerbs installed. Sometimes fixing a small issue can mean so much to many residents.

What tips would you give to others who are interested?
You do not have to be aligned to a political party, but you could speak to the different parties in Ealing to see which ones are more suited to your political and community views. You could even follow politicians using Twitter! My twitter handle is @CllrGaryMalcolm

What do your friends and family think?
Some of my friends are, sadly, not interested in politics. But when I tell them that their council tax bills
and street sweeping are all done by their local council they realise that politics is important.

If you are interested in being a councillor of finding out more then please feel free to tweet or email me at

Visit Ealing Council's website to get more information at >