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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

HS2 Good News, Hospital Judicial Review & Carlton Road Day Centre

Yesterday was when the meeting took place in Ealing where Ealing Council makes its big decisions. A lot of interesting topics were discussed including the possibility of Ealing Council making a Judicial Review to stop the closure of Ealing Hospital's A&E and maternity wards was discussed.

Good News on High Speed 2 (HS2)
With the recent news that High Speed 2 (HS2) will now not result in the knocking down of a very large number of bridges, Ealing borough will have a tunnel to avoid noise and other problems as part of HS2.

A tunneled High Speed Two train!
The decision on a tunnel for HS2 going through Ealing shows that local people and other campaigners including the Liberal Democrats can make a difference. The Liberal Democrats have said that HS2 is good for the country but tunnels are needed in some locations including Ealing. The tunnel for Ealing can mitigate some of the adverse effects and worries for residents. The two other political parties in Ealing have said on many occasions that HS2 is a waste of money despite the benefits to business due to people being able to travel the country a lot faster.

The tunnel means the HS2 project can be delivered 15 months quicker, and as a result of these changes, it is very good news. We believe that investment in high speed rail is long overdue and offers huge benefits in terms of reduced journey times, greater opportunities for access to employment opportunities, as well as a potential alternative to airport expansion if the route is also allowed to go direct through Heathrow.

Liberal Democrats Support the Legal Fight to Protect Hospitals

At the cabinet meeting last night I asked about the chance of success, for Ealing, if they applied for a Judicial Review to stop the downgrading of hospital services.

Me with Craig O'Donnell and Jenni Hollis at Hospital Rally
After hearing the legal advice (which was of a confidential nature) I said that because of the high cost of the Judicial Review (up to £250,000) it would be crucial to try to get the court to delay their activities until the Secretary of State can make a decision on the same matter.

If the Secretary of State agrees with Ealing Council then there may not be a need for a full length legal challenge which would cost a lot of money.

Liberal Democrats believe that making a Judicial Review is needed to give us more options to stop the plans to downgrade our hospitals. The evidence that downgrading our local hospitals will be a good move is discredited by many doctors and professionals. More background to this story can be read here and also here!

Remember on Saturday 27th April there will large number of anti hospital downgrade protesters marching from either Southall at 11.30am or Acton from 12 noon - both converging for the main rally on Ealing Common at 2pm. Come along to show you are against the downgrades.

Carlton Road Day Centre Update 
After myself and Southfield ward councillors heard some good news recently (that the Carlton Road Day Centre) it appears that the gloss has been rubbed off.

The statement last night indicated that the Day Centre building would be sold off (like so many under Labour over the past two or three years) but the users would need to use the facilities when they are built in Acton Town Hall. I am not sure if you can call the day centre, the "Carlton Road Day Centre", if it is not in Carlton Road. Seems like Ealing Council are selling off our family silver (buildings) and not thinking whether this will result in a better outcome for the current users.

Council's Procurement Procedures Need Updating  
Ealing Council has not updated its procurement policies since 2004! Is this why Ealing Council has had four large contracts go 'pear shaped' in the past year?

First, Enterprise (who are meant to sweep our streets and collect our waste), then two housing repair companies (Keirs and Morrison) and more recently Interserve, the facilities management company. All in different ways have failed or are failing.

I stated that when reviewing the current procedures Ealing Council needs to take account of the following:

  • A review to take place after a contract has failed to establish whether the Council has given too much value to the contractor's bid rather than the quality they offer.
  • Whether the Council should bring 'in house' some services that are currently out sourced
  • Ensuring that there are sufficient tough clauses in the contacts so that failing contractors (like  Enterprise) do not get away with an absolutely poor service
  • That break clauses are added to more contracts in case we need to ditch poor quality contractors
  • Whether it is better to offer contacts to more local and smaller companies than one large company.

In the coming months our local hospitals is a topic that we will come back to. Let's hope it is a topic that sees better hospitals and no downgrading of our medical services.

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