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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Boris, why do you allow TfL to treat people so badly? [open letter]

Dear Boris,

Yesterday on buses from Shepherds Bush tube station (the 207 / 607 route) towards Acton it went a different route. A diversion. There was no notices at the bus stop where people got on, nor did the bus driver inform people as they were getting on and also there was no announcement over the bus tannoy.

So as the bus went via its diversion, one lady with 3 children had to make a much longer walk than she was both expecting or should have had to make, given what looked like a walking difficulty that she had.

Today a similar thing happened, via strangely a second diversionary route! Again no announcements or posters telling us of the diversion. And like yesterday the bus driver did not communicate with passengers about the diversion.

This is an absolute disgrace and I hope that you both apologise to myself and the hundreds of commuters you delayed unneccesarilty without explaining that there was a diversion.

People on the buses did not to know what was going on. Do you expect passengers to have ESP? You might be able to afford swish taxis, but most can't! 

I hope you will be decent and reply to us all quickly with a full explanation and apology.

Gary Malcolm

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Let's hope Ealing is not heading the way of Python's Dead Parrot

At Ealing Council's full council meeting last night we discussed the last year of the Council's performance and highlighted problems that will hit residents in the future...

The first speech of the night came from Councillor Julian Bell who spoke at great length about the many herons he has seen in the borough recently. So this photo is for you Julian.

Julian's favourite grey heron
After welcoming the new Mayor to his first main Council meeting I surprisingly welcomed a couple of areas where Ealing Council has taken the right decisions such as becoming a Living Wage employer and the promotion of cycling.

Most politicians just "have a go" at other political parties. The Liberal Democrats looks to welcome good decisions from where ever they came from but sternly criticise Labour when they make mistakes. Read on...

So where has Ealing Council gone wrong in the past year or so? Well, in its selection of contractors and management of contracts. >
  • Enterprise - where is the fine money residents are owed?
  • Keirs and Morrison - for performing poorly on Housing Repairs
I have not seen any changes to the process of how future contractors will be chosen. Three failures in such a short space of time. That isn’t just bad luck.

It's Customer Services is not what it states. Ealing does not like to admit the negatives but only mentioned its successes. A proper review should talk about the problems and what will be done to improve things. A lot of nice words but it does not fully give much acceptance of problems our residents are suffering from…

  • People still wait too long - on the phone or in person at Perceval House
  • There are more online forms but some areas of IT are not as reliable as they should be – the planning department pages are an example where documents regularly are reported as being missing.
  • Yesterday a friend from Ealing Common said the Pay-by-Phone system is confusing and unfriendly.
  • And buying the correct permits and vouchers on line was not possible when certain vouchers were not present in the IT system. Hardly a first class system!

Monty Python's Dead Parrot
Other areas where improvements are needed...

  • There are still too many empty homes that could be used by those many residents on the long waiting list – Government powers for a decade have not been used at all or only in a limited number of cases.
  • Keeping Council Tax Frozen – when you increase parking fees hugely and have introduced a garden waste charge people rightly wonder whether the Council is playing a straight bat.
  • Closing Day Centres [the Learning curve & Stirling Road are prime examples] may bring short term savings but will lead to medium and long term issues for users and residents.
  • Everyone knows that recycling should be free. To really boost our recycling rates and possibly save money we need to be more proactive and show people why they need to recycle and how easy it is. 

Of course running a Council is not easy, and in these difficult times, but it is crucial to truly protect the poorest – this Council is not doing that.

It is in severe risk of being a dead parrot like in the Monty Python sketch.