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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Barclays Bikes: Boris is running with a puncture!

Throughout the last year one in five bike hire docking stations were empty for at least three hours each day, according to new figures released by the Mayor of London following probing questions from Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group.

Between 1st July 2012 to the 30th June 2013 the level of empty bike hire docking stations included:

  • 107 docking stations empty for 3 hours or more each day
  • 76 docking stations empty for 4 hours or more each day
  • 54 docking stations empty for 5 hours or more each day
  • 29 docking stations empty for 6 hours or more each day
  • 9 docking stations empty for 7 hours or more each day

 The worst performing docking station was Portugal Street in Holborn, which over the last year was empty for nearly 9 hours each day.
Lib Dems improving Chiswick's cycle provision

It is as clear as the day that the poor distribution of bikes across the docking stations also includes some being completely full, creating problems for bike hire users attempting to return a hired bike.  Over the last year 41 docking stations were completely full for at least two hours each day.

Caroline Pidgeon has been extremely vocal on this important issue. The more people who use bikes in London the less of a need there is for car usage. They should expand the scheme to more sections of London. Most of West London doesn't get to hire these bikes.

The poor distribution of bikes across the docking stations is the number one complaint made by users of the scheme.  The complete absence of any bikes at so many docking stations, for such long periods of time every day, is also a huge deterrent to encouraging people to start using the scheme.  It is ultimately hard to hire a bike when none exist!

The Mayor of London is running with a puncture!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Let's stop criminals getting access to the home of vulnerable residents

I was speaking to the local police team in Southfield, which covers some of Acton and the Ealing section of Chiswick.

I thought you might like to see and circulate advice about being on the lookout for individuals knocking on doors posing as employees of gas, electricity and water companies asking to read meters. On gaining entry there is a concern that items in peoples homes have been going missing. I understand that gas, electricity and water companies by law must check meters every two years to ensure that they are working correctly so they must be allowed access into your home at some point but it does not necessarily have to be there and then if you are suspicious or have concerns.

As a general guide, the police advise residents of Southfield to be vigilant and do the following >

1) Always ask to see ID. They will have to have photo ID. Check that the photograph resembles the individual in front of you and check that it isn't a passport photograph just taped onto or over a card. If it doesn’t look genuine you have two options.

(a) either refuse them entry.
Me with the local police team on Southfield Rec
(b) or ask for their name and a number for the company they work for and telephone to verify that the individual is a genuine employee. Ask the caller to wait outside and close the door whilst you check to see if they are genuine. A genuine caller will not mind you doing this. Remember as well not to call the phone number on their ID card as that may be a colleague of a criminal (so phone the number by looking in the telephone book or on the internet).

2) A person attending to obtain a meter reading will normally have a large electronic device to record the readings. This is normally the type of device that you would use to sign for a delivery rather than simply a phone or a tablet. If the individual calling has paperwork only they are unlikely to be genuine.

3) Never leave an individual unsupervised in your home. Get to know where all your meters are and how to access them. Take callers to where the meters are ONLY. Observe them record the reading and then escort them out. It takes 30 seconds to read a meter and so the genuine callers will not mind at all that you wait with them. It is very unlikely that a genuine meter reader will ask to use the toilet or ask for a drink. Please do not be afraid to be vigilant and say no to such requests.

4) Callers attending to read a meter will not normally attend in pairs. If two individuals attend it is best to not allow them entry. Best to be safe than become a victim of a crime.

5) If you are elderly or particularly vulnerable contact your supplier and ask for appointments to be sent in writing prior to an individual attending to read your meter. You may not get a specific time given but you may get a general time e.g. 'morning' of 2nd September. At least that way you are expecting an individual to call round.

Do contact the local police team if you see anyone you think is trying to gain access using false identities.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Liberal Democrats give evidence to Independent Hospital Reconfiguration Panel

As many of you are aware it is possible that four local hospitals may have their A&E and their maternity wards shut. The hospitals at risk are Ealing, Charing Cross, Hammersmith and Central Middlesex.

Ealing Council with the support of the Liberal Democrat Group arranged for an independent review to take place so that our hospitals can be protected. Hanwell's Liberal Democrat Councillor, Nigel Bakhai, spoke up at the meeting which took place on 8th July in Ealing Town Hall.

I attended this crucial meeting where the independent panel will take evidence on why the current plans will leave Ealing's heathcare in tatters. Councillors from all three of Ealing political parties spoke including Nigel Bakhai, councillor for Elthorne.

Me speaking a hospital rally
It appears that their report will be written by 13th September and then a month later the Secretary of State will make a decision on the Panel's recommendations. The team giving evidence also included a member of the public.

There was no meaningful engagement of the proposals by the NHS North West group during the process. The consultation did not actively look to involve the diverse range of languages and community groups. The consultation form was so long that it made War and Peace look like a short story. The changes have been foisted upon us as a fait accompli.

We heard evidence about the huge numbers of residents who took part in two local marches, the tens of thousand people who filled in petitions. I was lucky enough to speak on Ealing Common to the crowd of residents who want their NHS services protected not downgraded.

Councillor Nigel Bakhai spoke about the lack of support from doctors and consultants for the plans to shut local maternity and Accident & Emergency services. Nigel added that surveys of local GPs did not agree with the proposals - which was a critical test set by Secretary of State.

The Ealing area is so diverse, with lots of people with diabetes (like myself). The high demand for A&E services during this hot weather showed that we need our A&E services kept local. We have a large increase in the birth rate and so the planned maternity closures do not make sense.

Travelling further for treatment will mean people become more ill or will die. We heard one person give evidence about a 37% increase in death due to extra travelling.

People travelling to the hospital for treatment are likely to need at least two buses plus a walk. The estimates for a small 10% increase in journey time assumes that people all drive! I have said many times that part of a good treatment is to have your family or friends with you so you can recover more quickly. If I had to wait for visitors getting two buses and a long walk then I think most people would not be able to visit as often.

With Nigel Bakhai campaigning in Hanwell
We saw that the authors of the NHS proposals used different sources of data when it was clear that some examples gave some strange outcomes...

...for Hammersmith hospital it stated that 7 patients would use each bed, each day! How can we trust the data never mind their projections based upon quicksand.

Since the news that Ealing Hospital was due to be downgraded they were forced to advertise to state they were "open for business"!

Part of their plans also involve huge number of patients having treatments from their GPs who cannot currently cope with their numbers. No plans have been arrange to assist any changeover to a new way of working and so quite simply the plans are unsafe.

To sum it up the plans are unsafe. At the same time the Government is reviewing health care such as hospitals and so the plans to shut our maternity and Accident & Emergency wards should be shelved until the Government review has been concluded.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Jon Ball elected as Liberal Democrat candidate and is challenging Angie Bray

At a packed meeting in Ealing last Friday, Councillor Jon Ball, was selected by local party members to fight the Ealing Central and Acton parliamentary constituency for the Liberal Democrats.

After his selection, Jon Ball issued a challenge to the incumbent Conservative MP for the seat Angie Bray, saying, "What, if anything, has Angie Bray actually achieved for local residents 3 years in to a 5 year term? She has a busy diary but does not seem to get beyond meetings to delivering results."

Jon Ball secured the highest ever Liberal Democrat vote in Ealing in 2010, securing 13,041 votes in the marginal Ealing Central & Acton seat.

Jon Ball at under-threat Ealing Hospital  
Earlier, in a wide-ranging speech, Jon commented on the state of the three parties, saying:
"A Labour Party standing against austerity would be a tough opponent. But Ed Milliband’s Labour is not that party. He announced last weekend that any future Labour government would stick to the coalition’s spending targets and would cap welfare spending. What would be the point of voting for austerity in a red rosette?

Jon Ball added: "The Tories are tacking further right to ward off challenges from UKIP. Here in Ealing, that is especially acute as we have our own swivel-eyed loon, UKIP Councillor Benjamin Dennehy, a rampant self-publicist, who appeals to right wing voters. In 2015 he proposes to stand for UKIP here in Ealing Central & Acton and Angie Bray is nervously looking over her shoulder.

Liberal Democrats are implementing policies in Government such as:
  • bringing the lowest paid out of tax,
  • the Pupil Premium to help disadvantaged children,
  • and new green jobs.

These have all gone straight from the front cover of the manifesto Jon Ball fought on, in 2010, into legislation.

Jon Ball added: "When I talk to people on the doorsteps, I hear people who like our message of working hard on local issues, and I also hear people who are receptive to our national message of creating a stronger economy in a fairer society. Regardless of opinion poll ratings or negative stories in the national press, what has always been true remains true: where we work, we win."