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Thursday, 24 December 2015

My Christmas and New Year message

Christmas is a time where we all reflect about our lives; that of our family, our friends and others around the world.

At this time I think of those injured or have lost a family member in the sadly frequent terrorist events. One of my friends was shot in the Paris Bacalan music venue but left hospital recently. If you spot any of your friends who are not as happy as they usually are, please make sure you speak to them as this can be a time when people's mental health suffers to check they are okay.

Looking specifically to Ealing, next year will have seen Ealing Council close days centres and they still look to introduce policies which will cause problems to our most vulnerable residents.

Our biggest danger will be threat of expanding Heathrow, given the recent decision to pause for six months, so the government will make its decision in June. I hope you will join the Liberal Democrats in the campaign to improve the levels of air pollution across London.

I hope you all have a great vacation over this time.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Check to see Ealing's Christmas rubbish and recycling collection days

Don't dump trees - recycle them
Collection days for recycling and rubbish will change over the festive period. Ealing Council also runs a free Christmas tree recycling service.

Refuse and recycling collections will change from Christmas Day and return to normal service on Monday 11th January.

Usual collection day                                   Revised collection day 
Monday 21 December                                Monday 21 December
Tuesday 22 December                                Tuesday 22 December
Wednesday 23 December                         Wednesday 23 December
Thursday 24 December                              Thursday 24 December
Friday 25 December                                    Monday 28 December
Monday 28 December                                Tuesday 29 December
Tuesday 29 December                                Wednesday 30 December
Wednesday 30 December                         Thursday 31 December
Thursday 31 December                              Saturday 2 January
Friday 1 January                                          Monday 4 January
Monday 4 January                                      Tuesday 5 January
Tuesday 5 January                                      Wednesday 6 January
Wednesday 6 January                                Thursday 7 January
Thursday 7 January                                    Friday 8 January
Friday 8 January                                          Saturday 9 January
Monday 11 January                                   Collections return to normal
To help people dispose of real Christmas trees, a free collection service will be provided from 4th to 29th January. Trees will be collected on the same day as the refuse and recycling collection day.

Residents can also take real Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes to a number of drop-off points across the borough during the months of January and February. Once again, trees must have all decorations removed. The Christmas tree drop-off points are:

  • Acton Green Common
  • Acton Park
  • Berkeley Fields (Berkeley Avenue)
  • Churchfields, Hanwell (car park)
  • Cleveland Park
  • Ealing Central Sports Ground (Horsenden Lane South)
  • Ealing Common (Junction of Grange Road and The Common)
  • Elthorne Park (Boston Road)
  • Islip Manor Park (Eastcote Lane car park)
  • North Acton playing fields
  • Perivale Park (Cowgate Road)
  • Pitshanger Park
  • Ravenor Park (Oldfield Lane South and Ruislip Road)
  • Rectory Park (Parkfield Drive)
  • Southall Park (Green Drive)
  • Southfields Park
  • Spikes Bridge Park (West Avenue)
  • Springfield Gardens (Rosemont Road)
  • Walpole Park (Lammas Park Gardens)

Have a merry Christmas period!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The "NO 3rd Runway" debate in Chiswick - 25th November 2015

Last night there was a wonderful debate about the possible expansion of Heathrow which took place in St Michael & All Angels Church, Bedford Park.

There was a wonderful attendance over roughly 300 residents from the area, including some who live in the homes in Hillingdon that would be knocked down if the runway was expanded.

Gary Malcolm speaking to a packed church hall
The event was chaired by Torin Douglas, the ex-BBC journalist and John Stewart, from HACAN, spoke listing many reasons why expanding Heathrow would be a bad idea.

I also spoke and gave a number of local aspects to Heathrow:

  • In a survey conducted by the Liberal Democrats, 65% of Southfield residents were against Heathrow expansion, 10% were undecided and 25% were in favour of expanding Heathrow.
  • I referred to an example of where I visited some schools in Hounslow where the kids could not go outside because of the frequent flights and noise they suffered. We should not treat our kids like that. 
  • We already fail EU air quality regulations. Any expansion would just add to the number of unnecessary deaths. It appears likely that the EU would not allow Heathrow to expand due to the current and likely future poor quality of air.
  • Sadly Ealing Labour Councillors have sat on the fence. They used to be against expansion and I suspect they want to come out in favour but are afraid of the back lack! How a political party can be in favour of Heathrow given the additional noise and air pollution it would cause.

Hundreds holding up anti-expansion posters
Towards the end of my speech I mentioned that an inspiration to me in the campaign against Heathrow expansion, came from the now late, local Chiswick BBC comedy actor Richard Briers (from "The Good Life"). When I visited his house he often had placed a wonderful "anti Heathrow expansion" poster in his window. 

Seeing that gave others a reason to keep fighting. So we all should put posters in our windows.

Well done to the Bedford Park Residents Association who arranged the meeting.

Finally in the next few days before the government make a decision on whether to expand Heathrow or not, please make sure you write a handwritten letter to:

David Cameron, The Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London. SW1A 2AA. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Why Ealing needs the UK to stay in Europe

Recently stories keep appearing about whether we should stay in the European Union or leave.

In the referendum, which is likely to take place next year, the Liberal Democrats are clear that the UK should not only stay in but that Europe should be reformed.

One in every ten British jobs, many in London and plenty in Ealing rely on our membership of the European Union’s single market. The EU buys over half of the UK exports. Lots of American and Asian firms build factories in our country because it is in the single market.

The EU is our biggest trading partner, accounting for 52% of our trade. This rakes us in about £400bn per year, which far outstrips the estimated £12bn we spend (net) on the EU each year.

Gary Malcolm, a proud European
I was speaking to a resident recently, who lives in Acton. I was proud to remind her that we enjoy lower mobile phone roaming charges, lower credit card fees, cheaper flights and proper compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled because of European rules and actions.

We should enjoy the freedom to work and study abroad and we should allow others that same right. Nearly 1.5 million British people live abroad in the EU. About 15,000 UK students took part in the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange scheme.

If we left the EU we'd need to pay more for visas, unless we created our own agreements with different countries. The facts show that when Europeans move to the UK, they are more likely to work and pay taxes as well as not requiring benefits.

The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries.

By leaving the EU we would lose our seat at the decision-making table but still pay the bills. It would be like paying a season ticket at QPR, Brentford or other local team and then not be allowed to watch any of the matches!

There are still many things that the Liberal Democrats want to see improved about the EU. These include:

  • Reforming the EU budget – Liberal Democrats will continue to cut wasteful spending in the EU budget while increasing funding for job creating policies such as cross border infrastructure projects, the digital economy, small business funding and cutting-edge research and development.
  • Cutting waste - Liberal Democrats will campaign to bring an end to the European Parliament's monthly travel between Brussels and Strasbourg. This will save £150m and almost 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
  • Reforming small business rules - we will support the ‘Think Small First’ principle to reduce unnecessary European Union regulatory costs and exempt smaller businesses from legislation where appropriate.

In summary Ealing, London and our country would be better off IN EUROPE.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Conference time – a pointer for the future of Ealing

Autumn time is when most political parties hold their main conference to debate what their views are on some of the major areas that effect of our lives. Housing and education made a lot of coverage during the week, as did Tim Farron - in his new role as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

This comes as the new government is about to make further cuts to many of the services we need.
An example of this which will affect many in Ealing is where the Conservatives look likely to cut free meals for infant school pupils. This policy was introduced by Nick Clegg in 2014. If free hot school meals for schoolchildren are taken away, then it is very likely that the health of our children will worsen.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem Leader
One policy area that is talked about in many social settings is housing. Locally it is absolutely crucial that Ealing Council is more proactive in bringing back more empty homes into use. Each time we walk to the tube station or to work, we see homes that are empty. Not only is this a blot on the landscape but it is easier (and cheaper) to repair an unused home than build a new one from scratch!

Ealing Council needs to be tougher to prevent developers from getting out of providing the affordable housing that they're supposed to. It is Ealing's young people who suffer the most from Labour’s ‘Any development is probably okay’ approach. Most large redevelopments in Ealing seem to have few affordable or social homes that younger members of society can rent or buy.

It is not just the Labour party who are failing to do their part on housing but the Conservatives are now allowing housing associations to flog off their homes. What will happen will be simple – homes will be sold to third party companies, taking a large fee, leaving the Council will fewer and fewer homes to house our most vulnerable residents.

Liberal Democrats in Ealing have a clear three point plan to improve the housing situation in Ealing and across London.

  1. Introduce a “rent to own” scheme to help first time buyers into home ownership.
  2. Double the delivery of affordable homes through increased City Hall investment and use of publicly owned brownfield land.
  3. Bring 20,000 long term empty homes back into use as family homes.

More Liberal Democrats
Housing is such an important factor as poor housing often leads to less fruitful outcomes in our lives affecting our health, job security and general well-being.

The Liberal Democrats are a party that believes that the role of Government is to help us to be the best that we can be, no matter who we are or what our background. We believe that being proactive in consulting residents generates a better relationship. When Labour chose not to consult on whether we should have wheelie bins, this is a mistake. It will lead people to mistrust Ealing Council.

On a positive note since May’s General Election, nearly 20,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats and hopefully Ealing will become more liberal as a consequence.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Transport unions are shooting themselves in the foot

The recent two tube strikes and the two planned strikes are forcing many millions to use different methods of transport, to be massively delayed or feel obliged to take holidays to avoid the stress of a strike days.

The scenes at many of our rail stations shows that we both have a good and varied transport network but when the railways are loaded they understandably cannot fully cope. The loss to businesses in Ealing and London wide is very large because of strikes.

Many tourists who have visited Ealing and London for a short break will not return.

Chiswick Park tube station
I am a great supporter of unions, as history shows without unions many workers would have a poorer level of health and safety in their workplace. Many accidents have been averted and incidents of bullying, because of unions.

In a company I worked for previously, I was a Workplace Representative and a First-aider. My approach was not to be argumentative but raise issues that fellow employees had concerns about so that management could consider them and hopefully accept sensible ideas after discussion.

We have seen for many years that unions have worked with management effectively but in the transport sector there is a different situation. We often see those unions using language that is aggressive, calling for strikes using reasons that are not by many, seen as being fair.

General Secretaries seem to act as if they are in the playground shouting at Transport for London ‘teachers’. Calling each other names, refusing to talk despite what appears to be a fair deal for many workers who get paid much more than many teachers, bus drivers and other public workers.

No job should always be regarded as sacred. Companies and their employees need to adapt to what the world needs and what technologies exist. So the introduction of a night service is good initiative and the workplace needs to adapt. They appear to have been given a reasonable deal.

Caroline Pidgeon at Ealing Broadway station
I have twice been made redundant. I did not give up and complain, but adapted and successfully found work. Change can be unsettling but what is needed in all disputes is a grown up discussion.

Reforms are needed and some of this needs to take place to take the financial link between political parties and MPs with unions. Political parties’ policies should arise because it will solve the problems of the day and not because a union paid the political party like the Labour party millions of pounds.

I am not, however, in favour of there being a minimum requirement for the share of employees voting in a strike ballot. I think it is crucial that employees retain the right to strike but the key is to ensure that the union management do not strike for reasons that most would state as being unnecessary or unwarranted.

Some of the unnecessary transport strikes are essentially the unions shooting themselves into the foot. Like somebody ‘crying wolf’. When the next dispute takes place, which may deal with some very important matters, no one will care. People are turning against transport unions as they appear to only cause negativity to London.

Striking should be the last resort. I hope we can see everyone get around the table when the next Mayor of London is elected.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb visits Southfield

We were lucky to have the Lib Dem MP, Norman Lamb, drop my recently. We were knocking on doors asking residents in Chiswick about their views on some national matters including Heathrow, the Human Rights Act and Europe.

Norman Lamb in Southfield
Of course people were still raising the issue of the impending wheelie bins which we are still fighting to stop. Such a waste of money that could be spent on vital services.

Labour seem happy to close our day centres whilst the fail to keep our streets clean.

Norman Lamb MP has a great history in government and since the general election of raising the profile of mental health.

Norman commented very openly about legalising assisted dying... "For many years, I opposed attempts to legalise assisted dying. I had concerns, shared by many, that the risk to the most vulnerable individuals outweighed the benefits.

Norman talking to a resident in Ramillies Road
Equally, I respect those with deeply held religious concerns. But my views have been challenged in recent years. As an MP and in my role in the last Parliament as a health minister, I have spoken to many terminally ill patients, and the families of those who suffered slow deaths in great pain.
So many of them were convinced, when someone is suffering intolerably, and when they are reaching the end of their life, they should be allowed to end their suffering with dignity, and with the support of those closest to them.

These testimonies have forced me to think again. Would I want the right to decide for myself, when faced with terminal illness, when I wished to die? And would I want it for loved ones? The answer is unequivocally, yes.

Every few months, we hear about a case where someone who is terminally ill is faced with an impossible dilemma.  Either they must accept a slow and painful deterioration and death, or they must endure the indignity of travelling to another country to end their life – risking criminalisation of the relatives or friends who support them. And they only have this option if they can afford it, which many simply cannot. The current legal situation is not just a messy compromise; it is cruel, and it is wrong."

Photos were taken by Suzanne Tanswell, so thank you for the time spent snapping away.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A great success: the Beaumont Road PlayStreet‏

Last weekend myself and Councillor Gary Busuttil were able to attend a lively street party in Beaumont Road.

The event, where resident have their street closed off from traffic for a few hours, usually on a Sunday, was organised by Jill Ward and Vanessa Folley.

Photo taken by Jill Ward
It gave people a chance to meet each other, many of whom did not either know or commonly speak to their neighbours. There was a great atmosphere with lots of children playing games whilst the adults tucked into the homemade cupcakes!

PlayStreet joint organiser, Jill Ward, said: "We were thrilled to have over 40 people come to our first PlayStreet. We met neighbours we had never even seen! It gave our road a real sense of community & people have been thanking me all week.

The work to set it up was minimal with the letters & survey were all prepared by the Council. We can now run a PlayStreet once a month & following its successful start several neighbouring streets are planning to start their own!"

Three top tips the Beaumont Road PlayStreet organisers gave were:

  • Talk to a couple of neighbours before you start to see if there is interest
  • Agree a time for a PlayStreet with them so you have support
  • Ask a couple of people to help with stewarding in advance

Last year the Southfield ward Liberal Democrat Councillors persuaded Ealing Council to not charge residents for these types of events as they bring people together.

If you would like to start up a street party then please check out Playing Out, Ealing Council's website or let us know and we can help you out!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Ealing does not need Heathrow to be expanded

Howard Davies's Airports Commission recently delivered a massive blow to residents in Ealing and West London, when it gave the go ahead to expand Heathrow.

Only the Liberal Democrats have been resolutely against expanding Heathrow, locally, regionally and nationally, as we see our quality of life worsening if there is an increase in air traffic. The additional air and noise pollution will make our lives worse.

I recall visiting a school in Hounslow where the pupils could not play outside due to the planes that there already are. Anymore and we will be causing problems for not just how our children can be educated but their enjoyment of their time at school.

Time at school should be fun and a chance to socialise whilst learning, not avoiding the noise of large planes going over head.

Some residents have mentioned the proposed cap on night flights but I think we know that any expansion will lead to an increased number of people in Acton and Chiswick suffering from flight noise in the short term, to a u-turn and more night flights.

I am also very cynical about whether the airline industry will fund triple glazing or investing in planes that will be much quieter and much more fuel efficient.

By encouraging flights without altering the tax system we are missing the point. We need to both invest in more environmentally friendly methods of transport whilst ensuring that more polluting methods of transport such as airlines pay the correct taxes to pay for the increased environmental damage they cause.

Both the Tories and the Labour parties have said they will accept the commission’s report which was published after the general election to avoid embarrassment to them. Sadly only the Liberal Democrats will be standing up to fight for the residents of Ealing.

I fear that future generations of our children will suffer for the short term greed of our country.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association Summer Party

Each summer there is one afternoon I hope the weather stays sunny and somehow each year it tends to be pretty much perfect.

On Saturday 20th June, there was the Annual Summer Party, where some of the local residents meet and chat whilst enjoying barbecued food, Pimms, local baked cakes and the children can have their faces painted,

The event is organised by the wonderfully active Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association who combine the raising of important local matters with the Council and local Councillors, as well as ensuring social events take place - helping local residents to have fun and to get to know each other.

Myself and Gary Busuttil concentrating!
I have been lucky to be one of the four responsible for the BBQ-ing. So many burgers and sausages were ate. People often coming back for me. When I was cooking, I was joined by fellow ward Councillor Gary Busuttil who before coming a Councillors worked professionally as a cook!

There was also a kiddies arts & crafts area whilst a magician entertained the parents.

I baked a fruity cake to add to the many cakes on the bake stall. From my tasting I think Chiswick should have a Bake-Off  itself! So many of the cakes looks, smelt and tasted wonderful.

Also present were the local police team who chatted to residents, giving a combination of crime prevention advice as well as listening to many residents who had lots of questions. We are lucky in Southfield that the local police team want to be present at lots of community meetings. I think it is one reason why the crime rate in the area is low as many residents have learnt tips on reducing crime.

The bake stall!
The credit for organising the event should be given to Suzanne Tanswell and the great team of over twenty volunteers who helped before the day or on the day itself.

Days like these show me why all areas should have active and social residents' associations.

It was great as well to speak to so many people who have so many diverse backgrounds and come from different parts of the world.

People make great events and yesterday there were so many hardworking, community minded people. It was a pleasure to have been asked to help and meet so many great people.

Lastly let me thank Suzanne Tanswell who (as well as organising lots of things) took some lovely photographs including the ones in this blogpost. The  Chiswick David Bailey!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

An expanded Heathrow will mean an unacceptable level of noise and air pollution

When it was announced that the Davies Commission will report its findings after the recent General Election it sounded like an excuse to allow a new government to implement change without much legitimacy.

As it currently stands, of the main parties, only the Liberal Democrats are against expanding Heathrow. This is at a local, a regional and a national level.

We believe that an expanded Heathow would bring an unacceptable level of noise and air pollution to Ealing.

Myself seven years ago at Downing Street
The Liberal Democrats in government have been pioneers of investing in increasing more sustainable methods of travel like HS2 and Crossrail. We believe that Councils and the government should do more to encourage cycling.

The Davies Commission is about to make recommendations into expanding air capacity in London and a Conservative Government (or Labour if they had got in) will sadly be inclined to support this proposal.

I suspect that the Conservatives will press ahead with Heathrow expansion.

We hear constantly about triple glazing and quieter planes but we have seen more flights in total and more night flights. The cost of triple glazing millions of properties would not be feasible and the airlines will do anything to avoid this.

We need to think more about the health of our children. The schools I visited in Hounslow had children kept inside due to noise from the planes flying frequently overhead.

Air pollution does not have regard to borough boundaries and so Heathrow generated air pollution will harm us all in London.

That is why retaining Heathrow and not expanding it, is the only option for Ealing and West London.

We need to gather ourselves to stop the government from expanding Heathrow. The health of children in Ealing depends on it.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Buddhist Vihara parking permit petition cancelled by Council

Ealing Council made a decision at the end of last year to reduce the number of groups who were eligible for parking permits. This included the organisers of the Buddhist Vihara on The Avenue, many of whom do not live in the area.

Sadly they were not consulted and their initial requests for information were ignored until local Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillors got involved.

Receiving the petition in the Vihara
I was asked by one of Vihara’s management to visit them and to be presented with a petition. I handed in the petition and since then they have collected more signatures – about 500 so far with more being collected!

Many people have been annoyed that the large increases in the annual cost of the parking permits as well as the huge increase in visitor’s vouchers. It is sad that Ealing Council did not think to consult users of the permits to listen to their views.

It is no wonder many people think the Labour-run Council does not want to listen to people’s views. If you have any issue or grievance with Ealing Council or would like a petition handed in for you please let me know at

Lib Dem Councillors Celebrate 30 years of the Gunnersbury Triangle

I was lucky enough to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve on Bollo Lane recently.

Fellow local Southfield Councillor Andrew Steed was also present. Despite there being a large set of flats next door the wildlife reserve gives a great chance for kids to learn about nature in this hidden beauty off Bollo Lane.
The two mayors cutting the special cake

We were lucky to have the Mayors of both Hounslow and Ealing to cut the cake which was baked by a volunteer of the Triangle.

I still regret the time when the flats which now overlook the reserve, was approved after a Conservative Councillor in Ealing voted for the development.

Wildlife experts were against the building of those flats including David Bellamy.

A fun afternoon was had, despite the rain!

Councillor Andrew Steed and I with the two local mayors

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Liberal Democrats are already making Ealing fairer

In Ealing, voters will make their choice on who should represent them on May 7th.

Councillor Gary Malcolm
Liberal Democrats in government have successfully turned around the poor state of the economy - where we were shedding over 1,000 jobs a day when we took over from Labour - into the fastest growing economy in the G8.

We have a sound platform to continue the good work that the Liberal Democrats have done as part of the coalition government.

Ealing has seen investment to improve many core services. We have delivered:
  • £45 million to Ealing schools, since 2010, to benefit the most disadvantaged children.
  • Free school meals for 13,400 children in Ealing in school years Reception, 1, and 2.
  • Almost 8,000 apprenticeships giving our youngest members of Ealing a greater future.
  • 5,500 more residents in Ealing in work, compared to 2010.
  • A £900 income tax cut for over 150,000 Ealing residents, taking 22,000 of them out of tax altogether – something the Conservatives said back in 2010 wouldn’t be possible!
  • A £950 cash increase for 38,000 pensioners in Ealing, compared to 2010.
  • Tax-free early years education or weekly childcare for 10,500 Ealing families.
  • Waiting limits for mental health treatment for the first time.
  • Equal marriage – allowing same-sex couples the right to marry here in Ealing Town Hall - something Labour said they had a principled objection to only a few years ago.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Jon Ball has been visiting residents in Ealing, and they say they are looking forward to voting Liberal Democrat because of the £8 billion a year we will invest in the NHS, something that not one of the other parties have pledged to match.

Housing in many areas including Southall and Acton needs improving. Our policy to introduce a ‘Rent to Own’ scheme will allow young people to buy their own home without needing a deposit, by ‘buying’ a share in their homes by paying their rent.

We will cut bus fares by two-thirds for 21,600 16 - 21 year-olds people in Ealing.

We will also give a £250 respite bonus every year to 3,570 full time carers in Ealing.

We will require that all children should be taught by a qualified teacher: currently 115 teachers in Ealing are unqualified.

Ealing Labour have failed: rather than invest in our shared future like the Liberal Democrats, they have closed day centre after day centre, making life worse for vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with disabilities.

The Liberal Democrats have made Ealing a fairer place already. A vote for the Liberal Democrats on May 7 and will help us all go further.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Liberal Democrats improving Education in Ealing

In Ealing, things are improving as we see that crime is down, there are more people in employment and millions of residents have been taken on apprenticeships across the country.

Those running Ealing Town Hall, like to take the credit for the improvements to our education system, however they forget to mention that the majority of money comes directly from the coalition Government.

So when our primary and secondary schools are maintained, expanded and improved, large chunks of money comes from the government.

Gary Malcolm
Liberal Democrats believe in giving every child a fair start in life. That's why we put an extra £2.5bn into schools each year from our 'Pupil Premium', as promised in the 2010 election manifesto. The money is targeted at those that need the most help, to achieve equality of opportunity.

In just one year seven schools in our borough received the following amounts:

  • Hambrough Primary School, Southall - £126,000
  • West Twyford Primary School, Acton - £81,000
  • Selborne Primary School, Greenford - £107,100
  • Gifford Primary School, Northolt - £325,800
  • Perivale Primary School, Perivale - £83,700
  • North Ealing Primary School, Ealing - £54,900
  • Southfield Primary school, Southfield - £144,000
  • St John's Primary School, West Ealing - £171,000

Some of the great examples of what the Pupil Premium has been spent on included a Maths tutor for a year 10 pupil who had gaps in their learning. Another was curriculum adaptations for pupils going into key stage 4, who were on the spectrum of autism.

The additional learning and communication helped them out massively. This will help those children to better learn and develop, so they can gain employment or an apprenticeship more easily.

Also a hot and healthy meal at lunch time greatly improves the health, behaviour and results of schoolchildren, providing them with their best start in life, enabling every child to fulfil their potential.

Evidence has shown that free school meals make a real difference in our classrooms. They were first piloted in 2009 and my aspiration is that free school meals is expanded to give free school meals to every primary school pupil in England.

We’ve also provided £150m to upgrade school kitchens and dining rooms, on top of a billion pounds of new money to fund the meals.

The government has also increased funding of nursery places for 2 and 3 year olds and agreed for an increase in paternal leave so they parents can spend more time with their new-born children. All of these policies are helping families across Ealing.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Southfield Ward Forum update - including a sad Carlton Road day centre update

Despite the rain and the cold weather, it was a wonderful Southfield Ward Forum meeting in St Albans Church. Since the church was saved from being converted into a number of luxury flats we looked forward to using the venue for public meetings.

The meeting was kicked off by  Rev Mike Tufnell who updated residents of future events to be held in the large church. Although I am not religious, churches like St Albans are amazing places due to the arhitecture and the stained glass windows. The next Ward Panel meeting that will take place in the church we hope to be in the Summer.

St Albans Church before the meeting
There were a number of topics we discussed...

Closure of the Carlton Road Day Centre
I announced that in the Summer it is likely that the centre will close, although the exact timings is not known. This will be a sad end to a great service the Council runs very well. Despite a huge campaign last week the Labour run Ealing Council decided that they did not want to look at the alternatives which Liberal Democrat Councillors put forward.

These would have allowed the day centre to stay open. Labour Councillors who voted to close it should be ashamed of themselves. The users are the most vulnerable as they are severely physically disabled. When the day centre shuts the Council wishes to sell off the site probably to build expensive homes and not affordable units.

I pay tribute to the staff at the Day Centre who will shortly lose their jobs, and thank all those residents who tried in vain to stop Labour closing the day centre. Southfield Councillor Gary Busuttil has been active on this and so I give a special thanks to his hard work and dedication.

Thames Water Sewage problems continue
Don Tanswell, chair of the Southfield Park Triangle Residents' Association, updated the meeting about the ongoing issues due to the lack of effective emptying of the storage tanks near to Hatfield Road, when it rains.

It appears that lots of good evidence has been taken and Ealing Council might be in a position to take legal action to get Thames Water to either fix the issue or install roofs on the six tanks.

Ward Forum Budget
We agreed to...
  • Plant 13 trees around the Beaconsfield Road area which will replace 13 that are to be felled due to problems they have caused residents in the area.
  • Consider funding a couple of small arts events in Chiswick and Acton.
  • Install an additional cycle rack near the 94 bus terminus.
  • Improve the cycling facilities and improve Acton Green by installing a Brompton Cycle Hire unit near where the large bins near Turnham Green Station which had attracted lots of dumped waste. Also new cycle racks will be added near to the taxi rank and a section of the path will be converted into grass to improve the environment. Much of this work has come from the hard work by Councillor Andrew Steed.

The church's drum set!
Neighbourhood Watch
In Southfield we have 51 Neighbourhood Watch reps who help to reduce crime by informing their neighbours of crimes the police have informed them of. Some also check up on vulnerable residents in their area to see that they are fit and well. The reps do as much or as little as they can do - some take on ten houses and others a whole street. Some insurance companies offer discounts to home and contents insurance as a Neighbourhood Watch scheme often reduces crime!

The police want more people to help our and so please email me using if you want to know more information or you want me to speak to the local police team so they can arrange for you to become a Neighbourhood Watch rep. At the meeting one person said she was interested!

Next Ward Forum meetings - put them in your diary!
The next four ward forums (venues to be confirmed) will start at 7.30 pm on these dates:

  • Wed 10th June 2015
  • Wed 9th September 2015
  • Wed 9th December 2015
  • Wed 9th March 2016

Monday, 19 January 2015

Mental health in Ealing should not be ignored or stigmatised

Research shows that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives, however there is still stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

The Liberal Democrats believe that mental health should never be ignored or stigmatised. That's why we are committed to improving mental health services in Ealing, London and nationwide.

There are many reasons why people suffer short or long term incidences of mental health problems. These include a loss of their job, when family or social relationships change, developing a physical health condition.

Save Our Solace demo outside Town Hall
Not feeling you can talk about problems with someone, can mean we “bottle up” emotions which often intensifies our perception of a difficult issue.

Many voluntary groups organise and run groups which provide residents a chance to talk and take away people’s “load from their shoulders”. Many of these groups help reduce potential mental health problems without aiming to do so.

Labour’s national campaign about the NHS contrasts with the Labour party locally, who are more than prepared to close important local facilities.

Ealing Council over the past few years has closed a number of day centres, affecting many people’s mental health. Closing more facilities like Ealing’s Solace and the Carton Road Day Centre in the Acton area, will mean more users suffer.

Very recently one user of the Solace centre ended his life at Ealing Broadway station. While it is too early to know what may have led to the tragedy, this underlines the importance of ensuring that the Solace Centre and other similar centres are kept open to provide its 365-day a year support for local residents. One user said Ealing Council had played “Russian roulette with our lives.”
Services like Solace only cost a tiny expenditure in the overall Council budget. Labour cannot absolve responsibility.

Many users now do not believe what Labour say as they have closed so many centres and plan to close many more this year.

In Government the Liberal Democrats are using £400 million to help people with mental health problems get the right support early on, such as talking or psychological therapies.

We are also introducing waiting limits, so people will know for the first time how long they have to wait for mental health treatment.
Our new mental health action plan sets out our priorities for essential change in mental health, including:

  • Investing over £400m to give thousands of people access to evidence-based psychological therapies.
  • Children's mental health: Investing £54m in order to improve access to mental health care for children.
  • Crisis Care Concordat: Making sure no one experiencing mental health crisis is ever turned away from services.
  • Choice in Mental Health: Giving people the same choice for their mental healthcare as they do for their physical health.
  • Liaison and Diversion: Committed £25m for a scheme that identifies health issues offenders when they enter the criminal justice system.
  • Restraint: Investing £1.2m in staff training in order to reduce harmful restrictive practices.
The Liberal Democrats believe mental health should not be ignored or stigmatised. It should be taken as seriously as physical health.

Only the Liberal Democrats are making this issue a top priority.