Although I do not get many handwritten letters from constituents nowadays (mainly emails or phone calls), one I received made me very sad to read.
It was written by a very elderly lady who, in her own words, cannot get about easily. The block she is in, is not rated very highly by her or fellow residents. Getting around in her wheelchair is not going to be comfortable as we see so clearly with many of the life stories of the athletes in the Paralympics.
Sometimes the most important thing a politician can do is listen and then return that phone call or speak to them so a complex problem can be simplified and hopefully solved.
Just because an issue that a resident raised might not be easy to solve, it does not mean it should be ignored. Sometimes all that is required is to give the correct advice so they resident can be helped or they know who to contact so they can be empowered to help themselves.
One of the important reasons why day centres serving many elderly and other vulnerable users, are crucial, is that they allowed them to get the care they needed in the company of others. Friends who they saw each day or a few times a week. This allowed them to be happier as well as each other helping each other out.
Now, since Labour-run Ealing Council, have closed nearly all of the day centres, many users have been left paying more for less. The evidence is that users left without access to groups are more likely to become depressed which is hardly going to help many users who can be very vulnerable, some without many visits from family members.
There are many areas in the past few years where Ealing Council's housing activity does not seem to have measured up well in providing a good service:
• Benefit claims are taking too long to be processed.
• There were far too many (and it has been increasing sharply) people living in bed and breakfast accommodation.
• Relatively recently, many tenants were not satisfied with the quality of repairs.
• People are still waiting a long time to speak to a member of Council staff either on the phone or when visiting the Council in person.
Liberal Democrats believe we should be not just building enough housing, but crucially making sure our existing management of our housing stock and estates is done to a high level of quality, treating all residents (regardless of their income status) with more dignity.