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Monday, 20 March 2017

Improving our borough's parks

For many years in Southfield ward the Liberal Democrat councillor have been working with many groups including Council staff and residents’ associations to see what residents most wanted from their parks.
Gary Malcolm at bike storage rack on Acton Green

Relatively recently the three main open spaces in Southfield were granted Green Flag status. This came in the backdrop of years of spending to make lots of small positive changes for the area when Ealing Council sadly cut about half of the park ranger staff.

Some of the areas where improvements have been made include:

  • More litter bins and park benches.
  • Cycling facilities so people can park their bikes safely.
  • Lighting paths so that residents can more safely get to and from work in the early mornings or later evenings.
  • Installation of gym equipment, so allowing residents to exercise without paying large gym costs!
  • Planting meadows to brighten up less busy patches of grass.
  • Installation of flower beds to brighten the place up.
  • New pathways which had become worn out.

Much of the last ten years before gaining the Green Flag status came from funding at a ward level where Liberal Democrat Councillors created or agreed to proposals from residents to improve our area.

Some of these proposals helped road safety in the area and others related to improving our parks and open spaces.

Liberal Democrats believe that the model we have created should be followed in other areas. To work it is crucial that the local Councillors regularly involve all the residents’ associations in the area so that lots of ideas area created. It is also integral that residents are consulted and that Council officers are asked their views.

This way you get more good ideas and in the end the ones that can be introduced to give benefits to a range of residents.

So many Ealing residents should have the right to stay

Each week the thought of a Brexit is causing great concern to residents in Ealing.
Much of this concern is two-fold: firstly there are a large number of EU nationals who live in Ealing who contribute to businesses in Ealing and London. Many contribute to a range of community events, volunteering their time to help those who are more in need including those who are homeless.

Secondly they are providing services and expertise, which many local companies would suffer, if they were not able to work for those Ealing companies.
Many French, Polish, Italian, Spanish and other EU citizens contribute to the Ealing economy should not be forced to live under a cloud of uncertainty. Liberal Democrats are the only party that has consistently championed Britain’s membership of the European Union, because we believe that Britain’s best chance to succeed is within the EU.
How can any EU national feel comfortable in staying in our country when the government appears to be trying their best to make anyone not born in the UK, feel bad?
But the future status of these residents is not clear beyond any Brexit renegotiation period, leading to uncertainty.
The Liberal Democrats are clear that those EU nationals who are currently resident in the UK should be allowed to live here indefinitely.
The party is has committed to standing in the next election on the platform of securing Britain’s place in the EU.
To Europeans whose lives are now rooted in the UK my message is simple – the Liberal Democrats stand with you, and will speak for you. To the French family raising their children in Hanwell, to the Polish mother working to pay her mortgage in central Ealing, to the German graduate starting his business venture in Acton - the Liberal Democrats value you, we will stand by you and we will champion your future here in Britain.

Liberal Democrats say EU citizens must have right to stay in Britain. Simple.

Planning must be done properly

As planning is decided using particular types of legal rules I am speaking here personally about a local example of a proposal for planning, known as 100 Bollo Lane.

At the time of writing this, the decision has not been made, and some lessons can be learned about the process of how Ealing Council consults residents as well as what it considers important when it makes planning decisions.

Of course we need more housing but the location needs to be planned so that we do not create sets of huge towers in one area meaning that many people in traditional two storey homes, feel enclosed and are overlooked. Better to have more less tall building so that the good look of an area is not destroyed.

With regard to 100 Bollo Lane application Ealing Council did not consult as many people as they should have. Liberal Democrats believe that enough people should be consulted and not by notices on lampposts. I personally have had complaints about the scheme from at least ten streets which is more than the Council appeared to have contacted.

I am personally against the 100 Bollo Lane application because the current use of light industrial was agreed to be appropriate relatively recently by both the Mayor of London and Ealing Council, so it is wrong to change the use for housing when the site has not been marketed for other light industrial uses.

It appears to be an excuse from the land owners and the developers to sell the land for a high value without the Council wanting to get the best value for the land.

Other issues that will come with a tall set of buildings have been seen at the southern end of Bollo Lane including flooding due to a loss of green area and excess railway noise which according to Transport for London is bouncing off some of the newer developments towards homes on Bollo Lane.

Repeating a development at the north of Bollo Lane seems very likely to cause issues for existing residents on other sections of Bollo Lane.

As a Liberal Democrat, I know that quickly agreeing to a scheme that is not good for the area will leave long lasting negative outcomes. Better to wait and allow for time to discuss a more appropriate scheme for the area. That is what Chiswick deserves.