Most media reports now drip feed us information of an impending deep recession, after 10 years of austerity that has had an adverse effect on society, this will be further major blow to peoples livelihoods, that will likely affect all of us.
A few years ago I went around the borough of Ealing with volunteers from St. Mungo’s, a homeless charity, and was shocked at how many people were sleeping rough on our streets, all with different reasons for being there, some were hungry and embarrassed to receive our help. The scale of this problem also prompted the three Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillors to donate £2500 of Ward Forum funds to Acton Homeless Concern to help fund good causes. To see people sleeping out on the streets is soul destroying, but to see people go hungry is unacceptable.
On Wednesday 22nd April 2020 a virtual Southfield Ward Forum took place, with 21 residents attending, which was held using the free meeting app Zoom. This is the first virtual ward forum in Ealing. Issues raised by residents included Coronavirus, food parcels for the vulnerable, recycling, rubbish collection, planning, air quality, trees and electric vehicle charging points.
Southfield Ward Forum Chair, Councillor Gary Busuttil said: "There were so many questions that residents asked in advance and the feedback from residents who attended was very positive. Liberal Democrats commit to running some virtual meetings even after the Coronavirus lockdown is reversed as some people said they would not be able to attend face to face ward meetings because of child or family responsibilities."
Last week the Liberal Democrats in Ealing put a budget amendment to ensure that the Ward Forum meetings which Labour planned to scrap, would not be axed. In the build up to the meeting Ealing Labour party reversed its total cut of the ward forums by delaying the moment they will be cut by one year. This gives a chance for residents and Liberal Democrat councillors to continue our campaign to save ward forum meetings.
Liberal Democrats would:
1 - Guarantee that ward forums would continue with budgets forever.
2 - Enable online local referenda like many other countries do to help Ealing Council spend money on projects that people want and need.
3 - Engage more formally with Residents Associations who often are ignored by the Council.
4 - Allow councillors to have the power to decide how a much greater share of the Council’s environmental budgets would be spent on their area with greater involvement from residents and businesses.
After an inspection which took place at the end of 2019, OFSTED rated Ealing Council’s children’s’ services as “requires improvement to be good”.
The report included processes and treatment of vulnerable children including 'looked after' children and care leavers. There were 6 areas where Labour-run Ealing Council have been told to improve, including three most damning areas:
1) Quality of response to those at risk of being homeless and children who might be taken in care:
Children and young adults, often from abusive home environments, should always be treated as a priority to be housed as they are the most vulnerable group with the biggest risk of safety.
2) How responses to referrals and child protection enquiries are dealt with:
The lack of a consistent response to many referrals or tip offs is a reason that Labour-run Ealing Council may be putting children who are possibly living in an abusive environment, or suffering from domestic violence, at risk of danger.
3) Lack of accommodation for care leavers:
Those freshly out of care often require more support to re-integrate into everyday lives, yet they are let down by the Labour-run Ealing Council where the report indicates they have failed to consistently provide the suitable accommodation essential for them to be able to lead independent lives and become contributing members of our society.
An Ealing Council report showed that Labour-run Ealing Council have been issuing many more fines than two years ago. Many residents have experienced many examples of where they have been fined in error and recieved a refund, often after having to make a formal complaint against the Council.
Last summer residents were not informed by the Council that their parking permit was due to expire, residents also received many parking fines. After residents complained, the Council initially said they could not be refunded despite the failures of the Council's own IT system. Councillor Andrew Steed took up the issue, asking questions and contacting the Chief Executive.
Since Freshways were first established on Eastman Road, Acton there have been issues relating to noise nuisance and additional traffic. Over the years Ealing Council have successfully taken the Dairy to court, most recently this month when the Directors were fined over Planning Enforcement issues. An on-going concern is the parking of large milk container trucks parked on The Vale. It is now a regular occurrence that up to six trucks are parked at any one time, particularly late afternoon and evening.
After a period of speculation it has been confirmed that the budgets have been cut for all Ward Forums in Ealing. The last Southfield Ward Forum will be on 1st April 2020 in St Albans Church, South Parade at 7.30 pm.
In the ten years that they have been in existence they have provided an important means for residents to meet their elected representatives and the local police team, to raise issues and be updated on events in their area. In addition, having a local budget has enabled local ideas and suggestions to be implemented: be it the lighting on Acton Green and Southfield Rec, funding local charities which helped many children and the elderly, to contributing to the murals at Turnham Green, and the planting of hundreds of trees across the ward.
Although it has been relatively common for bins to be uncollected in Southfield and the rest of Ealing’s streets, this Christmas has seen a huge number of complaints into our post boxes from residents venting their anger at the Council.
There were also lots of green bags spotted containing swept up leaves, but they have been left for many weeks around Acton, Chiswick, Elthorne and Ealing, when the contractor should have removed them much quicker.
We saw that the Council’s own magazine Around Ealing reported different collection days to the Council website which left many residents unsure of when to leave out their bins for collection.
A few months ago the Liberal Democrats put a motion which was debated by Ealing Council and it was agreed that a Climate Emergency was happening but after waiting, the report DID NOT contain measures to assess whether the Council was succeeding or failing to meet its climate change targets.
So Liberal Democrat Group Leader gained agreement of Ealing Council to the three requests which means that:
- Ealing Council Cabinet papers should have text at the start of Council reports to indicate the impact on climate change of Council decisions so people can work out if a proposal will help or worsen our environment.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress or not on climate change projects would be created and used covering areas like Energy, Food, Transport, Green space and Waste.
- The Chair of Overview & Scrutiny (OSC) be asked to consider if the committee would include the topic of Climate Change in its future meetings to help the Council meet its Climate Change.
We all know that in London knife crime is out of control. The homicide rate this year is on course to surpass that of 2018, which had seen the highest level of violent killings in a decade, with over 110 murders before the end of September. In Ealing, we are dealing with tragedies on a weekly basis and in September our community experienced three fatal stabbings in one week. That’s three Ealing families and their extended communities that have been robbed of their loved ones by violent senseless knife crime.
We must react with urgent action to bring our communities together and tackle the root causes behind knife crime.
Between Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan utterly failing to grasp this emergency and the Conservative party’s short-sighted focus on stop and search and cuts to our police, youth and mental health services, London and Ealing is in crisis. Siobhan Bentita, our Mayoral candidate, and I understand that enough is enough. Siobhan’s “Feel Safe, Be Safe” 5 point plan for London will give every young person a voice, activities and the security of good schooling.
I’m ready to fight this issue as your future MP, and I’ve already started work on the ground by setting up a working group to have local conversations and embed holisitic solutions in our community to tackle knife crime. With your help, I am critically fighting to stop our local police station from closing. With a Labour Council and Mayor subjecting us to cuts and failing to attack knife crime in Ealing, now is the time to speak up for our community.
Please sign our petition to help save our police stations and fight knife crime.