|South Acton Councillors' July Report|
Carnival, trees, spending and hospitals
Welcome to the latest update on what’s happening in South Acton and Ealing. The month got off to a blazing start with the sun shining on a very hot and very enjoyable Acton carnival. Saturday 6 July saw the regular parade along the high street from Woodlands to Acton park where we were joined by the mayor of Ealing cllr Kamaljit Dhindsa and many others from across the local community. This year saw a particularly high turnout with some 800 people joining the parade including youth and community groups as well as the local Labour councillors. John acted as steward to help keep us all in line and there were a host of people on the stage outlining their contribution to the community as well as key issues like the save our A&Es/hospitals campaign. All in all some 10,000 people dropped by over the course of the day and we’d like to thank the organisers from Ealing council and Acton Community Forum, the police and everyone involved for making it a memorable and enjoyable day. Roll on next year.
After the pleasure came business and later in the week I was back chairing the regular overview and scrutiny committee which had a focus on the council’s trees strategy. Some fast facts that sprung to mind included the fact that overall Ealing is home to some 250,000 trees, although two thirds of them are on private land rather than council property. Almost 50,000 council trees are in local parks, but there are also 24,000 street trees and the council is looking to enhance the overall tree stock right across the borough. Scrutiny made a few recommendations about promoting the good work of the team, tree wardens and the memorial tree planting scheme but there were also questions raised about the level and frequency of pruning. If you want to know more check out the full report (all 77 pages) here: http://tinyurl.com/nz3j9hn (PDF).
The main meeting of the month was full council last week (16 July). It was quite a packed agenda and Yvonne moved a motion challenging the coalition over the comprehensive spending review and the fact that there are even more cuts for local government. Despite this Ealing under Labour has pledged to freeze the council tax, and we will deliver on that pledge for the whole of the four year term. The Tories countered with a motion on mending potholes and Ealing’s roads but tended to neglect the fact that the council has faced major cuts to its budget (including for repairs), the Tory motion was amended to call on central government to direct funds to help deal with the maintenance backlog that exists across the country.
There were two other key motions, although both of them were formally moved rather than debated. The first was proposed by Acton Central councillor Patricia Walker who covers the council’s health brief and called on council to continue the fight to help save the four A&E departments that are under threat. Council reiterated its commitment to fighting the closures and one of the methods is the leaflet that should be dropping at every household in the borough. This will enable you to tell the Independent Review Panel that we must keep our A&Es. If you haven’t got one drop me a line or make your views known via the details at the end of this message, it is really important that people respond sooner rather than later, the absolute deadline is the end of August, but the earlier people reply the better.
The other key motion was on the Robin Hood tax which I proposed. As stated in the last update I think it is only fair for the speculators that play the market to should start to pay a small share of their excess profits and that some of that money should come to local councils to help improve our communities. While I had no chance to regale council on trying to get the Tories and Lib Dems to join our band of merry men (and women), and missed my chance to say which member I thought most resembled Friar Tuck, and who I considered to be the Sheriff of Nottingham and evil henchmen Guy of Gisborne (the clue could be in the name) the good news is that Ealing backed the motion and we will be looking to put pressure on central government to deliver on sharing some of the wealth more widely. If you want to know more get in touch.
This week has also been busy, both Yvonne and I attended a very long cabinet on Tuesday (I managed to escape early) ahead of the summer break. There were some 20 items on the agenda, I was there to update on recommendations re trees, while Yvonne dealt with changes on welfare reform under her portfolio. Rather than go in to all the specifics you can download the main details here: http://tinyurl.com/pwwdslp but worth checking out are changes to housing policy and empty properties, the council’s property strategy, progress on the Ealing cinema CPO as well as the trees and parking reports.
And this week also saw the South Acton ward forum, we did not have as many attendees as usual, although I expect a lot of people were enjoying the good weather or have escaped for an early holiday. Talking of the hot weather, there’s some good advice on the council website about what to do, it really helps if you can keep an eye out for vulnerable friends and neighbours, more details on how to stay safe in the heat here: http://www.ealing.gov.uk/news/article/720/stay_safe_in_the_heat.
Back to the ward forum and the main discussion was on traffic measures on Twyford Avenue where a number of concerns and ideas have been raised. We’ve decided to look at this is more detail and will look to undertake a site visit in September before bringing proposals back to a future meeting. There was also a short update on the works on the High Street/Gunnersbury Lane, we are still waiting for final approval from TfL, but the works are expected to start in August and continue through to December (for installation of the main roundabout) and then restart in the new year for the second stage. I continue to keep a close eye on this, so any questions ask.
There were also updates on the developments of the new town hall which is progressing to schedule. Talks are underway with community groups and the testing of the pools will soon start. At the moment the main structure has been erected and the roof is starting to be added, all in all we should on schedule for the new pool, community centre, library et al to open on time in the spring. There was also an update on changes to the local policing model, the good news is that we are getting our own dedicated police sergeant, although our current one is moving on – I’d like to thank Sgt Darren Grey for all his and his team’s hard work – and look forward to working with the new and existing officers. The good news is that crime in South Acton is down, and we want to keep it that way, if you need more details just ask.
And that’s about it, council will now be quiet for the summer break but we’ve all been holding regular surgeries (and will continue to hold them in August), namely at the Oak Tree Community Centre on the second Wednesday of the month (18:30-19:30) and John, Yvonne and I take regular turns at the Ruskin Hall surgery which is every Saturday from 11:00 to noon (shared with other Acton Labour councillors). Feel free to come along and see if we can help with council related questions.
That’s all for now – remember to have your say on the hospital changes and contact details below– and any questions just drop us a line.
John, Yvonne and Mik
John Gallagher – firstname.lastname@example.org – 020 8993 0017
26th July 2013