Review of last weeks meeting from Chris Hurley
More than 80 people attended the local elections hustings meeting in Acton
last week, a much bigger turn out than was expected by the organisers,
the Churchfield Community Association(CCA).
All the political parties
standing in the four Acton wards for the local elections, plus the one independent, Dan Meskell
participated. Each candidate made an opening statement of up to
5 minutes setting out their main priorities and then the discussion
was opened up to the audience. One of the most contentious subjects raised was was the proposed redevelopment of the Oaks shopping centre. Both Cllr Gary Malcolm speaking for the Liberal Democrats and Cllr Phil Taylor of the
Conservatives said they opposed the current plans and would not sell
the council owned car park should they be elected, which would effectively
block the current plan. However Cllr Yvonne Johnson for Labour said the
car park had already been sold for £3million and so the development
would be going ahead.
The audience reacted negatively to this announcement.
A majority of the audience seemed supportive of the proposed conversion of the old Acton library building into an Arts Centre but Cllr Johnson said that, although she enjoyed the arts, the council had to put the Library on the market.
Other discussion points included the panel's views on HS2 (apart from Bob Little from UKIP’s whole-hearted opposition, most were somewhat in favour), and cuts to the NHS - the point was
made by the Green party that the NHS is not in the control of the
council but councillors could influence and oppose cuts that are imposed. Labour made the point
that A&Es are not yet saved at Ealing or Charing Cross hospitals, as the current plans say they will not accept blue light ambulances.
However the Conservatives said those A&Es were safe only thanks to Jeremy Hunt and blamed the previous Labour administration for the current proposed reorganisation. TUSC and the Green party said they oppose all cuts, and UKIPasked how we could spend money on HS2 but not the NHS?
On the bedroom tax, Labour was challenged about why they had not
resisted the tax. Cllr Johnson responded by saying that in Ealing all who were
affected by the tax had been contacted and asked whether they wanted to
move to smaller accommodation or stay in their homes and pay the tax.
The issue of street drinking was the final topic discussed, with the
Conservatives, in particular, pledged to get rid of it from Acton. The
point was made from the audience that it was not that easy to
eradicate it and the reasons behind street drinking needed to be
addressed. Sharon Dixon, the TUSC candidate, called for compassion for street drinkers, as did an audience member.
Most people who attended the hustings felt it was a worthwhile way of
spending their evening The CCA is would like to host a
similar event before the General Election next May.
253 Candidates For Ealing's Elections
21st May 2014