South Acton Councillor's Update
Mik Sabiers on the run up to the forthcoming local elections
This year the local elections in South Acton ward and across Ealing will be held on Thursday 22 May, don’t forget to go out and make your voice heard, you have three votes for three councillors and in South Acton the three Labour candidates on the list are Josh Blacker, Yvonne Johnson and Mik Sabiers, yes that last one is me as I’m standing again.
But before we talk about the next term, we need to finish this one. Since the last update there’s been the final South Acton ward forum on 5 March where we heard updates from the local police team (who were pleased to report that South Acton is currently the safest ward in the borough with the lowest level of recorded crime), on the transport improvements to the high street (which are bedding in well despite the disruption from the burst water main over the last week), improvements to bridges at Church Path and Acton Lane on the south of the ward (still ongoing) and a detailed update from the council’s team on the new Town Hall and swimming pool complex (due to open in the next couple of weeks).
It was a positive meeting which saw what the changes over the course of the last four years and ended on a high as Yvonne and I invited local residents to thank our fellow ward councillor John Gallagher for his hard work after he announced he is to stand down at the next election. While John will no longer be on the council he will definitely be active in the community, he will be missed for his sterling hard work, nature and focus on getting things done, but most of all because he is a top bloke and it has been a pleasure to work so closely with him (and Yvonne) these past four years. I think most people agreed as there was no wine left at the end!
In terms of other business in the ward, on top of our regular surgeries, John and I visited the Bollo Brook Youth Centre on Bollo Bridge Road to catch up with the Connexions team and the young people there. It’s a good centre with lots of activities from arts and crafts, to sports as well as cooking (and eating afterwards) as well as games, music production and more. It was great to meet the people there and Clifford and Colin who keep the place running.
On the council front, we’ve all been busy with meetings, John remains involved with scrutiny and chairing our Labour group meetings, while Yvonne is keeping a close eye on the council’s finances, not just in her role as cabinet member for finance and performance (cabinet last met on 29 March), but also as chair of the Pension Fund Panel which is working well (I’m also a member), and the reason I know that is from the final report to the Audit Committee (another one of which I’m a member) which was held last month.
Even with all the cuts facing our budget (£87 million and counting) we have kept a close focus on efficiencies and trying to limit closures, that’s why we’ve kept open our libraries and sure start centres, regenerated the Town Hall and swimming pool in Acton and expanded our schools all while freezing the council tax for our whole term. If re-elected, we’ve pledged to freeze the council tax for next year.
My main focus in the past month has been in my role as chair of the Overview & Scrutiny panel. As we near the end of the year I have drafted my review of the panel’s progress which will be published shortly. In the past month I have chaired two scrutiny meetings, the first dealt with yet another call-in, this time from both opposition parties and focused on the street cleaning and waste contract. This was the ninth time that had been looked at by the committee (over the four years), although the last session had to be held in private as we discussed specific details of the contract. Both parties’ call ins were rejected.
The other scrutiny meeting last month was looking at Crime & Disorder otherwise known as the Community Safety Partnership where we were joined by the police borough commander Nev Nolan as we looked into how crime and policing is progressing across Ealing. It was both an interesting and informative meeting with good news in terms of the fall in crime across the borough, but as ever there is always more work to do.
As we near the last six weeks of the term there’s still lots going on. Later this week all the local councillors are to have a tour of the soon to be opened town hall which judging by the enthusiasm (and the number of people signed up) I expect to be a buzzing hive of activity by the end of the month. There are few elements to be finalised, but all in the project is almost there. I hope residents enjoy this real community asset.
We also have the final council meeting of the term next week, as ever it’s a packed agenda (PDF here - http://tinyurl.com/n4lekcu) but we will come together to debate the achievements of the administration and the challenges going forward as well as say thanks to those councillors that have chosen not to stand again. As per usual I will try and live blog as much of the meeting as I can, follow me on Twitter (@miksabiers) for the latest on the night. After full council on Tuesday (15 April) I’m back in Ealing Town Hall (on 17 April) to chair Overview & Scrutiny again where we’ll be looking at the council’s petitions’ policy as well as the work on governance and more. Yvonne has one final cabinet to prepare for on the 29 April (after the Easter break) and apart from a possible scrutiny meeting in mid-May, all our energies will be focused on not only keeping the council running, and making sure we deal with issues that come up, but with the election period where we’re campaigning on our strong record of achievements in the borough ranging from freezing the council tax to regenerating our town centres, keeping our libraries open, standing up for our local NHS and hospitals and making Ealing cleaner, safer and better for its residents.
And that’s why we’re all out canvassing on a regular basis, expect John, Yvonne and I along with new South Acton team member Josh Blacker to be knocking on doors near you, say hi if you see us and don’t forget our regular surgeries at Labour’s Ruskin Hall on Church Road every Saturday from 11 to noon or the Oak Tree Community Centre on the second Wednesday of every month from 18:30-19:30 (John will be there tonight).
And that’s all from your local Labour South Acton councillors for now.
As ever any questions just ask.
John, Yvonne and Mik
John Gallagher – firstname.lastname@example.org – 020 8993 0017
April 10, 2014