Friday, May 10, 2013

All Tory and Labour MPs at Transport Committee meeting back Heathrow expansion - only Lib Dem votes no

Only Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders voted against yesterday's Transport Select Committee report which supported expanding Heathrow airport with a third and even potentially a fourth runway.  This would of course lead to even more noise and air pollution along the flightpaths, including for areas in the south of Ealing borough which are not on the current flightpaths.

The MPs who voted for the report were Conservatives Steve Baker, Kwasi Kwarteng, Karen Lumley, Karl McCartney and Iain Stewart and the only Labour MP who turned up Graham Stringer.  There were no abstentions.

Well done to Adrian Sanders for being consistent with longstanding Liberal Democrat policy against any airport expansion in the South East.  The existing London airports have sufficient capacity to meet future needs if we shift passengers from domestic air travel to rail, including by the construction of HS2.  This will free up slots for international flights to more destinations with no need for additional runways or terminals.

Here in Ealing, the Conservatives in particular often grandstand on their supposed opposition to Heathrow expansion.  They would be better advised to spend their time persuading their party colleagues to vote the right way.

Campaigning against Heathrow expansion with
Lib Dem South East European Parliament candidate Dinti Batstone

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ealing Labour reject Lib Dem budget plan to save Day Centres and provide £1m extra for pavements & roads

Now that Council Tax bills have landed on doormats across the Borough, here's a reminder of the bad choices Ealing's Labour administration made in this year's budget.

Labour's budget proposals included the axing of the Learning Curve and Stirling Road day centres relied on by vulnerable people with learning disabilities but at the same time they included wasting £5m on an unnecessary additional Southall car park.

Ealing's Liberal Democrat Group put forward a fully costed amendment which would have saved the day centres and provided an extra million pounds for much-needed repairs to Ealing's pavements and roads, while still freezing Council Tax by cancelling the Southall car park and cutting councillors' allowances and the salaries of the highest paid staff.

All Labour and Conservatives councillors voted against the Lib Dem amendment.  The sole UKIP member was absent.  Labour's budget that combined cuts to the vulnerable with wasteful spending on pet projects was therefore confirmed.

The speech I made in the council chamber prior to the vote was as follows:

I rise to address issues of urgent local concern to Ealing Common residents in this budget.

Residents regularly raise with me the state of the pavements both in the central part of my ward close to the town centre and also around Popes Lane. In many places, pavements are in such a poor state that they are simply unsafe. One elderly resident of Marlborough Road who I spoke with recently told me she has fallen twice while walking in the local area - on both occasions due to uneven pavements. This is simply unacceptable.

Residents also raise the similarly poor state of our local roads, exacerbated by the recent freezing weather. I am sure I am not the only member here tonight who has been contacted by residents whose cars have been damaged by huge potholes in Ealing’s roads.

It is clear that the existing provision in the budget for footway and road resurfacing is inadequate and I am pleased that Cllr Steed’s [Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesman] amendment makes a prudent step in the right direction by allocating over a million pounds of extra capital for pavement and highway repairs across the Borough.

At the same time, many of my ward residents are concerned at the miserly move by Cllr Mahfouz [Labour portfolio holder for Transport & Environment] and the administration to charge £2 a day for parking on the Warwick Road extension across Ealing Common .

It is outrageous that the administration has ignored the views of residents and pushed through their parking bay plan. Single yellow lines in operation a couple of hours a day would solve the problems of commuter parking and caravans, while allowing residents to park for free in order to enjoy the Common.

Residents attending the ward forum unanimously agreed with all three local councillors that single yellow lines were the correct solution. But, typically, Cllr Mahfouz thinks he knows better than the ward councillors. He thinks he knows better than the ward residents. The Labour administration is more interested in generating a very small amount of revenue than implementing sensible proposals that benefit local residents.

Mrs Clements, the carer who asked Cllr Anand [Labour portfolio holder for Health & Adult Services] searching questions about the proposed closure of the Learning Curve and Stirling Road Centre earlier tonight, is a resident of my ward. To properly meet the needs of services users in my ward and others, who have clearly not been properly consulted, our amendment would keep these vital day centres open.

Finally, it is clear that local residents remain concerned about the failures by Enterprise. While the wider issue of whether Enterprise should be stripped of their contract remains open, the least the administration can do is to withhold significant monies from Enterprise due to their failure to carry out the services they have been contracted to do to a decent standard. Our amendment proposes that this money could be spent on additional initiatives to boost recycling rates as residents’ confidence in the recycling service has been badly dented by comingling of waste and continuing missed collections.

I commend our balanced and reasonable amendment to the chamber.