Southfield ward councillor Gary Busuttil accuses administration of complacency
Liberal Democrat councillor Gary Busuttil
It has been a tumultuous time for councils and local government over the past decade, with cuts to local government funding and then the pandemic. Many hard choices have had to be made about how to keep council services going with less money.
Back in 2010, councils, including Ealing, trimmed the fat where it could without much impact on local services. As time went on decisions on cuts became more difficult, and more contentious. As opposition Councillors, Liberal Democrats fully understand the constrains of cuts to local government funding, and it is not our duty to block every decision the Labour run Ealing Council makes, however it is our duty to scrutinise the rationale of those decisions, so the best outcome for residents can be achieved.
Liberal Democrats have said over the last couple of years, the money which Ealing Council receives from central government has actually gone up. The council has also had its pandemic spending pretty much fulfilled with extra funding. Though cuts to local government funding have been one of the main causes of the worsening state of local services, that isn’t the whole story. So, if this the case why has local service evolved into its current degenerate state? The arrogance and complacency amongst the Labour administration is also to blame, and it is causing ruptures within communities in our borough.
Success at the ballot box in local elections has given Labour three successive majority administrations on the mantra of “defending our community”, but that success hasn’t transpired into better more engaged communities. For instance, for nearly two years I have been trying to find out what is happening with our Ward Forums. They’re an important part of local democracy, and Ward Forum budgets fund community projects led by people in our communities to improve our local areas. After numerous emails, questions to the council, and complaints to the CEO, the administration still has no idea what it wants to do with Ward Forums, leaving funding for community projects in limbo.
On planning, the bare statutory minimum is done to let people know of developments happening nearby. In the past, affect residents were sent a letter, now only a notice on a lamppost is consider satisfactory consultation, in the hope that people won’t notice. The ferociousness of opposition to many developments in the borough over the last couple of years, highlights the frustration of residents nor do they feel they’re listened to.
On other matters, for all the talk of being a Living Wage borough, earlier this year Unison secured a 21% pay increase for school catering staff, because it paid them below the London Living Wage, despite Labour run Ealing Council boasting it being a London Living Wage employer.
In terms of refuse collection and street sweeping, a couple of years ago these services came back in-house to the newly formed Greener Ealing Limited (GEL) to much fanfare, after the disastrous tenure of AMEY who were responsible for refuse collection and street sweeping. More than a year on from there operational launch, streets are still filthy and recycling rates have gone down. Liberal Democrats say this shows how bad Labour have been at managing contractors and services that it is in charge of.
But what epitomises the current state of the administration is the continuing debacle over LTN’s. The cack-handed approach to which they were implemented, with no regard to the impact to residents, has led to a brand so toxic that it’s divided communities, caused tremendous upheaval and bitterness on the streets and online, and a council leader to be ousted. Even their MPs have called for LTNs to be scrapped. Consultations are being ridden roughshod, and community engagement is disappearing. The failure to learn from the Hastings road “LTN” shows the arrogance and complacency of the current administration.
A recent meeting discussing the sale of Victoria Hall, that was reportedly held in secret (which can be read here) where the only agenda item was “matters to be considered in private” shows that Labour in Ealing have run out of steam, are bereft of ideas, and uninspiring.
That same meeting a member of the public in a public meeting about a public asset was escorted out of the meeting, which goes to show that this administration is now not here to serve the public, but only to serve themselves.
It’s now time for change, and a new approach in the way the council carry out local services, an approach that has residents in mind and has the buy-in of our communities.
Cllr Gary Busuttil – Liberal Democrat councillor for Southfield ward
Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More
This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.
Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.
We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.
However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.
We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.
A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact email@example.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.
One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.
If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.
For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.
October 11, 2021