LTNs, Trips to France and Tower Blocks Part of Same Problem

Cllr Gary Malcolm claims Labour and Conservatives equally culpable

Cllr Gary Busuttil quizzes Ealing Council leader Julian Bell on Zoom Cllr Gary Malcolm quizzes Ealing Council leader Julian Bell on Zoom

This week started off with the news that Ealing Labour Councillor and ex-housing portfolio holder Peter Mason has apologised for taking a £3000 hospitality “conference” in sunny France. This includes flights, hotels and other items.

It was regrettable that Julian Bell, the Leader of Ealing Council, when I asked him earlier this week, did not also say sorry for accepting this type of sponsorship himself as he has visited sunny France many times over the past ten years.

On so called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) we saw the Labour party introduce LTNs without consulting and then make some small changes which do not appear to have helped many people. When they finally did consult, probably because over three quarters of people do not want LTNs, they announced that the results do not matter as it “is not a referendum”!

But on the topic of LTNs let us all remind ourselves that the Conservative party came up with the idea of them and told councils to introduce them. So when the local Conservatives say they are against them, why not remind them that the Prime Minister supports them!

However the Liberal Democrats attended the recent anti-LTN rally with about 5000 residents. If the Liberal Democrats ran Ealing Council we would remove them immediately. Liberal Democrats will replace London’s arbitrary system of multiple road use charges with a single smart and fair pay as you go road pricing system.

Drivers would be charged based on much they drive, how much pollution they create - with fair exemptions and discounts for special needs and work use. This will clean up our air and raise funds for our public transport network in a fairer way than the congestion charge.

On LTNs other Liberal Democrat Councils in London either did not introduce them or will consult with residents about any future types of transport changes. This brings people to the decision making table unlike the other parties.

On planning, although technically “legal”, it is morally reprehensible for the Labour administration to ignore the views and opinions of local residents who will be affected by so many unpopular and monstrous tower blocks that have been given permission to be built.

Meanwhile, Tories are also being hypocritical when we read in the news about Boris Johnson’s £80,000 renovation of his government residence through what appears to be a dodgy donor led “charity”.

And also we know that Conservative Councillors attended the MIPM “conference” which they say they are against. That’s just plain hypocritical.

The rot clearly starts from the top.

Is this level of sleaziness what Ealing residents deserve?

Meanwhile, Ealing Labour have repeatedly tried to shut us up when we try to raise questions about essential local democracy services such as Ward Forums, by using an outdated method called filibustering. Both times, they talked Cllr Gary Busuttil out of his turn in the order paper.

It is making me question: why is Labour so afraid of Liberal Democrats asking what was seemingly an uncontroversial question? Is it because they have something more to hide?

Both of these parties are dishonest, distrustful, and taking your vote for granted.

They are trying to shut us up, but Liberal Democrats will not be silenced into submission. It is our duty as an opposition party to ask questions, demand transparency and hold the administration to account. So whether it is via the chamber, or media, or other methods (such as protest), we will make sure your voices are represented and heard.

Gary Malcolm (Southfield Ward Liberal Democrat Councillor)

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May 1, 2021