Ealing Council and the 3rd Runway

While other councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham are strongly and publicly opposed to a third runway, Ealing’s Labour council has always been equivocal. Council leader Julian Bell has said, when pushed, that Ealing does not support a third runway.

But there has been no clear public opposition.

Motion to Oppose

Because Ealing seemed to be sitting on the fence, the Conservative group tabled a motion at the full council meeting on 18th Dec:

“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport. This Council therefore pledges to support those organisations and local authorities who are taking legal action against the plans to expand Heathrow Airport.”

The motion was supported by the LibDems.

Prior to the debate on this motion, a member of Ealing Green Party was allowed to ask a ‘public question’. He asked the question on Heathrow expansion and climate change, referring to the extra £2.9m tonnes of CO2 pa that would be emitted. This was referred to by the Conservatives and LibDems.

Labour Respond

The Labour response was, broadly:
* This is a national government decision and therefore there is little that Ealing can do.
* With severe cash constraints the council cannot justify spending money opposing it.
* Ealing seeks to get the maximum compensation/mitigation

There were a couple of speeches from Southall Labour cllrs supporting expansion. This included one from Cllr Rajinder Mann which, as pointed out from the public gallery by said Green Party member, sounded like a script provided by Heathrow.

We know it was because it quoted economic benefits from Heathrow’s propaganda, which is completely at variance with the official government estimates.

The Art of the Compromise

When it looked as if the motion would be voted down, the Conservatives adroitly amended the motion to the first part only:

“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.”

It was then passed unanimously.

Written by Nic Ferriday

We love local businesses!

Local businesses in Ealing

When you think about the natural political party of business, you might not think of the Green Party straight away.  We want to change all that.

Ealing has some incredible local businesses, and we want everyone to know about them.

Over the coming months, we will be championing local businesses, particularly those who are doing something cool for sustainability.  As a sneak preview, we have lined up:

  • A florist selling plants that literally suck pollution out of the air;
  • Food shops stocking loose produce to cut plastic and waste;
  • Eco-friendly cleaning products;
  • Local restaurants and cafes that are going organic;
  • An estate agent reducing energy usage;
  • Furniture sellers upcycling some stylish and amazing creations.
  • A council contractor saving us money by processing the wood he harvests to resell it locally; and
  • A local coffee merchant taking on the giants.

Do you run, use or know an amazing local business and want to tell the world?  Please tell us about them now!

Green policies

In the meantime, with local elections coming up on 3 May 2018, you might be interested in some Green policies you can vote for right now.  These are:

  • Scrap business rates (they are unfair)
  • Set up a small business resilience fund to help small firms get through major events like floods or fires
  • Ensure Ealing Council has a designated councillor to be a ‘Small Business Champion’, giving local businesses a voice
  • Helping small businesses to identify available support to take on apprentices, such as financial assistance and guidance
  • Increase in the number of council contracts aimed at micro and small businesses
  • Review the Business Improvement Districts and make them work for the local businesses rather than the multi-nationals
  • Ensure that prime contractors pass on the payment terms of the council to their subcontracted suppliers – by building this into their contracts and monitoring if this has been fulfilled
  • Increase the number of networking and training events provided by Ealing Council to allow small businesses ‘punch above their weight’.

People who live and work locally reduce their footprint, boost their local economy and help our local town centres thrive: the Ealing Green party want to help create the next generation of local business heroes.

An Open Letter to the Planning Committee of Ealing Council

Ealing Council Chamber

To the Concerned Parties of the Ealing Planning Committee,

On 18th February 2018 a meeting of Ealing’s planning committee was convened. The first item submitted for approval at this meeting was a proposed residential tower block to be constructed in North Acton on the site of a former Art Deco wing of the Imperial College: the “Perfume Factory”.

A Powerful Objection

The proposed development was controversial because of its height and because of the density of its living spaces, which inspired a strongly worded speech from the designated objector, Mr Jonathan Notley, a local activist. There followed an equally strong debate, and by the time the vote came it was clear that at least two of the committee intended to vote against the motion, one of them citing the phrase “rabbit hutches in the sky” with reference to the 20 studio apartments that were well below what the new London Plan considers a “liveable space”.

The vote then took place, and this took the traditional form of the raising of hands of all those who approved of the application, and then the raising of hands of all those who objected. The Chair, Steve Hines, counted 6 votes in favour and 6 votes against the application. This meant that he could bring his own casting vote into play. He chose to wave through the motion, and thus the Perfume Factory development was, for the moment, approved.

An Extraordinary Mistake

It took an eagle eyed and bold member of the public to spot what had happened during the decision making process: and this member of the public, thankfully, took action by having a message sent down to Mr Hines from the public gallery. It transpired that a mistake had been made by the planning meeting’s adjudicator; a mistake that was missed by the 3 people who sat next to him (including the Planning Committee’s legal advisor) and faced those who took the vote.

The voting numbers had been miscounted!

There were a few moments of confusion, as this incident appeared to be without precedent. However it was eventually decided to take the vote again. Upon a second time of asking, it was seen that the application for the Perfume Factory had in fact been rejected by 7 votes to 5.

Footage of the meeting, including the two votes was recorded by Mr Notley, and can be seen in this humorous montage:

Upon viewing the footage, and in hindsight, it does not seem difficult to see that the hands of those approving in fact numbered less than those raised against. However, mistakes do happen.

But the vital question now is how do we take this forward? How can we ensure this does not happen again?

A Plea for the Future

What makes this doubly important now is the issue of trust. Because if there is another close vote, especially upon a contentious project like the Perfume Factory, then questions may be asked about the veracity of the decision. And even if they are not explicitly stated, this memory will be there.

It is clear that more transparency is required: with twelve members of the planning committee, votes should be taken one by one and then formally recorded. This would provide more accountability, and of course greater accuracy. Also, why is the recording or filming of planning meetings considered such an unusual step?

The level and style of development being seen now, not just in Ealing but across London and other major cities in Britain, has become a prominent and controversial issue. The public are, understandably, angry and mistrustful. The way to assuage this mistrust is with greater openness and democracy.

Yours Faithfully

Mr Jeremy D Parker
Ealing Green Party

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