Ealing Notes by Judy Breens
Parking, Stop and Shop and RingGo
Is RingGo another Council fundraiser? New road-side notices have appeared around the borough and in car parks requesting that parkers phone RingGo. This requires you to register membership and bank details and when you wish to park, pay by phone for the parking place. As this rolls out across the borough coin meters would gradually disappear. Do we want the security risk of exposing our bank details on a permanent basis to this company? Or be forced to use mobile phones? Do we own mobile phones? Worse, it was proposed to extend this to popular stop and shop areas where we stop freely for 30 minutes, shop, move on and leave the space for next shopper. This rotation keeps small traders in business in the many Borough parades. The proposal reached Pitshanger, Northfields and South Ealing with payment available for 3 hours after the free period. Non-Ealing residents were to pay for their whole stay. An outcry from traders and residents followed. Fortunately, Ealing Council have listened and dropped this for now. But watch this space.
Cuts to Local Councils
Ealing Council, in addition to Council Tax money, receives grants from Central Government. Since 2010 Government discretionary payments to Councils have been seriously cut. Much Government money is for essential services like schools to be directly passed over. It is the discretionary payment to fund Council issues of choice that is so drastically cut. The Council is in a difficult position. They’re freezing the Council Tax so perhaps other fund raising is needed. They’ve already sold half Dean Gardens car park from 4.00PM to 8.00AM daily to the nearby Holiday Inn.
We wrote about Heller House a year ago. On February 16th Council Cabinet agreed to close this Council owned respite centre for children with complex needs because of the cuts. The Council has no legal obligation to fund respite care for disabled children although it proposes to continue a service using centres in other boroughs. Parents are distressed. The building needs updating but with its generous grounds it’s a much-loved lifeline. Would out borough places always be available and how far would children have to travel to use them? They propose a cost neutral third option and vow to fight on. Please see Petition at www.hellerthirdoption.co.uk
Ealing Jazz Festival
Over 30 years this has attracted huge numbers to Ealing, at one time running for 8 days and producing 34 concerts on its main stage. It was run by Ealing Council’s Events Team and received major corporate sponsors. Currently outsourced to a private contractor, the sponsorships ended
and admission charges introduced. It is now proposed to reduce the Festival to two days despite top jazz artist participation and high audience levels. The outsourced company will remain. Adding insult to injury Council proposes to drop the services of Dick Esmond, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Festival giving his role to the private company. Dick’s irreplaceable programming and compere skills throughout the entire Festival’s existence are legendary. The proposal has devastated Ealing music lovers and supporters from all over the country. For more information and Petition, see: www.change.org/en-GB/organisations/save_ealing_jazz_festival
Ealing Save our NHS
Do people realise that in June 2016 it is proposed that Ealing Hospital loses all services to children? No Children’s A&E admission. No Children’s Ward, No Paediatrics. Last June it lost it’s Maternity Services. This all springs from North West London NHS’s “Shaping a Healthier Future” plan to reduce both Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals to cottage hospitals for rehabilitation and recovery only with a loss of 600+ acute beds. ESONHS held a packed meeting in Ealing Town Hall on February 2nd when the main speaker was campaigner John Lister. Ealing and other Councils funded an independent Healthcare Commission for N.W.London chaired by Michael Mansfield QC. This found these “deeply flawed hospital plans must be halted immediately” and that cost estimates to implement SaHF have risen to £1.3bn. It seems unlikely the plan will be implemented yet the deeply damaging cuts continue. More at: www.ealingsaveournhs.org.uk and www.saveourhospitals.net.
Ealing, famous for its extensive parks and vibrant pedestrian shopping areas, has become the first London borough to launch an idea borrowed from San Francisco’s concrete jungle – a PARKLET ‘to provide interest and stimulate activity along a street which currently does not have too many
places to stop and linger. It should also provide a small oasis of green in quite a busy thoroughfare and encourage people to stop and enjoy some of the shops and eateries.” This grandiose-sounding idea translates as an 8ft x 10ft box containing some white ‘contiboard’ furniture, a few sad looking plant pots and many explanatory notices. Delivered into Pitshanger Lane shortly after the Lane was nominated as the best High Street in London, it takes up a free parking space and has attracted much ribald comment. Pitshanger Lane won the accolade because of its strong community atmosphere, vibrant shopping facilities, wide pedestrian pavements, four street cafes, plentiful public benches, cycle racks and free stop-n-shop parking – in other words, many places to stop, linger and enjoy the shops and eateries. Not only that, Pitshanger Lane is surrounded by green open spaces, Pitshanger Park, Cleveland Park, Scotch Common, Ealing Golf Course and Brentham Club’s sports grounds. Official explanations are to be found here: https://www.ealing.gov.uk/news/article/1310/west_london_s_first_parklet_opens_in_ealing
Turkey Cages & Wheelie Bins
Before Christmas “turkey cage”/cycle storage facilities appeared around West Ealing interestingly bearing no reflectors or lights. In LBE cars require reflectors and skips lights during the hours of darkness. Why is the turkey cage different? It’s a Council service of course and they’re always right. It probably provides a useful service, providing lockable storage at a £30 annual charge for those unable to store their bikes. However, like the advancing wheelie bins, these cages diminish the streetscape appearance. They could also be hazardous to traffic. There was no consultation. On searching we found there was no risk assessment. Sadly there is no Road Safety Officer in Ealing.
Is Conservation dead in Ealing Broadway?
The Council created the Ealing Broadway Centre Conservation Area to preserve the original Victorian and Edwardian heritage. In 2009 one plan to rebuild the area was thrown out on appeal to Government. Now we have another inappropriate redevelopment plan for new flats with scant regard to the character of the area. Historic England, the Government’s advisors on the nation’s heritage are highly critical and may remove the CA status. The developers responded by retaining one of the fine Edwardian building and the facades of two others, incongruously plonked in front of high-rise glass and steel replacement blocks. It cannot be acceptable that the
heritage of a whole conservation area is swept away and a wholly alien character imposed. Corinne Templer, who has worked for many years to restore Ealing to its days of glory said grimly “This isn’t localism. This is vandalism”. Sadly, the Planning Committee passed the new plans on February 24th. An appeal is in process.
More information at: www.saveealingscentre.com