Another piece in Walpole FOCUS No. 14 was not so amusing. It was a bunch of outright porkies and the LibDems should know better. They are meant to be in favour of localism. The Cabinet proposals for ward forums are localism red in tooth and claw and the only people complaining about them are the weaker brethren amongst the councillors who are wary of making actual decisions and unwilling to engage with their voters. Decisions of ward forums will be susceptible to being thrown out by Cabinet in the same way that area committee decisions are currently.
The ward forums were proposed by the Neighbourhood Governance specialist scrutiny panel which held public meetings over an 18-moth period and took its proposals to each area committee for consultation. To say that “there has been no public discussion of this sudden and important change” is just plain wrong. And not “I made a mistake” wrong but “I’m lying to you” wrong. The Neighbourhood Governance proposals also proposed revamped area committees but the Cabinet has rightly concluded that they have had their day. The one ward “area” of Perivale has the liveliest area committee. The largest area committee, Ealing, too often discusses issues that apply to one ward only which leaves 5 out of 6 wards worth of councillors and public bored to death.
The biggest lie in this piece is to omit the proposal from the Cabinet that each ward forum should have a £40K capital budget. This compares very favourably with the £80K odd shared between the six wards of the Ealing area. I predict that the ward forums will become lively meetings where residents let their councillors know directly what they expect of them.