Sharma’s got two weeks

Virendra SharmaYesterday the Ealing Conservative Group (of councillors) issued a press release pointing out that Ealing Southall MP, Virendra Sharma, has only got two weeks to attend a meeting before he gets chucked out of the council for not attending meetings. They say:

Cllr Virendra Sharma MP is just 14 days away from being forcibly ejected from the Council for non-attendance.

The Ealing Southall MP has attended just five minutes of one Council meeting during the eight months he has been a Member of Parliament.* Despite his failure to attend Council meetings he has continued to claim his £9,000 councillors’ allowance.

The last meeting he attended (in part) was Full Council on 9 October last year. He now has just two weeks – until 9 April – before he disqualifies himself from sitting on the Council. Ealing’s constitution says that any Member who does not attend a meeting for six months automatically ceases to be a councillor.

ENDS

*Cllr Sharma has not attended the following Council meetings that he was scheduled to attend since his election to Parliament on 19 July 2007: Southall Area Committee on 19 September 2007, 27 November 2007 and 23 January 2008; Transport and Environment Scrutiny panel on 17 October 2007, 19 December 2007, 30 January 2008 and 13 March 2008; Full Council on 11 December 2007, 19 February 2008 and 4 March 2008; Planning on 17 October 2007 and 30 January 2008.

Sharma has been claiming his £9,000 a year basic allowance for being a councillor but the only thing he has turned up for was a few minutes of a council meeting on 9th October. He was an hour late and only stayed for a few minutes.

If you look at the council’s meetings programme there is not much going on over the next couple of weeks. The only thing for the rest of this month is the Adoption panel on 31st March. It would be pretty inappropriate for him to turn up there to claim his £9,000. The next week there is the Cabinet meeting and two scrutiny panels. As well as having no reason to be there Sharma will know that he will get a lots of stick from Conservative members if he turns up there. I guess that leaves the Shadow Cabinet meeting on 7th April. If he only turns up here for a few minutes he can stay on as a councillor for another six months without lifting a finger and pick up another £4,500 of allowances. Maybe a few people will turn up at Shadow Cabinet for once to give him a bit of a welcome.

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9 Responses to Sharma’s got two weeks

  1. maggie says:

    I have had to suffer the view of a third-world shanty town (while paying a whacking great council tax for years) in the form of the rubbish dump sometimes known as the Ascott Allotments (lying between Queen Annes Gardens, Ranelagh Road and St Mary’s Church) in South Ealing — I have yet to see the Cabinet Member Responsible for the Environment, the Allotments Officer, an Envirocrime Officer or indeed any member of the Planning Department and Parks and Countryside do anything WHATSOEVER about this, or indeed enforce any Bye-Laws on these lawless lands—Councillor Sharma’s almost six months of non-attendance is really just a simple example of the way that Ealing Council isn’t working. There is an awful lot that needs to be fixed in Ealing. and frankly Sharma-hunting is hardly going to clean up the mess around the Ascott Allotments! Surely it wold be more productive for many residents of Ealing around this area if we were to lhave the Cabinet Memeber Responsible for the Environment, the allotments officer, and the management of the Parks and Countryside deparments removed and replaced with some people who actually care and WANT to do their jobs…. than seeking to target one aged elder statesman?

    (I agree he should be there more in Council meetings, however, there are some MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS that need to be addressed first).

    Maggie.

    P.S. About thirty metres long of the three-metre-high temporary plywood fencing in the temporary road put in in the Maytrees Rest Garden in South Ealing )next to the Maytrees Rest Garden entrance to the allotments fell down at the start of the Easter Weekend. It is still lying there blocking the path through the park–I guess we should be grateful that it didn’t fall down on anyone as it is nest to the Grange nursery, and infant school)–the death of a toddler would set back the present administration by a few million in damages, and anyway, what happened to all the promises that Ealing Council and the Contractors — Willmott Dixon — made publicly to the local residents that the road would be removed and the park renovated when the construction was finished. Instead we seem to have a very dangerous piece of temporary structure–is there no-one in Planning Enforcement who could do something about this? Or they all waiting for a non-attendance Sharma-like potantial exi?

  2. Honey Weeks says:

    Yes I noticed the fallen hoarding as well. I suppose that Ealing Council is quite happy to fork out more money to cyclists who fall of their bikes as a result of riding over thehoarding lying across the path in the Maytrees Rest Garden (opposite South Ealing). So much for good financial housekeeping on the part of the Conservatives. Regardless of how strong Unison may be at Ealng Council I definitely think that a head should roll publicly amongst the Ealing Council Officers (salaried and elected) for the fact that a thirty metre fence can be left lying across a public footpath and official cycle path next to a Primary School. I do not know much about allotments, but I do believe that there is an entrance to the infamous Ascott Allotments next to the fallen section of fence. Do you suppose that there is a connection.
    As a parent with children in the Grange School I do often wonder what children from less-developed countries make of the view from their classroom windows across the Ascott Allotments behind Grange School. I guess it does look like a rubbish dump. I particular remember seeing an octogenarian woman burning old furniture on an allotment backing onto the school one day that she had brought onto the allotments on what appeared to be an old pram. What sort of an example are we setting our children?
    Honey Weeks.

  3. Maggie says:

    Councillor Taylor!
    Twelve-out-of-ten! Well done! Around eleven this morning the fence was nailed back up. The grass was even cut in the Maytrees Rest Garden. At least there is SOMEWHERE in Ealing where it is possible to have a (justifiable) rant about Ealing Council and see a result from it. Have you ever considered a Cabinet Post (perhaps Environment) in the Council? The position appears to be a Sharma-like vacancy at the moment judging by the amount of rubbish on the Ascott Allotments..

    Fondest regards,
    Maggie.

  4. Phil says:

    Maggie,

    I regret that I cannot claim credit for this work directly although I might claim that our Conservative administration is running a tight ship.

    When you do see problems they will get sorted out quite quickly if you call 020 8825 6000.

  5. Honey Weeks says:

    I have just been to have a look at this miracle. It is a relief to see thhat someone has done something after a week, however the result is actually dangerous. The hoarding has been mailed back using three or four six inch nails and the vertical post providing support behind it has not been replaced (it is lying there broekn in the ground). On the Ascott Allotment side of the hoarding the right hand side of the thirty metre hoarding is still loose with the sole xin inch nail holding it up beng not fully nailed in and sticking out about an inch. As the wind blows this end of the hoarding rattles and blows backwards and forwards and all it will probably take is a good gust of wind to bring the hoarding down again. What is the cost these days in damages for “pancaking” a toddler: one million pounds, two million pounds? Furthermore, the door/gate in this hoarding is now strangely unsecured and any child could open it and walk in onto what is technically a building site. Again, what sort of damages would Ealing Council be lloking at if they were injured?

    It would be nice to see a) the hoarding properly repaired, b) the door in it locked, c) the contractor who did this cowboy job of a repair not get paid for it, c) that this contractor is prosecuted and fined for dangerous construction practices and breaking health and safety law, d) the appropriate Council office/employee officially reprimanded in their permanent record for negligence and failure to meet due diligencs requirements, e) that the whole temporary road along with the hoarding is removed and the Maytrees Rest Garden restored to being a park again, f) that the rubbish in the North-West corner of the Gardens between the yew hedge and the hoarding should be removed (it hasn’t been for at least a year) and that the grass their is cut (it hasn’t been for at least a year), g) theat Willmott-Dixon is fined for keeping the road and the hoarding their (since the road has not been used for over fouth months since tha access to the Grange Schools was re-fence blocking off access to it, h) that Wilmott-Dixon is fined for not keeping the road and fence in good repair, i) that the Planning Enforcement Department at Ealng Counciil is investigated as to why this has been allowed to happen, k) that Health and Safety Enforcement and Inspection at Ealing Council is investigated as to why this has happened…. What is wrong with the Envornment Department at Ealng Council????

    The presence of this temporary access road appears to have been treated by Ealing Council and its contractors as an excuse to neglect the Maytrees Rest Garden. Half the rose bushed have died (mainly due to ignorance through the use of systemic weedkillers that kill the roses as well as the weeds) and the rose beds are filled with grass, moss and weeds in a well-compacted surface (NB. weedkiller is not the answer, nor are rotavators which just chop up and spread the perennial weeds around all the more, this unfortunately brings up the issues of the quality of the Ealng Council contractors who seem to lack anyone with any qualifications in hprticulture) the beds need to be hoed, weeded, and the roses fed for Sping.

    I have been told that the land hat comprises the Maytrees Rest Garden used to belog to the church (there being a small nunnery on the site in the middle o an orchard) and it is covered by a strict covenant as to its use which Ealng Council has not adhered to. Is this true?

    I would also like to point out tha Willmott-Dixon and Ealing Council published written undertakings that the Maytrees Rest Garden would be restored to its former state when the use of the road had finished. Willmott-Dixon are still doing work in other parts of Ealing Borough with their “Considerate Contractors”, and “Improving the Image of the Building Industry” slogans up on their hoardings (as they did at he Grange School). I do not think that Ealing Council should allow them to display such untruths: perhaps the Trading Standards Department in Ealing Council should look into these discrepancies.

    Meanwhile young children remain at risk in a public park…

    Yours in total disbelief,
    Honey Weeks.

  6. maggie says:

    Oh well, even if you didn’t enact it directly yourself, posting things on this website (and on the Ealing Times website) DOES have an effect–clearly they are read by Ealing Council functionaries in Perceval House… (I won’t say anything negative here about other channels of communication with Perceval House).

    Maggie.

  7. Pingback: Phil Taylor » Blog Archive » Sharma is going to turn up on Thursday

  8. maggie says:

    Dear Phil.

    As an old reactionary I will not use a system where I do not know who I am talking to. Yes: “When you do see problems they will get sorted out quite quickly if you call 020 8825 6000.” is the orthodox approach, however all you ever get is people who will not identify themselves fully. People on this number will only tell you a first name; often there are multiple employees with the same name. This is bad business practice, and is positively rude. If you take a job that is “customer facing” you must be prepared to identify yourself fully, and the Council should police its employees to see that they do the same, otherwise situations may arise where the Council is legally liable (and demonstrably legally liable) with no audit trail. Furthermore, being cut off when asking to speak to a supervisor is not uncommon, as is finding that the supervisor is unavailable/not in the building/in a meeting, etc. etc., as is their supervisor (are you starting to get the picture). and woe betide if your inquiry should exceed the ten minutes alloted….

    The answer here is that customers vote with their feet. What we need is a PUBLIC web-site where Ealing Council’s Customers send their comments and photographs of health hazards, etc for ALL to see. We need clarity, accountability, and transparence… rather commodities in the Council.

    Maggie.

  9. maggie says:

    Thank you for the suggestion of ringing the Council Call Centre on 020 8825 6000. You do have a point there. However, this can be a frustrating experience as the process is effectively unaccountable. In a well-run business customer-facing staff are required to idntify themselves as a matter of course. One simply does not do business with a “first name”only. First name, surbame, and job title are de rigeur. To provide an audit trail to indemnify the organisation concerned , if nothing more than a very basic common courtesy. “Doing business” with someone on the end of the phone who will not identify themsleves is bizarre. This is compounded by the strange unavailability of supervisors and managers when asked for…

    Ealing Council’s call centre leaves much to be desired in terms of customer interaction and auditability. Perhaps what we need is an independent web-site blog where people can submit comments, complaints, and photographs so that there is some public accountability rather than a mushroom culture hidden behind a call centre….

    Best regards,
    Maggie.

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