West Ealing Neighbours needs to sort itself out. It needs to work out whether it wants to be a grown up organisation or be seen as a bunch of maverick activists howling in anger, unwilling to deal with the world as it is. The following comments today about last night’s SEC meeting from Eric Leach published on the WEN website are out of order:
The content, tone and approach of this public forum was sharply in contrast to the two recent hugely unpleasant Council Planning Committee Panel meetings concerning Dickens Yard and Arcadia and the recent Northfields, Ealing Broadway and Elthorne Council Ward Forums. These latter forums were all poorly researched; badly run; and significantly contributed to alienating local residents – especially those who generously give of their time trying to improve their local environments and communities.
Does WEN refuse to acknowledge that current planning law is framed as it is? Does WEN think we can run planning committees the same way as an informal public meeting? Does WEN want to pick up the bills when our decisions get overturned on appeal because we have not observed the law? Planning committees have a quasi-judicial decision making role which is apolitical. This role is hosted by the council and involves councillors of all parties to ensure that planning decisions are made by accountable local politicians.
I can’t comment on the Ealing Broadway and Elthorne meetings but I take exception to Leach’s characteristion of the Northfield ward forum as “alienating local residents”. Leach attended the Northfield ward forum so his comments about it are perplexing to say the least. The meeting was not tightly chaired and was perhaps overlong but it is hard to let people have their say any other way. The ideas presented were modified as a result of the feedback recieved from residents and the final decision confirmed by a show of hands. It was messy but that is democracy: sometimes chaotic, feeling your way forward, trying to please most of the people, most of the time whilst trying to do the right thing.
On the night Gazette journalist Paloma Kubiak told me how “positive” she thought the meeting was. Tonight at a follow up session with stakeholders to discuss our allocation of £30K for Blondin Park one of the other residents’ association representatives told us how pleased she was with the “enthusiasm” that the ward forum had evinced.
Leach’s characteristion of the Northfield ward forum is just plain wrong. Does WEN want to repudiate it?