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Ealing and Northfield

WEN needs to sort itself out

West Ealing NeighboursWest 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?

2 replies on “WEN needs to sort itself out”

Well firstly thanks for publicising WEN. I don’t want to repudiate what I said and I’ll certainly ask the WEN Committee if WEN wants to repudiate anything I have said or written.

At the Northfields Ward Forum:

1. Councillor Reen spoke non-stop at the beginning of the meeting for 35 minutes. I think he did this so that citizens in the audience could not pre-empt the agenda by asking why none of the three Northfield Ward Councillors had supported the 100s of Northfield Ward residents who objected to both Arcadia Tupperware Tower and Dickens Yard housing estate Planning Applications.

2. The ‘Open Forum’ section of the agenda was completely ignored

3. The proposals presented by Councillor Reen over and over again (more non-stop speaking) by Councillors were trashed by residents and a local residents’ group.

4. You kept a very low profile at the meeting because I suspect you were dreading that one of us would question your now famous ‘4,000 voices of support for Arcadia Tupper Tower’; and the miscounting by Planning Officers of the for and against letters/emails re Arcadia which INCORRECTLY OVER STATED THE EMAILS/LETTERS OF SUPPORT.

5. If you think the majority of citizens in Ealing who are involving themselves in local politics in Ealing are happy with the way local democracy works here – you need to take a long hard look at yourself.

6. Ward Forums are THE ONLY PUBLIC POLITICAL FORUMS IN EALING and the three I’ve attended so far have been poorly researched; poorly run; and have failed to engage with the residents effectivelty enough. Evelyn Gloyn is clearly working very hard to support these ‘places of public discussion’ but she is massively over worked, under resourced and under supported by some of the Councillors and Officers.

7. 100s of citizens in Ealing are very, very unhappy with the Council’s Regeneration and Planning teams and business processes. We can’t all be mad.

As Obama said yesterday (and I paraphrase) as elected representatives of the people or salaried Officers working for the peiple you must not only carry out the letter of the law but you must carry out the spirit of the law.

Eric,

You have a bit of a cheek commenting here as WEN does not allow anyone to comment on its site. The bulletin board is no substitute.

I will leave others to comment on whether your recollection is accurate – I think you have rather lost perspective.

As for my dreading having a debate about Ealing’s town centre developments you must be mad. How many times have I discussed them here? I did consciously shut up because I was happy to leave the floor to residents and I didn’t want to make an already over long meeting any longer.

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