Back in June West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) Vice Chair, Eric Leach, told us through the comments on this blog that he intended to stand as an independent candidate at the local elections due in May. At the same time he promised to announce where he was standing in September. I haven’t heard where he is standing so I guess that is his first broken promise up on the board. WEN seem quite happy to give Eric a platform on their newsletters and website. For how long I wonder?
Since the summer Eric’s public pronouncements have got more and more mean-minded. He seems particularly venomous about the Council’s plans to improve social housing in West Ealing. He opens the November newsletter from WEN with this diatribe:
Fiddling While Rome Burns?
‘National Debt stands at an unprecedented £824.8 billion (ONS*).
National Government borrowings for the first six months of this financial year to the end of September 2009 were £77.8 billion – the highest mid-year deficit in UK history (ONS*).
1 million UK homes are empty (TEHA**)
Green Man Lane Estate redevelopment by A2Dominion will cost £137 million (www.greenmanlane.co.uk).
A2Dominion is funded by National Government to the tune of £150 million/year.
HOW CAN WE ALL AFFORD TO BORROW THE MONEY TO BUILD THESE 738 NEW HOMES AND BUILD SUPPORTING SCHOOLS, HEALTH CENTRE AND POLICE STATION?
When Eric has done his homework he will find that the council is not allowed to have a current account deficit and is strictly limited by what borrowing it can do. Although the Council is heavily constrained both by the law and by its finances we don’t despair. We are actively working with social landlords to improve the social housing in West Ealing. Apparently Eric doesn’t like it. Talking about the Ealing Dean Estate on Wednesday Eric said:
Ealing Council Cabinet on 10th November 2009 agreed another chapter in its social cleansing of parts of the borough. Sherwood Close housing estate (known by the Council as Dean Gardens Estate) is to be demolished and the public land sold off to a property developer. The 209 flats (68% one bedroom) will be replaced by an increased number of bigger flats, some of which will be commercial for-sale properties. 49 of the existing flats are owned (leasehold) by residents.
Consultation so far had been very low key and confined to the existing estate tenants. The Council’s press release states that it will start consulting with local stakeholders in December 2009.
A bit of political advice for Eric: you usually ask the people affected directly first before you talk to other people about their futures. Eric’s phrase “social cleansing” seems rather unpleasant. It is hard to tie down what Eric means by it but I don’t think it conveys respect for his neighbours.
The Council is working hard to bring 1,000 high quality new homes to West Ealing, the majority of which will be socially rented, many of which will be larger family homes, and Eric is giving us earache. I can’t imagine that this is a good basis on which to stand in the West Ealing area – you need these people to vote for you. Doh!