Tonight council leader Julian Bell was pleased to use the opportunity of a question from a member of the council to announce that the new Labour administration wants to spend Â£5.5 million on a car park in Southall. No doubt this will be popular in Southall. The rest of the borough, the rest of London indeed, will look askance. Town centre regeneration 1970s style.
I had the chance to ask a question of my own and I asked Cllr Bell how many parking places he would get for his Â£5.5 million (well yours actually). He didnâ€™t know. I shouted across the chamber to ask if he knew how many parking places the council provided in Southall already. He didnâ€™t know that either. The answer is 451.
So, Cllr Bell is pleased to spend Â£5.5 million buying an indeterminate number of parking places to solve a problem he hasnâ€™t quantified already. I donâ€™t know who thinks that the answer to congestion is to provide more parking places in a town centre.
Local councils have very little flexibility right now to set their own priorities. Ealing Labourâ€™s are dead weird I have to say and it is absolutely shocking that Cllr Bell has no conception of the problem he is trying to solve. I canâ€™t wait to see the business case for this car park. It is going to be pure fantasy.