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Ealing and Northfield

No brainer

The big question at tonight’s council meeting was: car park in Southall or libraries? Labour got a right pasting and at one point Labour’s leader Julian Bell was sitting with his head in his hands. No wonder. Normally councillors Bell and Mahfouz tweet through cabinet and council meetings. Both were silent tonight.

The softening up process started with a petition from 575 pupils of Hobbayne Primary School presented by a Mrs Rowena Vestey of the Hobbayne PTA. She spoke very well and was followed by the redoubtable Carolyn Brown of Hanwell Community Forum fame, asking a question on Hanwell library. Both pointedly juxtaposed the library cuts currently being consulted on with the idiocy of the Southall car park.

I got in the third, fourth and fifth blows. First I asked Cllr Bell how many spaces he would be buying with our £5.5 million. I have asked this before but this time I got a rough answer 100-200. Southall already has 451 under-used council car park spaces so we are talking about a 22%-44% increase in council parking spaces at a price of £5.5 million. I then asked Cllr Dhindsa, who is in charge of libraries, how much he would save by closing various libraries. The answers I wrote down were:

Hanwell: £83K
Mobile: £101K
Northfields: £89K
Northolt Leisure Centre: £75K
Perivale: £83K
TOTAL: £431K

During the day my colleague Cllr Scott had asked the chief finance officer how much it would cost to borrow the £5.5 million required for the Southall car park. The answer was £515K. I asked Cllr Dhindsa if he was aware that by cancelling the Southall car park he could save all of the threatened libraries.

I have to say that Cllr Dhindsa did somewhat lose it at this point. He talked about “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and “taking from the poor and giving to the rich”. He said: “We have taken the needs of all the people of the borough into account and we have decided to prioritise the needs of the people of Southall above the needs of library users”.

This was only the preamble to the evening. We then spent about an hour debating “Save our 13 public libraries”. It was a debate that had Labour on the run all the way through. Even in the next debate, in the last speech of the evening, my ward colleague David Millican suggested that Cllr Dhindsa “would get eaten alive” if he repeated his comments in Northfield when he comes on Wednesday 13th April with the council leader Julian Bell and finance head Yvonne Johnson.

Come to Northfields Community Centre at 7pm on Wednesday 13th April. I am sure there will be no actual cannibalism, merely some light torturing I think.

I don’t see either of these two decisions sticking.

8 replies on “No brainer”

I am intrigued by what Councillor Dhindsa meant when he said that they were prioritising the needs of Southall above that of library users. If I was a Southall resident I would take that as an immense insult; are there no library users in Southall? The implication seems to be that Southall residents do not read books (or is he saying they CANNOT read and that a car park is somehow preferable to literacy)? And we elected these people?

Mags.

Neil,

I am quite happy to accept the council’s own stats on library usage which show that in terms of items borrowed Northfield is the 3rd cheapest library in the borough. In terms of running cost per visitor it is the 5th chepaest.

When the council publishes a business case for the Southall car park and traffic surveys showing how it will not make Southall’s congestion even worse, I will be happy to accept those too.

Maggie,

Southall is the borough’s second biggest library in terms of visits and active borrowers. What Dhindsa is saying is Southall gets a library and a car park. Northfield, Hanwell, Perivale and Northolt Mandeville and mobile library users get stuffed.

fair point, to put it another way Librarys are now pointless
in a culture where coffee shops are used as places to read is there any need of a library in every town, I agree with the perivale library due to its location away from neighboring towns

However others shoudl close, Ealing central is now modernised, itll just be a waste of money to reinvent others into the 21st century, these will waste money. All technology is now in your hands, gadgets are domineeting everything, tablets, mobiles and with wifi being widely available soon, I ask why is a library needed in every town?/???

I dont agree with the SOuthall car park, but I do knwo traders have requested this for more than a decade, traffic has occured for about the same time, but this may be a first step for someone finally in Ealing control to help SOuthall wiht its traffic issues,

Thank you for the clariication Phil about what Councillor Dastardly said. What with the Albert Dane Centre closing, the LINKS centre closing, the libraries closing, and the teflon-coated management of Ealing Council floating to the top with no cuts I am afraid to say I read the worst into Dhindsa’s words.

Mags.

Phil Taylor appears to be a typical conservative politician- hes putting together two things that were never meant to be linked (hes following in the footsteps of David Cameron and Nick Clegg- partners who should never have been linked).
In relation to library and car park- dont understand how he could possibly say the libraries are only being closed to provide the car park. These are two seperate issues- but when have the conservatives ever listened.

Lets look at the facts- the demand for libraries is falling due to modern technology (internet and information being available at the click of a button), demand for a car park in southall is absolutely necessary due to the 90,000 population in southall, the congestion and the immense numbers of vistors.

Will Phil Taylor allow us to park our cars in the libraries??
(in case you think im being serious this is a joke because of Phil linking the two things together)

Whwn have the tories given anything to the working or middle class- even now they are taking away from the sick, disabled, children and students?

Mr Singh.

You miss the point terribly.

Information which is available from what you call technology can be very useful. But we all know that it is a jumble of data, as it were just chucked on the floor. It is completely disorganised and without an education no one can find simply on the internet what is needed to be sure of collecting the right information and assessing its significance. A lot of information is incorrect and unchallenged. So it is easy to be misled unwittingly.

A libary on the other hand assists greatly with starting how to learn about information in an ordered way, how to use it in a valid manner, let alone starting to teach a person how to think for themselves independently.

I could go on for ages but Phil will throw an oar at me and Neil is able to express the case for learning far more articulately than me.

Libraries are facilities which sit along side other routes to learning as well as pleasure. They are absolutely essential as a tool for learning.

Compared to other developed countries we have a low standard of learning here. Helping future generations of children in Ealing Borough is far more important than car parking in one little part .

I agree we should worry about traffic problems in Southall but not while we have such a financial crisis.

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