On Wednesday we had a business-like scrutiny session discussing the street scene in Ealing: crossovers, trees, streetlights and their relationship. Good solid council stuff of which more another time. At the end of the session Jason Stacey, the former council leader, suggested that we ask officers for a report on the business case for the proposed new car park in Southall. Opposition councillors have repeatedly questioned the wisdom of this Â£5.5 million project and don’t believe that the case has been made. Labour’s Cllr Wendy Langan told us that the administration had nothing to hide and welcomed the scrutiny. Often decisions at scrutiny meetings are made by assent without a vote. On this occasion one of the Southall councillors, Cllr Dhindsa, said he didn’t like the idea. As chairman I confirmed that we were entitled to look at whatever matters we wished so we voted on the matter. Three Labour councillors voted with the opposition councillors to ask to see the business case. It makes a nice change. Too often lately Labour councillors have voted en bloc at scrutiny meetings.
Subsequently LibDem councillor Malcolm let his Napoleon complex get the better of him, see his blog here. Reading it you would imagine the whole initiative was a LibDem one. On the contrary, it was Cllr Stacey’s idea. He mentions Cllr Steed attending – only he had no vote, he just appeared towards the end of the meeting. Nice of him to take an interest but he had no vote and played no role.
Inspired by this small victory for good government I made another of many trips to Southall today to see how well used the existing Herbert Road multi-storey car park (HRMSCP) is used. I left Sainsburys in West Ealing at 16:17 and arrived at HRMSCP at 16:30. As ever the 13 minute journey and in particular crossing the main junction was the most difficult bit of the whole experience. IT only took me 30s to park. The car park was busy but I counted 2 disabled spaces and 101 regular spaces – no problem!
Anyway it will be interesting to see what officers come up with at the next meeting of our panel on 29th February next year.