On the evening of Monday August 8th Ealingâ€™s police were overwhelmed by some 300 rioters. The interim report of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, led by ex-Ealing chief executive Darra Singh, ranked Ealing the sixth worst affected area in the whole country, see here. Click to enlarge.
It was something of a shock to Ealing and to the country more widely. Residents know what a cosmopolitan place the borough of Ealing is. The locals were surprised that the civility and order that they are used to was destroyed for one terrible evening when Richard Mannington Bowes died. People from further afield who associate the name Ealing with the relatively wealthy and suburban town centre were perhaps more shocked than the locals even and we all had texts and e-mails from friends and relatives from all over asking us if we were OK. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of us were literally frightened in our beds and some had to deal with intruders and being burnt out of their homes. It was a terrible night.
Although the police lost control of the streets that Monday they got it back the next day and their follow up has been very good. A stiff response from the criminal justice system has gone a long way to reassuring people and ensuring that there will be no repeat of August 8th anytime soon.
The council performed well and was well led. The council had 45 men out at 5.30 am cleaning up. Burnt out vehicles were off the road by 11am. Riot hit small businesses were given Â£1,200 to tide them over. I have heard shopkeepers praising council officers for their kindness and efficiency. Both chief executive Martin Smith and executive director for Environment and Customer Services Keith Townsend clearly did well. The political leadership of the council, especially council leader Julian Bell, also did their bit. Labourâ€™s Cllr Bell was a visible presence on the night of the riots and led the councilâ€™s response. An awful night demonstrated that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us.