The Evening Standard reports that last year Ealing was sixth worst in the league of London boroughs for parking appeals. Over 2,000 drivers had to take their parking disputes to appeal. In 29% of cases Ealing’s Parking Services did not contest the matter. Overall Parking Services lost 60% of cases. The best performing borough, Enfield, only had 257 appeals of which it won 65% – now that is performing. Ealing by contrast seems to be competing with Islington and Lambeth to fleece drivers.
The Evening Standard tonight published some figures from the Department for Education and Skills that were provided in a parliamentary answer. 11.3% of Ealing’s pupils are a private schools this is 21st equal in ranking. This puts us in the same league as Barnet, Croydon, Harrow, Merton and Southwark. 20 boroughs did better than Ealing with 12 getting down below the national average of 6.3%.
Ealing Conservatives yesterday announced that upon taking control of the Council they will immediately move an additional Â£1.8 million into the environment budget.
This sounds like good news for our battered environment that has been neglected throughout 12 years of a Labour council.
It should not be hard to do either. Next financial year the Council plans to spend Â£457,000 on its useless Around Ealing magazine that hits the recycing bin unread. It plans to spend Â£485,000 on the Tram. Finding the rest should be a doddle.
It is perhaps natural, given the background of Labour council leader Leonora Thompson, that Ealing is currently ramping up its spending on communications. Instead of spending some Â£40,000 per annum on Around Ealing 4 times a year the whole thing is being upgraded to a monthly, even bi-weekly, publication that will cost almost Â£600,000 over two years.
To time this upgrade at the start of the year, a few months before local elections on May 4th, leaves the council open to the charge that it is using council spending in a political way.
The council’s plans envisage that the costs incurred will be partially offset by an increase in advertising revenue. The plans foresee advertising revenue rising from Â£19,500 to Â£185,000 in year. This raises two questions. Firstly, even the most aggressive private sector operation would be hard pressed to increase sales in this way. Can the council really hope to perform this well? Wishful thinking surely? Secondly, by taking revenue off local press the council will ensure that the papers have less cash to pay journalists’ salaries and we will be the poorer for not having the council held to account by the press.
Apparently Â£275,500 of this spending is going to be financed from the Response budget. You might think that this money could be re-deployed to fund frontline services rather then being used to puff the council. Using Response as a slush fund to subsidise political advertising is not a council taxpayers’ priority.
Council leader Leonara Thomson obviously thinks that if she spends enough of our money telling us how good Ealing council is we will eventually believe her.
Today the Ealing & Acton Gazette published a full page ad from the Metropolitan Police and Mayor of London promoting Safer Neighbourhoods. This is part of a wider campaign.
In Ealing we still only have 8 of 23 wards covered by these teams (see MPS site). It seems a little early to be be advertising these teams before they are all in place.
Furthermore both the ad in the Gazette and the radio ad show two policemen on the beat together. It seems that London’s streets are so dangerous that they cannot patrol alone.
Simon Jenkins lays into the Met in the Evening Standard tonight. He simply asks why policemen go around in pairs in London and suggests that it is the Police Federation and the Health and Safety Executive who dictate that policemen cannot go alone although most Londoners have to. Down by the river in Hammersmith I often see police horses going two at a time down Lower Mall. Now that is about Â£300,000 per annum of police resources strolling along having a nice chat by the river. Even the Safer Neighbourhoods ads feature two policemen!
It seems to me that two policemen patrolling together will spend most of their time chatting and miss a lot. Anyone who has travelled on their own will tell you that you meet loads more people on your own than you do as a couple. Two policemen, one each side of a busy road, will provide two sets of eyes and many more positive interactions with the public than two on the same side of the road. It is not hard. Next time you see a couple of coppers walking down the road why don’t you suggest they each walk down one side?
The Local Government Association published a survey of 54 local councils today. Most of them predict that their council Taxes will rise in excess of inflation.
The local elections will be held on Thursday 4 May 2006 for all London boroughs. If you want to change the council then you need to vote but first you need to be registered.
All British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens who are 18 or over by the date of council elections are entitled to register and vote. The last date to have your name added to the register is Monday 13 March 2006.
A letter in the Telegraph today from Irvine Bell points up the problems with the Sheffield Tram – passenger projections 20 million, actual performance to-date no more than 12 million.
Judging by the article in today’s Telegraph the chance that the Government will fund Ken’s Tram is diminishing. Livingstone would be seeking about as much cash as the Government has given to all light rail schemes since coming to power in 1997. Since then cost over-runs have made the Government wary of funding more black holes.